Monday, October 18, 2010

A FINE FALL RIDE…

Yesterday, Sunday October 17th, was a beautiful day here in Western North Carolina. We have been on a wave of some late summer – early fall temperatures for the past few days. The nights have been crisp with frost warnings each night but the days have been just simply outstanding with temps in the upper 60’s and the low 70’s. Yesterday made it to the mid-70’s. It was perfect weather for….

…a great Sunday afternoon ride. The Wood-man and I decided to make the run to Asheville and Tripp's Restaurant. We packed our bags with clothing more appropriate for dinner and sent The Navigator and Sherry ShaZam off to do some Sunday shopping. (They didn’t object, in case you were wondering…).

The Wood-man and I left from Ratcliffe Cove Road in Waynesville and made our way over Poison Cove Gap down into Clyde. After the descent from the gap, we took a right for a short but steep climb over to Mulberry St. and then down to Carolina Boulevard in Clyde. Crossing over Carolina, we enjoyed a spin with two longer but less steep climbs into Canton.

Traffic was surprisingly light for such a beautiful day. I had expected lots of “leaf lookers” to be out and about but, that wasn’t the case. After traversing the one way streets of Canton, we dropped down the long hill that is part of Business 19/23 on the east side of Canton. I gained my top speed of the day on this stretch reaching 39.40 mph. This was followed by a long flat straight stretch of road to the Buncombe County line.

 

Long straight colorful road east of Canton, NC

(Heading east out of Canton along Business 19/23)

The fall colors haven’t reached their peak at this lower elevation yet but there was still plenty of color to make the day beautiful. We soon took our leave of Business 19/23 and headed off toward South Hominy where we were greeted by a couple of nice rollers and mild climbs. We had a pleasant interlude with two local young adult males on this stretch, who not only followed my hand signals to wait for an oncoming car but actually pulled beside me to say “thanks!” What a nice change of pace that was!

Colors of another kind…

This time of the year also brings out other colors of the non-leaf type. I’m speaking here of the political signs that dot the roadsides and every corner in towns. This seems to be a particularly “heavy color season” for political ads. I’ve always wondered how much good this roadside litter does in attracting votes. I just hope they manage to pick them all up by next spring…

Wood-man and I “enjoyed” a long steep climb up from Hominy Creek to Enka High School before transiting around the old Enka mill. There is much road work going on here and cars would have had trouble giving us 3’ clearance if they had wanted to do so. The good news is that the road is newly paved so it was a good surface to ride upon. The bad news was that they didn’t build in bike lanes at a very opportune time to do so.

Shortly after leaving the ‘business” section of this road, we were back into residential/country sections of west Buncombe County. The Wood-man reminded me that we only had 3 more climbs to go before our ride would be over. This is a technique to which I have referred in the past as being “woodyized” wherein the Wood-man gets you closer to the ultimate goal by telling you that there are only a couple of climbs left. I’ve attempted to utilize the technique myself in the past on others.

Having ridden this route several times, I, more specifically my legs, were acutely aware that there were really more than 3 climbs left. On the 5th climb of the final 3 climbs, I reminded Wood-man that we should be there already. He just grinned and said a “couple of those were only half-climbs”.

On the true penultimate climb of the day, we topped out on Haywood St. in west Asheville. There were lots and lots of folks out and about at the cafes and restaurants along this street. It seemed that every store had one or two bicycles parked nearby. We encountered more cyclists along this short street than we would see in sum total of the day. This section might best be described as urban chic. The Wood-man and I were the only cyclists I noted to be wearing spandex and bright colors! …and helmets for that matter…

A quick descent took us down to the bridge crossing the French Broad River and the newly installed bike lanes. Our final climb of the day started at the end of the bridge as we climbed our way to Pack Square where a local festival event was just closing up. We negotiated our way around the many, many pedestrians and arrived shortly at Tripp's. The Navigator and Sherry ShaZam were already present and waiting having completed their exhaustive session of shopping.

Downtown Asheville with its fall colors on!

(This colorful tree greets diners at Tripp's in Asheville, NC)

The Wood-man and I did some quick clean-up at Tripp's, changed clothes into something more appropriate for dining and enjoyed one (uh, maybe two) of the best tasting cold libations we’ve had in awhile. I followed this with a very delightful New Orleans Cajun shrimp and chicken meal before we returned home in the dusky end of day light.

A fine 30 mile run was now in the books. Maybe it’s time for that 75 miler to the Front Porch Mexican Restaurant in Cosby, Tennessee…

Until later,

- Zeke

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