Friday, October 22, 2010

A LEG LOOSENING THURSDAY

Not to be confused with “Thirsty Thursday” wherein local baseball fans flock to our local minor league baseball team (the Asheville Tourists) games and consume massive amounts of beer, I enjoyed a leg loosening Thursday ride of ….

20 miles along part of the Pigeon Valley loop and up Lake Logan Road to the Sunburst campground.

Love Joy field in the fall

(Fall colors come to a mown field along Love Joy Road)

My late afternoon ride wasn’t intended as a training ride but more to get out and shake off the 9 hours of computer time that I had just accumulated. I was looking to clear the mind and loosen the legs. Traffic was extremely light as I made my way along Love Joy Road enjoying the fall colors. “Headwind Harry” made a brief appearance and created a shower of leaves. The following picture doesn’t do the experience justice as I was slow to pull the camera out of my rear pocket and get set for the picture.

A shower of leaves!

(A shower of leaves greeted me along Love Joy Road)

The mountains are not quite at their full color peak at this elevation but, it is clearly coming. The fields, for the most part, have been “put to bed” awaiting next year’s plantings. The feel of Thanksgiving seemed to be, for me, in the air yesterday as I passed a few farmers still digging root crops. The remaining peppers and tomatoes have been “frost touched” now and are probably destined for removal.

Colorful mountain overlooking Love Joy Road

(Still some color to come on this mountain)

As I left Love Joy and joined Lake Logan Road, the sun was below the mountain in places and I quickly regretted not bring my windbreaker. Fortunately, I was still climbing so my “engine” was keeping me mostly warm. When the sun did sneak through the gaps, I was presented with some wonderful fall colors.

Lake Logan Road gets its color on!

(Late afternoon sun highlights Lake Logan Road colors!)

My “leg loosening” continued up Lake Logan Road and became something more than simply leg loosening as I climbed above the lake itself. It was along this climb that I had my only verbal interaction with a passing motorist. A SUV had to slow down to allow oncoming traffic to pass before they could get around me. In the passenger seat was a young lady appearing to be 10 to 12 years old, who undoubtedly called out to me “What a wonderful day it is to share this road with you! Please come again…” Since I couldn’t really hear what she said, I’ll choose to believe that her mother wouldn’t allow her to harass a cyclist on the road…

Upon reaching Lake Logan itself, I was struck by how low the lake water level is right now. Despite some rain in the last week, the upper section of the lake is beginning to show “muck hills” and can’t be more than a foot or so deep. Still, the fall colors were wonderful!

My Fuji CCR3 amidst Lake Logan colors

(My Fuji CCR3 and the colors of Lake Logan)

What few vehicles did share the road with me were heavily weighted toward hunters, trucks, and dogs. I didn’t realize that hunting season is in full swing until I was closer to the State Wildlife area. A number of hunters’ trucks were pulled to the side of the road awaiting the return of their passengers. I was glad that I had dressed “colorfully” so as not to be confused with local swift moving deer, not that I was swift moving or anything…

A bright red Team USA jersey hopefully separated me from the local deer!

(Bright colors hopefully separated me from the local deer!)

My approach to the Sunburst Campground was punctuated by the contrast of shadow and sun…

Sunburst in the setting sun!

(They call it Sunburst for a reason!)

At the campground, I reached my 10 mile mark, noted the few campers on site, and started my return run to my starting point at Bethel Middle School. I was in the shade the entire ride back to Lake Logan and was really, really missing my windbreaker at this point. To stay warm, I decided to pick up my speed and got myself “into the drops” and picked up my cadence. While I did work harder, I also created more wind to cool me down. It felt good to spin faster so I tried to maintain my 25 mph pace back to Lake Logan where the sun was still mercifully above the mountain. I would discover later that my SPOT II didn’t register a single GPS location on my return leg of this ride. Quite frankly, I’m getting less enamored with SPOT as time goes by…

My ride home was just in time to beat the last rays of the day’s sun in Bethel. My mind was cleared and I felt refreshed. I anticipated a good night’s sleep! Next up is a potential 75 miler this Saturday with the Wood-Man to Cosby, Tennessee. More to come…

Until later,

- Zeke

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