The touch of winter last weekend that resulted n 7” of snow in places and only short lived traces in other places has been replaced by some gorgeous, glorious, sumptuous riding weather. The end of Daylight Savings means that after work rides are a thing of the past for several months. The silver lining to that cloud is that lunch rides are just simply wonderful! The temps are up and pleasant and this day there wasn’t a cloud in the sky…
My ride today took me down NC 209 into the northern section of Haywood County. I rode this section quite often last winter as it is easy to get to from my office in downtown Waynesville and offers numerous loops and mileage counts to keep things interesting.
Today, I noted that the gutters along NC 209 are already matted up with debris, gravel, iron pipes, and trash. This makes riding in a safer manner further away from the traffic less likely. I was constantly slaloming around the detritus of the summer. I still don’t believe that the local DOT crew swept the gutters this year…
Once I made the turn off of NC 209 onto Crabtree Church Road, I was on narrow 2 lane roads without shoulders. I guess the good news is that there weren’t any gutters to be clogged and traffic had done an admirable job of keeping the roads clear. That is, they were clear until I rounded the second curve on the descent to Riverside…
Seemingly all of a sudden, the roadway was covered with leaves and grass that looked like gale force winds had come down both sides of the road and blown the “compost in the making” out of the ditch and to the center of the road. This discovery came in the blind side of a downhill curve after I had picked up some nice rolling speed. I was happy to see a relatively clear path through the mess and was able to avoid a slide out from hitting the wet leaves and grass.
At this point, I had a mystery to accompany me on my ride! I rolled across the one lane bridge at the intersection with Riverside and took a northwesterly turn to ride along the Pigeon River. The road continued to be covered in grass and leaves. Clearly, it appeared someone was mowing the sides of the road. It smelled freshly cut although the dead skunk did briefly interfere with the pleasant aroma of freshly cut grass.
I couldn’t figure out why someone would be mowing already dead grass and deader leaves… Surely, there were better ways to expend gasoline and money. For instance, maybe sweeping the gutters along NC 209 would have made more sense. At any rate, the orchestrator of this mix of vegetation on the road was still not in my sight.
I had the road to myself on this leg of the trip. There was very little activity going on at the farms along the way. I even missed seeing the wooly Scottish Highland cattle that are raised along the river. Soon enough, I came to the cross roads of Iron Duff, White Oak, Panther Creek, and Riverside. It was time to turn back to town.
(At the crossroads of Panther Creek, White Oak, and Iron Duff)
A short climb brought me back into Iron Duff and away from the river. A friendly wave from a farmer on his tractor was my only human interaction along this section. I did get several glances from the cattle and horses as I made my way back to Iron Duff Road. None of them were apparently feeling frisky enough to run along beside me. One big bull gave me an intimidating stare as he chewed on his corn. I quickly transited Frog Holler.
I was soon back at my office having pulled off a nice 24 mile loop on my lunch break. It sure felt great to get out in the sun and turn the cranks over for awhile. I am hopeful for more of these days in the coming weeks. Heck, maybe some of my compadres will read this and call me up to say, “Hey, Zeke, I wanna do that Tuesday ride with you!”