Friday, November 5, 2010

A TOUCH OF WINTER ARRIVES…

Monday, November 1st, turned out to be the best riding day of this week. It was the last dry, relatively warm day that we’ve enjoyed. I managed to get out and do a nice 20 miler before the sun set on Monday.

Lower Stamey Cove

(The “before” image of a lovely riding day in late fall…)

As I had worked from home this day keeping with my effort to avoid the use of gasoline one day per week (at least), I had a nice late afternoon start from Bethel Middle School. I felt like some climbing might be “good for the soul” on this date so my route took me down NC 215 to Stamey Cove. Traffic was moderately heavy on the two lane road known as NC 215 as folks were making their way home from a Monday workday.

I turned into Stamey Cove and began the climb to the gap. The image above was taken about a half mile into the cove. As you can see, the fields have been plowed and are ready for a nice winter’s nap. In the lower end of the cove, the sun was still high enough to be covering most of the surrounding land.

Climbing Stamey Cove

(The lower grade climb of Stamey Cove)

As I made my way to the gap, the cove became more narrow and considerably steeper. The homes to my left (or south) were already missing the warmth of the sun as they are nestled under the lip of the mountain. Some homes had welcoming wood fires ready to greet those folk coming home from work.  I made my way to the top of the Cove at 3400’ elevation and enjoyed a brief moment or two of sunlight hitting my face.

I was quickly into the descent headed into Clyde running into and out of shadows as the road snaked its way down the mountain. I was quite thankful that I had dressed in a heavier weight jersey and had my windbreaker on as the cool mountain air was quite noticeable. I made my way around the hairpin turn where a cyclist recently took a very bad, probably life altering, crash during the 2010 Blue Ridge Breakaway.

In short order,  I found myself in downtown Clyde and making my way to the Old Clyde Road where I turned east toward Canton. The sun was no longer warming my back as I headed home. In fact, the light of day was low enough that I felt it prudent to turn on my headlight. The ride into Canton and up NC 110 to Bethel was uneventful. My intention had been to go at least 25 miles, which would have meant that I added the Love Joy Road loop to my route. However, as I came to the intersection of NC 110 and US 276, it was clear that I would be finishing in the dark with auto traffic if I continued onto Love Joy. I decided that 20 miles in the dying light was enough and headed home.

It was with a touch of sadness that I realized this was probably my last “end of work day” ride for several months. With the looming end of Daylight Savings Time this coming Saturday, it will be dark when I leave my office much less try to ride home. I’ll have to readjust my schedule as I did last year and do lunch rides to keep up my mileage and hope for some good weather on the weekends to get in longer day rides.

The rest of the work week wasn’t fit for riding unless you were a duck or other fowl creature. Cold rain dominated Tuesday and Wednesday and ushered in colder weather on Thursday. We were under a Winter Weather Warning from the NWS last night. Sure enough, we awakened to freezing temperatures and snow flurries this morning.

Snow tickles Cold Mountain

(The “after” image for the week. Snow tops Cold Mountain)

When entering the Monday ride data into my spreadsheet, I was pleased to note that I have climbed over 500 miles this riding season. This wasn’t a particular goal of mine but it was a nice footnote to the day.

…And the planning goes on!

We are well into our planning for the 2011 Blue Ridge Breakaway that will be held on August 20, 2011. Our route sub-committee met this morning amidst the swirling snow flurries. It was an interesting juxtaposition to be sitting around the table working on a summer ride while the flurries drifted around the building. Today we reviewed feedback from last year’s participants and discussed adding a 75 miler to the already challenging routes of the ride. We also looked at ways to better describe the 25 mile ride, which isn’t really a beginner’s ride as it has a couple of significant climbs that proved to be pretty tough for a beginning cyclist.

A 75 mile route would offer some additional options for riding the Blue Ridge Parkway for those cyclists wanting something more than a metric century but not as much as a full century. We were pleased to find out that we’ve already received housing reservations for next year’s ride. That would seem to be a good omen! Registration for next year’s ride will be around the first of the year. We anticipate significant growth in the event and look forward to putting on another outstanding ride for the participants. You can keep up to date and register early by following the Blue Ridge Breakaway website.

I think I’ll go climb under the quilt with the Navigator and watch the snow flurries drift around our deck for awhile!

Stay warm!

- Zeke

(P.S., this just in from Bro Dave in sunny and apparently hot L.A. – He was forced to sit under an umbrella at lunch today to get out of the hot sun… He reports the shade of the umbrella wasn’t enough to cool down!)

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