Tuesday, September 24, 2013

UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THE BUZZARD

Monday, September 23rd, was a beautiful fall day here in downtown Buzzard’s Roost. The temperature at 2:30 p.m. was hovering around 71 degrees and there was low humidity. The sky was blue and the clouds could have starred in any TV commercial for clothes detergent.

NewFnd_MtnView_01

(A brilliant fall day on top of Newfound Road)

After having dealt with the death of our dear Labrador Retriever, Orla, …

in the morning, I had a lot of pent up energies left over from a long weekend. I needed to discharge them and I also needed to get out on the road to maintain my  commitments to riding reborn last week on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Leaving from our abode along the promontory of Buzzard’s Roost, I made my way to the nearby intersection with Newfound Road. The initial half mile or so when leaving the house is all downhill and I was enjoying lightly, if at all, spinning the pedals on my Salsa Fargo.

After reaching the lowest point of elevation along our road, my momentum was slowing and I began to feel the resistance of the increasing grade to my light hearted spinning. In a quarter of a mile, gravity was pulling hard and I was running through gears. I recall thinking, “hey, this isn’t like riding at the beach. My heart rate is up!” Welcome home Zeke!

With heart pumping and legs feeling heavy, I made it to the intersection and turned north on Newfound Road, which has recently been repaved so it still has a wonderful smoothness to it. I started a descent and was soon sliding past Plains Methodist Church and into the long left hand curve around the adjacent cemetery. A couple of cars were following me and choosing not to pass even though there was sufficient room. Soon another curve approached and any hope they may have harbored about passing me vanished. As I approached the North Hominy Community Center, I pulled into the parking lot to allow traffic to pass me by and discovered that it was Bloodmobile Day. The lot was packed with parked cars.

Only one car passed me and it made a left hand turn at the end of the Community Center parking lot. I don’t know what happened to the second car. Maybe they stopped to give blood…

At any rate, I was presented with a clear road to begin the climb to the top of Newfound.

Newly paved Newfound Road

(The uphill journey on Newfound begins…)

Sitting at 3041’ elevation Newfound Gap has a long climb of 2.4 miles from a low elevation of 2650’. The road kicks up in grade significantly over the last 1/2 mile. At the top, I pulled into the shade to cool down and take on some fluid. My SportTrack Live data indicated it had taken me 33 minutes from home to the gap. I had a remarkable average heart rate of 128 bpm indicating I was in the best cardio condition of my life. It was hard to rectify my very heavy breathing with such remarkable fitness as I leaned on my bike. (I would learn later that my heart monitor data didn’t record after the first 1/2 mile or so.)

Salsa Fargo at the Newfound Gap

(My Fargo at the county line of Haywood and Buncombe.)

Traffic was beginning to build in both directions as I topped off my own tank with some Gatorade and zipped up my jersey for the descent back toward home.

Newfound Gap headed into Buncombe County

(Newfound Gap headed north into Buncombe County)

The descent on the freshly paved road was definitely worth the effort of the climb. I reached my max speed of the day (38.93 mph) on the descent before sitting up and enjoying the ride through the farmlands of north Canton.

To top off the ride, I crossed over I-40 at exit 33 and took a loop down into the Beaverdam Community before climbing back up Freedom Drive to my own road home. I was once again reminded that what goes down, must go up as I spun my way back up to the house. I was accompanied by the seemingly ever present Buzzard’s circling overhead. I sent out my own mental tweet to the massed feathers above “Not today, my friends, not today!”

Until later,

-Zeke

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