One west coast trip behind me, and three weeks upcoming. In between was a solid week of Asheville, and the first Sunday I've been home for a long time. I finally got to attend Marvin's early Sunday Pisgah Worship ride, and was happy to have a new route (for me) on the agenda.
A 9:00 o'clock start meant I was awake just long enough to realize that my time zones were screwed up, and that it was still cold down here in the Southeast. We started at the Turkey Pen parking lot, the birth place of many a good ride in the past. This time my crew was able to keep us dry. We climbed Mullinax to Squirrel Gap and began the technical climb to the summit of Squirrel. The trail had been dry, and very cold, and the traction was great. It's seen enough traffic over the winter that most of the leaves were clear, and the rocks of the first half, and roots of the second half, were all visible. Old man winter has also seen to it that the Rhodo and Mt. Laurel be trimmed back, allowing one to keep your eyes open; most of the time.
We splashed through the intersection with Cantrell Creek, and made the climb back up to Horse Cove. The trail was well worn from all those poor souls that attempted 2009's running of The Most Horrible Thing Ever. A fast downhill brought us down to Mills River, where the North Mills River trail snakes through the forest, at times endlessly, to the Buckhorn Trai. More climbing, but the gearing on the Dieringer felt great, and Ed and I went at it a little bit, his aging but agile Merlin TI conversion eventually taking the lead. A well deserved rest was had at the top of Clawhammer at the intersection with Black Mountain.
I've come down (sort of) this section of Black Mountain before, but never up. No amount of experience was necessary; one foot in front of the other, bike next to me, Hope wheel clicking away in mockery. Finally made the top of Black, and enjoyed the view. A little hazy, but through the absence of foliage, we could see both the North and South faces of Looking Glass.
Some downhill, and some technical riding along Black Mountain took us to my introduction with Turkey Pen. A half hearted joke about "just 3/4 mile back to the car, right?" was made in my honor, and the journey began. In stark contrast to our recent ride over squirrel, or the countless trips up Laurel this winter, Turkey Pen doesn't see a whole lot of traffic. In excitement I took the lead, and soon had completely lost the line. I tried my best to follow a faint trail of overturned and bunched leaves, but it wasn't a fool proof plan. A missed turn and a log jump landed me a perfect wheel base spacing distance, smack dab into another log. I was tangled in my frame and upside down before I really had any idea what was going on. Welcome to Turkey Pen. The rest of the trail is either steep up, or steep down. The leaves made both going up, and going down difficult, and sections in either direction were walked. I'm still not the best descender, but when the leaves make controlling speed impossible, I tend to get off while I'm still the one making the decision. Back to the car, right of the descent, which was a nice surprise. Mass had ended.
Here's some ride data for you.
Monday called for recovery, and the weather saw fit that I could do it on the road. I haven't been on the 'ole Roubaix in a while, and was looking forward to a little effortless speed and mindless spin work. Recovery ride always means my short loop out into the farm country of Haywood County. Living here, on the far outskirts of anything social, does afford me this one luxury; open road without fighting through any kind of urban traffic. I can do loops out of here and be passed by 4 cars the whole time.
Some very unexciting ride data.
The rest of Monday was spent playing uninformed tour guide for Chef Greg, on his way back north from an extended trip to the Hilton Head area. We walked around town, where I kindly pointed out things, and apologized for not knowing anything about said thing. It went well. Geniously I took Mr. six episodes on the food network to my favorite eatery, and he was pleased. Thanks to The Admiral for making me appear to know something about the place I allegedly live. Bluegrass, Black Mountain, Westville Pub, a game of liquor catch up, A bottle of wine, and a half season of Entourage later, my recovery day ended at 4:30 in the morning.
More road riding!! So exciting, but it rained on tuesday, and it looked pretty threatening today. Felt like I could do a little tempo paced hill climb workout, so I headed of towards Bear Creek up and over a few good ones to the little town of Marshall. Marshall was where all the rain was hiding. I quick cookie at Zuma coffee shop, and I had the decision ahead of me whether to ride river road back to Asheville proper, or turn around and undo what I just did, up and over the hills. I hate river road, and I hate flat, headwind riding, so opted for the out and back option. Much steeper climbing this direction, and it was hard to keep things together.
Anyone care for road data??
Thursday was another slow day, and I used it to finish the organization of gear that still lay around my house, and some friends houses, from the Grand Canyon trip in January. A late afternoon beer or 4 motivated me to get out of town again, and off to Georgia.
Georgia and the riding down there will get its own write up. I met with the Forest Service down there and we finally hammered out a route for SSUSA. It's going to be incredibly hard. Let that be said. And the date has changed. Hope to have the details wrapped up by the end of the weekend.