Here’s a recap of my weekend. It involved me, a friend, and our road and mt. bikes, spent in the Blue Ridge mountains outside of Asheville:
Day 1: Mt. Bikes
Arrived in Asheville. Drove straight to trailhead. Managed to wrangle out the necessary bikes from the 5 stuffed in my car. C and I hit the trail, which began with a nice, not-so-gradual fire road climb that went up about 6 miles, before it ended in a hike-a-bike 1½ mile section that provided spectacular views of the mountain ranges. The Blue Ridge mountains really do have a blue hue—something about the air. I did manage to take some shots with my camera phone, but because I don’t know how to transfer those shots onto my computer, you’ll just have to believe me that we were really there.
We then hit the descent, which consisted of awesome rocky drop offs and lots of roots. C, being the more fearless one in our duo, was ahead of me on the trail, so I missed the spectacular spectacle of him launching off a cliff and tumbling 30 feet down an embankment, where a tree graciously stopped his fall. I whizzed right by, totally oblivious that he was amongst the trees below me, picking out branches from his back skin and attempting to locate his bike. He eventually caught up to me (I did stop to look for him at one point, but figured he just decided to carry on and not wait), and while we proceeded down one of the most kick-ass descents I’ve ever encountered, he peppered me with the tale of his mighty fall.
Almost 3 hours later, we reached my car, breathless and feeling alive and exhilarated. We made it back to the hotel and managed to pull ourselves together for a very tasty Asheville dinner.
Day 2: Road Bikes
We got an early start, and after winding through some traffic and busy roads for five or so miles, we finally hit some cool valleys and our first climb. It was quite steep, and I regrettably realized that my bike did not have the proper gear set-up for Asheville climbs. It does just find around the rolling hills of Greensboro, but 15% grades require a few more rings on the cassette. Anyhow, after winding through more valleys, avoiding some dogs, and dodging mountaineer southerners (they generally have few teeth and live in trailers), we hit what we were after: the 8-mile dirt climb.
It’s been about 2 ½ years since I climbed anything over 2 miles long, so the weekend’s mountains were a harsh wake-up call to my un-practiced legs. Long climbs used to be my Zen, my therapy, when I lived in SLO. There, I could ride out my door and be climbing within a matter of minutes, but my current living situation requires a long drive to hit any real mountains. Anyways, let’s just say that I was out of practice and felt a bit pathetic about my pace toward the end of the ascent.
The top of the climb spit us out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, where we got our speed-fix on the descent. We turned off the Parkway and hit another dirt road, which was such a rush. I adore dirt-road descending on a road bike.
So today I’m back in the office, compare-pricing 12/27 cassettes online, and thinking that my next Asheville weekend will have to come very soon.