May arrived bringing bright sunshine, blue skies and cool, crisp air – the ingredients for a perfect weekend for cycling.
Pictured from left to right: David Scott, Jen Billstrom, Kevin D’Agostino, PJ Mears, Susan Casar, Patty Lawton and Becky Headley. Photo taken by David Billstrom.
The Social Ride moved to Saturday morning so that we can ride and then visit the Black Mountain Tailgate Market. We were delighted to find that the Farm & Sparrow table was ready for business when we arrived at the market, but we missed seeing Cheese Andy at the Looking Glass Creamery table.
But, before the rewards, we tackled both challenge hills — Laurel Ridge and Howard’s Hill.
And enjoyed the descents…whee!
David and I enjoyed riding with our peeps in the sunshine, shopping at the market, and then spending the remainder of the day performing season opening maintenance on the VGR trailer. It was nice to have such a relaxing day — the calm before the storm.
Well, not really a storm. Someone (maybe Tom) called it The Death March. On Sunday, we lead a small group along one of my favorite routes — Our Assault on Mt Mitchell. This route begins in Black Mountain, descends to Old Fort, travels east to Marion and then begins the long journey to the top of Mt Mitchell before zooming down to the Folk Art Center.
The weather was perfect and we all felt very good until we reached the Black Mountain Gap which sits at an elevation of 5,160′ above sea level. Living so near Mt Mitchell, it is easy to underestimate the effect that the elevation gain has on your body. If you drive to the top, you may not feel an impact of your ability to reason or take a breath. But if you cycle to the top, your body works very hard and strange things can start to happen.
While Bonni, Leslie and I arrived at the summit exhausted but happy. Tom and Danielle both experienced light headedness and started seeing dark spots. My lungs felt small — as if I could take only half-sized breath. And, it was very cool at the top.
While difficult, this type of training is very important for preparing for a challenge century. Bonni and Danielle will ride in Assault on Mt Mitchell on May 18. Leslie and I are training for Mountains of Misery which will be held on May 24. The route is 91 miles long and offers 9,659′ of total elevation gain so it is perfect for our training goals as we prepare for our upcoming rides. Assault on Mount Mitchell offers 10,357′ of elevation gain and Mountain of Misery Century dishes out around 9,225′ of elevation gain.
David is also in training, but he will ride a different sort of two-wheeled vehicle. While I often feel a twinge of jealousy when a motorcycle passes me on a climb, riding a motorcycle on winding country roads for a couple hundred miles in one day is exhausting too. For Mountains of Misery, Fletcher Flyer, Cycle To Farm and Bookwalter Binge, David will provide EMT Support on his motorcycle. He trains for this task by supporting long rides like Our Assault on Mt Mitchell.
While we are hoping to avoid needing his EMT skills (he gets plenty of opportunity to hone his skills while working for Swannanoa Fire Department), David does benefit from practicing passing cyclists, navigating country roads, and looking for signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion in riders.
We finished the day at Pisgah Brewing Co with some good beer and bugers from the D.O.G.S. food truck. The perfect end to a great ride.
What a great weekend for cycling in Western North Carolina. I love feeling tired from a hard effort and, today anyway, I love the feel of my comfy office chair. Where did your bike take you last weekend?