Cedar Creek/Hebron Headwall – Ride #4 50 Miles & Elevation Gain 5,141’
What an incredible ride! This route is definitely my newest favorites.
We started in Black Mountain and spent some time warming up on our good friend Route 9 by heading across the continental divide. Then we whooshed down into Bat Cave. This descent has a tiny hill in the middle that passes the Light Center…otherwise, it is one of the most fun descents in WNC.
Arriving in Bat Cave and riding through Lake Lure felt like riding into a little heater. Flowers and trees were in bloom and there were plenty of tourists. Excellent bike handling skills were required for Susan and PJ to dodge the senior driver who suddenly backed into their path. We took a break at the Lake Lure Visitors Center and admired their remodeled digs. Then we rode as a team around the lake, through the tourist traffic and crossed the dam to start the roller coaster ride along Buffalo Shoals & Buffalo Creek. Note that if you are in the market for a vacation home or land, you can find tons of inventory along the lake.
When we hit the first steep wall, Tom whipped out his Cow Bell phone app to welcome the rest of us to the top. From that point on, the cow bell app along with the authentic cow bells that David I purchased at the farm supply store in the Italian Dolomites were put to good and frequent use.
Soon we were rolling through the beautiful countryside leading to Stupid Hill and the Cedar Creek climb. This was my first time to ride this section and I am totally in love (sorry Doggett, there’s a new favorite climb in my book). Before the love story, more about the climb…Tom and I were chatting away about Patty’s Triumphant Triathlon Adventure when he told me to hush to avoid waking the mad dogs that make the steep part even more stupid. We lucked out and avoided the dogs, but the chatting was definitely over. The climb is stupid-steep, but it levels a bit after about one mile. The last section before you reach Old Fort Rd is hard-packed dirt and it is very easy to navigate. Love struck at the top, David, Tom and I rang the bells again as PJ, Eric and Susan arrived at the summit.
Then it was decision time. Would we return via Old Fort Rd or descend to the old store and attempt to climb Hebron Road? Just so you know, this was Tom’s idea and he is fully aware that the mere mention of a climb will cause me to salivate. David and I were the only ones who had previously climbed the Hebron Headwall (aka Dumb & Dumber…the climb, not the Billstroms) and I was nervous and wondered if my legs would hold up. Since David was providing support with the van & trailer, we all realized that we could hitch a ride to the top if necessary so the team voted to take the hard road.
And a hard road it was. David parked the van and trailer about half way up the climb and met Tom and I on his bike just after the real climbing had begun. David turned and rode with us up the mountain. At one point, the summit came into view and I realized just what I was facing. I muttered “that’s just cruel” and Tom said “just look at the pavement in front of your wheel and keep going”…what great advice this turned out to be. We reached the top and gathered our wits in time to collect the bells (David carried them up the mountain in his bike bag) before PJ came into view. We cheered and rang the bells and welcomed him to the top. Then PJ joined the fun to help us welcome Susan and Eric.
Okay…I must admit that I teared up when I saw Susan and Eric come into view. Susan wasn’t having a great day and Eric does not have many 2014 miles under his belt yet…both have been dealing with life more than the bike in the past couple of weeks. Yet there they were, climbing a beast of a mountain. Life just does not get any better. Watching true friends accomplish something that they thought they could no do…it’s priceless and so very rewarding.
More Cow Bell! After recovering and celebrating at the top, we started to roll toward home. One more mountain loomed in our path…and one sweet descent to Black Mountain. What a fantastic day! These are the days that make you so much stronger.
Cannot wait to do it all again!