Soo, with major rides on the horizon, Bryan and I decided to go to the mountains again between brevet weekends. no triple hump, this was the real deal. with bonus miles over a bonus mountain (twice) we tipped the counter at almost 14,000 feet in 150 miles.
I had another reason to ride: i'd climbed the mountain of sobriety to year number 3..
the adventure really began friday with the car trip out. rainy, rainy, twisty roads. running late. we got to the campground and pitched tents and crawled in about 1am..up at 5, and on the way about 10 min. to 7..tony was waiting for us, along with about 8 other riders-mostly locals, including Ashvilleians' Annette and Chris Kamm.
Still foggy and cool, we headed out and into the mist. literally. in just a few hundred yards the road heads upward. for a little over two miles. ya see, hot springs is in a hole. the only way in or out is over the mountains. we would climb one out, and return by coming down the other. here I am on the way up:
|up, up, and away...|
at the top, Tony waited and said-"last chance to turn back!" no thanks, T..
Downhill! whee! 40mph in seconds. look: headlights! it's Team Lantiseptis! Mike, Cap'n, Branson, and Spencer, climbing the last miles of their challenging fleche route that started on Mt. Mitchell! awesome riding, boys. onto the brakes and make a left, let the scenery begin. there are plenty of great views up here: river roads galore, farms, horses, and rocky cliffsides, big valleys. spectacular cycling for sure, but be prepared to work, too..
not long onto the course, in the middle of a 10 mile stretch we came to a T. the next turn was a right, so that's what we did. oops. a major climb ensued, and after nearly 3 miles we were on another screaming descent in the fog. I started soft pedaling hoping someone would come along, and finally Bryan and Kamms rolled up. we had a chat and B manged to get a map on his phone and we turned back-all the way back. over walnut mountain again!
a common thing out in country: the side road has a sign, but, no sign for the road you are on. makes navigating a little frustrating at times..those extra miles and climbing put us on the bubble for the first control. we jammed along another terrific river road and soon we were there. we kept it brief to get back in the game. and climbed some more. on the descent we saw the youngsters climbing to the control. they caught us in short order, strong boys. a bit more confusion nipped us in Asheville. thanks to local knowledge, we only blew a couple miles this time! the Kamm's and other riders were at the store. jumping their wheel would have been good here, as they seemed to know the next couple hours up the road! we had another mix up between 'new/old' leicester rd. but again kept it to 2-3 miles :o) next came a few miles on newfound rd..then about 3 miles up newfound rd... this was a looong climb finished by a tenacious hound and his gun wielding owner! at least this descent was civil- almost straight, smooth and wiide open. we arrived in town and found a store and waited for bryan and hopefully rick to show up. everyone enjoyed the break and off we went.
last control. it's pretty hot out. I was enjoying the first use of a new mini camelbak. we still had 3 climbs to go in the final stretch: the first looked like a desert road. long, straight and deceptive. i was headed to low gear and we weren't on the hill yet. damn! the descent was the same too, looong and smooth. I flew by the turn to Betsy's Gap. took about 200 yards to slow and turn back. Luke and I headed to the big climb of the day, Bryan up the road about 10 min..this one hurt a little-4.5 miles of continuous ascent with turns and cliffsides. unrelenting and beautiful at the same time, and another attention getting descent with plenty of switchbacks and fast runs.
|up to betsy's gap|
a couple notes if you go:
-the campground is very mellow, I left my keys on the cars' roof! and everything was still there! $30 a night is a good deal, and the french broad river will sing you to sleep..
-it's in the middle of nowhere. make sure you have fuel in your car and supplies as it's about 15 miles back to marshall where you can get stuff.