Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blue Ridge

Once talking rocks for two hours with a Va Tech prof, and wondering the halls of the geology building reading posters and papers for an hour, I struck out for North Carolina.  The main goal was to drive a good portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway down to Boone, NC and get a bike ride in.  The parkway was splendid, full of turns, expansive Appalachain vistas, and little traffic.  Reminding myself to slow down, to let everything soak in did the trick, and despite heavy cloud cover for the majority of the drive, I had a big smile on my face at the end.  After about three hours of Blue Ridge driving, I was in Boone, and fine folks at a local bike shop, pointed me in the direction of a good bike ride.  I headed down the road to the town of Blowing Rock, which was a fitting name, because for the second day in a row, the wind was blowing.  

The guys in Boone told me to ride on Highway 321, however they neglected to tell me that my ride would start with an 8 mile winding descent through a couple of construction zones (which means an 8 mile climb through construction zones on the way back).  As usual for this part of the country, the expansive views of rolling hills were great, making me realize that Michael Mann did a great job picking his filming locations for Last of the Mohicans.  The other great aspect to riding in this part of the country are the countless roadside stands that sell boiled peanuts (which I would pick up on the drive out of town).  The wind was howling, and made me regret not putting on some arm warmers, but after delaying my eight mile climb back to town for long enough, I started the climb.  In the tradition of my stupidity, I got into my "pick a gear and don't shift" mentality, and spent probably somewhere between 35 and 40 minutes slaving up the climb.  

After getting back to town and exploring some local country roads, I got back to the car and changed back to street clothes.  My original plans had been to visit and old college friend in Charlotte, but after making and appointment to meet with a prof in Knoxville early Wednesday afternoon, I realized that the 2.5 hour trip in the wrong direction was a bad idea.  Instead, I headed towards Asheville, and through the help of Slohio Rob, got hooked up with Shana of Endless Cycles, who was kind enough to let me sleep on her futon.  After introductions we headed to a garage where a crew of cyclists had converged to drink (Olde English for me) and shoot the breeze.  I have heard nothing but great things about both Asheville the city, and the riding surrounding it, and was rather bummed out I wouldn't be able to get a ride in.  After a good night's rest, I packed up the car and headed out for Knoxville, but not before Shana made me a quality cup of coffee.    So with that I offer a huge thanks the Shana for her kindness, knowing that the next time I have to buy a cog for one of my bikes it will be from her.  

Your humble author along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Rock descriptions on the highway make me happy

Monday, September 28, 2009


Headed on down the road to Blacksburg, VA today, the highlight of the morning was dropping a buck on the $120 million PA lottery (keep those fingers crossed).  Headed south into the the Appalachains, and remembered why despite the fact that these mountains aren't that tall, they sure are nice to look at.  After a biblical rain storm that lasted far too long, Mr. Sunshine came out and stayed out for the rest of the day.  Once in Blacksburg, I parked the car, and took a spin around the town and Va Tech's campus.  The town didn't seem to offer anything special, aside from a fair amount of bars and spots to eat.  The main thing about the campus that stuck out, was that the quad looked to be bigger than all of Lafayette's campus.  Anyway, tomorrow is when I get to tackle Va Tech, today was the day to see what the riding was like in Blacksburg.  

I only have the road bike with me, so I struck out to the west of town to find some country road to enjoy the sunshine.  To compliment all of the sunshine, was a lot of wind from seemingly every direction.  Oh well, despite the wind, few things can beat riding along east coast country roads with the sun on your back.  Once again the Appalachains might not get above 7,000 feet, but at least they were green (which is more than I can say about the hills around Missoula).  I dropped into the next valley of from Blacksburg, and just went off exploring.  The ride was great, the motorists were polite, and the one buzzkill was that I didn't see anyone selling moonshine on the side of the road.  The scenery is what you see below, and it made me wonder whether or not there were trails cutting through these forests (there have to be, or else local mtb'ers deserve a smack on the back of the head).  

While I'm not a huge fan of folks putting up messages of how to act because you are in "God's Country", at least this sign had a decent message on it.  

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hitting The Road

Since SSMT got all wrapped up, there hasn’t been a whole lot to write about. Headed back to the old stomping grounds out east, and took some time to decompress. Spending time with the family, catching up with friends, and trying to figure out far too many aspects of life. Got to get some solid rides in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, back on what I consider my old stomping grounds. Think what you may about riding along the New Jersey roads, but these roads put a smile on my face, with steep climbs and sweeping turns. Same goes for riding along the Delaware River in PA, it seemed like I had the roads all to myself, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like there wasn’t any crap clogging up the old noggin.

Now that I got all the cobwebs cleaned out of my head, its time to head home. The plan is to take the long way stopping at various institutions to figure out my next move. Gonna head south, then west, and finally back north. One highlight will be working as Dejay’s pit guy for the 24 Hour Nationals in Moab in a few weeks. Hopefully he will have the legs and the noggin to keep me motivated to stay up the entire night of 24 hour race without the possibility of actually getting to ride. Aside from that I have a list of places to get rides in on the way home, those rides that people tell you that you "have" to do. Then the trip will come to end once I get back home, with old man winters first appearance right around the bend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

SSMT Report

My apologies to any who have been waiting for the full recap. Driving across the country this past week took a good chunk out of me, but now I'm back to full strength. All things SSMT got started Friday afternoon, when I made it to Bozeman and met up with Eric who was finishing packing up the Mule Train. We got up to the staging area, parked the whips and started to attack all of the logistical tasks which needed to be done. Ben was busy twith the weed wacker clearing the timing areas, I set up the easy ups, Eric unpakced the Mule Train, and Cory was getting a massage.

Ben, Eric, Sten, Rich, and self headed out to go make sure all of the course markings were in place. Ben and I took the climbing portion, and in about an hour we had made it back to the staging area to begin the evening of eating, drinking, and good times. Rich, Sten, and Eric had a little bit more work, and didnt come back until after dark. While they were out, a fire was built, the Madison River keg was tapped, and brats were cooked. Jesse from Red Lodge had made the trip up early, and joined in the good times with his own fine microbrews. Once heavy drunkeness set in we headed to catch some quick sleep before the real work started.
The sun rose and work started to get taken care of. In the end a little over 50 people showed up for the mountain bike race. At the pre race meeting I told all the singlespeeders about the rules of SSMT. I told them that to go along with the Le Mans start, they would have to do it with their front wheel, then once they got to their bike they would have to put the front wheel on. I also told them that one they finished the cross country portion to hang around the start finish area, so they could also get their hill climb TT aspect taken care of. The race began with a bang from Rich's shotgun and Adam from South Carolina appeared to be the first singlespeeder to get his front wheel on, and start riding.

Since I wasnt participating I had no idea what was going on with the actual race. I do know that one singlespeeder got lost while doing his pre-lap, and didnt make it back to the road until after the race had started. I gave him a water bottle and an oatmeal creme pie, and told him to just ride two laps anyway. From what I did see of the cross country portion, Jesse killed it, beating all put one of the geared riders, Adam had to cut his day short due to a flat, and Ed was grateful for the cool cans of Olympia I offered to him.

Once the cross country portion was finished, all of the singlespeed folks went off to do their hill climb TT. It seemed simple enough, I told them where to start, and where they would finish. Each time as the rider began to ride to the start line, I stopped them and gave told them of the final wrinkle. They would have to ride the time trial wearing my backpack which was loaded with beer, and other heavy items. In the end Ed through down the fastest time, which gave him a tie in overall points with Matt. However, Matt had done better in the cross country race, which I considered to be the tie breaker.
Matt's tie breaker earned him the right to pick which one of the four Litte Debbie's treats would not be included in the decider Matt picked the Sweet Rolls, so the Decider for overall supremecy would be determined by who could eat the three Little Debbie treats the quickest.

In the end Sam, who was last in the cross country race wound up finishing his treats the quickest, and therefore was the big winner. He received his gold spinner hubcap as a prize, and all seemed to enjoy themselves, which is all I really cared about. Now I just have to figure out what to do in order to improve on it for next year.