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  1. #1
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Wolfpack's BRP Ride Report

    Well.....here ya go...(Vega, you can so do this ride!)

    I headed up the Parkway from Hwy70 in Asheville, about an 18mi drive up to my starting point of Craggy Gardens. Met a couple of motorcyclists who gave me some good natured ribbing about having the bike on the car and not riding. Saw 5-6 other cyclists on this 18mi stretch...I'll say they were doing pretty well, considering, it's about 18mi of climbing! Well, ok, maybe not that much, but it is considerable climbing to get to Craggy Gardens.

    I started off around 12:15pm and immediately had to climb up & through the tunnel. Holy Crap! My legs were not prepared for this climbing this early! (Must have more warmup for the Fall ride) And the heart rate went on up to 176+...so, I had to go to the first overlook and ride around, catch my breath, and try to put out the fire in my legs. Definitely not used to that elevation. 5000+ vs 500/600 elevation.

    here's the first pic at the visitor's center & tunnel:



    So, I head off again and thankfully, it's a decent for a little bit. I stop at the overlook and shoot a couple of pics. Then, I hit the first real climb...lemme tell ya, it was hard. I looked at my Garmin every so often and I would see, 4%, 6%, 7%, 8% - 10% for the grade on this climb. I ain't gonna lie...I did have to stop and rest on this climb and the others because my heart rate got up to 176, then 181 and I had to stop to get it lower then continue on. It was like that for all the climbs. Pretty much, when I hit 176, I knew I could go a little bit further, but would have to take a breather. I don't think I left my 34/27 too often either except on the decents. Holy Crap.

    I thought the first climb was the hardest (after the tunnel) because I was going so slowwwwww. Like, 3.5-4mph. How in the hell I didn't fall over I'll never know. But, it did get a little easier. Even in sections where I saw a constant 6%-8% grade, I found that it's all about finding your rhythm and tapping it out. Once I found that rhythm, I was good to go till my heart rate hit that 176 mark. By finding my rhythem, I was able to do some of the climbing at 7-8mph. Just tap it out, and keep on breathing.

    There were TONS of butterflys up there as well as little bumble bees. So I snaped some pics of those. One thing you really had to do on the decents, was to make sure you kept your mouth closed! I got hit on every decent several times by the butterflys and bees. Fortunately, didn't get stung. These butterflys were all over the place...on the road dead, on the flowers, just flying willy-nilly across the road.

    Here's some of the pretty red & yellow flowers that were in abundance up there:




    This picture is when I had to stop to get the heart rate down. Somewhere in the middle of a climb, looking down the road and up to where I'm going:



    The second climb was a little harder, but since I'd figured the rhythem thing out, it wasn't as bad. Didn't say it was easy either. There was mowing going on and I let him pass me initially, but I wound up passing him and then wanted to make sure I stayed in front of him. Wasn't gonna let no dang mower beat me up this mountain.

    Decending....One word....extremely fast! OK, yea, that's two words, but it was freakin' absolutely awesome to go flying down these mountains! Max speed on the Garmin was 41.2mph!!!! I didn't dare look to see how fast I was going because you need to really watch the road and take the curves right...It's a wonder you didn't see smoking brakes at times. Went flying past the Mt. Mitchell entrance and rode on past it for, maybe a half mile or so, then turned around. I would have loved to ridden to the top, but at that point, I only had one bottle left, no gels and still had 10mi to get back to CG PLUS climbing. Got a few pics at the entrance. Then I saw one of the motorcyclists I had spoken to earlier and he took my pic..





    The trip back was considerably harder. I forgot to bring any gels (yea, I know..) so my legs were about shot. Only one water bottle left as well. So, I head back and this trip was the most difficult. I had to stop more often because there just wasn't hardly anything left in my legs. Ran outa water at Glassmine Falls, then it was just ride to the next shady area, take a break, ride. Finally got to the 18mi mark and I knew I only had 2 more miles to go...I was able to finish out that last 2-2.5 mi without stopping. Of course, the last 1.5-2mi was downhill! I finally hit the crest of the last climb, got my biggest gears and flew through the tunnel to my car. That was sweet going around 30+mph through the tunnel.

    Got back to the car, downed a SunDrop & half a bag of honey roasted peanuts. Changed my clothes, loaded the bike/gear and headed home..stopped at Subway and devoured a 12" turkey sub too!

    Oh yea, here's the link to my motionbased data.

    Total climbing from Garmin data was 2100'. I guess BWNC can tell me whether my gps data is anywhere close. The start/end elevations don't match cause I started the recording at the visitor's center sign and ended at my car.

    I'm gonna be back up there next week and might try to do this ride again....I'm a glutton for punishment.
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  2. #2
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    How'd the knee fare, WP? Hope you don't have any delayed pain....

    Now you see why I know I'm not ready to be a mountain-climber. I'm a-gonna work up to it. Maybe start in the foothills....

    Still, though, that's a great ride report, and you are one courageous flatlander!

    Good luck next week!

  3. #3
    toothless
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    So I'm kinda dumb as far as training goes, but why do you have to stop when your heart rate gets so high? Was it from over exertion or is there a training-specific reason?

    Looks like a fun ride. Beautiful country side. I don't think I've ever personally seen a road in that good of condition.

  4. #4
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Great ride report, wp. So now you have jumped the first hurdle and know it can be done. Next time you will know wat to expect, know more about pacing and be better prepared to ride more and stop less. God job!

    If you come up next week let me know, maybe I can join you.

    Aren't the wildflowers awesome up there? Looks like you have a nice day.

  5. #5
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veganaise View Post
    So I'm kinda dumb as far as training goes, but why do you have to stop when your heart rate gets so high? Was it from over exertion or is there a training-specific reason?

    Looks like a fun ride. Beautiful country side. I don't think I've ever personally seen a road in that good of condition.
    well, for me, when i hit 181, i just couldn't continue pedaling past that point or continue riding at that HR. maybe i need more training where i ride longer at a higher HR, not really sure. i just know that i felt like i had to stop, i could hear my heartbeat in my ears and my legs felt as tho they couldn't turn another revolution. i wouldn't have to stop too long, a minute or so, and get the HR back to around 160. i could ride pretty long at 174-176, but when it got a lot higher than that...stopping was what i had to do.

    Vega - the knee feels ok today. there was a little discomfort yesterday on the drive home, but it feels ok today, at least while i'm just walking around...you should really come up and do the fall ride. hell, if i can do this you can do the fall ride!
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  6. #6
    Chicken farmer! Eboo's Avatar
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    Beautiful pictures, wolfpack. Those hills make me cry, but you made them your *****. w00t!
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    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    BTW, the elevation data looks prety good. Perhaps 100-200' more than it should be but it is very close. Typically an out and back on the BRP will work out to around 100' per mile.

  8. #8
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Wow. looks like a beautiful ride!! Good job, WP! (My asthma is kicking in just reading this) Thanks for sharing.
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  9. #9
    toothless
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfpack View Post
    well, for me, when i hit 181, i just couldn't continue pedaling past that point or continue riding at that HR. maybe i need more training where i ride longer at a higher HR, not really sure. i just know that i felt like i had to stop, i could hear my heartbeat in my ears and my legs felt as tho they couldn't turn another revolution. i wouldn't have to stop too long, a minute or so, and get the HR back to around 160. i could ride pretty long at 174-176, but when it got a lot higher than that...stopping was what i had to do.
    Sounds fun. We don't have hills around here long or steep enough that I get to that point.

  10. #10
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
    Great ride report, wp. So now you have jumped the first hurdle and know it can be done. Next time you will know wat to expect, know more about pacing and be better prepared to ride more and stop less. God job!

    If you come up next week let me know, maybe I can join you.

    Aren't the wildflowers awesome up there? Looks like you have a nice day.
    I think that first climb up through the tunnel, I started really fast, then all of a sudden, the grade steepened and I thought "oh *****"....I thought what the hell am I doing????

    Yea, it can be done. I'm not afraid anymore of riding up there. It's hard, but once you figure out how to pace yourself on the climbs, it's not too bad.

    I will be up there next week, as my dad wants me to come up when he has the cath done. He's having it done on Wednesday, supposedly early in the morning. I won't really know when (time-wise) I will be able to ride tho...most likely, later in the afternoon.
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  11. #11
    car dodger norskagent's Avatar
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    heh, your experience is familiar...it's all about finding a gear you can sustain on those climbs. I did a ride similar to yours last year, started at the parkway / U.S. 70 and headed north. First mile middle chainring, then small chainring, then downshift, etc. Ended up in my granniest gear about halfway up the initial ~5 mile climb, though the road grade stayed about the same throughout. I descended elk mtn. rd. I think, worked my way back up to the parkway via town mnt. road (shorter but steeper than the parkway climb), I thought about stopping at one point but "endeavored to persevere" and hit the parkway to descend back to my car. Went from 6mph hot and sweaty to 40 mph suddenly freezing in no time...As hard as that climbing was, it didn't prepare me for a mtn. bike ride my "friend" took me on at nearbye montreat. We climbed an old logging road for over an hour it seemed, in mostly mtn. bike granny gears, with some tough "steps" thrown in for good measure, the whole time he's telling me "it's not that bad", etc. I was breathing too hard to drink from my camalbak without pausing. But the descent was worth it as usual. I think you'll find the more you can get up there the easier the climbing will feel. I also think the best way to prepare around here is to seek out hillier rides and climb the grades at a suffering or slightly suffering pace...jp

  12. #12
    5 stringer cpljohnst's Avatar
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    Great ride report. Pretty pictures! Congrats on making those climbs!
    "Gunga galunga...gunga -- gunga galunga." - Carl Spackler

  13. #13
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norskagent View Post
    heh, your experience is familiar...it's all about finding a gear you can sustain on those climbs. I did a ride similar to yours last year, started at the parkway / U.S. 70 and headed north. First mile middle chainring, then small chainring, then downshift, etc. Ended up in my granniest gear about halfway up the initial ~5 mile climb, though the road grade stayed about the same throughout. I descended elk mtn. rd. I think, worked my way back up to the parkway via town mnt. road (shorter but steeper than the parkway climb), I thought about stopping at one point but "endeavored to persevere" and hit the parkway to descend back to my car. Went from 6mph hot and sweaty to 40 mph suddenly freezing in no time...As hard as that climbing was, it didn't prepare me for a mtn. bike ride my "friend" took me on at nearbye montreat. We climbed an old logging road for over an hour it seemed, in mostly mtn. bike granny gears, with some tough "steps" thrown in for good measure, the whole time he's telling me "it's not that bad", etc. I was breathing too hard to drink from my camalbak without pausing. But the descent was worth it as usual. I think you'll find the more you can get up there the easier the climbing will feel. I also think the best way to prepare around here is to seek out hillier rides and climb the grades at a suffering or slightly suffering pace...jp
    the ONLY gear i could sustain this time was my lowest (34/27) i kept looking back/down and the cassette, thinking there's gotta be another gear there!

    oh yea, it was very hard, but at the same time it was fun because i could say, "hey, i'm actually doing this - i'm riding on the BRP and dammit, it's fun!". it was quite & peaceful, beautiful, breezy, and i had a really great time. those decents were chilly! being all sweaty then flying down at 35+mph gave me chilly bumps.

    i think i need to move away from clayton riding and do some more rides in n. raleigh to hit the hills. i need to do rides where i'm at that higher HR and get used to that if i'm to do BRP rides and not have to stop as much.
    wolfpackcycles
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  14. #14
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Good job! It'll be easier next time since you already know you've done it before.
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  15. #15
    Giving you the business. Cypress's Avatar
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    *envious*
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  16. #16
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
    *envious*
    well, you don't have to be envious....come on out and join us in September.
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

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    Giving you the business. Cypress's Avatar
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    *sigh*
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  18. #18
    car dodger norskagent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfpack View Post
    i think i need to move away from clayton riding and do some more rides in n. raleigh to hit the hills. i need to do rides where i'm at that higher HR and get used to that if i'm to do BRP rides and not have to stop as much.
    Do my "triple mall" loop with me some time...from downtown, head down st. mary's st... climb lassiter mill to north hills mall, then take north hills drive to crabtree mall, climb blue ridge rd. to glen eden, climb glen eden to ridge rd., thence to ridgewood and back, about 15 miles, easily extended.

  19. #19
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    Yeah, Cypress, you can take my place on that ride. If you're there, they surely won't miss me!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by norskagent View Post
    I also think the best way to prepare around here is to seek out hillier rides and climb the grades at a suffering or slightly suffering pace...jp
    +1000 This is what I've started doing here on my usual routes. And I'm slowly seeing that I can sustain a given speed up a grade a bit longer, or a bit further each time.... But I know I'm not ready for the BRP.

  21. #21
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegaVixen View Post
    +1000 This is what I've started doing here on my usual routes. And I'm slowly seeing that I can sustain a given speed up a grade a bit longer, or a bit further each time.... But I know I'm not ready for the BRP.
    sure you're ready...i did it cold turkey, no training what-so-ever. in fact, i usually try to avoid hilly routes around here, but i've seen the light. i actually like to climb (or that's what i'm telling myself now).

    and, no, Cypress can't take your place Vega. it would be much better if you both joined us!

    jp - let me know when you're going to do such a ride and i'll see if i can join you.
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  22. #22
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    Great job WP! I'm proud of ya!
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

  23. #23
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norskagent View Post
    Do my "triple mall" loop with me some time...from downtown, head down st. mary's st... climb lassiter mill to north hills mall, then take north hills drive to crabtree mall, climb blue ridge rd. to glen eden, climb glen eden to ridge rd., thence to ridgewood and back, about 15 miles, easily extended.
    I used to ride that area all the time when I lived in West Raleigh. Even back then I liked the hills. On our ride yesterday we had a tough little climb on the back side of the shoulder over Whiteface. There were some 12% sections and my brother gapped me by about 200 yards by the top. So what, that was like 15 or 20 seconds, no big deal. You have to ride your own pace on the hills or risk really blowing up and falling way back. I learned that lesson a long time ago.

  24. #24
    smorenivore colorider's Avatar
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    Great ride report and photos. What a nice ride. I bet it's spectacular in the fall as well.
    One does not simply ride their bike into Mordor! - electrik

  25. #25
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
    I used to ride that area all the time when I lived in West Raleigh. Even back then I liked the hills. On our ride yesterday we had a tough little climb on the back side of the shoulder over Whiteface. There were some 12% sections and my brother gapped me by about 200 yards by the top. So what, that was like 15 or 20 seconds, no big deal. You have to ride your own pace on the hills or risk really blowing up and falling way back. I learned that lesson a long time ago.
    Well, it didn't take me too long yesterday to figure out that I needed to just slow down and ride at my pace, whatever that was or I wasn't gonna even finish this ride. It wasn't a race and I didn't (and don't) care about the average speed. Doesn't matter a hill o'beans up there. Find your rhythm, remember to breathe and climb those mountains YOUR way & YOUR pace and it can be done. I'm proof of that.

    Kinda wish I lived up in that area now....
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

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