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  1. #1
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Roan Moan & Sunday Recovery Ride

    Left work/lunch at 12:30pm on Friday and headed towards Marion, where I would then head to Burnsville & my motel. My friend NealH wanted to do some ride Sunday for recovery and I had delusional thoughts of riding up Hwy 80 from Marion to Mt Mitchell. A little bit about those ideas next...

    When I got to Marion, I decided that I would see what this route was like. From the Walmart in Marion, the first 10mi was, IMO, do-able by me. But, then, after this 10 miles, there was a yellow sign with a left arrow and 20mph on it....I looked to the left and O.M.G. The road just turned UP. OK, I thought...maybe this is harder than I imagined. Yes. As I drove up this road, in second and sometimes first gear, I thought...damn...no way will I be able to do this Sunday.

    I thought, well, ok, maybe I'll just do from the first overlook up to Mitchell. Let's just say...NO. Not this time. Then, it was, maybe I'll just do the 5 miles up to the summit. Umm, NO. Not this time....So, no MM on this trip.

    Roan Moan.
    Well, I had to get up at 4:30am on Saturday because I wanted to get something to eat a few hours before the ride. Left the motel around 5:30am and arrived at the start at 6am. Checked in and then went back to the car to get my stuff ready. It was a little bit cool, something like 63F, and I decided to not take a jacket (very bad idea), but I did take arm warmers.

    I don't think there were more than 50 total riders starting the century. Well, I know where I'll be riding...at the back. I rode around a bit before the start to get some bit of warmup, then the ride organizer told us to line up and get our instructions. We were told of the major turns, where dogs were reported, caution areas, etc. Then, the previous fire chief (musta been a long time ago, cause this fellow was about as old as dirt) pulled a *** out and said "get going" or something to that effect and fired the ***!

    We're off. I knew better than to try and keep up with the big dogs...I had 100mi to ride and didn't want to blow it all in the first hour or so. We made a little loop around Bakersville, then headed on the main route. I just had to let people pass me. Very hard to do, but necessary. The terrain was rolling for the first hour. During this time, at around the 30min mark, I felt the first few drops of rain. Just a few sprinkles. It was overcast and looked like the rain was immenint.

    Well, it was...an hour into the ride, the damn bottom fell out. Great. Just freakin' great. I have no jacket, I'm completely soaked. (BWNC - it rained almost as hard as that day when we ate at Wendy's). I did have arm warmers, but elected to leave them in the jersey pocket, as I knew I would need something warm for the descents. *sigh* I thought, this is gonna be one long ass ride today. Soaking wet, water sloshing in my shoes at 18mi.

    Slogged on...the first climb was at Spivey's Gap. Can't tell you the grade, just don't remember what I was seeing (raining) and the Garmin is F'd up. Anyways, I had caught up with a lot of people, passed some on this climb. It was pretty hard, around 4mi at maybe 7 or 8%, but not sure about this. I hate riding in the rain...especially for any length of time. Makes for getting rashes.... Finally reach the first rest stop. I don't need anything - I had only drank almost 1 bottle of Perpetuem. I did get a trash bag tho, and put that on for the descent.

    I hate descending on wet roads. But, off I go. I don't know how far down I was, but, all of a sudden I noticed a whup-whup-whup, thump-thump-thumping noise. I look at the front tire....****. I've got a freakin' flat. OK, fine, let's change it and get going. Ummm, not that quick. Seems the tubes that my friend picked up for me - the stems were not long enough. Damnit. People are passing me asking do I need help. No. Until I realize this tube ain't getting it. Some nice guy stops by and gives me his tube. Then, like a dumbass, I forget to unscrew the thingy and lose all my CO2 cause it's not going in the freakin' tube.

    I'm mad at this time. I throw the damn wheel down (the SAG had stopped in the meantime) and say F' it, I'm done. Well, Steve (the nice guy) said, "umm, maybe you should try this pump first" Oh. OK - pump it up and head out after Steve (he went ahead and left). I finally catch up with him and we ride together for the longest time until I'm tired of riding a bit slowly and pull on away from him.

    More rolling terrain, a bit of flat section, 15 to 20 more miles and I'm at the 2nd rest stop. 58 miles done. 42 miles left. Steve's friend is there waiting on him, and we talk for a little bit while waiting on him. I refill both bottles with Perpetuem, eat some cookies and all 3 of us head out together. I stay with them for a while, but again, off I go. Most of the ride is done this way - solo. More rolling/sometimes flatish terrain.

    The RR grade is the next best part of this ride. We follow along the old Tweetsie (i guess) RR grade. Very nice pavement, beautiful scenery. The grade is really nice - no major climbing, just nice easy stuff. Don't recall how long this was though. One more rest stop in this section. I don't get anything except some peanut M&M's. Head on out. Still solo.

    Finally arrive in Roan Mountain Tennessee. The road leading into RM is nice & smooth, but has the "rumble strips of death". There is a nice shoulder to ride on, but those are between you and the travel lane. That's ok, until the shoulder runs out....I had to cross those damn things at 20 something mph. O.M.G. I just knew I was gonna get a flat outa that. Up next is the sign for RM Park. The skies, which had been clear & sun out since the second rest stop, started to darken. Approaching cars had their lights on and wipers on intermmitent. Uh Oh.

    So, yes, you guessed it. I'm getting rained on for the second time. This isn't quite the downpour as the first hour, but it's raining just the same. Then it quits. For a short time. I finally enter RM Park. Very nice park. Saw a couple of deer standing off to one side. Got a pic of one of them. This road is the same as all the others, rolling. But, wait....the real climb is coming up....and oh boy, when it starts, it is freakin' relentless.
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  2. #2
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    continued....



    7 or 8 miles of climbing up to Carver's Gap. I had a consistant 9% showing on my garmin. Confirmed by my friend Neal. Man, this was hard. So, hard, it had one guy walking. I thought how in the hell are you gonna walk all the way to the top????? I passed him and then his friend a short time later. This guy was SO struggling, his pedaling motion made my knees hurt. It was awful to watch. Anyways, 9% on and on. Just found a pace, very slow, that I felt somewhat comfortable with and kept moving. I found myself just looking down, watching my feet, making them turn the pedals over, making sure that I wasn't pedaling toe-down. had to do something besides look upgrade or at the computer.

    Then, wow! The grade seemed much easier. Peek at the computer...Yes! 5% to 7% grade. Hell yes. Gear down and stand up to pedal for these short sections. O.M.G. I never would have thought a 5% grade to be easy, but after such long 9% sections, it was a relief. There were mile markers painted on the road too - to let you know how much further you had to go. At the 5mi to go mark, I felt the drops of rain again. Not again. But, yes, and just as damn hard as before or harder. God, what a brutal climb. I was never so glad to reach the top. And I was freezing. I don't know what the temp was - butt freakin' cold is what it was!

    Steve SAGged to the top (also the walking guy and his friend). Standing around for about 5-10 minutes, my knees were so sore. And, I was so cold. Where was that hot shower??? Oh, at the end. Steve & his friend told me to put the trash bag I had in the front of my jersey to block the cold wind on the descent. I'm soooo glad I did that! It helped a lot. But I still had chattering teeth on the descent. I found that the optimal speed was 21mph or less. Faster than this and I was extremely cold. This speed or less, and it was somewhat bearable. My knees hurt something fierce on this descent. 12mi. 12mi of freakin' freezing. Finally, you could feel the temps changing. Warmth! Never so glad to get off a mountain. Another wet road descent. Then, there was a small climb and downhill to the end.

    Whew. I was never so glad to be done with a ride (except AoM). A hot shower and a cold beer was what I wanted. I got one of those and had to wait for the other. Man. What a ride. Not sure that I'll do the century next year. I think the metric might be enough. After the shower, ate a hotdog & hamburger, sat around and talked with Steve and 3 of his friends. 2 of which were from the Burnsville area. Didn't see anyone else that I knew.

    It was a really good ride, beautiful scenery, well supported. I think I would like to ride that again, but, damnit, not in the rain. And, this was the umpteenth time for the ride to have rain.

    Stats:
    Distance=101mi
    Ride time=7:12hr
    Total time=8:30hr (rest stops & damn flat tire)
    Elevation change=8000+/- (garmin is F'd up and won't even download to training center)

    Talked to BWNC later that night and he wanted me to come over and ride a "flat recovery" ride with him....

    Sunday Recovery Ride with BWNC.
    Yea...so, I told him that I would think about it, if he could find a ride that didn't have too much climbing...I'd had enough for one weekend. So, of course he does....50 miles, maybe 2000-2500' was what he said.

    So, another early rise morning...5:30am cause NealH and I had to be in Sylva around 8-8:30am. We get there and head out shortly - through town and follow roads that are along the river. About as flat as one can get in the mountains. Very beautiful morning. We're moving along pretty dang fast too. So much for Mr. "I Haven't Ridden In 10 Days". Didn't seem to affect him one bit. I'm hanging on to his wheel for all I'm worth. Be damned if I'm getting dropped (except on longish climbs, which I know not to try and keep up. that = wp blowing up).

    When I asked last night where we would be riding, he said Caney Fork route. Looking at the profile, it looked like one heck of a serious climb. Not that bad. About .5mi. I let NealH & BWNC go on and climbed it at my pace. They were waiting at the top on me, and we headed on down the other side. I pulled up alongside BWNC on a straight downhill section and asked him if that was "it". Yes. Oh. I was expecting something harder.

    The rest of the ride, to the turn around point was one looooonnnngggggg false flat. And, he's pulling us along at a pretty good clip. You really don't realize what the grade is like until you start back and pick speed up really fast. We take a short break and head back down. I'm leading out and the speed just seems to get faster. I keep looking around to see where the guys are at...way back behind me. Is he EVER gonna catch up??? What took you so dang long??

    BWNC finally catches up to me, takes the lead and proceeds to see how fast we can go downhill. He's cranking it! I hang right with him. Not getting away from me! 33 to 35mph we are going! Sweet. All 3 of us take turns pulling and at one time, NealH comments - I thought we weren't supposed to work so hard going DOWNHILL!! :rofl:

    It was a really good ride back to Sylva. All of us taking turns. I think BWNC and Neal would get to talking when it was my turn to take pulls. Every dang time, I pull off expecting someone else to take lead and those two are no where to be found! What the heck is up with that?? He's complaining - you're puttin' a hurting on me. Sure. You guys are just back there jabbering.

    It was a really good ride. Don't know if I'd call it a recovery ride tho ....

    Went to lunch with the guys afterwards and then headed home. I was soooo tired. Could've used a nap, but managed without one.

    Stats:
    Distance=52mi
    Ride Time=2:52
    Elevation change=~1900-2000'
    Avg=18mph

    Totals for the weekend:
    153 miles
    10,000+/- elevation.

    Pictures to come.....
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  3. #3
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    at the ride start:






    don't recall where a lot of the pics are, but when i can remember, i'll state so...












    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  4. #4
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    i know these few are in TN, don't remember the town...












    RR grade:






    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  5. #5
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Roan Mountain, TN:


    A happy face before the next rain:








    Climbing Roan:


    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  6. #6
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Carver's Gap:


    A few towards the end of the ride:




    Sunday "Recovery Ride"
    NealH:


    BWNC:


    Various pics along the route:




    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  7. #7
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  8. #8
    Free Velo Vol! Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Nothing like the weather messing up a good ride. That's too bad. Riding wet and cold on a century is no fun.

    How was the route apart from the climb up Roan? Was the North Carolina part hilly?

    A couple years ago I did an out-and-back ride from Hampton, TN, to the top of the mountain. Part of the route was an old railroad path. I wonder if it was the same one? The pictures look familiar.

  9. #9
    Free Velo Vol! Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Did you see these?

  10. #10
    Senior Member CollectiveInk's Avatar
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    Wow! You've got some climbing skills! Living in Johnson City, I've got some friends with a house up on Roan Mtn (NC side) and just driving up there can be a pain. First time I went I arrived at their place with smoke pouring from my brakes.... can't image doing it on a bike. But congrats on doing it.

    Oh, the pictures from TN, the one's you didn't remember where... it's Erwin, TN. The building with a dome is the church my ex-MIL got remarried in (only remember it cuz I photographed the ceremony.)
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  11. #11
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Vol View Post
    Nothing like the weather messing up a good ride. That's too bad. Riding wet and cold on a century is no fun.

    How was the route apart from the climb up Roan? Was the North Carolina part hilly?

    A couple years ago I did an out-and-back ride from Hampton, TN, to the top of the mountain. Part of the route was an old railroad path. I wonder if it was the same one? The pictures look familiar.
    The route was great, other than the rain. It was very well marked (turns, caution areas, dogs, etc). Best I remember the NC part was hilly, rolling terrain. These longer rides, I have a hard time remembering everything - maybe it was because it was wet and I was just focused on finishing, dunno.

    The RR grade was one of the best parts of the ride! I think it was something like 10-12mi in length, one lane road, pavement was fairly smooth until towards the end and the vegetation was so lush & green. And, there was no hard climbing on this part either, just nice gradual grades.

    I don't recall seeing the goats though. Maybe they were holed up in a barn due to the weather.

    I probably will sign up for the century again next year - I'll be more prepared for that kind of weather and maybe it won't be as bad (if properly prepared).

    Quote Originally Posted by CollectiveInk View Post
    Wow! You've got some climbing skills! Living in Johnson City, I've got some friends with a house up on Roan Mtn (NC side) and just driving up there can be a pain. First time I went I arrived at their place with smoke pouring from my brakes.... can't image doing it on a bike. But congrats on doing it.

    Oh, the pictures from TN, the one's you didn't remember where... it's Erwin, TN. The building with a dome is the church my ex-MIL got remarried in (only remember it cuz I photographed the ceremony.)
    Ha. I wish I did. I can say that a year ago, I would never have considered such a climbing route, not even the metric. But, I've put in lots of hard work, lots of miles in the mtns with BWNC and lost 45#. All of those things really helped a lot. I just wish I lived up that way (WNC) so I could ride the mtns more.

    Erwin, TN - did you know that an elephant was hanged there in the early 1900's? Local folklore...
    Last edited by wolfpack; 07-29-08 at 04:21 AM.
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  12. #12
    Free Velo Vol! Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Sounds like a nice century. It's neat up on top of the mountain. I wish it wasn't so far away.

    Did the route go by some sort of correctional facility before you got to Roan Mountain (town)?

  13. #13
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    i think it did.
    wolfpackcycles
    skiffrun: Enjoy the ride. Ride for the enjoyment.

  14. #14
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    Velo Vol this is a ride you would have enjoyed. It was really nice, except for the rain. I rode the metric and was lucky in that I missed the heavier rain which occurred before the metric started. I still got doused pretty good though in the early part of the ride.

    Climbing Roan Mountain is very similar to climbing the Cherohala Skyway, just not as long. Its a pretty solid 9% for 7 miles. A few sections are even steeper, not much is less. Other parts of the route provided nice views of mountain farmlands, valleys, rivers, and the mountains. Actually, several paths on this route reminded me of the Cherohala ride. The Railroad grade was particularly unique, being almost storybook in character. Lush and rich vegetation, overhanging trees, no traffic, beautiful views of the valley, and nicely paved - it was knocking on the door of the perfect bike route ideal.

    I had it easier than Wolfpack due to riding the metric instead of the century. Both routes are very nice though. Just too bad about the rain. I had a brand new camera and, due to the rain I decided not to carry it. Big mistake. Luckily, Wolfpack got some excellent pictures.

    I'll be riding this again next year. Maybe before too.
    Last edited by NealH; 07-30-08 at 05:54 PM.

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