A Gust of Early August

August blew in quite a bit differently than July blew out… although there was still rain in the forecast more days than not, and we did get showers, they were a lot shorter in duration and lessened in intensity. It was continuously gray and overcast, but for the first time in longer than I can remember we managed to score a pretty damned nice first weekend of August. It wouldn’t last, but for a few days things were more like a normal summer in the North Carolina mountains.

Except for the temperatures.

Early August… typically the hottest time of year, and we were seeing temperatures that were more like late September or early October.. barely hitting 70. This was one odd weather pattern that I was NOT going to complain about. It made for some pretty damned comfortable riding and running.

8/01 Thursday: Bent Creek Out and Back & Jus Running Trail Run – This weeks trail run didn’t go very well. I rode out on the Tricross, as I had in previous weeks. We started out at an easy warmup pace, but as soon as we started up Hard Times Rd. towards South Ridge, Jane started pushing the pace. That was fine… until Danny and Ross also started to run a bit harder and I quickly found myself losing ground. I don’t think they were running all that hard, but I was struggling to keep up. Then I discovered why… acid reflux. Pretty strong too. Every time I tried to push the pace it got worse and I’d have to back off. By the time we got to S. Ridge, I was really not feeling too well. At that point Danny & Ross started pushing the pace even more. They were doing some fartlek intervals – where you run more or less continuously but vary the effort levels between hard and light efforts. I just focused on trying to keep myself moving forward and waited for the reflux to subside. By the time I got to the Chestnut Cove trail off of S. Ridge, the others had continued on except for Danny who had kindly waited on me. We then bombed down Chestnut Cove which was a perfect tackiness for running downtrail really fast. I love that! Danny and I ran down whatever that gravel road off of the explorer trails is called, and then he did one more fartlek segment while I limped my way on back to the parking lot at my own pace. It wasn’t exactly horrible, but I’ve definitely had better days.

I also decided this would be my last time riding out to the Thursday run. Instead, I would drive out, but go early enough to add in a little bit of warmup before the group started out. I need to build up my distance for the Asheville Marathon, less than two months away from this run.

8/02 Friday: Highlands Ride – When I lived in Bent Creek, a really fun ride on Friday evenings was to take the Parkway out to Highland Brewing. It was a 30 mile out and back. Now, from the new place… it’s only 4 miles. Highland is actually the closest brewery to Casa Dobiago, yet I had gone two months before checking it out. Rode over, had a pint, rode home. Simple.

8/03 Saturday: Biltmore Estate Cruise – Had to wait out some rains in the early part of the day but got out around 4 pm and did an easy spin around the Biltmore Estate. Took a few photos in the formal garden.

8/04 Sunday: Oskar Blues Brewing – The Parkway Way – Back in June, I offered Tom the use of my trusty old Bianchi road bike, as the poor old girl had gone unused for two years and spent time sadly sitting in storage and then hanging up on a wall in the garage. Tom has been considering the purchase of a road or cross bike, but I figured this way he could get a feel for skinny tires, drop handlebars and smooth descents for a while. It took him some time to find some missing pieces/parts but he finally got her up and running. Since she was ready to ride, I proposed we do a ride together up to Since we both live roughly equidistant from the Parkway entrance at French Broad River/Rt. 191, I suggested we meet there.

We’d then ride up to Mt. Pisgah, have a stop at the General Store, and then descend on down towards Brevard on Rt. 276. Then we’d have a brief but tasty stop at Oskar Blues Brewing before finishing out the ride with the 15 mile journey back to Tom’s place in Mills River. To get home, I’d throw my bike on Tom’s truck and we’d get dinner at Papas & Beer along the way.

It was a really great ride. Tom is a LOT faster on a proper road bike than on his beloved but not pavement-appropriate rigid mountain bike, Ziggy. We cruised on up easy (Tom may have a different opinion of the effort level, but he did ride really well), and reached the General Store in just about the amount of time I had predicted. We then cruised down 276 and I discovered that Tom has a helluva lot of descending skills. He went down on skinny tires like he’s been doing it for years. I couldn’t keep up with him. Apparently he did some motocross? enduro?… some kind of racing in his past.

In all, I ended up with 65 miles on the day and I think Tom was almost exactly the same. Good times with a good friend, and it didn’t seem even the least bit odd to see somebody else riding my old road bike.

8/05 Monday: Sister Visit – New Bike Shoppin! – My sister Kathy, after talking about it for oh… about a million years, finally decided to buy a new bike. The only problem… nobody wanted to sell her one without being total jerks about it. For whatever reason, bike shops in the Dayton area either:

  • sell junk brands to the masses or brands that don’t offer women’s specific models
  • cop an elitist attitude and treat anybody that isn’t a wanna be pro like they’re inferior
  • has ridiculous store policies that make it pretty much impossible to simply test ride without committing to a purchase or paying for “a proper fit” up front. “We wouldn’t want you to have a bad experience during the test ride

So I told her to come down here for a visit and I’d take her in to Motion Makers. I stopped in about a week ahead of time, checked up on stock and also talked to my buddy Ben about what she would be looking for. Without belaboring the story too much, she got on a Ruby that was actually a demo bike, took it for a spin around the Biltmore Square Mall (and a nearby hill I know of behind the mall) and she instantly loved it. Without going for a longer ride, she decided she was in. After getting her set up with a few accessories and transering things off her old bike, we headed over to the French Broad Overlook and did an hour ride on the parkway.

Wow… what a difference. That old bike of hers must have really been holding her back. On previous visits I would have to wait for Kathy at the top of every climb, even the smaller ones. This time she rode up right on my rear wheel. Granted I kept the pace light, but no ligher than I have in the past. I had to get out of the saddle and practically max my heart rate out to get enough distance on her to take a few photos.

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8/06 Tuesday: Sister Visit – “As Flat As Possible” Run – We set the new bike aside on Tuesday and did a run instead. My instructions were to find a 6-8 mile route that was as flat as possible. Well, that leaves pretty much just two options in Asheville. Carrier Park or a running track. Carrier Park it is. We did a double out and back and ended up with about 6.5 miles total. Simple.

8/07 Wednesday: Bent Creek – Middle Rim Ride – Pretty typical Wednesday ride. Headed to Bent Creek, this time via the river route. Nice loop with the guys, then back towards home, but this time with a stop at Papas & Beer for some grub first. Although I suppose I should call it Papas & Soda since I didn’t drink any beer.

8/08 Thursday: Jus’ Running Loop – After a few weeks of being sore and tired on the long rides home after 7-8 miles on the Thursday Runs, I decided it was time to give in and drive over. Instead of using the bike as a warmup, I went early and did a short loop before the group started out. This week I got in a total of 9.5 miles in.

8/09 Friday: Sheriff’s Dept Commute– I got a call from the Buncombe County Sheriff earlier in the week that one of the items that was stolen back in June had been reovered… my Kindle Fire. This was good news, I suppose, except that of all the things that got stolen, this was the one item that I really didn’t care about. Anyway… I hopped on the Tricross and rode into town to pick it up. During the ride, Motion Makers called and told my that my Stumpjumper was ready to pick up. I hadn’t expected it to be ready so soon so when I got home I jumped in the car and went to pick it up. On a whim… I headed towards Bent Creek. When I got to the Rice Pinnacle parking lot I just happened to run into Chris and Patrick, who were getting ready to head out on a ride.

Bent Creek Up & Over Ride – The trails were pretty wet, so we did a lot of gravel, going up 479 to the Parkway than down to Trace Ridge on FS5000. Patrick and I did a little coasting competition to see if we could make it all the way down to the turnaround without pedaling. We couldn’t make it over one of the small rises, and Patrick edged me out by less than five feet to our respective stopping points.

What can I say – we’re dorks. But we had fun, and it was a good ride.