Hello there! It’s been a while.
Over the past 3-4 years I have let this the Journal of Journeys slip into non-use. The last post, little more than an advertisement of a local marathon, was nearly two years ago, and only a smattering of journeys were documented in 2013 and 2014.
Recently, some significant health-related events in my life have taken me in new directions, yet also took me back many years. The “cycle” of life, so to speak?
The Blue Ridge Breakaway. An annual bicycle ride starting from the Lake Junaluska Conference and Visitor Center in western North Carolina. The event features four routes of varying distances. As the name suggests, the ride is held in the Blue Ridge Mountains and historically the event’s 105 mile route, called the Hawk, features over 30 miles of riding along the peaks and valleys of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In past years the next shortest route, called the Trout, has been somewhere around 60-65 miles (a metric century), and has not gone up along the Parkway itself. There are also 50 and 25 miles options, called the Panther and Rabbit, respectively.
For a couple months leading up to the event, I had debated back and forth whether I was going to ride the Breakaway this year. I have done the ride in three of four previous years since it was started in 2010, missing 2012 for reasons I can’t recall. It’s a terrific event but as anyone who knows me can attest, I hate getting out of bed early on weekends to do organized rides (or unorganized ones for that matter). I prefer to sleep late and do things on my own schedule. Not only that I had just done 105 miles on a solo ride two weekends prior, including the climb up 215 to the Parkway, and wasn’t feeling the need to do it again. But then I got an email from Aaron West of steepclimbs.com, wondering if I would be riding and would I be interested in writing a story about the event for his blog. Aaron and I are acquainted with each other through a mutual friend, Scott Baker, a local Sylva rider I’ve known since my very first ride upon moving to Western NC. Unfortunately neither Aaron nor Scott were able to do the Breakaway this year due to injuries and fitness issues, so I told Aaron yes, I would indeed do the ride and would be happy to contribute an article in his absence. Aaron posted a pre-ride article here: 2014 Breakaway From Afar
After what started out as a terrific ride in Pisgah the previous weekend, but turned out to be an exercise (pun intended) in breathing misery, I called my doc first thing on Monday and made an appt. for mid-week. I explained my issues and was prescribed an Albuterol inhaler – which I’ve used before, and also a small supply of Singulair to try out. The following weekend, I proposed to Chris that we head out into Pisgah on what I assumed would be a roughly 5 hour loop. Unlike the previous weekend where we were seeking an optimized path thru Pisgah, I chose a route that is much more difficult, but sometimes necessary depending on where the mandatory PMBAR checkpoints are.
The route: Black Mtn. > Turkey Pen > Mullinax > Squirrel > S. Mills > Buckhorn > Clawhammer > Maxwell Cove > Black.
This spring has been a challenging one to say the least. After a less than stellar day at the Biltmore Marathon, I have struggled to get any kind of running regimen back. The numerous tendon aches and pains have continued, no matter how long I rest, or how little I run, or on what surface. Consequently, I shifted back to more riding, and began preparing for my third PMBAR, the 10+ hour adventure race in Pisgah National Forest that I have finished (barely) the past two years. I had a new teammate lined up for this year, my friend Christopher had asked me if I would ride with him. Just to make things interesting, I also decided to enter PRAR, a new event this year… just like PMBAR except on foot.. the Pisgah Running Adventure Race. An estimated 20-30 miles of running the mean Pisgah trails instead of riding them. The catch?
The two events are back-to-back, on consecutive days.
Monday I rode over to Jus Running for the Monday evening group outing, as I’ve been doing pretty much every week since the beginning of October. It was quite a bit cooler than it has been, temp about 50 when we started out and six miles later it was down around 40. Also the first time after DST so we ran with lights and/or reflective clothing. Did our usual 6 miles and by the time we were done, my feet were killing me. I’ve been long past due to replace my now 4 years old Asics Kayano 15s. They’ve got nearly 450 miles on them. 300 is usually recommended and if possible I’ll push as far up to 400 as I can. 450 is way to far.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I do run more than 100 miles a year. The Kayano 15s are my road shoes and the majority of my running is done on trails. Also.. I bought two pairs at about teh same time back in 2009 and didn’t start wearing the second pair until a couple year ago.
Towards the end of August and into September I started a preview of the Citizen-Times Marathon route. I split it into three parts and did roughly one third on consecutive weekends.
But I’m going to skip those for now and put them all in one Marathon Prep post.
Started looking at the calendar and noticed that the Asheville (Citizen-Times) Marathon is coming up in just a few weeks. Although I’m not training up to the same distances for this marathon as I did for the one at Biltmore last March, I figured it’s time to start pushing up the mileage a bit.
I figure I’ll be really well prepared for a half marathon, and then I’ll just have to wing the rest of it.
A little over a year ago, I got a message from a “Facebook friend”. You know, the kind of Facebook friend you haven’t actually seen or talked to in 25 years, but are still connected to thru the modern day wonders of social networking websites. Now, there may be a lot of downsides and criticisms of social networking, and for all I know it will eventually be the downfall of the human race.
I kinda doubt it, and in this case it turned out to be a really cool thing.
I had planned on riding up to Craggy Gardens one last time before the Parkway was completely closed at Tanbark Ridge Tunnel, not just to motor vehicles but to bikes and hikers as well. Unfortunately, I missed my chance by just a few hours. As an alternate plan, I headed up through Biltmore Forest and did then rode the Hendersonville Rd. to Folk Art Center section and then headed up as far as the tunnel to check out just how “closed” the closure was.
It was pretty freakin’ closed.
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.
For some reason I want to think we got a break in the rain somewhere in July, but it can’t have been much. I know we never went more than a single day without some amount of precipitation so maybe the fourth week was a case where I just got lucky with a couple hours of breaks in the clouds a few days in a row.
Or maybe I just stopped thinking about it and accepted it as part of daily life.
When living in Bent Creek Neighborhood, directly adjacent to trails, it becomes very easy to fall into a pattern of simply going out the door every day and hopping on said trails, either by bike or on foot. That’s a great asset to have, but does tend to become rather limiting over time. For the first few weeks in the new place I looked around for alternatives, explored my new surrounding areas, and did a lot more road riding than mountain biking.