Craggy Ride With Tom K.

OK, gonna try something new here. Like thousands of other users, I’ve grown tired of the way Yahoo has screwed up what used to be the awesome Flickr photo sharing website. In the past I have looked at and tried various gallery photo solutions to integrate directly into WordPress, but didn’t have much success with them. However, the most popular one in recent years, NextGen Gallery, has recently undergone a major overhaul and debuted their version 2.0. So I’ve decided to give it a go. I really have no idea what I’m doing here but will start out slow.. basically just getting a single gallery of photos uploaded and displayed in a single post. These photos are also on Flickr but with any luck I won’t need to resort to that.

And with any luck, I will completely redo the entire dobovedo website to look more like a photojournalism blog, with a completely new theme and photos more prominantly displayed.

Hell, while I’m wishing for things, I’d also like to get a full blown DSLR system and start taking some high quality images again. Composition, lighting and creativity only get you so far. I can’t hide the fact that I’m shooting with a point and shoot camera with barely acceptable image quality. It serves it’s purpose for the past few years, but just like with bikes, it’s time to purchase camera equipment that matches my skill level.

But that is entirely neglecting Tom K and the ride story. Tom had never ridden up to Craggy Gardens before, and in fact hasn’t done much riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway, except for segments on the Pisgah side that connect various gravel forest service roads used for mountain bike/cyclocross events. So I invited him to come over to my place and do the ride up with me. From Casa Dobiago, the Craggy Dome overlook is about a perfect 20 miles, 40 round trip. Tom doesn’t have a road bike (well… at the time of this ride he didn’t), so he put slightly narrower tires on his old rigid mountain bike. And by narrow I mean 1.75″. Just to keep things somewhat closer to being in balance, I opted for my much heavier cycocross/commute bike, complete with rear rack and trunk bag loaded with extra clothes I didn’t need. Tom also showed up with his largest camelbak fully loaded.

In other words, this wasn’t going to be the fastest ride either of us had ever done.

We headed over towards the Folk Art Center and started up. It didn’t take long for me to outpace Tom a bit, but that was to be expected. It worked out great, because I had brought the camera and was focused (pun intended) on capturing some of the late spring wildflowers. (this being the day after solstice, I guess it was actually early Summer)

I’d snap a few photos, and Tom would catch up. He had no interest in stopping, so I’d hop on the bike and catch up, then slowly gain on him again. We did this pretty much all the way up to Craggy. Tom rides at a pace he calls “One Tom”. He isn’t fast, but he pretty much never stops.

He even went right past the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and right on up to the Dome overlook parking area. At the top he was pretty wiped but pretty elated.

Until I forced him into hiking up to the actual Dome overlook, a relatively short but quite strenuous .75 miles.

Like many areas such as Devil’s Courthouse, I had ridden past it dozens of times, but had never actually gone up there before. Wow.. was I missing out.

Stupid bikers and their stupid road cleats. The reason I could do it this time was that I had ridden up in trail running shoes on flat pedals and Tom was wearing mountain bike shoes.

After taking a ton of photos and watching the clouds and mists swirl about for about 20 minutes or so, we started back down.

Then came the reward… the descent! Tom was all smiles coming down and had a blast. On the way back home I made a right hand turn instead of a left on Tunnel Rd. and took him to Creekside Taphouse for a well earned meal and a couple pints. Yum!

Well done, Tom! (now we just had to get him a road bike to ride)