Over the first couple weeks of living in East Asheville, I started to get the feel for my new surroundings, ride distances, traffic patterns optimal routes for riding and a little bit for running. In the last week of June I did more of the same. I had feared that I would really hate not being next to Bent Creek, but discovered that my fears were unfounded.
They usually are.
As with previous moves, I found that I simply adapted my activity style to match my living conditions and lifestyle. In this case, I noticed I was gradually becoming more inclined to hop on the road bike, or the commute bike, and less likely to grab the mountain bike. That offered one major benefit…
Less trips to the bike shop for parts and repairs.
Mountain bikes are somewhat less expensive to purchase up front, but significantly more expensive to maintain than road bikes, the wear and tear caused by water, dirt and hard impacts, being higher, not to mention the more complex componentry of suspension systems which road bikes don’t have.
Although this is debatable, I figure the impact on the body is also correspondingly reduced on a road bike than on mountain bikes, but bodies heal themselves, so short of actually crashing and getting injured, there’s not a monetary cost associated with it.
Casa Dobiago Explorations – Final Week of June
- 6/24 Monday: During our casual ride up to Craggy, Tom asked me how fast I normally ride up, compared to the pace we were doing. It all depends on what my reason for riding is… focusing on the journey, and stopping for photos, or if I’m focused on the destination which usually includes riding beyond Craggy to Mt. Mitchell. I also said that at a consistent threshold effort I can get from Folk Art Center to Graggy Dome in 90 minutes, pretty much an even 12 mph for the 18 mile distance. Afterward, I wondered if maybe I was giving myself too much credit. So the next day I decided to find out. I did the exact same route as the previous day but without the photo stops, and at a consistent hard effort that was just shy of threshold. Sure enough, I got up there in more or less but not quite exactly 90 minutes.
- 6/25 Tuesday: One of the nice things about the new place is that I although I am much further from mountain bike trails, I am roughly equidistant to the Blue Ridge Parkway.. and also equidistant to the hiking(running) only Mountains to Sea trail which more or less runs parallel to the Parkway. I hopped on the commuter bike and rode the 2.5 miles over to the Folk Art Center, locked up, and went for a run on the MST going north. At first it started out relatively easy.. a mild downhill. This quickly gave way to a moderately difficult uphill section, then a series up hard ups and down. About 1.75 miles into it, I reached the bottom of what I think may be the steepest, hardest trail I’ve ever run up. The reason I’m not sure if it’s the steepest or not is that normally I would never have “run” a trail segment this steep.
I would have walked.
For example, on the super tough sections of the Shut-In trail (which itself is a segment of the longer MST), during the race and training for it, I walked the steepest segments so I could save my lungs and legs. Since I wasn’t going to run any further beyond this particular climb, I decided that no matter how hard it got, I was going to keep “running”, until I either reached the top or passed out trying and keeled over. (OK, maybe it wasn’t that extreme, but I wasn’t going to give in and walk) For what it’s worth, I was defining “running” in this case as at some point in every step, both feet were off the ground.. two feet touching the ground at the same time constitutes walking. The climb gains more than 400 feet in 0.4 miles, at an average grade of close to 20%. The middle 0.2 miles averages out at 22%. In other words… STEEP AS SHIT.
In short, I made it, and in the process discovered that my max heart rate has not changed in the past few years… I definitely maxed out and was just about to run out of steam when I finally made it over the crest. Running down was just as hard… my quads so fried that I could barely hold myself back as I more or less fell down the trail. I finished out the run with about 1200′ of climbing in just 5.5 miles. I think that’s the steepest average feet per mile I’ve ever run, at least as an out and back. Shut-In is a one way point to point race that goes uphill, so that’s a different story.
- 6/26 Wednesday: Easy ride into downtown to one brewpub or another.
- 6/27 Thursday: Did the round-trip commute ride to Bent Creek for the Thursday trail run with Jus’ Running. The ride part was OK but the run hurt like hell… that short but steep as shit run on Tuesday had really done a number. But it was still fun to run with the group and it’s great to have the support of friends to keep you motivated.
- 6/28 Friday: Can’t remember why, but the map shows I did a commute into downtown, but with an added loop around past the mall first. Must have run an errand of some kind before heading out. I believe the latter part included a stop at Suspension Experts for a little shin-dig they were having, then riding up to Wicked Weed with Tom.
- 6/29 Saturday: Commute into downtown, followed by a stop at a cookout hosted by some friends who live up off of Chuns Cove Rd, which is more or less on my way home via Tunnel Rd.
- 6/30 Sunday: Rest day.
Now, if I can just get thru July in as few posts then I can start getting caught up thru August.