Last Tuesday, I left to head out to Asheville. It has been one city that I have always wanted to return too. I was out there last year for a day and half and got the chance to ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Mitchell. It was an amazing ride and I've always wanted to go back out there again and ride.
Well with Ride the Rockies coming up, I decided to go back out there for a week of riding and relaxing. The plan was to ride for the 6 days I was there and do a little hiking also. I brought both my mountain bike and road bike knowing that there would be great places to do both.
I left early on Tuesday morning for the 10 hour drive out to Asheville. From Conway, it is a about an 11 hour drive out there. I wanted to be out there by dinner time. I was able to get into town around 5 which was perfect timing to get dinner and enjoy the beer that Asheville has to offer. I went to Wicked Weed which has probably some of the best beer in Asheville in my opinion. They also have numerous options. My favorite there was the Saison XXXI that they offered. I'm usually an IPA fan, but that beer was really good. Dinner was at the Lexington Ave Brewery. I had a good open faced sandwich. From there, it was back to the room for some sleep for the big ride on Wednesday.
The plan on Wednesday was to do the longest ride of the week. I knew the climb from Marion to to the top of Mt. Mitchell was one of the longest climbest in the eastern US. To get to Marion, I would ride east from Asheville on Hwy 70 to Black Mt. From there, I could ride Look Out Point Trail to Hwy 70 again and then North on 81 to Blue Ridge which would take me to Mt. Mitchell and back into Asheville from there. The first part of the ride was flat to rolling with a couple of small climbs. It was then downhill into the Marion area where the real climbing began. The climb on 81 to Parkway was a tough climb. It was long and steeper than the Blue Ridge that I did the previous year. It was beautiful and quiet climb though. The traffic was pretty much non-existent. Once I reached, the Blue Ridge I was ready to get to Mt. Mitchell. However, the Parkway kept throwing more climbing at me! I was happy once I got to the road that leads to Mt. Mitchell. I felt the climb was easier than the previous year due to more climbing this year and riding. I reached the top after 75 miles of riding! I knew from the top it would be downhill from there! The downhill was uneventful, but beautiful. The total ride was 99 miles with 11,000 ft of climbing! http://www.strava.com/activities/138704417
I finished the day out with dinner at Salsa's which included an fried japelpenos stuffed with crab and an empanada with steak. It was a great dinner!
I wanted to follow up the first day with another good day of climbing and a long ride. For the day, I chose to ride up to Mt. Pisgah Inn and back to Asheville. I knew the ride would be around 50 miles, so I thought that would be perfect for the day especially since most of it was all uphill. The climb up to the Pisgah was steady pretty much the whole way with good views along the way. When I got to the top, I was still feeling pretty good and decided to ride a little further once I got back in the Asheville area. My idea was to ride back up to Tower Mt. Rd and back into Asheville which would give a little more climbing. The ride turned out to be 65 miles with another 10,000 ft of climbing - http://www.strava.com/activities/138914858 - I may have gone further had it not been that I was out of water and nutrition. I was still feeling great when I got to the turn.
Day 3 was supposed to be a longer ride than the 40 I put in, but with some weather threatening, I cut it short. It still turned out to be around 40 miles with 3000 ft of elevation. It was a good chance to take it back a notch and go out and do something else. After the ride, I went to lunch at Sunny Side Cafe and had an awesome omlett. This was followed up with a 6 mile hike along the Shut in Trail which followed the Blue Ridge Parkway from the near the French Broad River. It was a good hike and even had a little rain along the way.
I was hearing go North of Asheville for this Sunday ride. The day started out with a climb up Elk Mountain. My idea was to up Elk Mountain back through Weaverville and then down along the French Broad back to Asheville. This ride was going to around 30 miles. The climb up Elk was a challenge, but it had some great views of downtown and some beautiful homes along the road. I guess there is a TT up the mountain because as you got closer to the "finish" you could still see some encouraging words on the road. Once at the top, I was to go down the other side into Weaverville. Be careful going down this way, the road for 3 miles was pretty sketchy for the descent. It is not one you want to take fast. Once down at the bottom, the road improved and it was flat to rolling into Weaverville and then downhill to river. When I reached the river, why not go for more miles, so I did an out to Marshall and then back to Asheville from there along the river. Rolling along the river was a great ride, flat to small rolling and plenty of views of the river. Also, the road was pretty quiet with traffic for Sunday and plenty of cyclist on the road. For the second part of the day, I went out to the Folk Art Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway and did the Mountain to Sea trial north on Hike/Run. It was great hike through the woods. If I lived out in the area, I would try and do more sections of this great trail.
I spent the final day out with a ride to Craggy Gardens and back. I rode south towards the Biltmore Forest and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway there and headed North to the Craggy. I was just looking for around a 4 hour ride and this worked out to be perfect. The ride turned out to be 53 miles with 5,000ft of elevation. For a last ride, it worked out great! After the ride, I went for lunch and then it was on to a run! I hadn't ran in a week, so I wanted to get a run. Well, it couldn't just be any run. I had seen where they offered a brewery tour by running, however, it was offered on Sunday and this was Monday. I decided to make my own. I would run to three breweries have a pint at each and then back to the room. I choose Wedge, LAB, and Hi-Line. It would give a little longer run between each place. The run to Wedge was the longest at 1.5 miles and then to LAB it was another 1.5 miles. From LAB to Hi-line was probably around 3/4 and another 3/4 back to the room. It worked out great to end the trip!
Week 9 Totals:
Swim: 2500 yards - ha I got one swim in on Monday
Bike: 285 miles and 30,000 ft of elevation
Run: 12 miles of hiking
I did one of the rides in Week 10 - so for 6 days I had 338 miles of biking and 16.7 miles of running/hiking.