Riders around every other bend, car tourists, perfect road conditions, bears, and big views.
Mike B. and I got out for a fun paced road ride today. Mike is just recovering from a bad elbow injury so his choice of bikes was interesting, his go-to cross country mountainbike. It made since though because the reach isn't as far as the road bike. It was, however, still a surprise to see him pull up on a 29er with 2.3 tires.
Our route for the day: Craven->Depot->Victoria->Biltmore->Wyoming->Kennilworth->Beaucatcher->Town Mountain->?->Sunset->Patton Mountain (gravel)->Town Mountain->Webb Cove (gravel)->Beaverdam->Merrimon->Weaver->Riverside
The temps were in the mid 80's with a UV index of 1000%. The warm-up was tough for both of us but for different reasons. Mike has been doing intense P.T. for his elbow and has added to it a bunch of small bike rides and good sized hikes. I've not done anything involving increasing my heart rate in a week.
Once we were through Kennilworth we climbed Beaucatcher, a first for me. I had been back in that neighborhood years ago for a party at Fred's chalet, but other than that it was all new to me. It was a fun ride through that area. We stopped at the spooky bridge but otherwise kept moving at a fair clip.
Next we made our way over to the other set of one lane mountain roads with a spectacular view of the city, Sunset Mountain. The climbing is fun and easy over there and we ran into a memorable scene along the way: A guy was out of his car, SLR camera in hand shooting away on one knee. He saw us coming, raised one hand silently, asking us to stop. We complied then noticed what he had in his sights: A mother bear and three cubs about 50' to our left.
After the bears went on their way we exchanged WOW!'s and Mike and I were then on the closest to Asheville gravel road that I know of. Up Patton Mountain and up Town Mountain were fun as we kept a easy pace and talked just about the whole way about god knows what.
The descent down Webb Cove was also something to remember. Who is faster on a gravel road descent? A 700x38 road bike with mechanical discs or a 700x60 mountain bike with 100mm fork and hydraulic discs? The answer in this case? The road bike by a hair. I took off from the top and cranked into the first set of switchbacks with confidence. By the third one or so I could hear Mike trying to race and pass me on the left so I hammered out of the turn and took off into the straight. This happened two or three more times as Mike has FAR faster in the turns and I was FAR faster in the straights. At one point I blew a corner and did the full-lane-drift and got the loud 'NO WRECKING' warning from Mike. Like, he was commanding that I do not wreck. Well, it worked, we both made it to the bottom with the rubber side staying down.
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The rest of the ride was the usual... drivers scared to pass, green lights all the way down Merrimon, a bit of greenway through the university, then Riverside back to Richmond Hill for Mike and Westville for me. Great ride Mike. Thanks for getting out there.