My latest adventure down the west coast is now over. Posts are listed by date on the right. In a departure from previous years, I am not asking for donations. Instead, I will be making a sizable donation on behalf of my father-in-law, father, and all the wonderful people who have supported me over the years.

My rides will continue to make a difference in the lives of families fighting lung disease and to increase awareness about the importance of lung health. Follow along … Together; we are improving life, one breath at a time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway: Day 6

Happy Anniversary to my true companion.  Fifteen amazing years.  Sorry I was away.  I celebrated with an epic bike ride that included the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Clicking the pictures will enlarge them.

Day 6 - Thursday, May 10th

As planned, we extended our planned ride today to shorten our last day and get back to Maryland without having to stay over at a hotel.  With the bonus climb up Mount Mitchell, Jeff and Joe rode 94 miles and climbed over 10,000 feet!  My totals were a bits less, but I joined them up the big climb to Mount Mitchell and ended the day with 86 miles and over 9,600 feet of my own.

Joe is Always the Most Pumped in the Morning
Leaving Boone at the Moses Cone Mansion and Craft Center we all had a big thumbs up for what lay ahead.  A short descent led to a 1,000 foot climb to start day, then we had a long and chilly 13 mile descent that made me glad to have my leg warmers, new base layer, and a vest.  The weather turned a bit warmer and remained wonderfully clear.  The views were amazing.  Every turn saw more ridges and spectacular scenery.

So Many Great Pictures to Choose From ... A Great One of Jeff

Most Waterfalls Required a Hike On Foot ... Not This One

Approaching The Linn Cove Viaduct

Joe on the Viaduct ... Climbing Grandfather Mountain

The climbing really got serious as we set our sights on reaching 5,000, then 6,000 feet.  I started the day planning to skip the Mount Mitchell climb and also SAG up the road for the big 2,500 that led to it.  I was feeling very good and while Jeff and Joe always pushed up the hills faster than me, I kept their wait times at the summits pretty reasonable. I changed my tune and decided to attack Mitchell with the boys.  About 45 miles in, I heard a noise from my rear wheel.  At first I thought I had broken a spoke, but it quickly became obvious that my rear rim had failed.  Well, like any great Tour de France support team, Aila and Karen were literally right behind me when the wheel went.  I quickly put my bike on the rack and a short two mile car ride later met up with Joe and Jeff  at a nice overlook/visitor center.  We had a spare set of wheels for just such an occurrence.  Within a few minutes, I was back on my way with Jeff's old wheel from his Fezzari.

Pictures Do Not Show the Beauty of This Place

Greatest (and Fastest) SAG Team Ever
Our Team Mechanic (Jeff) Makes a Quick Wheel Change
The views got better and better as we climbed higher.  To enable us to start the Mount Mitchell climb together, I skipped (via SAG) 6 miles and about 1,000 feet.  The road to Mitchell was perfect.  The first few miles were mighty steep and I was not sure I would make it all the way.  I even took a picture of my bike at the 3 mile mark (ranger station) to prove I was there. But, I really wanted to see 6,000 feet in elevation so I pushed on.  And the grades got easier.  I pushed it all the way and met Joe and Jeff on top.  A short hike on foot led to the observation tower for more breath taking views.

The Turn to Mount Mitchell ... Smooth as Silk

I Was There Part 1

I Was There Part 2 ... 6,684 Feet High
The descent was five miles of sweetness.  I drafted a line of motorcycles as one point.  We had few more hills to climb before a massive 13 mile descent that saw me hit 51.7 mph.  Joe joked that at one point he was pedaling as fast as could to catch me, and I was coasting and drinking from my bottle.  A great way to end a great day.  Click Here to See My Route and Data -- 05/10/12 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 293 - 377 Plus Mt. Mitchell.

Yet Another Great Overlook Team Shot

Joe Descends Craggy Gardens (Note Tunnel in Background)
We stayed in North Asheville and had dinner at a nice local bistro (Bellagio Bistro) that was having a fundraiser and event for breast cancer.  Good food, good friends ... a great way to end an epic day.  Happy Anniversary TC ... thanks for letting be do what I love.  Miss you ... see you for Mother's Day.  More climbing tomorrow as we ascend Mount Pisgah.

Save The Ta Ta's
 Good Night Moon ... Good Night Mount Mitchell ... Good Night SAG Girls ... Good Night Jeff ... Good Night Joe ... Good Night TC

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