Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Becky, Pinnacle and Jeter Shit Show

Day four in Brevard, North Carolina. Third day in a row kitting up in full winter attire. The snow covering the not too far away and not too tall mountains meant we weren't riding west or north on Tuesday. Snow cover maps show up to 8" in many areas. There were even school cancellations and delays this morning in the greater Asheville area. That is pretty unusual for this time of year. All of the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed now, so our riding opportunities are pretty limited.

Nearby peaks from our deck

After sleeping in and a late breakfast, Arik and I scouted possible local loop options on the web. I knew of Becky Mountain from Aaron's website Steepclimbs.com.  It was short, painfully steep, and so close that there was little chance of spinning the last three days out of our legs. I was in a major funk already, doing all these local steep climbs at higher intensity than I typically hit the much bigger climbs at. This was taking a toll on me. I thought maybe if we did a shorter loop today, that would constitute some kind of lame recovery ride even though we'd be hitting 20% climbs.

A road that looked like a nice connector through a deep valley was Green River Rd. We'd use that, with a mostly downhill bias to it, to reach Hendersonville and the next climb, Pinnacle Mountain. I knew nothing of this one, other than it was paved to the top by looking at satellite view in Google Maps. It had two sustained sections with 20% or greater grades in it, one in first mile, the other in the last mile. In the middle it rolled seriously along a 3000ft ridgeline with million dollar homes flanking the edges.

Finally, to close the loop back to our rental house, we'd hit Jeter Mountain Road. Looked like a paved, painless climb, with riotous descent. Thus a loop was clinched, about 58 miles with more than 100ft of climbing per mile. Hey, it was shorter than the previous day's nearly 80 mile ride, so it couldn't be too hard, right? Right...

Arik pulled my battered body all the way to Becky Mtn, about 8mi. A 450ft drop down our driveway and flat approach meant no warm-up for my legs. Becky was a bitch. I thought about stopping at one point. Wait a minute, I did stop once, to take a picture. Yeah, that was my excuse. Many sections stayed right at 18-20% grade. Recovery was had when the grade dropped to 12% briefly a couple times.

Becky Mtn was all this steep, not just the switchbacks

Dropping down to Green River Rd, the temperature plummeted almost as fast as the vertical. Green River started out as a nice, sparsely populated paved road. Wouldn't you know it, just like the previous day, it turned to gravel. We're not talking finely groomed auto road here, were talking closer to doubletrack Jeep road. It was pretty rough. And it lost a lot of vertical over several miles, tightly following a stream below. It was a riot. I threw caution to the wind, risking a flat or broken rim on the many protruding rocks. Arik was a little more cautious on a suspect borrowed wheel. We both made it through unscathed. That was probably the high point of the ride for me, even though it was near the lowest elevation.

Bombing down Green River Rd on skinnies

One of the rare instances where I got ahead of Arik

It wasn't long before we reached the Pinnacle Mountain climb. It started with a kick to 'nads. Grades hovered near 20% again up to the orchard. Once up on the ridgeline, some nice views opened up, but it was wicked cold up there with a few flurries on the breeze. Pinnacle Mtn Rd rolled something crazy, accumulating a lot climbing before we even reached the real climb, the push to the summit.

The summit push was f'n ridiculous. I saw grades on my Garmin over 20% several times, and I don't think it ever dropped below 15%. I think Arik heard some of my expletives riding further up from me. Linked track stands was how ugly things got. A real shit show.

Think it was cold on the Pinnacle Mtn ridgeline? Forecast calls for 70F as soon as we leave. Figures.

Coming back down section that registered 23% on my Garmin

Looking down Pinnacle just below summit

Coming down, we took gated Bear Rock Rd down. This wasn't even a full lane wide and just sick how steeply it descended. I hadn't felt that much adrenaline in a while. Part way down was a gravity cavity with banked turn right after it. I don't think you get that many G's on a roller coaster.

Pinnacle Mtn from valley

A brief traverse brought us to the final climb right at the end of the ride, Jeter Mountain. This would be a modest climb with a very steep 1000ft descent back to the valley. We limped our way up and got ready for another white knuckle descent. The bummer was, they had recently sanded and salted the road, so there was no way to safely carry speed around the continuous turns. Still fun though.

For the fourth day in a row, we finished the ride up our 450ft driveway. That's 1800ft of climbing in four days just on our driveway, and at a stupid steep pitch. I hate that f'n driveway. We can ride right to the door of the house and you have to catch the railing to keep from falling over and to catch your breath before clipping out. The final pitch is at least 20%. We finished with about 58mi, 6300ft of climbing, in 3.8hrs. That put me in the deepest training hole I think I've ever been in. Can't even think about Wednesday's ride...


DaveP said...

Seems very intense, mentally, the last 4 days. Try and fit a day off of doing nothing. I suspect Arik must know your personality traits pretty well by now? Ha-ha. That's the thing about these trips..you're guaranteed an adventure, albeit, the one you're on now, I'm selfishly glad I'm not part of. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the winter of skiing is taking its toll. Those seem like short rides for HJ. Especially on a road bike at low altitude. Is there no Sonic refuel? What's the deal with Euro no helmet style? One fall can end it all.

Aaron said...

Pinnacle and Becky in the same day? Now that's one tough day. In my opinion, those are the toughest climbs in the area (Sassafras would be third). We'll be there in a few weeks, and I'll be skipping those two climbs.

Jason said...

What gearing did you run on this trip?