Monday, March 25, 2013

Wind, Flurries, Cold - Brevard Day 3

Arik and I awoke to partially sunny conditions on Monday. It was dry outside. That was better than we were expecting. But is was cold. 26F, 30mph winds and intermittent flurries. No problem for north-easterners, eh? I'll take cold and dry over wet any day.

The elevations we hit on Sunday were now snow covered, so a lower elevation loop had to be planned. We hadn't hit Caesar's Head yet. Arik pointed out a couple other roads with some climbing we could hit on the way back, like Rich Mountain road. I knew nothing about this, but the descent back to Brevard looked sweet.

Purchase Knob, just west of Asheville at 5000ft, from webcam. We rode higher than this the day before.

We headed out just like our first two days, skirting around the fringes of Brevard on nice valley roads. The wind was supposed to be out of N-NW, but it was squarely out of the SW, straight into our faces. The first hour we fought a soul crushing headwind with tired legs. The only real climb was approaching the South Carolina border. A 2000ft drop brought us below 1000ft at the furthest point out in our ride.

A glimpse of blue sky near lowest point of ride in SC.

Along Rt 288 in SC, Arik hollers out something about his bike. I thought maybe a flat. But no. He popped a rear driveside spoke. The wheel went so wonky it was slamming seat and chain stays hard. Never seen a 32 spoke wheel go so wonky with one broken spoke. It took a good while working with spoke wrench just to get the wheel to clear the frame. Some spokes had zero tension, others needed 2x. Scary. And forget about rear brake. How would this play out with the descents coming up? At least Arik was riding. Last time down here, DaveP popped a spoke furthest point out and there was nothing we could do to fix it.

Caesar's Head looming 2000ft above in distance

Caesar's Head killed me. It gains no more than Mt Ascutney, which I can do in sub-30 minutes. But third day going fairly hard with very little riding in the legs over the winter put me in shambles. Arik rolled away, wonky wheel and all.

At least there was a decent view up top. Flurries were whizzing by at 30-40mph. It was so windy I had to hold on to keep my balance. Arik started making calls to get a another wheel overnighted to him while I fussed with camera and inhaled more calories. Not many shops have Campy wheels on hand to loan out.

Caesar's Head ledge with snow flying by

Westerly view from Caesar's Head

The initial descent from Caesar's Head was a frigid affair. A fast-twitcher like me did ok, where I waste way more calories as heat than most people, but Arik froze. Next up was Rich Mtn. The road was paved but had lots of loose stones on it, like it wasn't traveled much. We soon learned why. Upon reaching the ridge line, the road turned to a one-lane loose gravel deal. Not good for a wonky wheel that was ready to explode at any instant. To make matters worse, there were a few big rollers up top. I liked the road, but less than ideal given our circumstances.

Rich Mountain Rd

Crazy grades on Rich Mtn. Reminded me of a D2R2 climb.

Rich Mtn turned to pavement, and the riotous descent began. Non-stop turns and double-digit grades. Arik could only use his front brake, and I still had trouble catching him. What is sick is somebody created a downhill Strava KOM for this road. Whacked!

Open views on Rich Mtn.

From there it was a flat cruise back to the house, and the only bit of tail wind we had on the whole ride. Now the deal was we still had to finish with that evil 450 foot climb in half a mile. I think Tuesday's ride will involve driving somewhere, just so I don't have to climb that stupid driveway again.

We finished with about 78 miles, 4.7hrs moving time, and 7200-7800ft of climbing, depending on whose GPS you believe. Our distances keep inching up, roughly 10mi and 1000ft more each day. I'm broken though. Tuesday is going to have to be an easy day, else I'll never survive the Hot Doggett century we hope to do later in the week when the weather straightens out. One more day of mixed precip, then the rest of the week looks pretty good.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Becky Mountain is a good climb in the same general area as Rich Mountain. It is paved and painful.

Caesar's Head is a good little climb. It has kicked my butt a time or two.