Yesterday, I went out for a ride as usual. I picked a route that is similar to one I rode last year with a buddy. Up US-178 and NC-215, onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, to the visitor center just north of Asheville North Carolina, then wandered back on too-busy roads through Fletcher, and back down US-276 through Caesars Head and back to Easley.
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It was a great day to ride. A little cool -- 41 degrees -- to start, but warming up nicely to around 77 later in the day, with low humidity. Of course, the temperatures are lower at the higher elevation of the Parkway, so it was just about perfect weather to ride in God's country.
There were some spots where gravel had washed across the road, and another place where matted leaves had washed across the road and created what looked like little brown mounds stuck to the road.
I managed to negotiate all these with minimal problems. Once, on NC-215, two touring bikes coming the other way were on my side of the road as I came up on them. They had crossed the center line to avoid some gravel, but the way they did it was not good: They should have steered a straight path through the gravel, staying in their own lane, as it was a straight section of road.
There was something else in evidence on my ride, too. Bikers. Lots of them. Dozens, no hundreds. Maybe thousands coming south on 178 at I was headed north. You will recall that in my last post, Wiggly Roads Nearby, I referenced the number of maniacal and not so maniacal bikers of all kinds who enjoy this section of US-178.
They are certainly out in spades today! More than I have ever seen through here.
The bikers today were clad somewhat differently than the way I dress for a ride.
Take a look:
This is on an uphill section for them. Their spandex-clad bodies looking fit, but struggling to get up the grade. Earlier, I had encountered the leaders of the pack going downhill, south of here.
Courageous, they. As they coasted and sometimes pedaled to go even faster downhill, they were rounding the curves faster than I can ride comfortably on the Ninja. And they were in packs. If any of them had faltered, many of them would have crashed. What a mess of injuries would result! That spandex doesn't have any cushion and wouldn't last more than a foot or two sliding along the tarmac.
Makes me feel much more comfortable in my ATGATT.
Those tiny bicycle tires were certainly doing their best to keep some 200 pounds of bike and rider on the right track. I didn't get any pictures of their downhill plunge. I'm not sure my shutter speed is fast enough to capture their passage at speed.
Whatever the occasion, there were certainly a bunch of cyclists participating. As a result, traffic had to go slow while passing them, for their safety and ours.
Later in the day, I encountered another group on US-276 as I passed Caesars Head. Might have been the same group or another one, but it was an organized ride, too. I didn't see nearly as many of them on this road.
They must have some significant stamina to take on the hills in this neck of the woods.
I might add, that I a saw a surprising number of people with gray hair sticking wildly out of their helmets. Wow. I get tired riding the motorcycle up and down these hills at my advanced age!
Anyway, they sure did have a nice day for their ride.
Edit: I later determined that I had encountered the Assault on the Carolinas rides, an annual fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Pisgah Forest. The AOTC includes three route options--100k, 60k, and 40k. The 100k route goes through North Carolina and South Carolina mountains and valleys and up a challenging 6 mile climb to Ceasar's Head State Park. The 40k and 60k routes go through the river valleys of Scenic Transylvania County. The ride starts and finishes in downtown Brevard North Carolina. The longest ride is 65.6 miles, with an elevation gain of 5,567ft.
My motorcycle ride was also very pleasant. I didn't stop very often, just enjoyed the roads. A total of 174 miles, racked up pretty quickly. It seemed like only a hundred or so when I got home. I must have been enjoying it!
On the way home, I snapped this shot at Edens Garden, the little rest stop I wrote about at the corner of SC-8 and SC-135.
You bicyclists, a tip of my helmet to you, tackling the challenge of these hilly roads.