So, I am up here in WNC for some more riding...
On today's agenda, a mtb ride from Parson's Branch to Cades Cove and back with my friend Andy & his wife.
Andy: oh it's not too bad, about 25 miles and probably around 2500' of climbing.
me: ummm, yea. ok. sure.
We leave his house around 6:30pm heading towards the start area, which is in TN. The whole ride takes place in TN. We get there around 8am (not sure, no watch), get the bikes unloaded and head on out. Initially, it's not too bad and I'm doing ok. Really beautiful out there and quiet. Quiet, except for the sounds of nature. We follow a stream for a while, making several crossings of the stream and getting wet from the overspray.
Eventually, the road starts to have more grade to it and then it's the first really hard climb. Andy is, as usual, leading, me in the middle and his wife next. She is some kind of climber! I swear, she goes soooo slow climbing grades but does not fall over! If I tried to go as slow as she went, I would have fallen over. So, this climb....it was really hard...down to the granny gear and the easist in the rear. Slow, but I managed to make it up w/o walking. I just refused to walk at this point.
There are a few more climbs & then a really long descent. The disk brakes I had, were great on the descents and I let the bike go, flying down them. After this long descent, we finally reach Cades Cove. Lemme just say, wow! It is just beautiful there! Mrs. Andy elected to not take a trip through CC, instead, waiting at the visitor's center while Andy and I took a little 30min trip. It was very nice. Saw several deer out in the fields and in the woods. Then, we got to a turn and the cars were starting to arrive.
Andy says the cars are lined up for like 2hrs waiting to get in and just drive around. The people don't even get out, they just drive through! So, we get in behind a line of cars and then everyone really slows down....someone has pulled off the side of the road and people are out with cameras, peering into the woods. Seems like there are 2 black bears up in the woods. We stop and I get a pic of them. Head on back towards the visitor's center.
Back at the visitor's center, everyone takes a potty break, re-filling bottles, and eating PB&J sammiches. Then we head back the way we came. I'm not feeling great at this time. My hamstrings & inner thighs are starting to feel crampish and it's not very long before they hit me. That means trouble. It was really hard (and I mean REALLY) for me on the way back. It's about a 3 mile climb back to a point where it starts heading back down. I have to walk several times on the way back; well, maybe more than several. My legs are just like jell-o. Cramps and just no energy. I even take a fall because I have a cramp hit me and I can't get unclipped. So, I have a few scrapes from that.
Finally. It is the downhill section. OMG. I loved this section! Just flew down it, hitting the fords without braking and getting splashed with the water. Fun! Lots of it! Again, disk brakes FTW! Back at the car, load the bikes, change clothes and head back.
We rode on the Tail of the Dragon and that would really be a blast on a motorcycle or even a bike! I believe I took a nap on the way back too. I was (still am) tired.
Andy just killed me today! I never know what I'm getting myself into when I come up here to ride with him. Always taking me somewhere that just pushes me to my limits and beyond. I guess that's a good thing.