Permanent #1765, Capn’s Lake James Loop, 215K
Everytime when someone is attempting to complete a task, especially a lengthy, arduous one, there comes a dark moment in the middle of it all, one contemplates if he can actually finish it. From my experience It is usually 5/8s of the way through it. With randonneuring, it may occur sooner because of bike mechanical or bodily malfunctions. So, there are motivators to focus upon to strive for the finish. Bike racers, for example are competing for points, or money or the honor to wear the winning jersey. They “redline” their bodies repeatedly elbow to elbow with their competitors and suffer in pain thresholds they have never reached before in their lives. It’s different with randonnuers. Our goal is quite simply to complete a brevet to either earn a token medal which has to be purchased, or qualify for lengthier brevets such as Grand Randonnuers which are 1200K or longer. We suffer differently than the racers only in the fact that it is a long drawn out affair. Suffering is suffering. Rather than a prize being a motivator when we suffer through a patch of hell, we have other more gratifying “carrots” to pursue. A meal, a growler of beer, or in this ride; PIE!
On this mini epic adventure, Tony, Super Rookie Luke, the Capn and yours truly set out early from the Waffle House in east Asheville and ride east into the sunrise towards Black Mountain. As we climb up Old Hwy 70 towards the Swannanoa Gap, we stopped at Andy’s Espresso Hut to make final adjustments to our bikes, gear and bodies!
The plan is to complete the loop and on the return, enjoy some of Miss Andi’s fresh apple pie! We will have to ride up the Lookout Trail or 4.5 miles with a 1500′ climb after having over 100 miles and 7000′ of vertical on our legs. The plan is set. The idea of pie is set firmly in our minds!
So, off we go over the gap and descend down Lookout Trail towards Old Fort.
We arrive in Old Fort, such a lively town early Sunday morning. Unfortunately, Tony has decided to split off on his own to make his ride shorter and complete some “honeydews”. Which means…..more pie for us! Ciao Antonio!
We continue our journey east along the backroads between Hwy 70 and I-40. The traffic is minimal, the porch dogs are slow and the hills abound.
As the miles progress and the temperatures slowly rise to mild sunny temps, hunger pangs set in and images of pie come forth. With the blessings of tailwinds we round our way the south side of Lake James east of Marion NC. We also follow along the flow of the Catawba River. The road undulates as well as our stomachs until we arrive at our control in Morganton NC at the Coffee House Waffle Shoppe. We can’t enjoy the pie until we have a hearty lunch!
We beat the Sunday church rush hour by foregoing the dessert for pie later. Off we went taking a northeasterly and hilly route around the north side of Lake James. Once we got out of Morganton, it didn’t take long to see that the roads were very quiet. In fact, we saw more cyclists than cars and for some reason we still had a tailwind!
The hills became relentless and briefly forgiving. The grades pitched up to 10-13% in spots. Aside from the sparkling blue waters we noticed a lot of tree farms and nurseries. We have never witnessed……such an immense cow paddy farm before!
Hills and hills, sun and more sun. It was too much for us to bear and at about the 85 mile mark, the murmur for pie began to increase in volume. The Cap’n was calling for it. His energy was waning. He must have not had enough to eat the night before, a grave Rando error. His bike machine was running well, but the body machine was beginning to falter at each hill. BRING ME SOME PIE!!!! he screamed!!!!apple
We began searching out the next milestone to get closer to the final destination. What will it take? Let’s get to Marion, then to Old Fort, then Lookout Trail, then the long climb up Swannanoa Gap. Our blessed reward is just over the top! The climb on Lookout Trail to extra help. Yours truly pulled out his iphone and accessed his Pandora acct. The music ranged from mariachi, classic country western, polka, and good old rock and roll. We could turn the pedals in rhythm with the music as we rose and rounded each switchback. We took our last stop on kudzu korner to enjoy the sun falling and the moon rising as we looked east to see where we had ridden. That pause was enough to have the energy to get over the top and rejoice once again at Andy’s Espresso Hut for a huge slice of Andrea’s fresh, warm pie and a oversized demitasse of the finest espresso from Dynamite Roasting Co.
It was our Thanksgiving Feast! The three amigos relished every bite. Luke had to lay down briefly for he was delighting in his food coma. However, the mission was not complete. We adjusted ourselves and bikes for night riding and with the body’s refueled we rocketed down Ridgecrest through Black Mountain and motored as if we were on a mission from God to our final control, Waffle House. The pie was such a success, no one had any desire to enter the diner’s doors. No grilled cheese Sammy for the Cap’n this time. We were pied up and belly tight!