Tag Archives: The Wilds

Jonathan and Matthew’s Wild’s Ride

I’m enjoying a “staycation” this week. Monday I went out and tried for some KOMs and then today (Wednesday) I planned to do a long ride (over 72 miles) in order to meet my June Strava Fondo challenge. Tuesday was just going to be an easy ride with a friend from work, Matthew Weathers.

All that changed Monday evening.

Matthew Weathers and I about to roll out.

Matthew Weathers and I about to roll out.

Matthew contacted me and asked if we could do a longer ride on Tuesday. His wife was going to be going up to a camp above Rosman, NC to visit a friend. Matthew wanted to ride up to the camp and then come back with her.

Now, I have ridden up to the camp a number of times. What I haven’t done is ride up and back. It would be an over 100 mile round trip with around 7000 feet in total climbing. I was looking to do a long ride this week, but…

I agreed. We would start off from my home at 7 AM and take back roads to keep us out of traffic. We should have no trouble making it in under five hours. Again, my concern wan’t getting there. It was getting back.

Matthew leading us out.

Matthew leading us out.

We rolled off with some great weather. It had rained overnight and the sky was still overcast. The temperatures were cool with a slight breeze. It was going to be a great day!

Uneventful ride... except for closed bridges!

Uneventful ride… except for closed bridges!

Frankly, the ride up was uneventful. The time seemed to go by quickly as we talked business and told stories. We weren’t pushing the pace at all. Still, we were marking the miles in good time.

A deer along the road.

A deer along the road.

The real work started about five miles from the camp when we turned onto Old Toxaway Road. This final section held a good amount of climbing with some steep pitches to boot. I had made it to this point without feeling much fatigue in my legs, but now I was starting to notice it.

We hit the bottom together and then started up at our individual pace. I was loving my 32, but Matthew was churning away with his 25. Of course, I was running a standard crank and he had a compact.

I looked back to find Matthew as out of sight. I kept checking a few times, but finally decided just to push on at a steady rhythm. I’d just wait for him at the gate.


So, four hours and nine minutes after leaving home, I reached the gate to the camp. We covered 57 miles and climbed over 4500 feet. I think our average speed was around 13.5 mph.

For me the good news was I felt just fine and started to think that the ride back might not be as bad as I thought it might. I just needed to wash off someone of the grime and eat a little bit and I would be a new man. Getting my June Strava Fondo badge would be no problem this month!

We made it!

We made it!

We pulled up at the lodge and caught our breath. I washed off my bicycle and myself. I sorted through my pockets and consolidated some items. Then I cleaned myself up a bit and wondered what to do about some food.

At first I thought about going into the mess hall. However, I feel a little strange going in there all dressed up in my monkey suit. I decided I would just ride down to Brevard and grab a quick bite before heading back.

I took a different route down. Frozen Creek Road is a better route to take if you are headed for Brevard. It takes you out on Highway 64 and then you just have to deal with the traffic into town.


As I started down Frozen Creek, I started to have second thoughts. Maybe it was because I was stiff from having stopped, but the thought of a long afternoon in the saddle with the sun beating down on me was not sounding fun. Maybe I would skip Brevard and just head home.

I started to empty my pockets including a large cinnamon swirl bagel with peanut butter. As I ate away on it, I felt my strength coming back. Maybe if I finished his off and grabbed something at a store in Rosman, I could let that serve as lunch. I could be home in plenty of time for dinner.

So, I turned off of 64 into Rosman and stopped at an IGA to grab a Yoohoo and a Starbucks double shot with cream. Bagel down and liquids consumed, I was content and happy. I turned my attention to getting to the downhill of Highway 178.

Before I could get there, I had to climb up to the Eastern Continental Divide. It wouldn’t be that long, but knowing I could really let it loose on the other side made me impatient to get there. It seemed to take forever.

Time to head down the other side.

Time to head down the other side.

Then it was time. I turned on the GoPro and released the brakes. Looking back I realize that I had only one car come around me the entire trip down to Highway 11. I had the run of the road and it was good.

It was fun to hit speeds of 40 mph, but even more fun that I was covering distance quickly. Making it to Highway 11 would be a big boost. I’ve covered that distance to home many times.

Reaching Highway 11 I could tell the biggest challenge of the day was still ahead. It wouldn’t be the miles. It wouldn’t be climbing. It would be the sun. The clouds of the morning were gone. Highway 288 isn’t known for it’s shade and the temperatures were now up to the high 80s.


I pulled over to the shade of the station. Sitting there checking my phone (first time I had coverage in hours) I was dripping sweat. It was time to get moving again. It was much cooler when I was moving.

My water bottles I had filled at the camp were getting near empty as I passed through Pumpkintown. The way I was losing water, I knew I’d have to keep drinking liquids. Along with my water bottles, I had been nursing an extra strength mixture of Skratch labs mix since starting for home.

Thank you Miracle Hill for the water!

Thank you Miracle Hill for the water!

Thankfully, I knew that Miracle Hill Children’s Home was nearby. With just a little water left in one bottle, I turned into the road that would lead me to a picnic shelter on the ministry’s property. I rode past some kids playing in a pool and it looked very inviting! I filled up my bottles at the shelter and now I was good to go!

I kept stopping to take in the views and listen to the cicadas.

I kept stopping to take in the views and listen to the cicadas.

Ahhhh, I turned onto Pace Bridge Road and I felt another boost. I was getting ever closer to home. I knew there was still some climbing to be done. I took a look at my accumulated ascent. Hmmmm, I could potentially get up to 9000 feet for the ride.

Next thing I knew I was on Roe Ford Road just outside of Furman. Looking ahead I could see I had a choice to make. I could turn right on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and take the one percent grade home, or I could climb up Paris Mountain and add close to 1000 feet to my climbing total.

At the top of Paris Mountain. Good day climbing!

At the top of Paris Mountain. Good day climbing!

I rode past the SRT and headed for Altamont Road. I didn’t really care how long it would take me to reach the top. This had nothing to do with time. It was about taking me a bit closer to the June Strava climbing challenge. After the long day, the 19 minutes it took me to climb to the KOM seemed like nothing.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.44.44 AMFinally, I pulled into home after eight hours pedaling the bike. The whole trip, including stops at the camp, Rosman, Highway 11, and for photos along the way took nine and half hours. We averaged fifteen miles per hour and I ended up climbing 8,668 feet.

I was able to knock out the Gran Fondo for June. I wish I could have used that ride for July! I got the 50% complete level on the Climbing Challenge, but looking at it more closely, I realize that I am knocking on the door of 75%. I’ll have no problem finishing it over the next 21 days.

Matthew and I are already starting to talk about making another trip up to the camp. I’m thinking I’ll have my family meet me up at the camp and then we all take the truck back home! It would be interesting to see how quickly I could cover the distance. A sub four hour ride is definitely doable.

How soon we forget the suffering. How quickly we get caught up in a new challenge. Isn’t it great?

Check out some video of the ride and commentary from this blog.

45 miles 4500 feet

Earlier last week, the beautiful redhead asked me if I could stay with the kids on Saturday while she spent some time with her mother and sister-in-laws.  My initial reaction was that cold feeling you get when you realize you are caught between a rock and a hard place… this was to be the first UWBL with points!  Everything else had been a warm up for today and I didn’t want to miss it.

However, you have to understand how wonderful my wife is about my riding.  Of course I told her I would watch the kids.  When I told her about UWBL, she started feeling badly about having me miss it.  I had to convince her it really was okay.  It really was.  Sure I wanted to go, but she sacrifices a lot in order to give me time to train.  This was just a small way to pay her back.

Not long afterwards I received a call from an acquaintance of mine who asked me if I would like to go on a ride Friday.  This ride would leave from Greenville and go about 47 miles up to The Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center near Rosman, NC.  It would be a good solid ride that could help make up for missing the UWBL.

Then Wednesday I started coming down with a cold.  By Friday morning I didn’t even think I would ride up to the camp.  I went into work fully planning to call and cancel.  However, around 10 AM I was starting to feel a little better.  I rushed, got my bike ready and made it in time to join the guys for the ride.

The riders were a varied group.  John Lehman, the organizer of the ride, is quite the runner but only gets on the bike occasionally.  His future son-in-law, Ben, would be making his longest ride ever on this day.  Doug and Web I knew would make it.  I’ve seen them ride plenty of Hour of Powers and know they had the fitness.  Mike was the last of the group to start off with us.  He has really gotten into riding and has surprised me with his fitness.

Still, I knew this could be a long trip.  It took us some time to get to Marrietta where we were to meet up with two other riders, Chris and Dean.  We got there in about 45 minutes.  Chris was waiting for us.  Dean was running a tad late.  We waited for a bit and then the group started off leaving me behind to wait and help pull him back to the group.

He showed up shortly afterward and he and I rode on together and met the group at a station at the intersection of Hwy. 11 and Hwy. 178.  After getting some snacks there, we started off again on the main leg of the ride… the one where we climbed.  What started out as a social ride turned into a ride of survival.

For me, I settled into a pace that had me riding between 200 and 250 watts.  If figured I could do that all day, so I found the rythm and kept at it.  I believe I am really starting to understand my abilities in relation to my power.  I know how long I can go at certain power outputs and that really helps me manage my riding.

Chris had turned around at Hwy. 11 to go back to Lake Robinson where he was going fishing with his daughter.  I arrived at the camp 20 minutes or so before Web.  Then Mike and Doug arrived another 15 minutes or so later.  John and Ben came in after that.  Dean was still out there.

He was cramping.  John and Ben offered to stay with him.  Several of the people coming up for a weekend conference also offered to help.  He would have none of it.  He was going to finish this ride!  As Mike and I were driving off the camp site to go back to Greenville, we saw Dean coming in the front entrance.  Way to go Dean!

This morning (Saturday) I woke up feeling like crud.  Turns out I would have been killed on the UWBL ride.  Frankly, I’m not so sure my ride yesterday helped me.  Things have turned out to work perfectly.  I wouldn’t have been able to do the ride today anyway and I got a chance to have an awesome ride the day before.

Here is my video from yesterday’s trip.  It was 46.75 miles and just under 4500 feet of climbing — most of that coming in the last 20 miles.

By the way, I got a message from my friend Matt Tebbetts when the UWBL ended.  His assessment?  “It was fast.  George (Hincapie) led the entire way… a tune-up for Down Under… The pace between sprints was like intervals at times.”  Man, my heart tells me I should have been out there!  My body and head tells me it I shouldn’t have.

Another friend messaged me, “Glad the rain held off but one rider got cut off apparently and went down. A couple others piled up as a result.”  It appears this was a rider in the B group.  She was taken to the hospital for observation and word is she is fine, though she will have a headache for a couple of days.  Hey, I’d love to have some other reports from the ride… send them in!