Day 36 – Sevierville, TN to Asheville, NC
That was one tough day today. One very tough day. That’s not a complaint, just reality; that’s what I signed up for. 90 miles of riding, over 6,000 ft of climbing, in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. Wow, I really felt it in my legs and loved every second. Weather was perfect biking weather in that the sun was out but it never got hot; I never took my toes warmers, arm warmers, leg warmers, or jacket off. The country is beautiful as we rode along rivers and canyons. We rode through Hot Springs, NC, which is located at the confluence of he French Broad River and Spring Creek; home to the only known natural hot spring in the state. The Appalachian Trail runs along Bridge Street in downtown. I got seriously lost around mile 67 but I followed route signs and made numerous stops at service centers and found my way to Asheville. I rode by myself, which I prefer, and I stopped at mile 58 at a really cool coffee shop and had a triple espresso latte. Very cool day.
So Cayce suggested I tell you a bit about the support we receive from Trek Travel each day. There are two 15 seat vans; one has a trailer that hauls luggage, and the other has day bags (small bags that we have access to to put on or shed clothes depending on the weather) and lunch. The vans cover the front group and the lagging group. Every 15 miles or so there is a van parked at the side of the road to provide water and snacks. And for those not able to handle the riding (not me, I swear, but others have certainly taken advantage of the option), they can jump in the van. Also, if anyone has a flat or mechanical problems, the vans can and will help if they are in the area. So far, I have only had 2 flats (I changed one and a guide changed the other) and I have had both tires replaced because they wore out. I have also replaced the cleats on my shoes twice (I have used 3 sets). My derailleur has been adjusted by the guides a few times. The bottom line is that the Trek Travel guides provide the most important service in support on the road. Of course, the accommodations and the meals are very important but when you are out riding 100 miles a day, it’s very reassuring to see the Trek Travel vans out there.
I also want to start thanking some of you for helping me get here. Let me start with thanking Jack Horne, whom I love, for his dedication to helping me train and to push me. Jack and I have ridden at least 4 centuries together plus many hard training rides. The fact that I was ready for this tour was reflective of Jack’s help. Further, Jack and Cary are major contributors as sponsors. And I need to thank Bob Meeker and Gary Zentmyer who have really helped me. Of course, you know that Emma Ejwertz, my personal trainer, and Anne Frazee, my massage therapist, have really been major contributors.
Tomorrow, I leave NC and enter SC. 4 more days of riding including 3 days of tough riding tomorrow and Sunday and Monday. But this dude is ready to wrap this up! I’m tired but eager to be done. Day after day of 100 mile rides for 6 weeks now. Surreal!