Sometimes it pays to have a look out in your back yard because you may be surprised at what you find.
Take this past Saturday for example. I am building up for the first real race of the year - the Cohutta 100 in April and I am needing some long rides preferably with lot's of climbing. The choices are: singletrack loops with short, steep climbs, short forest service road climbs (by short I mean less than 30 minutes or 5 miles long) followed by singletrack descents, or hop on the road bike for some good climbing in the mountains.
Since most of the races I am doing have alot of FS Road sections, some with long (6-10 mile) climbs, I want to train that way. To do that means driving to Pisgah in North Carolina or up into Virginia. Each takes an hour or two out of my already taxed training day.
What's a Duck to do?
Saturday, I met up with good buddy and training partner Bob Lamberson and we hit a loop that he recently discovered on Holston Mtn in the Cherokee Nat'l Forest. Holston Mtn is one of those places I like to ride my road bike alot and have always wondered where those gated roads I see there go to but I have never bothered to check it out.
What we rode Saturday blew my mind. Although it was only a 20 mile loop, it had about 3300 feet of climbing with one really long (7-8 mile) climb that probably averaged around 8-10 percent. Just what I needed. There's plenty of options to make it longer (I stopped by Barnes and Noble and got a map). I can see 100 miles with 15,000-16,000 feet of climbing!!!!!!!!!!
No more driving 2 hours to ride my ass into the ground when I can do it right here in the comfort (so-to-speak) of my own back yard.
Methinks I'll be spending alot of time there this spring.