Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ice and Gravel

Weekend rides, a couple days late. 

Saturday: seventy degrees in town but still some snow up high.  Riding from town up to the Mt Mitchell turnoff is a steady accumulation of 4000 feet of elevation, most of the miles on newly resurfaced BRP.  Still closed to cars.  For these shining hours before the inevitable onslaught of tourists, it's the world's most perfect bike path.

Ice melting furiously.

Mountains and mountains and mountains.

A tunnel only really bothers me if I can't see the other end while I'm going through it. 

Beautiful, even.

 We still ended up freezing cold and riding in snow, even while it was 70 degrees down in Asheville proper. 
March is what you make of it.

Sunday: a gravel transect of Pisgah.  One of my favorite rides, although I doubt many would see its beauty.  Given the not-insignificant ride the day before, I took it easy this time, North Mills River to Gloucester Gap instead of all the way up to the top of Pilot Mountain Road.

The big switchback on Yellow Gap. This climb never gets old.  

The gate on 475B was closed.  At the top of the first climb, some large scale logging equipment. If you feel like snooping around some giant machinery, late afternoon on a Sunday is a good time to pick.

Views of logging equipment were soon replaced by views of logging activity. This is selective logging of second growth forest and is being done using mostly extant (if decades-old) logging roads. However, this area is close to hiking trails, rock climbing access, and established campsites, as well as mountain bike trails.  By gating 475B (not to mention 225, which branches off 475B and then dead-ends) the USFS has hindered the recreational use of this whole section of the forest for most users, who rely on cars to get themselves to trailheads. 

From what I understand, the Pisgah Ranger District sees some of the highest levels of recreational use of any non-Wilderness district in the entire National Forest system. I do realize that the USFS has many masters and many competing pressures, and that logging is currently a large part of their overall management approach. That said, it would be lovely if logging plans could not just try to accommodate recreation, but actually be forced to work around the needs of recreation.

Anyway.  North Mills River campground to Gloucester Gap and back. 50 solid miles of gravel, 5700 feet of climbing. It was a nice solo Sunday ride with lots of time to mull things over.


  1. I love how the BRP is still closed yet you guys can ride on it. Its such a great road to ride on.. when its empty.

  2. I know! it is really fantastic while it lasts. It should end pretty soon though, and we'll be back to all the Harleys and minivans. Sigh.

  3. All those miles of gravel road sure make me envious of you. The climbing is just icing on the cake. ... Dang! I gotta get up there and ride.

    The pic of the bike next to the logging equipment is pretty cool.