Friday, September 26, 2008

Journeys to Asheville

We hung around eaglewing farms until early afternoon on Sunday,
organizing and rearranging our stuff, patching old tubes, and planning
our routes for the next couple legs of the journey... One of which,
charlotte, was decided to be a waste of our time within an hour of our
planning our route to it.. No show lined up, and an extra days riding
when we could put some of that extra time into getting to Asheville,
which is nestled 3000 feet up the appalacian mountains, and which,
while we still didn't have a show there (we'd thought we did, but in
Norfolk found out that the people who ran the place hadn't really
committed ever and now couldn't do it), we had contacts working on
getting us one so it seemed like more of a destination.
We headed to a bike shop in downtown chapel hill for some new brake
pads for Dianne, and a trailer tire tube for me, though when we got
there, new handlebar tape seemed like a good idea to get as well (my
$8 tape had fallen off around Richmond and I was using zip-away pant
legs to pad my grip) so we got those, and a tire pressure gauge,
which, when the old pump had broken after the exploding tires of
Williamsburg incident, our replacement did not include one of... My
Mom bankrolled all of this as we were getting low on funds, and any
more would be awhile in coming, thanks mom!
One of the mechanics at the bike shop had done and blogged a bike tour
too, and I keep meaning to vheckbit out, perhaps when I get home! I
think it was "".... Someone check that, see how
it is...!
We set out only to stop again at a co-op for awhile before really
setting out in earnest, getting a good ways out of the city before
finding a nice big field to camp in for the night... Dianne and I had
an utterly flavorless bean and corn with tortilla dinner... Always
pack spices!
Honestly, the next week was a little all mixed together in my memory,
as it was just riding from Monday to Friday, and though there was
stuff to break it up, I may get some of the timeline wrong, ok?

Monday, sept 8:
We headed up the road for not too long before we all noticed a sign
for good homemade breakfast around the corner, a mile down the road...
I was dissappointed to take note of it's Thursday through Sunday
hours, but apparently nobody else noticed because a minute later we
had turned down the road the place was on.. I asked kurt if this was
our route, and he responded curtly that it was "the road we're on."..
Hmm. maybe this was also just the way to go, I didn't exactly know,
and we were sort of taking turns navigating, the navigators decisions
having bren deemed best left unchallenged, lest the apparition of
bickering or the spectre of second guessing get into the fray.. Kurt's
response was a little flip, then, being the navigator and finding his
choice questioned, not to mention the before coffeeness of the whole
When we arrived at the cafe only to find it closed, of course, I took
my turn at being curt by grumbling that if anyone had taken a second
to mention to me that we were going to this closed cafe, I could have
spent my time more wisely heading up the street to an open
establishment... flipped my bike around and took off to do exactly
that.. Yes, things sometimes got tense! This tension would lurk We had
gas station coffee and cereal that morning at a weird place; they had
3 computers on a long card table, under a sign that advertised
"Internet cafe", though as we started signing into our gmail accounts,
the attendant came over and took the keyboards away from us (!)
explaining that it was only for gambling! He was kind of a lame dude,
and forfeited his chance to win any kind of gas station advertisment
in our blog... In fact, don't go to any gas station, they're probably
out of gas anyways!
A couple hours down the road we loaded up on canned food from an
extreme discount store, lots of expired stuff for 25 cents.. We bought
enough stuff for the next two days... Cheap but heavy!
Around now, I noticed that with the welting ant bites from Greenville
was a curious double welt that seemed to be a little grosser than the
rest, which kurt identified as to most likely be poison ivy, ugh!
We had a pretty tough time finding camping that night, eventually
finding a clearing in a dank forest up a steep, pricker bush laden
embankment, as usual, on the side of the road... We had to disconnect
all the trailers and hand everything up one by one, this embankment
was so steep! This dank a forest, we usually would refer to as
yodaville, after yoda's thickly forested home planet, and wouldn't
camp in, but it seemed to be the thinnest of the many yodavillages
we'd encountered that night already, and we took it!

Tuesday, sept 9:
Kurt had packed his tent away before we were even really out of ours,
and announced that he was going ahead to find coffee, would stop at
the first obvious spot, but if it seemed too far, would turn around
and come back, ok? Ok, see ya soon. The weird poison ivy welt had
turned into a giant bubble overnight and combined with the sort of
decomposing creepiness of the forest, got us going really fast! Once
we got pedaling, it seemed like a while before we finally got to a
town and that perhaps kurt should've turned around, especially since
we have a tendency to get flat tires first thing in the morning, and
he was the patch kit carrier, but maybe it just seemed long, it being
first thing in the morning, before coffee even!
We rolled through the little town expecting to see kurt's bike in the
gas station parking lot, and not finding it there, looked for an
obvious second choice, perhaps a bakery was around, but there sure
wasn't! Wondering whether he had just continued on, or where kurt may
be at all seemed like a useless task, and we thought to just stay
where we were, so we got gas station coffee, but in doing so, became
even more confused as the attendant said he'd just seen another
cyclist with a big yellow trailer pass through not ten minutes before!
Why wouldn't he have stopped!?! He always took the first available
option for morning coffee, never trying to hold out for something
better than convenience store quality, for example... I had noticed
the police station across the way, and decided to ask them to tell him
where we were, if they happened across him in their patrol.. The woman
at the desk also verified that she saw him to through about 15 minutes
before, his yellow (it's rainbow, but certainly has it's fair share of
yellow) bike and trailer having caught her eye, in any case, she'd
call the patrolman. "thanks.", I said to her.
Several minutes later, eating cereal in front of the gas station, and
staring at the point up the road where kurt would be coming in from,
we were startled by a hissing sound from behind us... It was kurt!
Turned out, there had been a little downtown off on a road to the left
just after where we camped, and he had left a note for us on a sign
that said he'd gone that way, though we never saw it, of course! It
then took him even longer, as he went back up to the campsite to see
if we were stuck there before proceeding along! Weirdly, both the gas
station attendant and the policewoman must'v seen me (but not Dianne)
as we were going through town looking for kurt in the first place, and
in the policewomans case, mistaking my blue and silver bike for a
yellow one! It's now that I'd like to say that this actually
corresponds with a rule of thumb we'd started going by, which was
called "never trust anybody", and referred to a recurring event that
we had come to rely on and hasn't failed us yet, really, which was
that whenever we asked someone in a town for information, they'd be
sure to give us the completely wrong advice, which we'd only figure
out after taking it... For example, several times we'd asked for a
recommendation on where to eat in a town, and would hear that there
was but one fast food place (see Williamsburg, but lots of otther
times too) and after having something there, right down the road would
be a plethora of interesting, local eateries! Or saying to avoid a bad
part of town by taking some out of the way route, but we'd get lost
and go the easy, bad part of town way anyway, only to find that it
isn't that bad, just a little crummy maybe! Or the COUNTLESS times
someone has told us that we can't do some particular route on our
bikes, and again, it turns out to be a regular road (this one is a
little different, but helped secure in our collective mind that no one
was to be trusted for correct information) anyways, you get the point!
Before we continued riding, my bubble of poison ivy (which we later
realized to have been a nasty spider bite) had to be dealt with, which
made me feel queasy to think about, and shan't get into the details of
here, suffice to say there's still a giant scab there now, more than 2
weeks later! hour or so down the road dianne and kurt got ahead of me and
stopped to use the bathroom at a crossroads where we switched routes,
apparently each thinking the other would see me and stop me from
passing, but neither did, nor did I notice their bikes, and kept on
riding, wondering to myself why they hadn't waited at the the route
changeover, which was standard practice at this point... Basically at
this point I became indignant at their not waiting and that grew more
and more as I rode along, never catching up to them... Eventually
stopping, calling Dianne's cell phone, and discovering that I had
passed them, at which point I stopped and 15 minutes later along they
came! We lucked out with camping that night, basically just finding a
lovely clearing in an otherwise dense forest, with a thick bed of loam
under the pine needles... A rare delight that I would take over a fine
mattress any night!

Thursday, sept 11: we began this day in fine spirits, as I recall...
Good weather for riding, a little overcast but not raining.. Went a
couple hours in the morning before kurt noticed that his brake pads
had worn to the metal, I belive... Not too long after that, we came
into a town, that I now forget the name of... Maybe hickory? If you
felt like knowing, it'd be about 70 miles east of ashville on rt 70...
Anyways, we came into the strip mall section of town, where we noticed
a bike shop tucked away behind a mattress store and some other
incongrueties... Which I only say because bike shops are usually found
in the main downtown, not off a highway that only long distance riders
would want to be on.. So incongruency of location, but I guess the
mattress store must've seemed weird to me at the time too, or why else
would I have mentioned it? This may, to the shrewd reader, seem like a
bit if foreshadowing, but is in fact not... Just a ramble that I can
get away with as I have no editor to submit to.
We went to the bike shop.
In the driveway of the bikeshop, my bike started making a funny
clattering sound... Something caught in the back wheel? No, a broken
spoke! Probably the extra bit of weight from a (recently migrated from
trailer to pannier) large Gatorade bottle of backup water had been
just a little too much.. Also we later realized that our new crummy
pump had only gotten my rear tire to about 70psi, a whopping 30 under
it's max pressure... Putting more strain on the wheel, and this the
spokes... Oh well,
What better place to happen than in a bike shop driveway? Oh, how
about a bike shop driveway that has your spoke size? That would be
better, yeah... He also didn't have the right brake pads for kurt's
bike in stock, but actually took them off of his own bike and gave
them for free, so howabout that?!? He told us how to get to another
bike shop in town, about 3 miles away, downtown, called Clark's... As
we rode out of the driveway, the rain arrived in force.. So much so
that, almost to the bike shop a bit later, we encountered shin deep
flooding and the kind of wind that pushes your eyelids, nostrils, and
mouth all the way open if you let it hit you face on... We walked our
bikes the rest of the way! There's an orange soil in north Carolina,
and as it washed away, rivers of bright orange traverled down the road
with us.
Clark's appeared to be closed, just a sign on the side of the building
and a big ummsrked, closed metal door... But lo! It opened, and after
a breif period of their not being able to get to it for a few days at
least, and after hearing of our adventure (we only brought my bike in,
the trailers are a dead giveaway usually... Without them in sight,
we're just weird cyclists who've chosen the rainiest ever day to want
our bike fixed!) they took a look at the spoke, looked for a new
spoke that would fit, and, not finding one, called the next bike shop
on our route, in Glen Alpine, about 20mi along, and they could make
the spoke, we'll be along soon, we said! The fellow who helped me
there was the only person we ran into who seemed to know of what I
meant when I said I play electro-acoustic music, excellent!
We wanted a coffee before heading out, and had that, some chili, and
kind of warmed up and waited out the rain... We also found the bike
shop in glen alpine to be closing far before we'd be able to get
there.. We said we'd be there upon their opening in the morning,
though that wouldn't be until 11, which meant we'd only be able to
travel another 20 miles instead of the 50 we would have hoped to by
the next noon... Hmmm, looked like we'd have (yet another) late night
At this point, we split up while kurt went back to the first bike shop
to retrieve a left behind metal water bottle, and we continued at a
slightly slow pace, though kurt was sure to catch up sooner than
later, as he's just that fast!
Along the way, we were excited to see a sign; "Asheville 60mi"!! A
whopping 50 miles less than we had (mis)calculated!
When kurt caught up, he had seen the sign too, and we all relaxed
about our 11 o'clock bike appointment, as we could easily make it
before Friday...
We got to within 5 miles of glen alpine where there were some stores,
kurt got some nice wool socks, and we went camp hunting... Quickly
finding the North Carolina School for the Deaf to be an excellent
choice, plopping down in the front yard semi-obscured by a single tree
and little else, but sure the rainy weather would keep peoples eyes on
their studies... Which I guess panned out well for us as we slept in
until about 9am, and weren't bothered by campus security or anything...
We made for the bike shop, stopping along the way at a most inviting
little farm stand where the woman who owned it gave us free peaches,
banannas, and Scuppernong grapes... North carolina's official fruit,
and a tasty one at that, though they each have 3 or more seeds that
must be navigated...
The bike store was allegedly right up the road from the fruit stand,
but we climbed hill after hill expecting to descend into a downtown
each time, but never seeing sign of it.. We traveled to a very small
gas station where we stopped and called the bike store, who somewhat
grumpily informed us that we had gone 5 miles too far... That the
downtown was off to the right a bit, not right on the main road which
is what we thought we had been told...
After considerations, we decided to forge ahead and hope for another
bike shop to appear instead of backtracking over all those hills...
Over a break at a terribly greasy diner, a fellow suggested that we
not take 70 all the way in, but take a route a little north west of
Asheville to the blue ridge parkway, which he said was actually pretty
flat once you got up to it, and the 70 turns into a busy highway for
several miles, apparently... Looked like we had a new route!
An hour or so later, we entered the town of Marin, which after being
dissappointed to hear had no bike shop, were relieved to find that our
dictum to never trust anybody came to our rescue when we of course
found that it did have one, and I took off to get my spoke fixed (only
$10!) while kurt and Dianne hung at a cafe... In short order, we were
tip top and on the road again... Within another 20 minutes, we turned
onto rt 80, which climbs 3300 feet in it's 12 mile span...

Sent from my iPod

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