Asheville Day 8: Finally.

DZ Associate Coach & Webmaster, Mike Mahoney, at DZ Blue Ridge Endurance Triathlon Camp 2012

by Mike Mahoney

Day 8 at asheville-spring-2013/#top1″>Asheville Spring Training Camp 2013!

James: “Holy $#!+! I Got Into Kona!”

James takes a curve at speed on the Arboretum RideCamp starts with the Arboretum Ride, a skills loop in the North Carolina Arboretum that serves to practice skills and check out bikes for mechanical fitness after travel. It also gives the coaches a chance to get a sense for each athlete’s cycling skills in a controlled environment–a necessity when running triathlon camps in a challenging mountain environment.

James knows this loop, having been to Asheville twice before. He uses the opportunity to carve some fast turns and make some fine adjustments. I take a few corners and promptly notice that I’ll need some easy spin to recover from yesterday’s race. The Arboretum offers a nice curve right between two hills, and even these small hills hurt! Perfect opportunity to get some pictures.

Michelle prepares to attack a climbMichelle is a climber. She takes the descents cautiously, listening to Coach Mike’s advice and taking each one a little faster until she’s carving her way around in the aero bars and clipping the apex for good measure. But she saves the real aggression for the climbs. It’s fun to watch her attack, still in aero, every time the grade pitches up. I’m already thinking that with James and Michelle for fellow athletes, I’m going to be spending the week catching up.

Next up after a good number of loops and turns is the second part of today’s ride: a trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Liberty Bikes of Asheville. Inevitably, there are things needed and things forgotten, and what better way to take care of those missing items than a ride to the bike shop–who wants to drive to a bike shop?

It’s a great ride for day one because the route is almost entirely bike friendly: the Parkway itself is for scenic driving only and is closed to commercial traffic, i.e. no trucks. To get to the Parkway we’ll be heading through the Arboretum, also bike-friendly. Then once we make our exit, Liberty Bikes is only 300 metres from the Parkway. An ideal ride. I’m supposed to be leading the ride while Coach Mike takes the support vehicle for our purchases, but my legs are shot and I’m soon giving Michelle directions so she can attack the climbs and take a flyer off ahead. James has recovered better than I have and after a few repeats, bless his soul, he sees me grinding away and lets me hang on to his wheel through the headwind.

Liberty Bikes is a dangerous place: spring sale is on and a few odds and ends soon turn into a pile of sports nutrition, pumps, multitools, clothing, and even a new chain. James’ Cervelo, “Stewie,” being in the shop for the new chain, and Michelle heading directly to Willow Winds where she’s staying with hubby Harold, I’ll be riding the Parkway home alone. I figure I will be going at a very easy pace, but as I head home everything loosens up and I manage one good climb. I’m still cooked, but recovery is happening.

James, Coach, and Michelle on the Welcome RunThe Welcome Run is a beautiful loop along trail in the Bent Creek Research and Demonstration Forest. It starts literally right outside the door of Trail’s End and starts out easy double track, threads its way uphill on single track with some challenging footing, and finishes on a gentle downhill on gravel road back to Trail’s End. It’s a great way to get the heart rate up and introduce athletes to the forest trail system. We meet at Trail’s End and are soon enjoying ourselves running trail.

James has been all over these trails on previous camps, even recording places where the official map is dated and tracking new trails that don’t appear on the map.

Michelle on the Welcome Run with Coach in the backgroundMichelle is just as much of a climber running as she is climbing. We all had a fun run and enjoyed flying down the downhill into Trail’s End.

This downhill section, running along downhill to Rice Pinnacle Road and on to Trail’s End, is a great end to a run. It’s fun to fly along the downslope and imagine that I can run that fast on the flats!

James, having just learned he had won a Kona slotI’d like to mention that later in the evening, while at McDonald’s for wifi, James found out he got an Ironman World Championships slot in the Kona lottery. It was a bit of a shock, as he’s got a busy race schedule already, including the Furnace Creek 508 with Coach Mike. Here’s James just a few moments after finding out.

Congratulations James!

While drinking beer at The Hub, a combination bike shop and bar, I managed somehow to sign up for the Blue Ridge MarathonA personal note I forgot to mention. After the Assault on The Carolinas bike race, we went for a beer or three at The Hub, a combination bike shop, outdoor gear store, and tavern, in Brevard. Yes, tavern. no kidding. While there, we met our new friend Charity, who had done the Blue Ridge Marathon the year before, and is doing it again this year. It’s billed as America’s toughest road marathon, and somehow I found myself signed up too. It’s on April 20th, and I’ll have a race report for you.

Tomorrow, the Welcome Ride and Tunnel Hill.

Ride on;