Asheville Day 9: Welcome to Triathlon Camp. Start Climbing!

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

by Mike Mahoney

Day 9 at asheville-spring-2013/#top1″>Asheville Spring Training Camp 2013


James carves a turn in aero on the beautiful DZ Welcome RideThe Welcome Ride is always a fun start to a week of camp. After an instructional pool swim and something to eat, Michelle meets us at Trail’s End and we head out. Once through the Arboretum, we ride Brevard Road along the French Broad River. This section is scenic but busy with traffic, so we ride more or less together. Once we hit Avery Creek Road, however, traffic is scarce and we can enjoy the rural countryside. Last week, Geri and I did a few turnarounds, which make this ride ideal for a mixed bag of cyclists–everyone can get some good training, participate as a group, and not get lost.

At Pennsylvania Rd, it’s game on, and Michelle promptly puts the heat on James by attacking, passing and doing her level best to stick the pass. I don’t know what James’ effort level was, but the two of them shot away, leaving Coach Mike and I behind. He shot me a look that said, “I saw that coming” and headed off after them. I took my time and enjoyed a leisurely ride, stopping to get some pictures along the way.

Triathlete Michelle takes a corner on the scenic Welcome Ride near Brevard, North CarolinaI got a good 10-minute nap lying in the cool grass by the side of the road with the sun on my face, waiting for Michelle, James, and Coach to ride by after setting up this shot. Not bad, considering that Nicole had texted me a picture of the weather back in Ontario: cold windy snowy nastiness and an inch of ice on everything. I felt bad, enjoying the warm sun while Nicole was freezing back in Canada. I also got some odd looks from motorists and quite a few shots of random other cyclists as I lay there by the road. You can see where these were taken on my Strava segment for this ride–it’s where I turned around on Pennsylvania Rd.

It wasn’t long before James came over the hill at speed, followed not long after by Michelle and Coach. The shots were worth the wait, I think.

Six-foot-plus James jokingly drafts five-foot-one Michelle for the camera on the DZ Welcome Ride, Asheville, North CarolinaJames and I had had some fun earler in the day, joking that Michelle didn’t leave much of a hole in the wind for us to draft. But James good- humoredly tried, anyway.

The Welcome Ride part of the Welcome Ride is really a fun scenic ride, get-to-know-you session, and a warm-up, more than anything. It finishes up with what we call DZ Tunnel Hill, which is the first 4.2 km of the Blue Ridge Parkway from the parking lot just above the North Carolina Arboretum to the Walnut Cove overlook. It’s a scenic, constant 6% grade, popular with local cyclists for intervals.

We all had our assignments from Coach Mike. James took the idea of doing Ironman Kona only a week after the the Furnace Creek 508 as a challenge, and got some serious training: three repeats with specific wattage targets. I got two repeats at my own steady effort level. Michelle, first time here, got one repeat with the choice to do a second.

Predictably, James headed off uphill, putting down some serious watts. Michelle started after I did but, also predictably, soon passed and spun away out of sight. She’s stealthy, too: I was enjoying the scenery and the solitude until out of nowhere she announced her intention to pass. Quiet. Useful in a race.

This time it was Coach Mike’s turn to chirp, and once again, we stopped halfway up Tunnel Hill for a set of pushups. At the overlook, I was looking forward to the descent, which is fast with long sweeping turns, almost too much fun. Sometimes it’s even closed to traffic and you can take the whole road to carve a turn for even more speed.

Michelle holds her bike aloft for her cycling hero shot at the Walnut Cove overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, North CarolinaI love this picture, because of the story behind it. If you’ve been reading these reports you know that the “hero shot”–posing at the top of some climb holding one’s bike over one’s head–is a bit of a Discomfort Zone tradition. I was ready with my camera for Michelle’s hero shot when we hit the overlook, but she took off right away for the descent. I looked at Coach Mike. “What about her hero shot?” “She’ll get it on the second repeat,” he replied, with just the smallest touch of a knowing, very slightly smug grin.

So it was on our second repeat that I got out the camera for Michelle’s hero shot. “If you grab your bike by the balance point you can one-arm it,” I suggested, only half-hoping Michelle might do so.

“Okay.” And Michelle cheerfully one-armed her bike over her head and held it there, smiling, while I got every nuanced angle shot I could want.

Triathlete James takes a breather at the summit of Tunnel Hill: the Walnut Cove overlook on the Blue Ridge ParkwayJames, we had seen a few times as he repeated the climb and the descent, going hard enough to get some serious training.

Having got in a swim and a bike today, when we got back to Trail’s End after descending Tunnel Hill and taking a run at Arboretum Hill, we needed a run. The nice thing about the trails here is that they’re challenging–I don’t think there are any flat runs near Asheville–but so scenic and natural that they’re fun to run even when you’re tired. Which we did, even though we were tired from another big day of training.

Group shot of triathletes James, Michelle, and Michael after repeats of Tunnel Hill, at the Walnut Cove Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, North CarolinaNaturally, we got a group shot at the overlook.

Tomorrow, it’s all about climbing, with a hill climbing technique session with Coach Mike. We’ll be focused on climbing and descending hills on trail. Yes, that means timed repeats.

Ride on;