Tri Camp: Day 5

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

by Mike Mahoney

Day 5 at asheville-spring-2013/#top1″>Asheville Spring Training Camp 2013

“Look! It’s My Friends in Latex!”

Day five. The Pisgah ride.

The big day of tri camp is a ride and run to summit Mount Pisgah – 5,721 ft (1,744 m). It’s usually the longest day of training.

Geri and Mike at the Pisgah Inn.The Pisgah ride is 40 km or so each way, made up of of beautiful rolling countryside followed by a solid, unrelenting climb up US Route 151 and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Pisgah Inn. The plan was for Coach to drive the vehicle to the Inn with the Mighty Cross Bike, then descend and meet Geri and I on the way.

Once at the Pisgah Inn, it’s only a short run to the summit. Short, but also one hell of a climb on very technical terrain. And at 5000+ feet, it qualifies as an altitude workout. I found that it took some time to get used to running at this altitude: at first, I was more winded than I should have been, but I found that I adjusted as we climbed.

Coach climbing a rocky section on our Mount Pisgah run.The trail is technical: trail-runner-speak for rocky, uneven, and steep; with obstacles, branches, and loose footing on trail that often runs along a drop off where it would be unpleasant to fall. We took the trail carefully and hiked the steep parts. Along the way, we met an interesting character: a very friendly former marine hiking his way up with a good 30-pound backpack. He was happy to take a few pictures for us. Today we matched in our new DZ triathlon and bike gear.

The view is just plain spectacular from the top of Mount Pisgah. It’s interesting to look out and see just about everywhere we’ve been training the last few days.

Our friend took this picture of us at the summit.On our way back to the Inn, we ran across a fellow stranded in the parking lot a mile from the Inn. He’d left his lights on and needed a boost. As Coach had the support vehicle at the Inn, he said he’d return in a few minutes and help the fellow out. One mile to go!

The Pisgah Inn opens in early April. It’s a great place for lunch, with huge picture windows so we could enjoy the view with our lunch. Geri and I ordered lunch while Coach Mike went to boost the stranded motorist.

Coach Mike had food waiting for him when he returned to the Inn, and he came back with a story or two. First, It’s a small world: the stranded motorist is a friend of a friend from both spring and fall camps last year. Second, as Mike pulling out the booster cables, our friend from the Pisgah summit hiked by. “Look! It’s my friends in latex!”

I descend my favourite descent in the whole world: US 151.I love to descend. And the best place I’ve found is US Route 151 from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather having held off through lunch, I got the chance to descend the 11% grades, wicked blind switchbacks and decreasing radius corners. On a map, this section of US 151 looks like a piece of wet spaghetti. It’s wonderful.

With recent events on my mind, I was nowhere near the fastest descent time for the US 151 descent segment on Strava. But I did find that a clean and controlled carve, neatly and professionally done, is in its own way just as satisfying as a wild, max-speed descent. To quote Coach on descending steep twisty roads in the mountains: “…it’s the funnest thing in the world!”

Geri joined me for the return to Trail’s End: fast, with some solid climbing. We cut through the Arboretum but missed the closing time for the back gate, so we got some bonus training as we went around the long way. There’s a rather fun section of Wesley Branch Road that was worth the detour.

Tomorrow: Swim, James arrives, and the Assault on The Carolinas pre-race ride.

Ride on;