Going to Carolina in My Mind

I now understand why James Taylor was inspired to write that song. Last week my work took me to North Carolina. I had stops planned at 3 different towns: Spruce Pine, Wilson’s Mills, and Kings Mountain. Each one gave me a chance to explore 3 unique geographic areas of the state. And, yes, I had my bike with me.

Spruce Pine: mountains, mountains, and more mountains. I traveled roads that were steep, crooked, and absolutely beautiful. Move over Colorado cause you’ve got company. I found road signs stating 8, 10, and 14% grades! Check out this awesome loop just south of Spruce Pine…2700 feet up in just 7 miles! Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Rockies, is here, too! Unfortunately, it was cold and icy while I was there…no miles ridden. While I didn’t ride, I still give this area 5 stars! *****

Wilson’s Mills: Flat. The hills quickly faded away until I was on ironing-board flat roads. After I finished work, I suited up and road 25 miles, mostly at tempo pace. The lack of hills, curves, or other features made this ride about as enjoyable as a trainer ride. But hey, at least I was outside. And who can complain with sunny and 65-degree temps in February? **

King’s Mountain: As the name suggests, this area is not vertically challenged. But, don’t be fooled, the mountains here are nothing like those to the west and northwest. I finished working and drove to Crowder State Park for a quick ride. On the way there I found the tell-tale markings on the road way (a “c” with arrows pointing the way) that told me I was headed in the right direction. I rode for 45 minutes on terrain that is very similar to that found in Missouri: constantly up or down and relatively steep. While I’m certain the area has hidden gems, the Crowder Mountain ride was just OK. ***

I drove through Virginia and West Virginia on the way home. Oh my!

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