Friday’s were meant for ridin’ … and 110 miles later I was very tired. Nothing but images today folks – proof that even when tired, you can muster up a smile for the camera.
The Foothills Parkway continues to be my favorite route for training each week. I’ve traversed the Parkway between HWY 129 and HWY 321 more than 60 times this year and it’s refreshing every time I ride it. I rode it yesterday – and then elected to take my mountain bike out for a wet-weather ride on the “closed” side of the Foothills Parkway deep into the heart of Blount County looking down toward Townsend.
With the leaves almost gone, the valleys on either side of the ridge are now visible, adding new sites and vistas not viewable in the heart of summer. Soon enough, Clingmans Dome will be capped with snow – and I’ll be on the Parkway to capture the imagery.
The snap shoot herein was photographed last Sunday in the late afternoon. Enjoy.
Sunday-Sunday-Sunday: a day of rest, a day to reflect and certainly a day to ask for guidance in this lifetime.
The Foothills Parkway is a retreat of sorts. I have the opportunity to be on “high” ground and it feels closer to the heavens above – in some small way. Certainly I enjoy the views and the ability to get away from the rest of the world around me.
This Sunday, my trek across the Foothills was just beautiful, but a little loud. Well, sorta-kinda. While asking the Big Guy and the powers-at-be for some assistance, motorcycles passed me en masse. Literally. I experienced more than 140 to the top of the Parkway and another 120 coming back down. Whoa. I suspect the wet Saturday created a ton of pent up energy to “ride.” And rideth they dideth. Ok then. Sunday was grand. Except that I had to work – and that wasn’t very much fun. I did ride – and that was fun. Nothing else to add.
Over the last four months I’ve ridden the Foothills Parkway more than 45 times; many of which were from Highway 321 to Highway 129 and back. It’s become a ritual for me on Tuesday and then again on Saturday and Sunday. During the summer months I managed a few weeks where I rode the Parkway four times in a week. Someone asked me recently, “are you bored with that route?” My answer, “not at all.”
Actually it’s very relaxing and different each time. There are no mail boxes, dogs, stores, or houses to mark the route. Other than the pull-off areas along the way (overlooks), the route is tree-lined and quiet. Well, most of the time.
Saturday’s rain was a soaker. I left at 8:25 and by 9:40 I was at the top headed toward 129. On the way down I noticed rain clouds and rain showers in the eastern valley. Eventually the showers poured and I was soaked. The water in my shoes was coming out on the sides! I’ve learned to deal with the rain – and riding on one inch wide tires at 35mph (downhill) in the rain. While I was prepared with a plastic baggie for the iPod — the heartrate monitor didn’t like the excessive mositure. Today’s image was taken from the waterproof (!) Pentax looking toward Townsend.
Over the past week I’ve had the opportunity to ride the Foothills Parkway four times. Two of those were end-to-end from 129 over to 321. It’s a spiritual experience to say the least. Besides, it’s the best way I know to drop four or five pounds in a single workout. It’s the cornerstone to my diet of carbs, sweet treats (like chocolate) and beer. Enough said. This photo was taken atop the Parkway on Saturday, July 25th, 2009. Enjoy.
Ok then – I rode my bike on my favorite stretch of road today: the Foothills Parkway. Few cars were moving, but I was passed by a couple of hundred (yes more than 200) motorcycles. I experienced only one close call – a racer-bike (go figure).
Mid-way up the first climb an ambulance passed me with sirens blaring loudly. A few minutes later a Tennessee State Trooper passed me. I suspect it was a racer-bike doing something stupid on the Dragon.
The Dragon has many corners and most of them are shaded by large trees. Those trees tend to create damp, slick corners and it’s very easy to get sideways along the way. One suggestion for all those motorcyclists who want to go fast: rent the track at Virginia International Raceway – or better yet, sign up for a track day and “prove” your worth. It’s so easy to brag about racing down the Dragon, but few of those riders have the balls to attempt to race on a real track. Why? Because they aren’t fast. Period. They tend to learn a few corners and the lines and that’s it. They also seem to forget it’s a public road meant for TWO-WAY travel. Ergo, when you cross the yellow line and smack a vehicle head on – it’s going to hurt. Nuf said.
The photo for today was taken on Hwy 129 near the entrance to the Foothills Parkway. Njoy.
The day was brisk; burr-burr.
When I left the house at 11:00AM it was 30 degrees outside. By the time I crested the Foothills Parkway the temp was a tropical 24 degrees. Ah, the temp drops a few degrees when you’re atop the mountains.
I traversed the Foothills over to the Dragon and then to Fontana Village … and back. The 90+ miles required almost 6 hours (which included about 12 minutes of bio-breaks, eating and clothing addition/subtraction). Sure enough the total climbing elevation was just over 7,500 feet; no wonder I’m tired. The future of training will include more of the same, with warmer temps I hope.
After riding my bike 75 miles in truly cold weather, I am exhausted.
I rode from my house to the Dragon and back, and the temp (windchill) was around 34 degrees. Burr.
Actually I rode 37.5 miles from home and turned around … thank goodness. On the return trip, as I crossed the Foothills Parkway, I looked east toward Gatlinburg and North Carolina … wow. Every mountain top was covered in snow. It was a beautiful sight, but the brisk temps made the trek a little “tougher.” I stopped on my return trip to snap the photo of the day. Enjoy.
Long shadows this afternoon created a dramatic scene along the Foothills Parkway. Temps were perfect, as were road conditions. This short stretch of the the Foothills Parkway is “sweet.” The Foothills are considered a national parkway which, if completed, will traverse the foothills of the northern Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, located in the Southeastern United States. The 71-mile (114 km) parkway will ideally connect U.S. Route 129 along the Little Tennessee River in the west with Interstate 40 along the Pigeon River in the east, passing through parts of Blount County, Sevier County, and Cocke County. However, it’s been under construction since 1944. (Alaska’s built more bridges to nowhere and we can’t complete the Parkway?) Go figure.
Eventually large sections of the Parkway will cross a series of high ridges running roughly parallel to the Tennessee boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and will offer unobstructed views of the Great Smokies to the south and the Tennessee Valley to the north. When this road is completed I intend of riding it end-to-end. For now, enjoy the photo. Make sure to click the photo for the 2000 pixel-width version. Ride on.
This week I’ve ventured to the Parkway four (4) times. Imagine riding the same stretch of road four days during a week. I did and it was truly wonderful. Why? Because it’s all uphill, the scenery is beautiful, there are no dogs, and you can obtain water (free) at the Look Out camp site. While the BGE rules my heart, and Hawai’i is #2, the Foothills reside in 3rd place. Repeated visits to this stretch of road this week were driven subconsciously by a desire to extend summer. I vowed today to keep her on my weekly ride list over the late Fall and winter months. So it is written – so it shall be done. Ride “oneth.”
Looking toward Rich Mountain – Foothills Parkway – Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The view is spectacular.
The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
A large photo image taken along the Foothills Parkway. This shot gives you a view looking Northeast from the Parkway toward Maryville, Tennessee. Beautiful image reflective of a very hot, muggy and windy day. Click to enlarge.
Seconds do count – and usually those seconds add up at the end of a race year.
In 2007 my PR up the first 3 miles of the Parkway was 15:32 (from the National Park sign to the parking area where it levels off). Not bad – but not great.
About a month ago, I decided to try it again. After an 8 mile warm up I attempted a TT run up the 3 mile segment. My time – 14:40 – and for any rider that would be a nice improvement.
Today I decided to try it again … so after an 8 mile warm up, I got on it – but much harder and more consistent even when the pain was most intense. My time – 14:10 – another nice improvement. In fact, dropping a minute/22 in one year is great. It’s proof that hard work pays off – and even more proof that seconds count when you’re lowering TT times, especially hill climb TT’s.
Great PR – nicely done. Ride on.
The Tour was lively today. The news is aplenty … Google it. The advertising on Versus is really BAD. The Lance/Trek ads suck (what’s the big idea??). So do the Saab ads. Millions of viewers would rather enjoy some background music and random cycling shots instead of the same ads over and over again. NO we will NOT consider buying a Saab NOR a Trek.
I spent 4.5 hours riding up/down the Foothills Parkway today. What’s up with Florida drivers???? More close calls than I care to discuss, but three of four were Florida drivers. Other than crazy Floridians it was actually fun to climb, climb and climb some more. (Yesterday I was there for 3 hours doing lots of the same: climbing in big gears making my legs scream, my jersey feel as if I jumped in a swimming pool and my water bottle say, “dang, you refilling again!”)
Today’s image was taken atop the Parkway — an 8,776 pixel width shot, but 1,550 for your viewing pleasure. Click to enlarge.
Oh. Viva Le Tour (the Italian Viva, not the French variety).
I elected to stick to my training program rather than veer from it. The downtown Maryville crit was tempting, but not tempting enough – on a multitude of levels. Most importantly – my Sunday routine calls for climbing: at least four hours worth. Several key races are ahead — and two of them have significant finishing climbs. My bet is that the crit work helps but not when you’re hauling your ass up a mountain climb of 10K.
Ergo – my happy ass did a double climb of the Foothills Parkway – starting with a time trail up the first three miles (for good measure). The rest – well – it was just peachy. Happy trails.
Both of these destinations are unique. Happy Valley because of its seclusion and protection against the elements of the neighboring mountains, the beautiful Lake of the Sky and its proximity to Chilhowee Mountain. The sun was out today – giving the parallel road to the Foothills Parkway – a happy feel. None the less, it was cooler than expected – particularly because the warmer weather of the last few weeks warmed us up – or most of us anyway. I road four hours with a buddy of mine (Tim) and a few of his friends from Canada. It was mostly a climbing day. My legs are toast.
Thinking ahead today – to the Big Island of Hawai’i, I was mindful that I’ll see the Waipi’o Valley along on the back side of Hamakua Coast. It’s one mile wide at the coastline and virtually six miles deep. The beach is a beautiful black … the cliffs soar to 200o’ … and the road into the valley is steep. 25% – that’s twenty-five percent. Referred to as the Valley of Kings, due to the fact that many Hawaiian rulers once lived in the valley, it has historical and cultural importance to the Hawaiian people.
Today’s post has a great view of the Valley of Kings along with an Ohia (from Hawaii’s most abundant native tree), a Red Torch orchid and plenty of Aloha. More photos to follow ….
Sunday was a great day to be outside. Warm weather, breezy when needed, sunny sky, great views and plenty of traffic. Yep, that made for an interesting ride on the Parkway. I executed a double-climb of the Parkway today – climbing each hill section twice. So – the first three miles I climbed it and road back down then turned back and climbed it again but then kept going. I road onward to the top then to Highway 129 and climbed back to the top again. Once there, I went back to 129 and climbed that section again. When I arrived at the top I went down to the first level point (about 3.2 miles from the summit) and climbed back up. (Wish I had eaten a little more at that point).
The total mileage was 65 and change. Not bad after racing the day before (60 miles and another 10 warm up/cool down). In fact, my legs felt pretty good – even with a weight workout before the climbing workout. Insane for many folks – even for me (LOL). With almost 5:40 minutes total workout time – I made sure that I was “done” when I got back to the car.
I’m looking forward to this WHOLE week – it’s a transition week where I get some much needed recovery. Rest time.
It’s going to be a long day. 11AM is a weight workout with a focus on legs. Then I pack my lunch and head out for the Foothills Parkway. I’ll eat while I ride (can you imagine the dedication!) and go climb for about four hours.
Now where the hell is that coming from? I mean, where will I get the shiznet to manage that kind of workout??? Who knows, but one thing is for sure: the Amgen Tour of California is wrapping up later today and those guys are doing a much harder, longer workout than me – after 6 days of racing – so I suggest no whining.
The Foothills Parkway is a favorite of mine and many, many other local cyclists. And for many cyclists who live in our region. For those who enjoy the views of the mountains, this is a wonderful stretch of road. Sometimes I wish it were much longer. Certainly I’m thankful it’s so close to my home.
When I moved year a few years ago, prior to getting back into riding, I had no idea that I would spend time on the Parkway riding the climbs and enjoying the views. I did so in college (a few times), but Townsend seemed so far away from UTK. Now, it’s 20 minutes.
On Saturday I spent a little over four hours on the Parkway. More time on the bike than anticipated. While the intensity was high, so was the duration. I captured some fun images while riding – and a great mountain view on top. With lots of mountains, climbing and no store – best bring your own food (which I did). Peace.
This weekend marks the first full week of Base 3.
My Saturday workout calls for a day of full-on climbing. A real workout. I like steep climbs. The accomplishment of dragging me and my bike up a road that most people wouldn’t walk is kewl. The feeling stems from a combination of many things – mostly from a willing spirit that suffers gladly.
Staying focused when the searing pain is burning my lungs and legs is a challenge. I like it because the roads on steep climbs are usually void of heavy traffic – so suffering is worth the quietness and solitude. Ahh.
Relaxing while in pain is an interesting combination that borders on something sadistic. I suspect most cyclists who race are considered to be in that elk – as it requires mental tenacity to overcome the body’s overt white flag to surrender. Yet we keep going.
Tomorrow will be mostly climbing. 2.5 hours or more. Of the workouts during this week, I’ll enjoy this one the most.
Photos to follow.
Miles. Yes. 100 miles. That’s a century according to most cyclists and it’s a distance that you cover when you have nothing better to do. Well – sorta. Today wasn’t 100 miles – but a nice 39 up the foothills and back again. The weather was warmer and nice – and few cars were out. The smoke in the distance looks as if someone is using mesquite to warm the house. HA.
I stopped on the way home to capture some nice photos — to share the moment. Life moves on, so enjoy it.
The draw of the mountains (for some people) is undeniable. Similar to the draw of the ocean, it’s where life originates.
Headwaters trickle from streams atop mountains, flowing to nearby rivers, and then to the oceans of the world beaming with life.
The lure of the mountain’s call is a definitive source of energy for me personally. It’s probably the internal compass leading me (and many, many others) to tap in the unseen energy. Much like a radio station frequency, finding it and locking into it requires focus but once there you can push the “button” and tap into it. Probably the very reason I live so close to them. This may assist my internal compass in finding the radio station much quicker – maybe. The magnetism of the ocean, for me, is an equivalent draw and a powerful one as well. Ergo the reason I write about the ocean (specifically the Pacific) so frequently.
Attached are two photos – very similar to one another. The first is 2/3’s of a pan and the second is a full pan. The difference is significant. Both were taken on my back deck this morning at sunrise.
“Back in the day” I used film and piecing techniques to create similar photographs. However, the process was much slower and room for error was huge. The mountains in the background are the Foothills of the Smokies. Just an eye shot from my back door. I’d best visit them today. Peace.
Near home. At home. The favorite among those who bicycle near the Foothills. The River Road (or Old Walland Highway) is the “standard” on a weekly route to and from The Institute at Tremont. I’ve rarely stopped … but did so today. Well, yesterday I stopped. The photo of today was taken roadside – near the bridge that carries you from River Road to Highway 321. I’ll add nothing more – enjoy.
Whoa. Can you imagine – two days in a row that it’s raining in east Tennessee. How nice. What’s even nicer is the fact that I feel good about it raining. As much as I love the rain, I’d prefer not to ride in the rain. I did yesterday but it was just wet, not raining. Needlesstosay – no other riders were outside working out. AND – very few cars traveled the boulevard nearby. Yea.
Enough of that shiznet. Travel to my YouTube video: lightening on the Parkway to see and hear a storm blowing in from the east. This video footage was taken looking toward Townsend, Tennessee.
After much ado about dryness, we’ve got a little wet weather. That should clear the air and provide a fresher smell come Thursday. Let’s hope so. The fall has been dry – yet we’ve enjoyed tons of bluebird days. My gut tells me we’ll endure more rain over the winter months than in previous years – and with warmer temps – more rain than snow. Oh well – enjoy each day as though it were the only day we’ve been given. Had I reflected upon that thought earlier this week I wouldn’t have posted some of the nasty-gram-posts that appeared in my blog. Whatev. It’s all about being human, right? Today’s photo is just that – rain-full and peaceful cause it’s taken near Townsend, Tennessee. Where’s my Gortex?
Another grand and glorious day riding the Foothills – with many more cars than motorcycles today. I hope the traffic subsides soon, I’m tiring of the motorists who insist on shaving the left side of my body with their mirror or other vehicle extensions. Oh – and let’s not forget the wanna-be race car drivers in their “mufflerized” piece-of-crap jap cars — who love to punch the gas when near you to “hear their muffler.” Did you hear the word compensate come up?
Now to the photo. This hog was originally 8900 x 2560 (WHOA) – some photo. It’s four photos stitched together. I’ve exported the photo at 1500 wide to reduce the size of the file from 10mb to a bearable 270k.
The colors are still with us even though the rain helped pluck many leaves this past week. I believe we’ll have about two weeks of color and then we’re talking brown. The best thing about brown – less cars and bikes. Ride on.
Did someone tell me it was a work day or what! I’m so into the blogster and now I’ve missed a day. Oh what fun it is to slave away the day. I did create a little ditty from my photo archive taken this past weekend. Herein. Me and Ames traveled to — you guess it – the Parkway. She was ready for home – I wanted to ride. Ha. More later – peace.
And you’ll see the Foothills of the Smokies rising up. It’s a grand place to be – to ride – to enjoy. I’m a fan – and I’ll be there tomorrow soaking up the sites, sounds and views. This view was from earlier this year and it’s a favorite photo. You can find the mountain views peaceful or you can find them to be paintings — with lots of things to discover while gazing over the trees and the horizon. It’s spectacular. Peace.
Traveling the Parkway yesterday was a little crazy. LOTS of motorcyclists, even more cars, leaf-peepers, dead squirrels (cause they think their invincible), very few clouds and some random turkeys trotting the roadside. Other than that – it was a wonderful day. Evident in my photos, the view is looking like a luxury lifestyle you’d only experience … well … on the Parkway. A mere 11 minutes from home, the Parkway is a must-see for tourists and a must visit for cyclists. (Click the photo below to see the full framed version.)
Ok then. The first three miles are uphill – a CAT 3 climb. It takes a good cyclist about 13 minutes; the average joe on a Trek, about 22. The Parkway drops then for a gradual descent that is about 1.1 miles and you climb yet again. The second climbing section is again a CAT 3 that is about 2.5 miles and has a false flat. (Click the photo below to see the full framed version.)
The road turns up again for another 1.7 miles and a brief downhill before you arrive at the summit. It’s a very easy climb – if you’re climbing easy. It can be a leg-full if you drop the chain to – let’s say – fifth gear (cog-17). Then it’s a WORKOUT. With the right legs, a 17 delivers 13.5 minutes on the first section and a sub-40 minute to the actual descent on the other side. Which – bTw – is 8 miles downhill. The roundtrip to the end of the Parkway (at HWY 129) and back is 52 miles from my back door. I’ll blog about it tomorrow after I ride this route – today.
The clouds above look like there’s rain coming but without enough moisture, due to a very weak front, we’re not getting any rain today. Why rain? It’s extremely dry in Blount County. I’m an avid cyclist and love the sunshine – and an absence of rain makes the riding days plentiful.
The enclosed photo is taken from the Foothills Parkway during a rain storm earlier this summer. One of the RARE days it actually clouded over, thundered and dropped some drops.
It was a single day however. Love the photo.
This is a favorite view from the Foothills Parkway, just northeast from Townsend Tennessee. In early fall, the low humidity makes the views seems endless. The wind was blowing in this photo but it certainly gives you the perspective of mountains and more mountains.
As we travel along on our bikes it’s difficult sometimes to stop and soak up the views. More often than not we’re looking at the back wheel of another rider while staying in the draft. Or, we’re so concerned with an average speed – or time limit – that we forget to soak up the views. I soaked up the view in this photo. Enjoy.