In 2005, I set myself a goal to get serious about riding my bike. I lost close to 30 pounds training and ended up riding a 2-day, 150 mile tour to benefit the National MS Society and then flew out to Austin to ride in Ride for the Roses (1 day, 100 miles) in honor of my friend DJ.
For 2006, I wanted to up the ante a bit. I want to start climbing mountains. I picked up Tim Murphy's excellent ride guide book called Road Cycling: The Blue Ridge High Country as I started to think about what I want to achieve this season on the bike. After reading through the whole book, I think it's clear that climbing Beech Mountain has to be the primary goal.
Beech, located near Boone, NC, is the mountain where Lance Armstrong rediscovered his will to race a bicycle. He describes that magical ride in his book It's Not About the Bike as the day he realized he still had the ability and the desire to race as a competitive cyclist. He reflects back on his trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains:
"I passed the rest of the trip in a state of near-reverence for those beautiful, peaceful, soulful mountains. The rides were demanding and quiet, and I rode with a pure love of the bike, until Boone began to feel like the Holy Land to me, a place I had come to on a pilgrimmage. If I ever have any serious problems again, I know that I will go back to Boone and find an answer. I got my life back on those rides."
Beech Mountain is a Category 1 class climb (the second highest rating achievable in pro cycling) and climbs 1,450 feet in a mere 3 miles. It was the scene of 4 mountain top finishes of the Tour du Pont during the 1990s
It just so happens that the 2006 Cycle North Carolina tour starts in Banner Elk, NC on September 30th with a ride up Beech Mountain and then proceeds to traverse the state to Emerald Isle by October 7, 2006. All told, there will be about 450-500 miles of riding over those 8 days. It may be the closest I'll ever come to riding Le Tour...so I've pencilled it in as my main cycling objective for 2006.
Stay tuned to this blog for updates on my training for my own Tour de NC!