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May 15, 2009
After a scenic and mountainous four-hour drive from Dahlonega, Georgia to Asheville, North Carolina, we pull into the parking lot of Liberty Bicycles with most of the beautiful afternoon to spare. As luck would have it, Kevin, the service manger at Liberty and the host of tomorrow’s ride, is happy to lead us all on a light recovery ride. The shop is located a block from the Blue Ridge Parkway, so, he says, it only makes sense that we ride up to the top of Mount Pisgah. Our rest day has become nearly 4000' of climbing followed by a 30-minute downhill chase on the some of the curviest, darkest and most disorienting roads. Back in Liberty’s parking lot we make plans for dinner and our pre-ride breakdown. At no time during the pre-ride briefing is Stoney Fork road properly introduced.
The next day we ride Craggy Gardens. We average 17.5 mph, climb 8900' and it takes 5:50. It’s gorgeous and more epic than expected. The crux of the ride is its hardest climb, a 6-mile gravel road up to the Blue Ridge Parkway from the backside of the mountains. The road is called Stoney Fork.
Ben Lieberson: Stoney Fork is like Paris Roubaix only uphill. The 15% section a mile before the end is just cruel, and ridiculous. You can’t convey how hard it is - harder than Brass Town Bald that’s for sure. In fact, imagine if they ripped the pavement off Brass Town Bald and dumped a load of rocky gravel on it. Then made it three times as long, that’s what Stoney Fork felt like. In a word, that climb is traumatic.
Dan Langlois: It’s damp like a jungle and I could hear running water the whole time. The road was covered with soft gravel, really soft gravel. I kept sliding sideways to the low side of the road when the camber got steep in the apex of turns. There was no place to take a drink because I couldn’t risk my hands off the bars anywhere. Oh, and I was in my lowest gear right from the start, the whole way up I never shifted, not once.
Steve: I haven’t thought about not making it to the top of a climb in a long time. But today I did. It’s twice as hard as Brass Town Bald, it felt like we climbed hard for 40-minutes solid. On dirt. And the way we got started was horrible. Right as I looked up to see the pavement ending and the beginning of dirt, we were chased by two dogs, a pit-bull and the other Dan calls a ‘North Carolina Brown Dog’. Both were all teeth. So by the time we’re 100 feet in, I was already at my max and it just kept going, steeper and steeper and steeper.
- No change overall at the Ras today, Rich Handley remains in 5th, and Mike Cuming stills leads KOM
- RT @anpostras: Provisional GC after Stage 5: Bialoblocki, McConvey, Guldhammer <all @st, Handley & Pelletier-Roy @24secs, Fodor @46secs, Hu…
- RT @anpostras: Mike Cuming (Rapha Condor JLT) Will wear Mountains Jersey again, after Stage 5 #Ras2013
- RT @NickLathamPhoto: @raphacondor Photos of Kristian House winning Durham stage in a blog post at http://t.co/wHX8d0mlQc #tourseries Pls R…
- RT @IonaNiDhalaigh: Yahhh mountain jersey in the bag!!! Nice one @mike_cuming!!! @raphacondor http://t.co/GrGqSL0Kgl
- RT @CondorWarehouse: Nice to see the @raphacondor JLT team bike on display @campagnolosrl HQ with so many top pro teams http://t.co/5CgE0tY…
- RT @anpostras: GC after Stage 4: Bialoblocki,, McConvey, Guldhammer, Handley, Pelletier-Roy, Hunal, Simon Yates, Fodor, Roger Aiken, Archbo…
- Spare a thought for @Porterelliott who punctured out of the yellow jersey group, when will he get some luck!
- Took the @anpostras on today. Didn't quite pull it off. @RichHandley90 4th on GC and @mike_cuming in the KoM jersey.
- Tour series update from Stoke up on the site http://t.co/aVdcnGnkOX