Monday, July 6, 2009

Day One Hundred-seventeen, 090625 - BRP#2 Balsam, NC

Day One Hundred Seventeen, Date Thursday, June 25, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:12
Distance for the Day: 33.6 miles From BRP SC#1 to BRP SC#2
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5574.38 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 3735’/6028’, Highest: 6064’ Accumulated: 5876’
Speeds: Avg: 4.67 mph, Max: 42.2 mph
Weather: 68°
Expenditures: $4

I got up at 6am, packed away my sleeping bag and hammock, and was ready to roll at 7:07am. The sky had a high thin cumulus layer, and was relatively cool. I did have to sleep inside my sleeping bag, for a change. I was a little worried up here in the BRP as there aren’t many services – there were *some* sporadically along the route, but they seemed to be few and far between, especially in the beginning. I was especially concerned about the fact that I lost my compact toolkit – if I needed to do anything more complicated than fixing a flat, I’d have to go begging for tools. I was already getting a little low on liquids (water/Gatorade), but I should be okay. Wow, continuing up the BRP from the first stealth camp, the road has only been uphill for mile after agonizingly slow mile – not one instance of level or down. Had a bit of breakfast of trailmix and Gatorade, and then continued on up the road. A momentous occasion at 8am, altitude of 4251’ ASL (above sea level), I have reached a level section of road! Since the BRP started at just about 2000’ ASL, that was a solid climb of 2251’. Yowch! I hope there aren’t too many of those ahead of me; I was already sweating like a pig. The gnats here are very annoying; they swarm around my face, but at least nothing here bites. Met Tom the photographer and Jim the cyclist. Tom gave both Jim and I some more water for our depleted bottles (Tom is a flower/nature photographer who has a website you might like to look at -, and Jim gave me valuable info on the terrain of the BRP. Apparently, this is the toughest part (great). I got up to 5K but dropped again to 4K, so still had to climb 2K to get to that 6K high point (oof!) At another point on the road, I dropped about 800’ in 5 mins and went 4 miles forward. While that was fun, it also meant I’d have to regain that 800’ before reaching that highest point – I got to the point where I'd wish there weren't any more downhill grades, fun as they were, so I could finally get to 6K. I stopped at 12:30pm at the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center to see if they had a soda machine (nope - just bottled water in an ice-filled chest). A crowd of people gathered around my trike, and I answered the usual questions; one guy donated a ten-spot to the cause (thankyouverymuch). I didn’t really need it, but I notice some people just like to contribute to efforts they get particularly intrigued with. Far be it for me to crush their generous spirit! I bought four pint bottles of icewater at the visitor center ($4) and drank two of them on the spot, which got me sweating like a raincloud. The highest point was still ahead of me, and I was really looking forward to getting that over with, though I did take a lunchbreak to eat and read my book (still working on Ayn Rand’s, “Atlas Shrugged”). Along the road, I got picture of Ed and his funny looking, quiet, passenger, Max at 4pm. I got lucky today – there were lots of cumulus clouds that almost looked like rain, and they mostly blocked the sun, keeping me cooler. I was still sweating profusely, though, and I would wipe myself off with my handtowel (right through my soaked shirt) and wring the moisture out of it three times per "wringout" – I’d have to do that every hour or so on the tougher grades. I eventually took to *wearing* that handtowel across my chest under my shirt, and do the wringing out routine several times per day. I also, after a few days, figured out that whenever I would hit a significant downhill run, I should sit up in my seat to a) let the airflow all around me, front and back, to help cool me off and dry me out, and b) slow myself down by becoming less aerodynamic. Some of those downhill grades were so steep, and the turns so tight, I'd have to lean my weight out to keep the trike from flipping; that was great! I finally hit the high point (6K’) at 7pm (yay!) It was *very* challenging; pains kept on turning on and off in my legs or knees; small clouds of gnats would swarm around in front of my face when there was no wind and I was only moving 3mph up hills; but I just kept plugging away, took rests as needed, and eventually came out on top (literally). The clouds looked a little ominous – dark and puffy, but thankfully, it never rained.

All along the entire length of the BRP, I got lots of smiles, thumbs-up, beeps and waves of encouragement from people in cars and on motorcycles (*lots* of motorcycles) who were coming from the opposite direction. I think I made a lot of people very happy – very happy that they weren’t ME. At about 7:30pm, I found an overlook with a nice cement pad for a picnic table near that 6K’ altitude that faced east, and set up my tent, there, for the night (N35 21.595’ W82 59.203’). I talked to a couple of guys right around sunset who were interested in my trip. It was mostly clear, no wind, and fairly temperate. I got to sleep right around 9pm, after reading a bit of my book.

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