It was strange, and hard, to ride my fully loaded bike over the route I have ridden many time unloaded or lightly loaded. I would have been riding west towards Nashville where my flight to Portland OR leaves in three days, but my friend Don Patterson had offered to give me a ride to Nashville, so I was starting my tour by visiting friends who live about 55 miles north and east of Asheville. Given that big storms are forecast across Tennessee today and tomorrow, I also get to avoid riding in some nasty weather.
Still, riding a 90 pound bike instead of a 20 or 35 pound bike made the first day of my tour harder than I expected. It took me five and a quarter hours to cover the fifty five miles from Asheville to near Bakersville NC. Usually it takes me less than four hours on my road bike or about four and a half hours on my touring bike. My friend Michael Davis, who runs the Bicycle Inn, rode out to meet me, and we rode the last 20 miles or so together. Michael was riding unloaded on his titanium racing bike, so he had to be very patient with me.
Michael, riding ahead of me along the river near Green Mountain
This route, which is covered in my Asheville to the Bicycle Inn web page, took me over Paint Gap. You know how folks like to say "When it gets too steep I can always walk my bike?" Well, Paint Gap, which peaks at a 20% grade, is so steep I could barely push my loaded bike up it! Walking over Paint Gap is an aerobic workout. Pushing a 90 pound bike over Paint Gap meant I was also pushing my aerobic limits. Walking at 2 mph, I made it by stopping several times to rest. Maybe I'm more out of shape than I thought!
A neat red barn with Paint Gap in the background.
It was a beautiful day for riding, and a great start to my tour, and it reminded me that I need to get my body back into the shape needed to do long days in the mountains on a 90 pound bike.
Paint Fork Road - a little blurry because the road surface is rough
I weighed my bike after I loaded it. With me on it, it had about 115
pounds on the front wheel and 150 pounds on the rear wheel. Without me
on it, it had about 50 pounds on the front wheel and 35 pounds on the rear
wheel. This shows how loading the front bags more than the rear helps even
out the front-rear weight distribution. The ride, which includes some rough
surfaced roads was very comfortable with all that weight on the bike,
at least as long as I wasn't riding up much of a hill!