Day 11: Biking to Forest City! It was about a 70 mile day. To start off the day, one of the wonderful Charlotte Habitat leaders named Tommy brought all of us delicious pastries!
Dietlinde gave a great presentation on the FC before we left Charlotte. Part of our daily routine on biking days is to have a rider present housing facts and fun facts on the town we’re riding to. Part of Diet’s presentation was that a rapper by the name of La. Truth was from FC and apparently rapped about it in one of his songs. She let us listen to the song on her phone to pump us up for the day. Then she said “there’s also a community pool, if any of you are into that sort of thing”, which made all of us laugh. That was about the extent of exciting information about this town.
What was cool about today was that I recognized one of the roads we took out of Charlotte as a road I took in the opposite direction when Christopher Patiño, Jonathan McKinney, Brittian Blaylock, Andrew Traylor, Jon Dwyer and I rode our bikes from Boone, NC to Garden City Beach, SC. That was a couple of summers ago, but it was awesome that I still recognized the place! It reminded me of this quote:
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” – Ernest Hemingway
Overall, this wasn’t one of my favorite days. I don’t really have a good reason for why it wasn’t that great, but I know that I’ve had better days. That being said, I will quote my good friend and B&B SUS’11 alumnus Jillian McMahon and say “Your worst day on Bike & Build is better than your best day in real life.” I would say this is pretty accurate, and it makes for a great Quote of the Day.
The morning started out fine, and I was glad that we got to bike through downtown Charlotte a little bit because we didn’t get to walk through it while we were staying there. We got out to some country roads and it was a beautiful ride! At one point, we got to a very, VERY steep but short hill. At the top, several of my teammates were off their bikes and cheering the rest of us on up this crazy hill, which was SO motivating! In the middle of the hill, someone had written in chalk “LUNCH IS SO CLOSE”. The absolute COOLEST thing about this ride was that once you got to the top of the hill, you could turn around and see the Charlotte skyline way out in the distance. Best reward for completing a hill!!
We made it to Kings Mountain and then had lunch shortly thereafter.
After lunch, we cruised through a cute town called Shelby and scored DELICIOUS DM-ed coffee from Broad River Coffee Co! The guy working there made us a huge vat of some frozen strawberry espresso drink that was AMAZING and much needed. We were clearly tired from our ride, even while drinking this delicious concoction (shown below are Olivia and Emerson):
I really enjoyed this quote written on a chalkboard at Broad River Coffee Co, as it’s very relevant to this summer’s adventure:
After climbing a few more crazy hills, we made it to Forest City. It was a pretty relaxing night, with a spaghetti, salad, and fruit/angel cake dessert provided by members of the church where we were staying. We all called it a night pretty early, as we were all preparing for the climb up to Asheville the next day.
Day 12: ASHEVILLE BOUND!!! This was the day I’ve been looking forward to since I decided to take this trip, and it DID NOT disappoint. It was my favorite day yet!
The day did start out on a pretty rough note. Daniel noticed that I had a lump in my tire, so after only 5 miles of riding, my group decided to pull over and check it out. We took the tube out, deflated it and checked the tire to see if anything was inherently wrong with it, and decided there wasn’t. As I was pumping my tire back up, the tube suddenly exploded, leaving a ringing noise in my ear. I laughed really hard when Regular Ryan said “It’s boobie trapped!” and pretended to run off in the other direction. Even though this wasn’t technically a flat, it was decided that it would count on the running tally of flats that we have. It’s kind of a bummer because I was hoping to get through this trip without any flats.
Then we started to head up the mountain. We stopped at another beautiful location to take photos! Unfortunately, the photos were taken on Ryan’s phone, and he later dropped his phone in the lake (he retrieved it but it’s not functioning too well) so the photos are currently unavailable.
So after three stops, the last being when Ryan was retrieving his phone, we were on our way up… And I mean UP. We rode up HWY 74 for about 4 miles of straight up HILL. Up a mountain, no flat area or downhill for miles and miles. I’m going to toot my own horn here for a second, so prepare for that. I went into this day knowing that I wanted to challenge myself. People were bitching (excuse my language, but I feel this is the only accurate way to describe it) about the mountains in their future on the way to Asheville. Since I basically learned to ride a road bike in the mountains in and around Boone, NC, I just felt like I was back on my home turf. I tackled this mountain HARD. About half way up, I hadn’t changed to my little chain ring in the front gearing (excuse my lack of terminology… I’m still learning) which meant I still wasn’t on the lowest gear possible on my bike. I thought to myself “challenge accepted” and decide not to change it all the way up this mountain. I didn’t, and it was both awful and incredible. When we got to the top, there was a sign that said “Eastern Continental Divide 2,880 ft”!!!!
Then, after climbing for what seemed like hours, we FLEW down the mountain, winding through the switchbacks in the road. I shouted back to Aaron and Meg, who were right behind me all the way, “THIS IS WORTH EVERY SECOND OF THAT HILL!!!” and they agreed (this is my Quote of the Day).
We finally made it to lunch, and spent about an hour hanging out and being so excited about attacking that mountain.
The hardest part of the day, as usual, was the post-lunch coma. So ROUGH. The hills were definitely shorter than the mountain but they felt wayyy harder because we were all so exhausted. Meg, Aaron, Daniel and I pushed ourselves to the very end, arriving first at the host site, motivated by the thought of an ice cold beer at a nearby bar. For me, the motivation was an iced coffee, which I got the second I arrived there.
We were fed a great pizza and salad dinner provided by Stephanie, the Habitat leader that was coordinating our build day activities. After dinner, we went to a music venue/bar to listen to blue grass music. Listening to blue grass music is basically a requirement when in Asheville.
One of my very best friends, Betty Caulkins, who was one of my roommates during my senior year at Appalachian State University, now lives in Asheville, so she came to see me and meet some of my teammates! I love getting to see her and catch up with her since I no longer get to see her everyday. She took this photo of me in front of our B&B trailer:
It was a great first day/night in Asheville!!