Told you so. I tried to get my fellow riders to join us on what I anticipated would be a great ride, but you just wouldn't listen.
I ran across information on the Burnsville Metric, co-sponsored by the Bicycle Inn and the Celo Inn last year and realized it was a very similar route to a ride our club use do to for years, and just knew given the location, it would be a great ride. After reading a ride report I found on the internet, I signed Doreen and myself up for this years Ninth Annual Metric, and we started the task of getting ourselves in shape.
Friday after work we loaded the car and headed towards Burnsville, NC. We decided to stop in at the Rivers Edge Restaraunt in Erwin (west on 107) and had an awsome pizza. They only have one size, and it could easily feed four people. . . at least BEFORE a ride! Since it was after dark when we left, we continued on the longer route heading south on 23 (I-26) into NC, then left on 19-E to Burnsville. (Had it been daylight we would have taken the shorter but more windy route: 107 East out of Erwin. This becomes 226. Turn on 197 at Red Hill. Take the 2nd left after RR crossing along river. Right at T onto 19-E, bear right into Burnsville.) We stayed at the very reasonably priced Carolina Country Inn where we had made reservations.
The weather report for the weekend was for scattered showers, which might have scared some from showing up for the start. There were 120 pre-registered riders and over 70 on site registrants well before the ride start. In addition to ourselves and Gary Surcey (back for his third time), there was a group of four women participants from Kingsport. A few rain drops right before the 9AM start had many of us grabbing some extra jackets for the rain that never came.
Check in at the Visitors Center went smoothly. For our $25 registration fee, in addtion to the usual snacks and sag support, we received a well marked route, cue-sheet a nice looking ride shirt with the route map on the back (good for tandem riders I guess) and a elevation chart and design on the front AND a nice ride patch of a 1890 couple on a bicycle.
Many riders were keeping warm or just warming up by riding laps around the beautiful Burnsville Town Square before the start. The actual start headed east downhill and out onto 19-E. After 6.5miles fairly fast miles we turned north on Route 80 up Cemetery Hill. Many stopped to strip off unnecessary clothing before the windy ups and downs to come. The sun was out by now and the new spring growth on the trees was beautiful as were the yellow splashes across the fields.
Our first rest stop was in Red Hill, then a fast downhill to follow the Toe and Cane rivers for the next thirty plus miles. Although it was mostly sunny, there was no time that IF you looked around you couldn't see potential rain clouds poking over a mountain, keeping that little uneasy feeling always present. The beauty of this valley is hard to describe. One of the interesting features of this area are the many swinging foot bridges crossing the rivers to residences. Eventually the route turns and follows the Cane Rivers gentle climb back towards Burnsville until about mile 54 where it turns west and follows old 19-E, then new 19-E and finally West Main Street back to the start, ending with 59.1 miles. We were riding at a -very- relaxed pace, just enjoying the scenery and still averaged a 14.6mph average.
We highly recommend this ride, and would recommend it in the Spring, Summer or Fall, either as a club ride or sharing it with the fellow riders on future Burnsville Metrics.