Back in a previous life I once went years without owning a car. I walked, took the bus, or rode my bike wherever I had to go. It was an interesting time in my life during which I learned a lot about self reliance and the simple joy of riding a bicycle. After several years of not relying on a car and answering the usual questions ("What do you do when it rains?") life got more complicated and I got complacent and bought a truck. I told myself I wouldn't let it change me but eventually the motor vehicle demons changed me and instead of taking the bike I found myself driving the truck to work when it was raining, cold or dark or if I was running late. On days I didn't have to work I found myself loading the bike into the truck and driving two hours to Pisgah to mountain bike. After a year of driving four hours to ride every week eventually I decided it was time to just move closer to Pisgah so I loaded the bike in the truck and drove the two hours to the mountains for the last time.
Looking back, it is an interesting series of events that brought me to where I am now. It was all for the best and I am much happier then I was in my no car stage but I often find myself tired of driving. It seems like sometimes driving is all I do and it is starting to wear on me. I have to drive all over the place for work and due to the nature of my work I can't not drive to work. Commuting is not an option but the driving I do when not at work is an option. Not only do I drive all over the place for work on the weekends I am often driving all over the place for recreation. I try to be as cognizant as I can of the amount of driving I do and the impact it has but I still sneak off to somewhere in Pisgah whenever I have the time.
I'm getting tired of it all so last weekend I mixed it up and instead of driving to Pisgah I rode my road bike. After the twenty mile warm up ride I pulled into the Black Mtn. trail head, locked the bike to a tree and swapped my bike shorts and shoes for running shorts and running shoes and headed up Black Mtn. Like any good runner I started the timer on my watch and was curious to see how long it would take me to get to Turkey Pen Gap on foot. I passed a few groups of bikers on their way up and settled into the groove. I checked my watch at Pressley Gap, saw I was on pace to break an hour, and kicked it up a notch on the final stretch up to Turkey Pen. Even after going up Black literally hundreds of times it is always much further from Pressley Gap to Turkey Pen Gap trail than you think it should be. It is even further to Buckhorn Gap but luckily I was turning around at Turkey Pen and arrived there in just under 56 minutes. That is right in line with my fastest bike times and I was pleased.
I snapped a few pictures, because that is what I do, and turned and burned straight back down. Elven minutes later I was at Pressley Gap, 29 minutes after that I was back at the bottom where my road bike was faithfully waiting. It was a very nice late winter day so I took my time during the transition from run to bike and even just relaxed for a little while - something I never do - and laid in the grass for a bit before returning home.
Twenty miles isn't far when you have a bicycle but with a fierce crosswind on highway 280 and not being in riding shape by the time I got home I didn't manage to have a negative split on the second bike leg.
Overall it was an excellent adventure in Pisgah. I missed my dog - running just doesn't feel right without his leash in my hand - but have promised to make it up to him. Meanwhile I'll continue ponder ways to reduce my dependance on automobiles. If I could figure out a good way to fit a hundred pound in a backpack so I can carry him on a bike so we can go run in Pisgah together everything would be perfect - REI people, do you have anything bigger than your biggest packs?