Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving WNC Style

This year we spent Thanksgiving week in a cabin in the woods near Brevard, NC.  The goals for the week were to explore the area, hike, drink beer & eat good food. There were wild fires in the area so we were concerned about smoke in the area.  For most of the week the air was good but there were a couple of days that were pretty smokey.

Saturday Morning 
Tuesday afternoon after the smoke rolled in

We arrived on Friday just before sunset.  Good thing too since this cabin was a bit off the beaten track.  We booked Serenade Cove via VBRO.  Overall, the cabin was great.  It was about 15 minutes to Brevard or Hendersonville and 40 minutes to Asheville. Transylvania county is known for the waterfalls. We wanted to explore Pisgah National Forest & Dupont State Forest and we did.

Saturday was Steve's run day & was supposed to be my last long run before the Gobbler half. I was still recovering from a cold so I decided to walk with Sammie while Steve got his run in.  We started on the Brevard Greenway & ran/walked into Pisgah.  Oh, how I wish we lived in a town where trails were virtually at your door step.

After our run we headed to Dixie Diner in Hendersonville for a late breakfast.  They had a breakfast buffet but you could also order off the menu.  Steve did the buffet & I had the pumpkin pancakes special. Good place for breakfast.  After brekkie we headed back to the cabin to wait for Mom to show up.  After she arrived we headed to downtown Brevard to check out Brevard Brewing & have some dinner.  Steve had the American Red Ale & Mom & I tried the Munich Dunkel.  Both were good beers.  Nice location right on Main Street too.

After beers we headed to The Square Root for dinner. We got there around 6PM & was seated without a reservation.  If we showed up later we would have been turned away. That is one thing I am not used to anymore, making reservations.  The food was fantastic. Glad we were able to get a table.

Sunday Steve & I headed to Dupont State Forest to check out some waterfalls.  The county is known for their waterfalls but considering the drought we weren't sure how many would be flowing.  Turns out they all were.  I can only imagine how beautiful they would look after a good rain.  We hiked about 7 miles of the roughly 90 miles of trails. The trails were easy & mostly well marked.

Hooker Falls
Lake Dense

Sunday night we headed to Marco Trattoria in Brevard for dinner.  I can't remember what we ordered but I do remember it was a cool place and another fantastic meal.  Gobble.Gobble.'till.You.Waddle.

Monday I did my last longish run.  I was supposed to do 8 miles for my last long run but decided to only do 5 since we did such a long hike the day before.  We went back to Brevard Greenway.  I ran the Greenway & Steve walked Sammie into Pisgah.

After our run & showers we headed to Asheville.  On our way we stopped for lunch and a flight at Sierra Nevada.  If you want to do a tour make sure to book in advance.  This place is amazing!

Sierra Nevada Flight
After lunch we stopped in at REI and then went to check out New Belgium Brewery.  Their flights are twice the amount as Sierra Nevada.  So we had a lot of beer to drink.  In the past, I have loved New Belgium beer but compared to the other breweries in town this was my least favorite.  Kind of a let down actually.

New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing
Tuesday was another hike in Pisgah.  This time we did a 4 mile loop that included part of Black Mountain trail which is very popular with the MTB folks.  Steve was all about getting a mountain bike to check out the trails but I was Debbie Downer.  I wasn't interested in mountain biking this trip at all.

After getting cleaned up we went back into Brevard while it was still daylight to see if we could locate any white squirrels.  No such luck.  We also wanted to walk through Main Street in the daylight to check out what it had to offer.  Really cute strip with some nice stores, a couple of breweries & some nice dining options.  We stopped into Eucusta Brewing to check out their beers.  Steve got the IPA, I got the porter & Mom had the coffee brown ale.  All were really tasty.

Eucusta Brewing Downtown
On the bartender's suggestion we had dinner at Magpie Meat & Three.  It did not disappoint. We ate really well this trip.  I am going to be waddling through this half marathon.

Wednesday we hiked another trail in Pisgah.  This time the Cat Gap trail loop.  About 4.5 miles & some decent climbing.  Our legs were pretty tired by this point.

Cat Gap Trail - Pisgah
Wednesday night we went back into Asheville to see the Winter Lights display at the North Carolina Arboretum.  It was a perfect temperature to walk through the gardens to see the display.  Very tastefully done.
Winter Lights
Winter Lights
Winter Lights - The only way to get a picture with Mom.
Thursday after watching some of the Macy's parade we drove to Hendersonville to check out the Oklawaha Greenway and to kick off the 2016 Runner's World holiday run streak.  It is a decent trail that connects several parks in town.

Day 1 of the 2016 #RWRunStreak
After our run we drove through downtown Hendersonville.  Nice main street with lots of shops & restaurants.  Since it was Thanksgiving everything was closed.  We spent the rest of the day at the cabin & eventually made our very non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner of ravioli, salad & garlic bread along with a bottle of red wine.

As always, it is sad when vacation comes to an end.  We head home Friday in time for my first half marathon in 5+ years.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tri for Sight - 6th Edition

Tri for Sight is where it all started.  In 2009, I joined Team in Training to raise money & awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society in memory of my Dad who lost his battle with Multiple Myeloma in 2006.  This year was my 6th Tri for Sight.  

This year T4S was the Sunday after we got back from our C&O bike trip.  I had no expectations on the swim or run.  I only swam once since the LaPorte Triathlon in August.  I did finally get that cortisone shot in my shoulder & it has seemed to help the pain.  I have had 2 pain free swims since the shot.  I still am not in the pool regularly but I am hoping that soon I can start swimming on a more regular basis.

A short lived cool front came in the day before the race so the weather was perfect.  Even had to put on a long sleeved shirt & vest to stay warm.

Transition Ready
Most of Team Steve - Becky, Steve, Me & Audrey
As usual, I had about an hour wait after the first swimmer before I started my swim.  My swim was still slow but I could at least pull with my right arm without pain. Overall the swim was fine, had some of the usual traffic but for the most part it was a clear swim.
Yay - finally lining up on the pool deck!
400m Swim time: 11m05s, 11/13 AG

T1 time: 2m01s, 3/13 AG

I was curious how the bike was going to feel.  On one hand I should be fast since that is all I did in August but on the other hand I knew I wasn't fully recovered from our trip.  Once on the road I could feel my legs were still fatigued.

There was a bike wreck on one of the curves which slowed most everyone down.  Thankfully the guy wasn't seriously hurt but they did have to call an ambulance & fire engine.  On my way back I chose to stop & let them go by.  The road was narrow & with bikes on both sides it was difficult for them to get through.  I probably lost about a minute doing this but if it was me I would hope folks would put their race aside let the emergency vehicles through.

12.6 mile Bike time: 45m31s, 6/13 AG

T2 time: 1m00s, 7/13

The run was an out & back. Doing a 5 minute run & 1 minute walk has been working out pretty well for me.  I was surprised the run felt really good.  I had done a brick a few nights before & it felt awful but it was still hot.  I think the cooler temperatures made a huge difference in comfort level.

5K Run time: 31m49s, 9/13 AG

Overall time: 1h31m28s, 9/13 AG


The oldest female finisher was 84 years old.  One of the TNT folks told me she has done hundreds of triathlons over the years.  I find this so amazing.  I really respect the men & women who are still competing well into their golden years. It did get me thinking of how many triathlons I have completed since I started this journey.  Not counting the year I did T4S as a relay, I have completed 26 triathlons since 2009. At this rate I will have completed 170+ triathlons when I am 84.  Sweet!

Next up: Gobble 1/2 Marathon in November

Saturday, September 10, 2016

C&O Canal - Gear, Tips & Helpful Resources

See THIS post on our day to day travels on the C&O Canal from Cumberland, MD to Washington DC.


We were fully self supported on this trip.  There are plenty of outfitters in the area that will provide SAG for a fee.  We saw a couple of groups that went this route but we chose to be self supported and are glad we did.

From our trip last year on the Greenbriar River Trail I learned that a trailer is NOT the way to go.  Some folks use a single wheel trailer & say that is fine but no thanks.  This past winter I got my bike outfitted with a front rack & panniers.  It did take me about a couple of miles on the trail to get used to the extra weight but I was able to go so much farther in a day without the trailer.

My bike is a Fuji Absolute 2.0 Hybrid with gravel tires.  I did get bar extensions added this summer & that made a world of difference on comfort.  It gave me options on riding positions which really helped especially as the butt got sore.

Steve has a Salsa Fargo also equipped with front & rear Orlieb panniers.  We both have a trunk bag & a front handlebar bag for quick access.  Steve has a phone mount on this handlebars.  He also has a top tube bento box that he keeps his phone charging brick in.

I have front & rear Ortlieb waterproof bags.  It is amazing how much stuff you can carry! A couple weeks before our trip we spent an afternoon laying all the gear we thought we needed out & loading in our bags to get an idea of weight.  A couple nights before we left we again loaded & weighed everything but also created an inventory list for each bag.  This really helped me when I needed something specific but didn't want to dig through every bag.

Steve's Gear List 
Andrea's Gear List
We also used smaller bags to organize stuff within each bag.  For me this system worked great.  For Steve, not so much.  He seemed to always have a hard time finding stuff & would have to rummage through every bag.  This is just some of the stuff spread out our DC hotel room.

When we were at the B&B, Will asked if we used everything.  Surprising, I used just about everything in these bags.  I didn't use the rain fly but had we camped that 3rd night we certainly would have. There was one pair of running shorts I didn't wear either but everything else got at least 1 wear if not multiple wears.  We did laundry at the B&B so we were able to get away with 4 sets of cycling clothes yet only have to wear them once between washes.

We packed up all our cycling bags in Lexington & packed an overnight bag for our first & last night of the trip in Cumberland which included our first day of riding clothes.  That way, we only had to add a few items to our panniers the morning we started out on the C&O.


  • Bug Spray Bring Bug spray & apply before you even need it.  I ended up with a bug bite for every mile we rode.  I think we got into a chiggers nest or something.  I had at least 15-20 bites on both legs & the back of my arms.  Mosquitos will eat you up at night so bring a bug net if camping.  I also got one mystery bite on my leg, probably some kind of spider.  It still is on my leg almost 2 weeks later.
  • Water  The water on the trail is treated with Iodine.  It tastes terrible.  Refill your bottles in town whenever you can. Every place we ate at offered to fill up our bottles.  If you do fill your bottles with the trail water the taste will stay in the bottle until you give them a good wash.  Don't bother trying to boil the trail water to make coffee.  It will taste terrible.  Steve had a filter but we didn't use it so maybe that would have filtered out the taste - not sure on that one.
  • Food  I had a bag full of food just in case.  We did need it the first day for lunch & 2 days on the trail for breakfast as well as snacks.  All other meals we were able to get in towns along the way.  
  • Hills  Most towns are up a hill from the C&O.  Not crazy steep hills but when you have your heavy bike loaded down with 60 pounds of gear & it is 90+ degrees they are pretty tough.  Cumberland, Hancock & Frederick are right on the trail. All other towns are a mile to several miles off the trail.  Just be aware of this.
  • Lodging There are Hiker/Biker campsites every 5-10 miles.  They all had a picnic table, porto potty & water.  Most had trees to hang your hammock in.  Some were right on the trail, some were farther away.  Be advised, you ride near a train line for part of the trail.  Our first night, there were train tracks across from the river which you couldn't see but at midnight when you are trying to sleep you can certainly hear it.  THIS site does a pretty good job listing the sites you want to have ear plugs for.
  • Trail Condition - The trail is bumpy.184 miles of bumpy. Get used to it. You will spend a good portion of time navigating around roots, rocks & ruts.  I almost bit it twice getting into a deep rut.  I thought for sure I was going down but at the last second the rut kicked me out.  The beginning of the week it was dry so the trail was very dusty.  Our bikes were filthy by day 3 when we got to the B&B.  The 4th day on the trail it was muddy so they were coated in mud by the end of the day.  Bring chain lube because you will want to rinse your bike off every chance you get. Also, be advised if you run off the trail you will either be in water or down an embankment for the majority of the ride.  The trail isn't narrow but it can be nerve wracking in some areas.
  • C&O Companion App - Steve downloaded this app & used it quite a bit on the trail.  
  • Cell Service - I have T-Mobile & Steve has AT&T.  He had cell & data the majority of the trail.  I had cell but only had data in Sharpsburg, Leesburg & as we got close to DC.

The C&O Bicycling Guide - I studied this website most of the summer.  It was extremely helpful in planning our trip.

GAP/C&O Bike Trip Blog - I read this blog over & over as well.  Very helpful, especially on Day 5 when it rained.  I remembered their post about Comfort Suites having a shuttle service from White's Ferry.

Cumberland Visitors Center - Here we picked up a few pamphlets.  Here are the ones I used most:

This was used the most.  How far to the next rest stop?
This was used the most.  How far to the next rest stop?
Used this to help us find Mile 0
Very handy guide to the towns along the trail

I ordered this book about a month before we left.  We didn't use it too much on the trail but we both read through it before leaving. It covers both the GAP & C&O.

Lastly, I created a google sheet with links to all these websites, lodging along the way & other various information I thought would be helpful.  I accessed this several times over the week.  It was good to have everything in one file.

I honestly can't think of anything I would change if I was to ride this trail again.  I know Steve would say he would bring his real sleeping bag & not just a liner.  Even though it was hot during the day you still needed a sleeping bag at night in the hammocks.  Probably wouldn't have needed them if we had brought our tent instead.  Steve says he would skip bringing his camp chair next time.  I personally like having the camp chair if we are going to camp.

I am really glad we took the entire week to ride this trail.  We never felt rushed to get to the next town.  We had plenty of time to stop & take in the surroundings.  For me there is no way we would have been able to ride this in 3 days.  A lot of people do but it would not have been enjoyable.

For our day to day rides on the C&O check out THIS blog post.

Happy travels!


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