words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Biking to a Place Inside and Out / 04

Road biking at high elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

But here in the South biking takes on a whole new dimension. It explodes with energy and beauty. Both road biking and mountain biking provide a means to an enriching and trans-formative end. This post entitled “Biking to a Place Inside and Out” includes a gallery of images that records visually that magnificent end.  And it is an attempt to express the color, beauty, emotional, and physical essence of biking. It is difficult to say what I enjoy most–road or mountain biking. They both provide their own unique challenges. The mountains of Western North Carolina, and the forest areas of South Carolina harbor great recreational parks such as Tsali, DuPont State Forest, Bent Creek, and Laurel River in NC and Paris Mountain, Southside and FATS (Forks Area Trail System (named one of the top 10 machine-made trail systems in the country)) in SC. These are moderate and difficult level trails with hundreds of feet in elevation changes. They are comprised of single track, access roads, and some, like the Left and Right Loops at Tsali, a single track that the rider navigates around a large man-made lake (Fontana Lake). In a recent conversation with a fellow rider, we discussed the horrible consequence of making a riding error and going over the edge into the lake (not good). In the winter the lake is drained and in the summer it is at full capacity.  Until then, it had not occurred to me that the prospect of losing one’s bike to the lake could become a reality.  But a challenge is a challenge, and in mountain biking especially, there can be no room for fear. Both the Left and Right Loops are each approximately 12 miles in length, and any lapse in concentration could be costly. In contrast to the obvious hazards, Tsali is a very beautiful recreational park located on the borders of Swain and Graham counties with the Great Smokey Mountains as its magnificent playground.  One can only marvel at the beautiful surroundings that become infused with every fiber of your being as you push, pedal and commit yourself to go one yard farther—to make that climb. Throughout most of these parks are rivers, gorges, tree roots, rocks, creek crossings, ravines, dead drops, imposing trees everywhere, and some that provide mountains summits that climb to 5000 feet. Expect to fall, expect to get hurt. These and numerous other challenges test the will, the level of oxygen deprivation to the muscles, balance, hand/eye coordination, timely decision making, and your overall physical stamina.

The tree obstacle on the trail at Laurel River, North Carolina

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2 responses

  1. You’ve been very busy Walter! I love this collection of writings and paintings… Such deliciousness.:-)
    Thank you!
    Eliz

    February 16, 2011 at 12:52 pm

  2. Thanks Elizabeth, I appreciate your thoughts.

    Walter

    February 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm

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