I’m currently enjoying the view off the deck of my “new to me” home and wondering if spring really did arrive in the mountains of Western North Carolina on April 6th. We had yet another mild winter thanks to global warming (Yes, Virginia, it really does exist!) but then March definitely roared in like…

Last approach to Zeke's home

(Approach to the last short ascent to my new home)


not so much a lion but more like a gathering of several prides of lions all hungry and angry. While our weather certainly didn’t approach the experience of those in the mid-west and New England, we did get more snow and colder temperatures during March than any other part of this year’s winter. All of this served up some great reasons, err, excuses for me to continue my lackadaisical approach to cardiovascular fitness.

I spent my “off season” fitness reacquainting myself with wood splitting and wood moving. Having been away from wood heat for several years, my muscles needed some reminding of just how much “fun” splitting wood can be. Four months of consistent use of a Go Devil can help tone up some muscles. So far, no cycling magazines have asked me to write an article on 4 easy 5 minute wood splitting exercises to do every day to maintain that peak cycling performance. Since no one asked, I’ll offer up the following in the spirit of helping mankind:

1) Stand log on end and “listen” as it tells you where the best first strike might be. Amount of calories burned = 75 (none for listening).

2) With feet planted shoulder width apart, grab Go Devil and press it to a vertical point above one shoulder. Calories burned 20.

3) Focusing on triceps, lower Go Devil head to approximate level of shoulder blades before rapidly raising head of Go Devil back over your head in a smooth downward arc to the best first strike location on the log. Be certain sharp end of Go Devil is turned toward face of log. Absorb shock to hands, wrists, arms, and upper back. (At this point, you may realize you failed to warm up properly by doing stretching exercises. Any sharp pain in your lower back may remind you of this.)  Calories burned = 500

4) Return to starting position. You have just completed one repetition. Now, do 7000 more being careful to alternate the location of the Go Devil over each shoulder so as not to overly develop one side of your body at the expense of the other.

Several pitfalls can increase the risk of failing at this exercise program. The more common ones are:

1) You misinterpret where the log said to strike resulting in a useless blow to the surfaces of the wood, which will magically pull all remaining blows for the day to that very spot. While this will surely enhance your workout physically, the cost to your psyche may not be worth it.

2) Over-swing of the Go Devil head will result in hitting the wooden handle on the edge of the log and will require an unplanned trip to your nearest hardware store. Note: damage to psyche is trebled.

3) Under-swing of the Go Devil head may result in burying the sharp edge of the Go Devil head in your tibia, which will likely result in rather loud communication with your neighbors, most of whom will not appreciate it. Note: this common injury will delay the start of your cycling season if it occurs within the last 8 weeks of your winter training schedule. Fortunately, this is typically an early season injury.

4) In certain parts of the country, the logs, formerly known as trees, have developed an unpleasant habit of lying and will goad you into first strike misses. They try to excuse this miserable behavior on their part by claiming it is merely a motivational ploy to get you to work out harder. Don’t fall for it. The log was lying to you and should be burned at the stake or, at least, in a well used wood stove.

Now, I’m told that any one of these pitfalls may result in participants choosing to abandon this particular exercise routine. Experiencing any two of the pitfalls in rapid order will be followed by a return to the house, flick of the thermostat, and plunging oneself into the despair of the recliner while watching Tour de France re-runs on TV.

Worley Cove Pasture

(Early spring pasture in Worley Cove)

I have discovered that, despite having religiously followed this routine since early December 2012, my cardio fitness dropped. I reached that cost/benefit point the last week of March where I realized the costs of not riding were outweighing the many benefits of experiencing my world on two wheels. I vowed to participate in the 30 days of rides in April although I missed the official sign-up on-line. Still, I’m committed and have managed to ride something for some time each day of April thus far. My only day on the spinner was on the 3rd when our area was visited by freezing temps and an “ice event”. I maintained my commitment by riding a segment of the Tour de France on my spinner bike.

My mileage is down and my cardio is off but my pleasure is up! Thus far, the trips have been just out and about in my “new to me” neighborhood and that has been fine with me. I’m pleased to be able to simply ride out of my garage now and have several options of rural two lane roads to enjoy. A side benefit is that I’m enjoying seeing, from the seat of my Brooks B-17,  the land my ancestors settled some 6 generations ago. I’m hoping that by May 1st, I will have ridden myself back into sufficient shape to be putting in some decent mileage per week.

Blue Ridge Breakaway 2013!

Our plans are coming together nicely for this year’s Blue Ridge Breakaway. Our planning committee is hard a work lining up sponsors and volunteers. We will be maintaining our Century, 40 mile and 25 mile routes and introducing a new Metric Century route that will eliminated an out and back over Stamey Cove and will eliminate one crossing of our most dangerous intersection. The new route will focus more heavily on northern Haywood and will include a short segment into east Haywood. The new route will include “a loop and a lollipop” and offer an opportunity for slightly more climbing mileage. The official announcement on the new route will hopefully happen within the next couple of weeks. We’re just working out some final details with some landowners. Early registration is NOW OPEN for the August 17th event! Plan now to come join us for some great mountain riding!

Blue Ridge Breakaway 2013

I have a REI dividend check that is burning a hole in my pocket so the Navigator and I are headed to our nearby store. As always, thanks for reading!

Until later,

– Zeke