why do they insist on Baseball?

1 07 2010

I’m not from around these parts. By normal comparison right now I’d be standing on my head fighting a losing battle to keep warm blood in my fingers. My home is surrounded by rough chip seal, open windswept farmland and some of the finest Lakes and Alpine horizons you’ll find anywhere. It’s July which should mean winter and only the keenest and most disturbed would want to take up the sport of Road Cycling in my neck of the used-to-be woods. Yet Wanaka’s population in the lower south of New Zealand is an exception to so many rules. Making a mockery of physical adversity comes naturally to most.

Downtown "Historic" Boone - as in Daniel

Which brings me to my fantasy yet very real present. I’m on a six week ‘summer vacation’ in Boone up in the Appalachians of North Carolina in the good ol’ USofA. Here the roads restlessly twist and turn through thick humid forest. Tarmac consistently smooth enough you check to see if your tires are going flat; and enough climbs and descents to fool any overly enthusiastic goat into thinking he’d died and gone to heaven. Only here after church they pray to Baseball, Football (the one where you pick it up and play throw and catch – with your hands) and NASCAR. Now there’s an even stranger anomaly. If you grew up around here and you were not quick enough to realise that riding a bike in these hills would be the bomb; then surely you’d be tempted to be swinging your old man’s Pontiac around 35 ml/hr perfectly cambered left after rights, no? Well no, because this is the birth place of where they turn left – only… These are THE roads for a 4X4, I’m talking EVO’s and REX’s but instead their still talking Pick-ups.

OK there’s a lot to figure, and that my friends is travel for you. A culture shock of sorts. I’m not here to be a snob (all the time). Rednecks aside, Boone, NC certainly does have some very switched on individuals and in terms of population size I’d go so far as to call it a hot bed of cycling talent; including the current State Criterium, National Collegiate Road and Cyclo-cross  Champions. The local mid-week bunch ride (i.e. Worlds) lights up a long climb to the highest point above with cold hearted, high spirited commitment. Anyone sitting on doing it easy here better have booked their ticket to Europe. Just like anywhere else in the world when there isn’t an entry fee you put a group of hardcore racers together and there will be pride on the line; and in Amateur cycling terms, pride pays very well.

If your needing a base for your next training camp consider Boone hard to beat and don’t just take my word for it even Lance A. and Mr. Bob Roll spent some time here leading up to Armstrong’s first Tour win and declared it to be the “best road riding in the world”; and I take Bobke’s often colourful sentiments very seriously – thanks for the tip, Mr. Roll.

Leading local fast boy Noah Niwinski on the Viaduct high above Watauga County




One response

29 07 2010

when you left there’s been no one left to pummel me senseless on the climbs anymore

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