My favorite part about riding bikes in Asheville is how it can be fun on any given moment – or maybe for me it’s just the soul-nurturing activity of pedaling through coolness.
Although bombing down a tight, twisting rock garden in a tunnel of rhododendron can be quite blissful, there’s so much more to biking around Asheville. Some of my favorite rides have been climbing over Beaucatcher Mountain. When I first moved here I couldn’t believe how steep that hill was and chased some friends over it at the beginning of a pub crawl. All I could think about was that sweat-producing huff also being the last thing I would do that night on my way home. It’s probably what led me to drinking that high gravity beer.
Then there was the cool spring morning with a thin fog hovering between the fifth floors of downtown, pinnacles poking through into sunlight. I coasted into town with a heavy bag of massage sheets strapped to my shoulder and maneuvered the empty streets to my favorite coffee bistro to get a bagel with smoked trout before starting my day of appointments in the Miles Building. The ride home was always the best, working the kinks out of my back and wrists.
The Pumpkin Pedaler provides a great excuse for wearing a wig or costume while riding your bike around town in a stream of bicycles so long that cars pull over to watch. We weave through all of the new bicycle lanes and into the Montford Cemetery and back again to go down the last hill to The Wedge in the River Arts District. Climbing back out after a few beers and a short snooze can be a poor evening choice. At this point the evening will be enhanced by calling a friend with a pickup truck to come join you to ensure a ride home.
Pulling my children in the trailer over Patton Mountain has put them to sleep amidst the bumpy gravel, providing me many hours of well-deserved, hard-earned peace. My second child slept so little that I was willing to drag 75 pounds of equipment around town and up and down mountains just to avoid pacing and bouncing the baby back and forth for a 20-minute nap or playing another game of hide-and-seek followed by tired fit-throwing. Cruising the Grove Park neighborhood is quiet and shady, opening up onto Patton Mountain where you pass by bed and breakfasts and catch glimpses of a phenomenal mountain range. Descending Town Mountain on the way home is a great way of teaching the children how to enjoy the thrill of speed. Plus, you can’t really hear them screaming when the wind blows at their faces.
Teaching my kids how to ride a bike has been so easy at Carrier Park where they have wide, rolling paths surrounded by flat grass. I remember learning how to ride on the sidewalks of Chicago, but crashing into trees and park benches.
Once the boys got used to pedaling, they were so excited to ride around the mellowdrome, pretending to race. I cried while laughing and chasing them across that park as they pedaled for the first time.
There is always a group of people riding, commuting, or parading through this town via bicycle. It looks fun, but it looks even better when viewing it from the saddle.