Beech Mountain, North Carolina: A Challenging Ride On a Bicycle

1990’s:  The Tour du Pont finshed two stages at the top of Beech Mountain, with Lance Armstrong winning one of them.  Lance would win the Tour du Pont on two occasions.  This was before his cancer diagnosis, while riding for Motorola.  

Beech is the highest incorporated town east of the Mississippi at 5500 feet, and not very far from Boone, North Carolina.

In the book by Armstrong  “It’s Not About The Bike: My Return to Life”  Lance tells a very interesting story: 

After his cancer treatments,  he came back to the mountains of North Carolina in 1998 to train, in an attempt to revive his cycling career.  He was riding with Bob Roll,  (former pro, and now a commentator of the Tour de France) on a cold wintry day, climbing Beech Mountain. They were being followed in a car, by his trainer, Chris Carmichael. While doing the climb, Lance could still see writings on the road “Go Armstrong” from a previous Tour.

There was snow on the sides of the road, and he started feeling good while riding toward the summit.  At the top he was greeted by Carmichael, who said “I’ll put your bike on top of the car.” Lance said “no. “Give me my rain jacket, I’m riding back.” “I was a bike racer again.”  He was indeed a bike racer again, and would later win the Tour de France seven times. 

Information and quotes from “It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life” and also an internet article.  A great book indeed and very inspirational.  

I have ridden my bike to the top of Beech at least fifteen or more times over the years.  The last time was in 2010 with my good friend and cycling partner Mike Keeley.  It was on an October day, and the weather changed suddenly before reaching the top.  It became very cloudy, cold and windy, however, we were fortunate to get to the top and back down without encountering rain.

I was disappointed that my other good friend, Mike Ribadeneyra and also cycling partner was unable to go. There will be other opportunities, however, selecting a day to climb Beech Mountain can be difficult, especially this late in the year.  It can become cloudy within minutes, and rain or snow can begin fall just as fast.   (Supplemental: October 20th 2011 @ 7:41 PM – It snowed today on Beech, and the forecast is for snow showers tonight).  It can be tough indeed….in many ways.

If you are a cyclist, and in the area, be sure to climb Beech Mountain, especially if you enjoy a good cycling challenge, and a bit of pain…  roger

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