Training: East Coast Altitude – Boone NC

View from the top of High Mountain Road on Elk Mountain.  Setting sun on the left, blue and gray haze obsuring the green ridges along the NC/Tennessee border

An evening view of the Blue Ridge mountains along the NC-Tennessee border from the top of Snake Mountain

As my better half Katharine and I embarked on our move back to North Carolina, we filled the four day gap between our DC move-out date and our Durham move-in date by taking a trip to Boone.  We visited often in college and absolutely love the peace and beauty of the mountains.

The author standing atop a rock outcropping near the peak of Snake mountain, with green rolling ridges fading into the blue sky overhead

Snake Mountain and the adjacent Elk Knob are some of the few peaks over a mile high east of the Mississippi

The mountain training isn’t very specific to the upcoming XTERRA East Championship on June 14th, but served as a good initiation to the challenges I’ll face at the XTERRA mountain and national championships later this year.

Shot my OPEN 0-1.0 29er mtb at the top of Elk Mountain. Clouds can be seen in the ridges below as well as overhead

The greater Boone area offers up plenty of riding above the clouds!

The terrain makes it hard to have an easy day unless you get a shuttle uphill!

Steep climbing between 3,200 and 4,900 feet

Elevation Profile of a ride climbing up and down Meat Camp Rd, Rich Mtn Rd, and to Elk Knob State Park

My bread and butter route is up and down Rich Mountain Road, a quiet gravel road that climbs up ~1,200 ft to its crest between Snake Mountain and Rich Mountain, both from its northern terminus at US-421 as well as the south end at Meat Camp Road. It’s perfect for gravel road hill repeats, with sustained climbing that averages just under a 10% gradient. During the climbs I look forward to the adrenaline packed descents, which help hone the art of cornering on loose terrain at high speeds.

Green peak of Snake mountain looming in the twilight sky

The crest of Rich Mountain Road, looking North at Snake Mountain

On the opposite side of the road is Elk Knob

On the opposite side of the road is Rich Mountain, which tops out around 5,300 ft

An offshoot of Rich Mountain Road is a development with a paved road that climbs to the back of Elk Knob State Park.  Here’s a video of the fun part.

A little later that day, I took in the sunset at the crest of Rich Mountain Road before we had to head back to Durham.

Descend down the gravel Rich Mountain road, facing the setting sun and a yellow, orange and blue haze of the mountain ridges in the distance

Rich Mountain to the left, Snake Mtn on my right, and enjoying a sunset ride on our last day in the mountains

In less than two weeks, I’ll toe the line again at the XTERRA East Championship in Richmond, VA.  Thanks for reading.

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3 Responses to Training: East Coast Altitude – Boone NC

  1. Oshri says:

    Hey Alex, Great to see you two back in NC and enjoying its beauty. May this be your best training period yet.

  2. Pingback: NC Piedmont Climbing: Pilot Mountain | Alex Modestou Racing

  3. Pingback: Carolina Beach Weekend Getaway | Alex Modestou Racing

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