Absolutely a great ride and event. Thanks to all those that volunteer for this special event. The men and women at each of the rest stops were nothing but helpful all along the way.
If you are planning on riding a major event this one is it. The scenery is gorgeous the route is well put forth with markings on the road and people directing at every single intersection.
I can’t wait until next year and doing the 35th annual ride. There are 15-20 lbs for me to lose between now and then and a whole bunch of power spinning to do. Gotta get on the stick as next year will be here before we know it.
Now to the bad part of the ride. As great as all the volunteers are the transport off the top was horrendous this year. I have no basis of comparison, but the volunteers reported that they started two hours late on the bike loading.
This caused a pile-up of bikes at the top that was immeasurable in amounts. Each bike was leaned against a wall with subsequent bikes stacked up against them. By the time my slow group reached the top in a little over 9 hrs. those that had arrived 2-3 hours before still had bikes resting along the walls. The system became a last in last out.
My bro-in-law and I tried to help load bikes as a lone woman was pushing bikes from staging to the trucks. Our help was definitely self serving as we worked on the area of bikes that had encapsulated even our bikes in the short time that we were at the top. Once the truck was fully loaded down to the bottom we went.
The bike saga continued, as I saw my bike exit the truck to be placed on the ground. As I stood watching the truck and waiting to pick up my bike better than 30 mins passed. With people at Tom Johnson’s having waited more than three hours, and I am sure stretching into the five hour mark this ride will take a beating elsewhere. But the volunteers were gracious and courteous throughout the whole ordeal.
Now back to the good points. The ride started fantastically in Spartanburg. Temperatures were perfect for riding shorts and a jersey, 50 degrees, no wind. My buddy Randy lead us out and promised to keep all five of us in check and riding at a moderate pace. Well he did assume moderate. In less than two miles we were sucked into a group of riders doing 20+ on average. For me that is scorching for others just a liesurely day in the park. We hung with this peloton to the 42 mile rest stop and averaged 20.6 mph. Then it was just Kevin, Randy and I as we left the stop not knowing where the other two had gotten off too or when they would be catching up.
On to Marion with Bill’s hill and all, average of 18.6 mph with parkway and Mitchell still to come. My left knee was giving me heck and I was in serious pain, but the push would continue.
So it was up 80 or whatever that road is to the parkway. Totally a big blow to ones ego as to this point the rollers are quite simply rollers and fast. Now it is time for the 6% grade and the slow 5 mph cranking.
It is as if satan himself has put you on a trainer set the tension and told you that if you stop you will perish. The only problem is that he failed to tell you that it would be a short hour before you would get to slow down. So up up and up further you go. Oh how sweet the oranges are at the mid-point rest stop. Oh how evil my left knee as it locked getting back on the bike. Just a mere 15 miles or so to go, the torture and thoughts of not finishing squeezing through my mind. The click goes the pedal and off again I go. Kevin and Randy at this point are long gone. So up and up I go again.
To the parkway where there is another big stop as you go to get on. I do not stop for fear that my left knee may prevent me from clipping in and finishing the ride.
Parkway here I come. Now I am onto the parkway and pedaling lonely up the last 14 miles. No way that I can make it I have gone down one hill and locked up the left knee again. At this point I have decided that at any opportunity I must continue to spin.
Somewhere along the way Randy and Kevin have caught up and we are hooked up and riding again. My bladder is taking a turn for the worse and Randy has Advil so we pull over on the side to relieve the pee per say. James drifts up having stopped in Marion and gathering his car and announces we look fit and healthy and ready to finish the ride.
I swing my left leg over the bike and unusually clip in my left foot first and take a few spins. The road is still 6% but we are moving again. Slowly but surely closing the final distance. My day is continuing to be long as we over 6 hrs on the bikes at this point and regions south are hurting and wanting relief.
Randy and Kevin are still kind enough to pull me along and not take off and leave me sitting and spinning. We stop at the next two rest stops and enjoy the people and the food. Then it is down and into the final climb up to Mt. Mitchell.
At this turn you think that you will be right there as you can clearly see the lookout and where you should go. Someone forgot to tell the parkservice that it wasn’t nice to put in an 8% grade road this close to the top. So 2 miles more of 8% climbing. Then you get to the park rangers house.
From here it is easypeasy. Don’t listen to anyone you can power that last two miles easy enough as over 1/2 is flat to 2% grade and the 0.4 miles everyone comments on really isn’t much over 4%. But I listened and held back. Randy and Kevin had finally decided to go on to the top and I held back thinking there was a big climb to come. That climb never came up.
But the ending was sweet as everyone was still there waiting on me to finish.
Can’t wait for next year. Even as my legs make it almost impossible to walk and Elizabeth rolls her eyes. I am dreaming of next year and the ride up that face and to the top. In my youth I dreamed of nothing more than speed, as I age I dream of nothing more than the endorphins and energy that flows through my body while I hit a new physical high for me.
Will the ride ever be as breathtaking and aweinspiring I don’t know, as clearly I know what to expect and my training will be more regimented, but each ride will still bring that pain and exhiliration of making it to the top.
Best of luck to all in their endeavors for me it is off to the next event. The maiden Mitchell will sing her sweet 35th song next year and I am sure that I will hear it and be off again.