Sometimes, you dream about getting too late to a race, because your sub-conscience wants you to know, that you forgot to set the alarm. Yep, that was me Saturday morning. Fortunately, my body is not used to sleep very long, so I woke up at 7.15am for the 8.30am start.... besides, this wasn't a race anyways. But still, I felt a little stressed... At least I fixed everything the night before, so all that was left for me to do was getting dressed and eat breakfast.... Is also helped that I live just 20 minutes away from Tigerville.
I made it there on time, but half of our little troop came up from Columbia and got lost, so we ended up having a late start... Oh well... It's a ride, not a race.... But this made for an isolated ride for the first 40 (?) miles, but being out there with three other ladies, it wasn't bad at all.
|Elevation Profile for modified route - click on pic to enlarge|
Before mile 40, we already did a ton of climbing. The ride starts out (not even five miles from the start) with climbing Pack Mountain... You know, as a little warm-up for the things to come. It sure looked intimidating, but went up and over, not a problem. Next next big climb was Callahan Mountain at around mile 13... That was my scary mountain... The one I pushed my bike up last year on a training ride and while it is very steep (but short), it was nothing compared to the monster I made up in my head over the past year... No getting off the bike required this time around! Score! Seriously, after that, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and really, it was quite silly, that I was worried about it... But I just didn't know, what else this ride would have in store. After that, we were back in our regular stomping grounds: The climb up the watershed to Saluda, only that we didn't go all the way to Saluda, but turned off the road which added some climbing (how fun!). While this is a gradual climb for around 10 miles, it's really not that bad and quite enjoyable when you chit-chat the time away.
For the next 25 miles, we were riding a ton of rollers. On the elevation chart, it actually looks fairly flat, but no no no... It's a constant up and down and up and down which is going to just fry your legs over time. Also the wind was messing with us several times. But there have also been really nice flat sections or even slight downhills, where I was able to spend some time in aero and just grind away and a relax a little... And make up some time! ;-)
The next climb on the route was White Oak Mountain just around mile 40 (??). Coach Katie told us to skip this climb completely and ride the detour which would spare us the climb and around 7 miles of the ride. From what she says, the risks outweigh the benefits and not only is the climb very steep, but also the descent.... I sure didn't fight her on that. With cutting out this major climb, we were also finally back with other cyclists and felt like we are actually participating in a ride and not just ride on our own.
The next couple of miles were really fun riding, but at the end of this, our last big climb of the day was waiting: Green River Cove. A cyclist on the watershed (not part of the ride) told me, that the Green River Cove climb has 17 switch-backs and number 13 had a 23% grade. Pure awesomeness. I grinded up the switchbacks without major issues, but one of them just kicked my butt so bad, that I stopped for a couple of minutes, just to get my heart rate down again. After that it wasn't that bad anymore... I bet it was switchback number 13.... but there is no telling, because I forgot to count! ;-)
Once our little pack regrouped, we were on our way back to Saluda and the rest stop there didn't come a minute too early. I refilled my bottles and stuffed my fact with cookies, before we made our way back to Tigerville. As soon as we were on the descent, the heavenly gates opened and it was pouring. I have never been on a bike in these kinds of conditions and especially not on a descent, but fortunately, the watershed is just not that steep and so I made good time going down. Honestly, I just wanted to get out of the rain and I was hoping that I would be able to beat the rain clouds... Yay and nay... Once I was at the bottom, it stopped for a little while, but by the time we regrouped it started all over again. Originally, we didn't plan on skipping Callahan mountain on the way back, but the descent is really steep and ends with a stop sign at the bottom of the hill and with the road conditions at this point, I just didn't think it was a great idea... So we took another detour with less climbing, but around the same mileage.
When all was set an done, I ended up with close to 78 miles (another distance record for me!) at a 13.5 mph average.... I am thrilled with this ride.... For a number of reasons:
- When I rolled into Tigerville, I felt strong... I felt like I could have easily tagged on several miles.
- I really do enjoy training right now and just keep my fingers crossed that I won't get sick of my bike before this is all set and done.
- I think, I have this nutrition thing on the bike figured out and the secret is: Stuff your face every possible moment.
- I think, I am stronger than I think I am sometimes. I ended up pulling a guy back to a group... Given that he most likely did the White Oak climb, but he was at least 10 years younger (or just really looked young) than I am and was on a way better bike than mine.... and it was a dude....
- Whenever I thought of the ride afterwards, it made me smile... What is going on with me???