Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 Mud Run Video

Race report with more pictures is going to follow... But I think, this video is going to tell you all you need to know anyways! ;-)

It's my first try cutting/editing a video, so it ended up being pretty long... Actually, it's too long for blogger, so I had to make two parts out of it! ;-)


video



video


Fun, fun, fun!

The best part? Crossing the finish line with nothing more than a couple of cuts and bruises....You know... Breaking something would have been really bad timing with Mitchell coming up in two weeks!

Go TEAM D.N.R.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mark Your Calendars! Vol. XII/2011


4/30
Palmetto Trail Race on USD Upstate's Campus
* 4 mile mountain bike race @ 9am
* 4 mile foot race @ 10am

4/30
Tour de Cashiers
Venue: Cashiers Village Green at the Cashiers Crossroads
Routes: Full and Metric Century

4/30
7th Annual Mountain Medly, Camp Green Cove at Lake Summit
10-mile race (Asheville Grand Prix), 5K race and 1-mile fun run/walk
For more information and registration, click here.



5/6
Spartanburg Regional Classic Criterium in Downtown Spartanburg
Races beginning at 3:30pm
New this year: Tailgating along the race course!

5/6
3rd Annual Swamp Rabbit 5K
6.30pm (rain or shine), Gateway Park in Travelers Rest SC
For more information and to register, click here.

5/7
Accept The Challenge
Venue: St. John's Lutheran Church Walhalla SC
Routes: 100, 61 and 32 miles

5/7
Bi-Lo Charity Ride starts at Bi-Lo (Howell and East North Street in Greenville)
The feature ride is 65 miles and 4900ft of climbing (great training for Mitchell). There will also be a 22, 35 and 50 mile ride.
For more information and registration, please click here.


5/14
5K Run 4 Dyslexia @ Furman
Camperdown Academy is hosting its 3rd Annual 5K4D - A "Run for Dyslexia”. Enjoy a scenic run on a certified course or slow down the pace and walk Furman University's beautiful campus in our 1 Mile Family Friendly Walk. This is an event the whole family will enjoy!

5/14
1st Annual "Triple The Fun"
Laurens YMCA
Half Marathon, 5k Run/Walk, 1-Mile Family Fun Run/ Walk



5/14
Myrtle Beach Mud Run
7am at the Marina Inn @ Grande Dunes
1st ever Mud Run (3.5 miles) and Kids Mini Mud Run
Indivuals, 2 Person Teams and 4 Person Teams

5/21
Cal U Hilton Head Triathlon
Race Format: 500m Ocean Swim / 20k  Bike / 5k Run
Start Time: 7am 
Race Location: Coligny Beach, Hilton Head Island

5/21
Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride
in Charlotte NC @ 9am
15, 25 and 50 mile routes available
Click here to register.



5/21
Krazy Cow 5K & Kowabunga Fun Run
Hertiage Park, Simpsonville SC
For more information and registration click here.
Enter promo code RETURNING_RUNNER when registering for $5 off.



 5/28
Wheel Ride For Food
All rides start (8:30am) and finish at Carrier Park in Asheville NC during the Mountain Sports Festival.
Metric Century/ Metric Half-Century and Full Century Road Ride to benefit Meals on Wheels of Asheville-Buncombe County.

5/28
Lowcountry Splash Open Water Swim
Start Location: Hobcaw Yacht Club, Charleston SC
Distance: 2.4 miles

5/28 and 5/30
USA Cycling National Championships, Professional Road and TT
All events are free to the public.
5/28 Individual Time Trial Championships CU-ICAR, 11:30am
5/30 Road Race Championships Downtown Greenville, 11:00am

5/29
Stars and Stripes Challenge
Gateway Park, Travelers Rest SC, Mass Start 7:30am
Fully supported ride options: 10, 30, 62 and 100 miles

6/4
Safe Harbor Cycle Tour, 8.30am in Iva SC
25 and 65 mile ride options. $40 if registered by May 15.

 6/5
Fletcher Flyer
Venue: Fletcher Community Park near Asheville NC
Routes: 100, 62, 50 and 30 miles

6/11 
17th Annual Death Valley Open Water Swim Meet
East Beach on Hartwell Lake, Clemson University, Clemson SC
Distances: 5K, 3K, 2K, 1K, ½K


6/26 
The Ridges Resort Invitational 5k Open Water Swim
Location: Hiawassee, GA




7/9 and 8/6
Hilton Head Island Beach Bum Triathlon
Start Time: 8am
Race Location: Coligny Beach, Hilton Head Island.
Race Format: 500m Ocean Swim / 6mi Beach Bike / 3mi Beach Run.


7/15-7/17
A Ride to Remember

8/27
Hickory Nut Gorge Olympiad VII (1-mile, 2-mile)
Location: Lake Lure, NC

9/10
Setting the Pace at Whitten Center 10K and 5K Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m.
Clinton, SC
Entry $25 before August 26th. Late entry is $30.

9/17
Kings Mountain/Moss Lake Open Water Swim
Distances: 5K, 3K, 2k, 1k, and 500m
Website, once it's availble



10/15
Bluffton SC Half Marathon and 5K

********************

Greenville Track Club Paris Mountain Trail Run Series

5/28 - 11K
8/13 - 7K
11/5 - 15K


The Y Tri Series:

05/07 – Rock Hill, SC
06/18 – Ft Mill, SC
07/16 – Columbia, SC
07/31 –Blacksburg, SC
08/27 – Toccoa, GA
09/10 – Surf City Beach, NC
09/17 – Hartsville, SC
For more information (pricing, distances, if duathlon event is available etc) check the website.

Other YMCA Tri/Du Events:

6/4 Middle Tyger YMCA
8/ 6 Union County YMCA
8/ 13 Laurens Family YMCA
9/ 24 Tri the Ridge Pickens County YMCA


2011 XTERRA South Carolina Trail Run Series

7/10 Harbison Half Marathon (Columbia)
8/? Table Rock 15K

********************

GROUP RUNS organized by the Greenville Track Club

* Tempo Runs at Mauldin Middle School every Monday night at 6:30pm
* Track Workouts at Greenville High Track every Wednesday night at 6:00pm

GO RUN  Weekly Runs by STOIC RUNNERS sponsered by ON ON TRI
(tentative schedule)

When: Monday and Wednesdays at 5:30pm
Location: On On Tri
Pace: 9min - 15min mile
Distance: 3 - 4 miles

When: Wednesday 5:30am
location:  Starbucks on Main
Pace: moderate to fast intervals

When: Monday 6:00am
Location:  Starbucks on Augusta
Pace:  8:15 - 9:00 min miles
Distance:  5 - 6 miles


ON THURSDAYS

"Girl's Morning Out" at Carolina Triathlon in downtown Greenville. Gather at 8:45am to pedal promptly at 9am. This is a 30-mile "C" ride hosted every Thursday by GHS EveryWoman Cycling Team and Carolina Triathlon. Road bikes and helmets are required. Everyone is welcome and nobody is left behind.

Normally gets canceled, if rain is in the forecast.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No Social Life



Every month, a group of girls I work and used to work with are getting together for dinner and chit-chat. I haven't made this outing for the past three months. For a get-together with another group of girlfriends, I suggested the week before Mitchell (aka taper week) for an evening out, because I expect to have a really low volume training week. Seriously, I don't have a social life these days.


I am not saying, that it wouldn't be possible or even good for me, to take a night off from my schedule every now and then. I even pencil these get-togethers in my training plan, so that no workouts are getting scheduled during that time, but a lot of the time stuff happens and the social plans are falling to the wayside right now. Possible stuff?
  1. The weather was bad previously, so I am using my "free" evening to catch-up.
  2. I haven't seen my husband all week, due to my training schedule and his work schedule.
  3. I am tired. Got up at 4.30 that day and will get up at 4.30 the next day.
  4. I cannot close the door of the laundry room anymore, because there is just too much laundry.
  5. All of the above or a combination of some of these factors.

Last Sunday morning, I skyped with my mom and one of my aunts. I was tired, had a blazing headache and ran a slight fever (it lasted a couple of hours and then everything was fine again) and it showed. You know that you look bad, when your 70 something year old aunt (that has only 20% vision left in one of her eyes and a little more in her other eye) notices that you look like you are having a rough day.... over a grainy web cam. The first thing my mom said was: "Have you been out drinking?" Yes of course, because I sorta have a reputation for that... NOT... at least not since my party girl days have been over. Anywho, I actually had a drink the night before... one beer (a victory beer for my 100-miler - oh the irony!)... and I felt like I was doing vodka shots all night. Awesome! Another proof of my non-existent social life. While my bike training is going well, my beer lifting arm is pretty much out of shape, but something's got to give.


Besides them mocking me, the conversation after that mostly revolved around me missing out on fun stuff and why I do this to myself and if I don't miss free time, when the last time was, I had the nerve to read a book (obviously audiobooks didn't count for them) and when I will finally take a break, how in the world I keep up with my housework (answer: awesome husband and a good dose of ignorance)... yadi, yadi, yadi**.

**I can complain online about them, because a) they don't speak English or not enough to understand this and b) the number of times I troubleshoot their internet connection from 7,000 miles away makes me feel pretty safe! ;-)



Outside my circle of endurance athletes, I get a lot of head shaking and "you are crazy"s and that's okay. I would have done the exact same thing a couple of years ago. Quite honestly, I have athlete friends that do stuff (running a marathon, doing an ironman seriously people, get a life! ;-), that I still can't wrap my mind around.... But I also come to understand, that everyone is choosing their preferred "crazy". A friend of mine told me that I was crazy for doing Mitchell... she did an Ironman last year! Go figure!


To be honest, sometimes, I ask myself the same questions. Sometimes, I feel so run down, tired and worn out.... Sometimes, I have to remind myself, that all of this is just temporary and that I have to keep my eye on the prize. This too shall pass! ;-) And I know myself well enough, that once this is all said and done, I will be craving the next challenge. I talked to a girl at the Y yesterday and she volunteered for AOMM in the past and said that people get addicted to this ride and do it over and over again. In my mind, I just want to succeed this year, so I don't have to go back for more next year! But we'll see.... Never say never.


To be fair, while my social life in terms of dinners dates and beer drinking seriously lacks these days, I do spend a lot of time with awesome friends and get to meet new awesome people all the time while getting my training in. Even if this is a different kind of socialzing, don't call me a hermit quite yet! ;-)

PS: The pictures in this post are from last night's ride... You see? It's all worth it!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

43+60= Distance Record


Yesterday, I set a new personal distance record. When the day was done, I rode my bike for 103 miles. That's around 20 miles more than my previous longest distance.

Instead of seeking out the mountains like in previous rides, it was all about the distance this time and the route can be considered pretty flat.

Since my training buddy for Mitchell didn't have time on Saturday, I was left to do the ride on my own. But fortunately, the Malone Coaching athlete family is quite big and after facebooking and a couple of calls and text messages, I had two ride partners for some of my ride... Sweet.

The first 43 miles, I was on my own. I got an early 8am start and the temps were still low and the sky looked dreary.


The roads were still wet, but otherwise the conditions were good. I cruised along at a comfortable pace, knowing that I will have a long day ahead of me. It also helped mentally, that I saw the 100 miles as two completely separate rides. Also, I rode along a couple of new and very pretty roads and just enjoyed being out there. In my previous rides this week, my neck was bothering me early on, but the chiropractor adjustment and the hydromassage really seemed to have helped. I also tried to make a conscious effort of stretching out my neck every couple of miles.

I was back at the Spinners parking lot at around 11am and it had warmed up some, so I was ready to shed some layers and refill my water bottles.

Around 11.30am we headed out again for our 60 miles together. I picked the route from bikely.com without ever trying it and I was also the navigator of the group, because the course wasn't marked and I was the only having it loaded on the Garmin. No pressure! ;-) The first 10 miles or so, the route went along a couple of busy roads and I thought I picked a lemon, but later on, we rode a couple of very pretty roads.

I had one scary moment, when my bottle cages (butt rockets) fell on my back tire when I rode down a hill onto a bridge with a big lip. I thought I blew a tire until I saw the double bottle cage stuck unto the top of the tire. Luckily, my tire was still fine and the bottles didn't fly off either. We even found the screw and were able to reattach the bottle cages.

Around mile 20 of the second ride (my mile 60), my neck really started bothering me again.... Also my feet started barking again. But overall, I felt still strong when everything was said and done.... Good ride with great company that certainly kept my spirits high and watched out for me... Thanks, girls!!!

And here is my "I just rode 100 miles on my bike!" victory picture! Wahooooo! ;-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Long Ride Prep

I originally wrote this post Thursday night for the planned ride on Friday. Since the ride didn't happen yesterday, you'll get this post today instead.


Oh.... And I rode 103 miles today, but that will be a separate post for another day.

*****************************

Last night, I spend a good chunk of time to get my stuff together... Well, actually getting my stuff together was fairly quick, but cleaning up the mud disaster from last Sunday took me quite some time.

But before, I got into the cleaning action, I first did some good old carbo loading.

Chopping away, like I mean it.
Couscous w/ broccoli, asparagus, onion, marinara sauce and cheese.

 Of course, there was a lot of checking the hourly forecast for today.



After that, the epic task of cleaning the cleats started.

Before.
Still dirty, but eventually, I was able to loose the screws and take it apart.
The parts are finally clean.
Squeaky clean.
Testing. Better safe than sorry.

While not as time consuming, I had the hardest time to decide how much food to pack. So, I just packed a good selection of stuff and will have cash on me for water refills and to get salty stuff, once I am sick and tired of all this sweet stuff.



Friday, April 22, 2011

Switching Gears

Once again, Mother Nature threw us a curve ball.

Source

I don't know what happened! The last time I checked the weather forecast before going to bed, it looked pretty good and then.... rain and cold. Well, at least I have more options for a long ride due to the 3-day-weekend, so tomorrow this ride has to happen and so far the weather forecast looks pretty good. Keeping my fingers crossed.

All of a sudden, I had time on my hands... What to do, what to do??? Getting stuff done.

First I called my chiropractor and she was able to squeeze me in and work on my neck. All the miles on the bike, really did a number on my neck lately. After the adjustment, I also did 20 minutes on the hydromassage table and felt like a new person afterward... Unfortunately, that new person feeling has worn off by now.

Next stop was Kohl's and Target... For regular clothes this time, so I had to make a conscious effort to step away from the workout clothes (we already determined, that I have a problem in this area). Unfortunately, I wasn't very successful. But I got the dog a new toy, that she can't figure out... That's another 10 bucks down the drain.


Originally, I had a 5 mile run today anyways, so I headed over to the Y to run on the treadmill. I was a chicken and didn't want to run in the cold and rain. I lasted 2 miles on the treadmill at a 10 minute/mile pace and felt like crap. After that, I headed outside, hoping for a more pleasant experience and did 3 miles at a 9:07 pace. Felt great, despite hills, rain and cold and everything. Funny how that goes sometimes.

And since I still had some time on my hands, I also did a quick easy swim, to shake out the legs.

After running some more errands on my way home, things got very relaxed at home... Just enjoying some free time and rest up for tomorrow's ride.... This time for real - hopefully!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A big Week including Paris VI/2011

This post is going to be all over the place, I do have a lot of ground to cover because there wasn't much time for anything this week besides work and working out.... And working out I did.

It's Thursday evening now and I have logged 8 hours of physical activity since Monday. That also means that I have a huge pile of laundry sitting in the laundry room that desperately needs my attention and the house needs some TLC in general. Before I take care of my domestic diva duties, let me run down this week for you.

MONDAY - Rest and Walk

Desperately needed rest after our Mitchell attempt. I woke up sore, but after sitting on my butt for most of the day, I was also pretty stiff. To shake things out a little, I took the dog for a longer walk.

She gave me quite a scare, when she stepped into a bee and then ended up eating the bee. I already pictured her having an allergic reaction and me carrying a 50 pound dog home... At this point we were around a mile from the house. After some initial head shaking and paw licking, she was fine.

Ms Karma, looking a little dumb here.

TUESDAY - A.M. Swim, P.M. Ride

The swim on the training plan was quite a number and sounded scary hard, so I was relieved when the coach suggested to take it easier that day because of our long ride on Sunday. I ended up with 2,100 yards. On days like these, the cold pool is actually pretty enjoyable and I think it helps with the soreness.

At the top of Paris Mountain.
 For the ride, I decided to conquer Paris Mountain at least once and try for another time if I am feeling alright. I rode a 10 mile warm-up lap, then climbed Paris all the way up to the antennas. I took this whole ride pretty easy. Actually, I felt good once I was up, but I was loosing daylight fast, so instead of climbing it a second time, I took a couple of small detours on my way home to hit some shorter climbs. At home, I finished up the ride on the trainer, giving me around 2 hours of biking in total.

Looking up Paris Mountain on my way home.

WEDNESDAY - A.M. Run, P.M. Ride

I joined the team's track workout in the morning. The warm-up is running the two miles to the track and I was exhausted by the time I even got there. So once again, I got a modified workout and ran/ skipped 2 miles on the track and then another 2 miles back to the Y. While I was supposed to do 8 miles, 6 miles is pretty good before breakfast too! ;-)

For the afternoon ride, I selected a flatter route close to work. The ride had a couple of intervals, but was mostly just about being on the bike. I found a couple of nice roads to ride on, that I have never tried out before and that always makes me happy. Overall, I felt pretty good, just my neck is giving me some trouble due to the high mileage of the last week, I assume. Really makes me think to invest into a professional bike fitting, but if I want to do that, I need to pull the trigger fast in order to get it done in time for Mitchell and still have time to adjust to it.

THURSDAY - A.M. swim

Today I felt like my usual grumpy self again. The soreness and fatigue seemed to finally have given in under the pressure of training demands! ;-) We had a fun workout on schedule... If you ever feel like adding an extra layer of challenge to your swimming, just asked somebody to push down on your shoulders while you are treading water and then hang on to your ankles while you make it to the other wall of the pool. After that, swimming without a human anchor feels like nothing!!!!

Those blossoms are gone by now, but they were pretty while it lasted.

Okay, gotta go... I need to carbo load, because we have a 100 miles on the bike on tap for tomorrow. Hopefully the weather is going to halfway cooperate... Oh and there is also still the laundry waiting for me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mark Your Calendars! Vol X/2011


4/30
Palmetto Trail Race on USD Upstate's Campus
* 4 mile mountain bike race @ 9am
* 4 mile foot race @ 10am

 
4/30
Tour de Cashiers
Venue: Cashiers Village Green at the Cashiers Crossroads
Routes: Full and Metric Century

4/30
7th Annual Mountain Medly, Camp Green Cove at Lake Summit
10-mile race (Asheville Grand Prix), 5K race and 1-mile fun run/walk
For more information and registration, click here.



5/6
Spartanburg Regional Classic Criterium in Downtown Spartanburg
Races beginning at 3:30pm
New this year: Tailgating along the race course!

5/6
3rd Annual Swamp Rabbit 5K
6.30pm (rain or shine), Gateway Park in Travelers Rest SC
For more information and to register, click here.

5/7
Accept The Challenge
Venue: St. John's Lutheran Church Walhalla SC
Routes: 100, 61 and 32 miles

5/7
Bi-Lo Charity Ride starts at Bi-Lo (Howell and East North Street in Greenville)
The feature ride is 65 miles and 4900ft of climbing (great training for Mitchell). There will also be a 22, 35 and 50 mile ride.
For more information and registration, please click here.


5/14
5K Run 4 Dyslexia @ Furman
Camperdown Academy is hosting its 3rd Annual 5K4D - A "Run for Dyslexia”. Enjoy a scenic run on a certified course or slow down the pace and walk Furman University's beautiful campus in our 1 Mile Family Friendly Walk. This is an event the whole family will enjoy!



5/14
Myrtle Beach Mud Run
7am at the Marina Inn @ Grande Dunes
1st ever Mud Run (3.5 miles) and Kids Mini Mud Run
Indivuals, 2 Person Teams and 4 Person Teams

5/21
Cal U Hilton Head Triathlon
Race Format: 500m Ocean Swim / 20k  Bike / 5k Run
Start Time: 7am 
Race Location: Coligny Beach, Hilton Head Island

5/21
Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride
in Charlotte NC @ 9am
15, 25 and 50 mile routes available
Click here to register.



5/21
Krazy Cow 5K & Kowabunga Fun Run
Hertiage Park, Simpsonville SC
For more information and registration click here.
Enter promo code RETURNING_RUNNER when registering for $5 off.



 5/28
Wheel Ride For Food
All rides start (8:30am) and finish at Carrier Park in Asheville NC during the Mountain Sports Festival.
Metric Century/ Metric Half-Century and Full Century Road Ride to benefit Meals on Wheels of Asheville-Buncombe County.

5/28 and 5/30
USA Cycling National Championships, Professional Road and TT
All events are free to the public.
5/28 Individual Time Trial Championships CU-ICAR, 11:30am
5/30 Road Race Championships Downtown Greenville, 11:00am

5/29
Stars and Stripes Challenge
Gateway Park, Travelers Rest SC, Mass Start 7:30am
Fully supported ride options: 10, 30, 62 and 100 miles

6/4
Safe Harbor Cycle Tour, 8.30am in Iva SC
25 and 65 mile ride options. $40 if registered by May 15.

 6/5
Fletcher Flyer
Venue: Fletcher Community Park near Asheville NC
Routes: 100, 62, 50 and 30 miles



7/9 and 8/6
Hilton Head Island Beach Bum Triathlon
Start Time: 8am
Race Location: Coligny Beach, Hilton Head Island.
Race Format: 500m Ocean Swim / 6mi Beach Bike / 3mi Beach Run.


7/15-7/17
A Ride to Remember


9/10
Setting the Pace at Whitten Center 10K and 5K Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m.
Clinton, SC
Entry $25 before August 26th. Late entry is $30.



10/15
Bluffton SC Half Marathon and 5K

********************

Greenville Track Club Paris Mountain Trail Run Series

5/28 - 11K
8/13 - 7K
11/5 - 15K


The Y Tri Series:


05/07 – Rock Hill, SC
06/18 – Ft Mill, SC
07/16 – Columbia, SC
07/31 –Blacksburg, SC
08/27 – Toccoa, GA
09/10 – Surf City Beach, NC
09/17 – Hartsville, SC
For more information (pricing, distances, if duathlon event is available etc) check the website.

Other YMCA Tri/Du Events:

6/4 Middle Tyger YMCA
8/ 6 Union County YMCA
8/ 13 Laurens Family YMCA
9/ 24 Tri the Ridge Pickens County YMCA


2011 XTERRA South Carolina Trail Run Series

7/10 Harbison Half Marathon (Columbia)
8/? Table Rock 15K

********************

GROUP RUNS organized by the Greenville Track Club

* Tempo Runs at Mauldin Middle School every Monday night at 6:30pm
* Track Workouts at Greenville High Track every Wednesday night at 6:00pm

GO RUN  Weekly Runs by STOIC RUNNERS sponsered by ON ON TRI
(tentative schedule)

When: Monday and Wednesdays at 5:30pm
Location: On On Tri
Pace: 9min - 15min mile
Distance: 3 - 4 miles

When: Wednesday 5:30am
location:  Starbucks on Main
Pace: moderate to fast intervals

When: Monday 6:00am
Location:  Starbucks on Augusta
Pace:  8:15 - 9:00 min miles
Distance:  5 - 6 miles


ON THURSDAYS

"Girl's Morning Out" at Carolina Triathlon in downtown Greenville. Gather at 8:45am to pedal promptly at 9am. This is a 30-mile "C" ride hosted every Thursday by GHS EveryWoman Cycling Team and Carolina Triathlon. Road bikes and helmets are required. Everyone is welcome and nobody is left behind.

Normally gets canceled, if rain is in the forecast.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mitchell Dress Rehearsal

This post could have also been named:

* No blood, but a lot of sweat and some tears
* A big piece of humble pie

The day started pretty early, we met up at Coach Katie's house to load 14 people with 14 bikes into a van. Our SAG support for this ride was Paul from Black Bear Adventures and Keith from Keith's Triathlon Shop. They kept us safe and fed and hydrated on this adventure and were just AWESOME general!!!



12 bikes on top, 2 in the back... 14 people (incl our guides) with gear made for a tight squeeze.


Food and drink in the front.


The van drove us to our starting point at Green Creek, which is around 25 miles into the AOMM course. We bundled up some, because it was a little chilly at the start at 8am.

The first couple of miles flew by. I had some technical problems because I walked into red mud while taking a pit stop in the woods and filled up my cleats with mud. Well, that lesson I learned the hard way. Also, there were issues with my gearing, but Paul and Keith tinkered on the derailleur some and it was much better afterward.

We had rest stops every 20 miles more or less and having the support van following us along was great, because we were able to shed layers or add layers or change clothing, access to food that we brought along


This is one of our rest stops along the way. In general, the course is just pretty pretty pretty. Plenty to look at. While the big climbs are at the end, there are some good rollers to keep you honest along the way as well.

Around mile 55 for us (mile 80 on the official course), the real climbing begins. Actually all you do starting from then on is climbing until you are at the top of Mitchell. Spare me the details of the 1 mile downhill and 2 mile downhill stretches on the Parkway.... Those are just little teasers where you loose all the elevation that you climbed before and then you have to climb it all over again.

The stretch on Hwy 80 is around 10 miles and while the first couple of miles tick by fairly fast, once the real climbing start, things started to drag out quite some. There are markers on the road "3.5 miles to the Pkway", 3 miles to the Pkway" etc and it just took a real long time to get from one marker to the next.

Before turning on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I made another fuel and water stop at the support van.


While the climbing is just going on and on and on, the views are better than on Highway 80 for sure. On this stretch I really started to struggle mentally. I am not saying that my legs felt all to great anymore either, but mentally it was even worse. In theory of course I know that it's all climbing, but once you are on the Parkway and you climb and then turn a corner and the you climb some more and then make another turn and there is more mountain to climb and then turn another corner and it still goes up and up and up. In the meantime, the number on the Garmin is only moving very slowly.


Up and up we go.


Faking a half smile for the camera, this was also not very far in on the Parkway, so the spirits were not completely destroyed (yet).

It went downhill (mentally and physically) pretty fast on the Parkway for me. Once again, the number on the Garmin just didn't move and I got frustrated and tired and cranky and my feet started killing me, because I was mashing the pedals for the last 1 hour (or possible more)... I was moaning and groaning with each pedal stroke for a little while and just hoping that nobody was around to witness the sadness of it all.

Eventually, I turned another corner and while I was happy to see our support van, I also saw Mount Mitchell still towering over us. I knew there were around 5 miles left to the top and still over 1,000 feet of climbing left... I rolled into the overlook and started to have a good little cry.


At the Ridge Junction Overlook, I called it a day yesterday... I was just so over it at this point.

I think, I would have been physically able to complete the ride yesterday, but I wasn't mentally in it to pedal for another 40 to 60 minutes (not kidding, that was the pace I was doing at this point) to the top.


Some of our group went to the top, some didn't go up and one girl made a wrong turn on the Parkway and ended up with 100 miles for the day. We picked her up again on the Highway 80 turn off and when we got her, she was all smiles still... I admire such a spirit, I would have been a bawling heap on the side of the road for sure.


Overall, this was a great ride. It was a big piece of humble pie, but it was still a great ride and I am glad that I had a chance to ride most of the course and most of the climbing before d-day. Now I know what to expect... I am not saying it's going to be pretty, but come race day, I am going up that mountain all the way.

The icing on the cake of the day, was the amazing group of people I got to spent the day with.... Just a nice road trip with some cycling thrown in... Like 73 miles of cycling in 6h 20m (stops not timed) for me, others did it faster.... Good day... Hard day, but good day.

Pic Credit: Black Bear Adventures and Malone Coaching. Some of them are my own ones.