I got home from work Friday and we loaded up the van for it's first road trip. A quick by the most delicious Okie Dokie Smokehouse in Swannanoa and we were on our way to the Down By The River Campground in Pineola, NC.
We got there, set up camp, got the fire going and I started sneezing. A little allergy attack, a trip to the gas station for allergy meds, and good sleep in the fresh mtn air.
Morning rolled around and I am up and at it. Jubal takes a little longer to crawl out of the warm tent.
French toast for breakfast, with some french pressed Starbucks. The African blend coffee kind of ruined the french theme I had going but it was delicious regardless.
The campground we are staying at is also an RV park. It is filled with RV's that have decks built on and it appears that these people live here all summer long. There is a network of concrete roads that loops around, creating a small neighborhood of retirees. The morning ritual here, apparently is to take morning walks. As the old folks walk past, they all greet us with good mornings, and some after eyeballing our tent set-up, mention that they too used to do the tent camping thing. Others make comments about our fire, or how breakfast smells so good. Jubal enjoyed riding his bicycle around the "neighborhood". Definitely a place we would come back to, someday.
After breakfast, and some bike riding, we loaded up and decided we needed "second breakfast". Since McDonald's was not serving breakfast anymore, we found another local little restaurant that served breakfast all day. Gravy biscuit, has browns and coffee filled me up quite well.
We met Mike Keeley at McRae Meadows later that day ( Saturday) left our van and car pooled to Lenoir. Once we got to Lenoir, we picked up our packets, ate the pasta dinner that was provided, checked into our hotel, went out for ice cream: peanut butter shake for me, and went to bed.
Nervous that I wouldn't wake up in time, I did not fall into deep sleep, but did feel rested when I got up. I brewed some coffee at when I finally got up at 5 am. At 5:30 I went to visit with Mike and Todd as they had waffles for breakfast. I could not even think about eating anything solid. 6am, finish the coffee, back to the room, to start on my breakfast: meal replacement shake. I had tried this on some early morning training rides recently and it had worked well. It worked well once again. After drinking it, I did not feel hungry, and my gut felt calmed and satisfied.
6:30am, load some of my things in the van, pump up the tires and leave Jubal and Rhonda in bed. They would join us later in the day, around mile 50.
6:40am, we get on our bikes and head to the start. It is still dark out.
6:55am the organizers address the cyclists. Apparently there was a tragedy yesterday involving two NC State Troopers who were shot. We are told that there are some changes to the route and to watch the markings on the road. We would end up not coming back through town as in past years.
7:02am, the siren goes off and we shoot out of town like a squirrel crossing the road. 10 miles into the ride, and I am content to let off the pace a little bit. Mike says something about losing the lead group, and we end up surging back to the group of about 50.
We are cruising along through the rolling farm land, and I decide to go to the front. I have my full World Bicycle Relief kit on and I want to get some exposure. So, up into the top ten, rest a little, we hit a little climb, I move up with the top 3, down the hill, up another long gently sloping hill, then at the top, I attack. Too bad there are no television cameras. I can hear Phil Liggett saying" And Stephen Janes riding for World Bicycle Relief is really animating the peleton, he has just made an attack, we will have to wait to see if the peleton responds. It does appear that that peleton is reeling Janes back in, his 10 second gap is quickly coming down, and the peleton has reeled in the first attack of the day, but wow, WBR did get some good television coverage!!!"
We continue on averaging 21 mph. There are about ten guys rotating at the front and keeping the pace steady. I occasionally drop back to make sure I have not left Mike. As I coast back I hear Mike call out. We chat for a bit, he says he is fine. I ride with him for a little while, then head back up to the front.
We are now higher in elevation and it is quite foggy out. I decide I am going to attack again and wait for the right moment. Up a hill, down around a bend, too bad I don't know what is ahead. We come up a slight rise and the pace slows. I am about 10 back and I hit the gas taking everyone by surprise. Down a hill, and into a flat, I get a good gear and spin away. I gain about half a mile on the flat but have to slow for an intersection, losing momentum. Could I have stayed away? Hard to tell, but what happened, happened, and I slowed. I did get a good gap and that made me happy. Also, with 60-70 miles left to go, I did not want to use all my resources, in fact I was not sure that I should have made those attacks, but it sure was fun!!!
We made it to the intersection of Adako Rd, and hwy 181, hang a right on 181 and the climbing begins. Rhonda and Jubal are waiting for us, we quickly get what we need out of the van and head out. I drink a second shake, and refill the bottles with Nuun and Carb-plus.
We climb at a slow and steady pace, knowing that when we get to the parkway, the climbing is not done. Our friend Chuck Lampley passes us and acts like he does not see us. We climb up, past, the Brown Mtn overlook, the Bark House, and finally reach the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We have decided to stop at the next rest stop to eat some pb&j, but it appears that someone has walked off with the j as they are only serving pb's. I take two bites, almost vomit, and drink the rest of my shake instead.
We head on up the pkwy again, making good time. Mike and I both begin to chat less, and focus more on keeping a consistent pace. Counting down the miles is hard not to do at this point, but it happens.
The last 15 miles is a really fun road that winds up and down and around on the slopes of Grandfather mtn. I realize later that I should have had one more bottle of shake to drink at this point. It is hard to think straight when fatigued. We make a quick water stop, and spin the last 15 miles, at one point, I ask Mike to pull us down a hill so I can have a little recovery.
We finally see the 2 miles to go sign and it is a long two miles. The right turn into McRae Meadows is a welcome sight. I look 200 yds to the finish and notice that the clock says 6h27min, I turn to Mike and say" Come on, we can beat 6.5 hrs!!!!" And we do. Great ride, great day. I end up 83rd out of 276 finishers. ( not sure how many started) .
JD, Mike, Todd, Stephen, Chuck
The weather is nice and we are having such a great time, that we decide we want to stay another night. I call my boss and ask for a day off, he kindly agrees.
We say our goodbyes to our friends from Shelby, and head back to Down By The River. After a trip to the grocery store, and the Italian Restaurant, we head back to the campground for some riding and relaxation.
Jubal learns the art of fire building.
Hmm, this picture looks like the picture above, but something is different....
We get up Monday morning, and I fry some pancakes and sausage. Delicious. After packing up, we head over to Linville Falls for some hiking and....
Great weekend with great family and friends.
Have a great day.