Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stage 3

34 miles. 5178 ft of elevation gain.

I drove up the Parkway to the start this morning and was treated to some great views of clouds filling the valleys and bright sun overhead.  No tourists out this early so I made good time to The Cradle of Forestry, got warmed up, and to the start line.

The start was actually fairly controlled with all the leaders on the front.  I was feeling good and ready to ride like I had trained.  We knew the left turn onto gravel was coming soon, but were caught off guard when the police leadout pulled into the left lane and stopped.  With no warning, the first half of the group barreled past the turnoff and had to turn around while the second half of the group made the left.  We could have used a marshal or arrow or something.

Onto the climb, then left on Club Gap.  Lots of anaerobic riding.  I was feeling good and felt like I was under control.  I guess I didn't have as many matches as I thought I had.  I ended up walking a lot and was glad to get onto S Mills River Trail.  3 of us road down together, a smooth train of cyclists on old rail trails.

Across the river and onto Squirrel Gap Trail, the trail with no trailhead.....

I stopped to make a minor adjustment on the bike when Marc,  a friend from Curacao, passed me.  We ended up yo yo-ing for the rest of the day.  Neither one of us saying much, but glad to have someone to keep the pace. 

The first rest stop was at mile 18.  I was hoping that 52 oz of liquids would be enough.  Up and down on Squirrel, then dropping down Laurel Creek Trail and across the river.  With 3 miles to go,  riding the past hour overheated, I drained the rest of my water and sports drink.   The climb up Bradley Creek road was a grind and the slowest that I can ever remember doing that climb.  Marc was just behind me, keeping pace.  I could tell he was dragging, just like me so I periodically let him know how much was left in the climb. 

At Yellow Gap, I sat down and ate some Coke and potatoe chips.  I was feeling like crap, and knew that I had some endurance pace, but no snap.  I got back on the bike and headed up the climb.  I kept within sight of Marc for a while, losing him in the contours but catching sight when the trail straightened.  Then I lost him.  I climbed, hiked, hiked and hiked.  Up and over the top, I was feeling ragged and worried about the decent.  I took it easy and didn't take any chances.  I would get halfway through a switchback and simply freeze up.    Halfway down, I came across Thom Parsons.  He followed for a while, then asked how often I got out to ride the trail.  I said not very often.  I immediately hit a switchback and just froze up.  I didn't have the mental stability to make the turns.  Unfortunately for Thom he was not expecting my crappy skills and had to stop fast causing him to take a small tumble.  (sorry Thom).  I apologized and he waited for someone else who could ride to take some solid footage. 

I eased the rest of the way down the mountain and turned right.  Marc was at the rest stop.  I didn't stop.  He quickly caught me and it became apparent that he was super strong on the downhills and flats, and I was stronger on the climbs.  Without a word, we worked together,  me pulling up the inclines and he pulling through the flats/ downhills.  I glanced down once and we were hitting 27 mph. 

We finally hit the pavement for a mile then left and across the finish line.  Marc waved me up, and we clasped hands and held them up, crossing the line together. 

Another day down.  Still looking for my mojo.  I'm in 10th in the 40 plus cat,  and I'd like to stay there, so I have to keep fighting. I'm starting to wonder if something is wrong with my components causing undue drag.  I looked it over and couldn't find anything.  Maybe this is just not my year.

What I do know is, I 'm going to give it everything I've got.  Never was much of a quitter!

Nothing to do but ride!

No comments: