Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday on the Blue Ridge Parkway

First, let me start by saying, I was anxious about today's ride. On one hand, I was looking forward to it. Have grown up in the mountains in Maryland, Bart always talks about how much fun it is to ride in the mountains. On the other hand, I was scared to death. I don't consider myself a hill lover. And to add to my normal trepidation, I had just this week upgraded the components on my road bike to match my time trial bike - yes that means I no longer had my grandma gears or triple.
Around 10:30 am, we headed from our house in Wintergreen to Reed's Gap - around the 13 1/2 mile mark of the Blue Ridge and where Blake (a BR vetran) suggested we begin our ride. We left refueling supplies at the car and headed out. It was a beautiful day - the air crisp and the sky blue. Immediately we started the first climb of the day - not steep, just slow and steady. After about 15 minutes, Bart and I stopped while Bart took a quick work conference call. Here are our bikes at the beginning of the ride.

And here are the mountains that were off to the side most of the day.

After this initial long climb, it seemed that much of the next part was down hill . . . and I mean down hill. Descents were by far more nerve wracking for me than wondering if I was going to make it up the climbs. Bart on the other hand, showed no fear. I learned today that the faster he can go, the happier he is - he crouches down and pedals hard and whined slightly that he could only go about 40 miles an hour. I on the other hand, at least for the ride from milepost 13.5 to mile 1, got good use out of my new brakes. As I was going down all these hills, I kept thinking, how am I ever going to get back up?

There were still lots of long climbs in this first half but I learned quickly to just keep plugging away, and I would make it up them. I didn't worry about how slow I was going (it was slow) . . . my main goal was to have fun, enjoy the amazing views and finish the ride.

After a little over an hour, we made it to mile 0 and our turn around point. Here's me by the sign. Note the elevation - 1900 feet. I refueled with a Nectar Bar, changed out my water bottles for easy access to the new one and we headed back up.

On the return, we definitely saw the hills we had descended. After a long climb ascending a couple of hundred feet, we started our first descent. That's when I knew I could finish this ride, and that I am a much stronger climber than I thought. As I was going down this first descent (and still hitting my brakes), a huge smile crossed my face. "I actually climbed this hill!"

We stopped at the information center for a quick refill of our water bottles and use of the bathrooms and then prepared for the biggest climb of the day. In my estimation, the climb lasted 20 miles, in reality, it was probably around 3. I was in my easiest gear (and wishing I still had my triple) and just kept pedaling and climbing and pedaling and climbing. My heart was pounding hard, my cadence lower than it should be and the hill just kept going. Finally, at the top of the climb, we stopped, took a moment and refueled. I made it. It hurt, but I was there. . . at the top of the hill I thought for sure on my way down I'd have to walk back up. No walking for me.

Soon after our restart we stopped for a photo moment and actually ran into my friend Benton who cuts my hair who was out riding his motorcycle. Fortunate for us since we got a picture of the two of us. The elevation - 3100 feet. (It got as high as 34oo feet). We had just climbed 1200 feet!

The rest of the ride was much of the same. Long climbs and fast descents. We refueled at our cars around the 2 hour mark and headed south on the BR. I used my brakes a little less towards the end - and at some point even reached 35 miles an hour. I made it up all the climbs and even managed a 20 minute run after our 3 plus hours on the bike.

The best part, I enjoyed it! I had a great day, a hard challenging work out and spent time in a beautiful part of our state. I'm disappointed I won't be able to come back next weekend with Blake and the TGs, but I can't wait to return in July and many more weekends in the future.

My next climb to conquer? Wintergreen Mountain.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Change of Pace

I decided it was time for a change of pace, and that there is no better time than the present.

So we packed the car this morning and headed to Wintergreen.

It is refreshingly cool here.

I will ride hills not flat.

We did our morning shopping at a fabulous Nelson county Farmer's Market.

And, my blog got a much needed update.