This is a photo I snapped with my cell phone near the top of White Oak Mountain.
It was a very busy weekend, that's why I am writing about it on a Tuesday night (or should I say, Wednesday morning?). We'll go back to Saturday and start there.
My brother and I went to Tigerville to participate in a training ride with the Spartanburg Freewheelers, ride known as "The Marquis de Sade." The only thing I know about the historical figure for whom this ride was named is he was into some torture; the ride was well-named. More hills (steep ones!) and climbing than I have ever desired to climb, all rolled into one ride. But, I went in with the attitude that this was for training, I'll give it all I've got, and we'll see what happens.
I was very pleased with what happened. About a mile into the ride the hills started. About a mile after that, I blew a shift on an 11% hill and had to walk the last 15-20 yards; once I got back on, though, I didn't stop for another 40 miles. I climbed Callahan mountain, a road I had to walk up last year. I didn't fly through the Watershed, but I rode it without stopping. In fact, I would pass places and think, "I remember stopping there last year to catch my breath!"
I rode over 40 miles without getting off the bike; I say that with a lot of pride because I can see the improvements I have made physically and mentally in the last year. I finally wore down near the top of White Oak Mountain because I am a much bigger guy than my bike is geared for on hill like these. I didn't give up, though. I got off and walked a little while, but I didn't give up. However, my bike did. At a little over 43 miles into the ride, I was back on the bike, and a shot rang out behind me and the ride was suddenly rough. Between my weight, 110psi, and an 11% incline, oh and something in the road, my back tire developed a sudden air allergy and sneezed. I pulled over to put a tube in it but the tire was shredded. My ride was done.
Fortunately for me, this was a well-sagged ride, so I made a quick phone call (I HATE cell phones, but will NOT ride without one!) and a van was on the way. Let me say this first: I am completely and utterly grateful for the young lady driving the van and the bike shop to whom said van belonged. Having said that, I'll now say I was close to jumping out of that van and carrying my bike back to my car. The back of a van is no place to be on mountain switchbacks! I was sure I was near to puking up something I'd need later!
Anyway, I made it back, with a little help, and waited for my brother to return. He soon rolled into the parking lot showing 83 miles on his computer; in my 43 miles I had climbed over 4300 feet, no telling how much climbing he had done! Three days later and he's still tired! I am proud of him though, he's a dadgum mountain goat!
Yep, I got my butt kicked in the hills, but give me two weeks and I am going back! Newer, stronger tires with a spare to boot, and an attitude that says, "Bring it!" I am going up and over, and in 40 days when I ride the AOMM, I WILL ride proudly across the finish line at the top. I WILL be ready!
Be blessed, be safe.