Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2010 Assault on Mt. Mitchell, CHECK!

(a caveat: this one's a little long, bear with me!) After three long years, I can finally announce with joy and pride, "I have been to the mountain top!" Yes, it took me 10 hours, 3 minutes, and 2 seconds, and not a small amount of cramping, but I made it this year! (Can you tell I'm excited?!)
Wow, so where do I start?
We rolled out from the Spartanburg Auditorium at 6:30am, and I don't know what I was thinking when I allowed myself to get in position at the very front of the crowd prior to go time. I managed to stay safe in the madness that is a mass start and left town with crowds passing me left and right. I kept telling myself what I had been practicing in my head all year: "ride your ride." And I did.
I allowed myself to get good and warmed up by staying on the middle ring for the first half hour, not pushing too hard; I had a long way to go and all day to get there. Had plenty of liquid nutrition on board (four bottles of Hammer Perpetuem), a softflask full of Hammer Espresso Gel, and my fully-charged MP3 player with bar-mounted 4-watt speakers! Rocked and rolled down the highway, past Bill's Hill at 2:50, and did not unclip until I hit the rest stop at mile 64; by then, I was out of fluids and had to stop.
Back on the bike, did not stop again until mile 80, where the top of Hwy. 80 hits the Parkway. Boy, the last three or four miles of Hwy. 80 point straight up, I believe! Got a little rain at this stop which felt really good.
Last year, I was about three miles from getting on the Parkway when they closed it to any more riders. So, sort of a "sub-goal" this year was just to get on the Parkway. I knew if I got that far, I could slog it out and make it to the top.
Once you get to the last 20 or so miles of the AOMM, there's your serious climbing. There's more climbing in the last 20 miles than in the first 80! By then, you're getting tired, you've burned through a lot of your inner resources, and here come the cramps! On more than one occasion, I had to dismount so I could stretch the legs and walk a minute. I think the important thing to remember here is "forward motion." Keep moving forward, don't give your body such a long break that it switches from working to trying to heal.
I hit every rest stop from mile 80 on. I got pretty excited when I was sitting at the stop at the entrance to the Mt. Mitchell State Park and heard on a radio that it was 3:30pm and the Parkway was closed to any more riders. Of course I felt bad for those who would be turned back, but I thought about last year and all the progress I had made.
Last five miles.
Got back on the bike, went into the Park (which is straight up for two miles!) and started climbing. It looked like clouds were stuck to the tops of the mountains and just couldn't make it over. It never really rained, but a mist hung about and did a glorious thing: kept my body cooled down so I could finish what I had started.
About halfway up the Park road, it flattens out for a mile or so, and then climbs to the top. As I neared the top and realized I was about to make it, I saw in my mind's eye all those people that have been encouraging me. They were waiting for me at the finish line. At the last right-hand curve, just before the end, it flattens. I never thought I would be able to do it, but I accelerated and started grabbing gears. Adrenaline, I guess. Or the prospect of getting off that blasted bike for the rest of the day!
Thought about a lot of things while doing this ride, especially near the end. Would I try it again? I would finish, check it off of my list of stupid and painful things to do, and move on. But then again, I actually walked part of it. So, maybe I need to do it again, without the walking. I think I will do it again next year, an hour or two faster than this year.
Be blessed, be safe.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

15 May 2010

Today was the 1st Annual Tour de Midlands, a ride with different distance options up to a century. I rode 101 miles of a beautiful route around Lexington to cross the Dam, to Dutch Fork, Peak, Pomaria, Little Mountain, past Dreher Island, across Black's Bridge, and back to Lexington High School, totally "circum-cycling" Lake Murray. For a "1st," these folks did an outstanding job of planning and preparing for this event. I enjoyed everything about today, except for the blazing heat, but then, who does one blame for that? Play the hand you're dealt.
Time to taper off the riding, only nine days until the 2010 Assault on Mt. Mitchell. And I, for one, personally hope to assault Mt. Mitchell; that mountain has beat me up for the last two years, and it's time he toted a whoopin'!
Be blessed, be safe.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

13 May 2010

This saddle is not new to me, I bought it a couple of years ago. However, it's been on my trainer bike. Lately, I've been experiencing a hot spot on my, ahem, posterior region, and needed to try something different. I am a little concerned that it's so close to the AOMM, and I don't need to be throwing new ingredients into the mix. So, I got out today and did some hill repeats for about half an hour, did some tweaking, and things feel good. I will attempt a century on Saturday and that will tell the story. I did make good notes just in case I have to switch them back. Only 11 more days till Mt. Mitchell and I feel I just might be ready to face the music.
Be blessed, be safe.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

9 May 2010

Happy Mother's Day! My mom is no longer with us, but we're fussing over the mother of my children today (my wife!) and will have dinner with her mother this evening. Love on the moms in your life today.
Some catching up to do, it's been pretty busy around here! Let's start with Samoa.
I was asked several months ago to pray about joining a medical mission team which would visit Western Samoa this summer, and it would appear that God is leading me to do so. I have been raising funds to take my nursing skills overseas short-term and with two-and-a-half months to go, I am at over 60%! I hate to leave my family for two weeks, but I am getting excited about it, and perhaps they will even join me if I go again next year!
Next on the list: 2010 Tour de Cure, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. There were 350 registered riders for rides of differing lengths raising nearly $150,000 for treatment of and research for a cure for diabetes! Exciting stuff! Here's a photo of the start taken by Rob, April's husband:
Rob is a tri-guy who just got back into it recently and is doing well. Last year April rented a bike and rode 25 miles in the 2009 TdC, and talk about progress! She finished her first century in this year's TdC!That fat guy with her is yours truly, who also (in my humble opinion) did very well this year. This was my third year doing the century for the ADA (first year was inbearably hot but I finished without puking!) and my time for 2010 was an hour and ten minutes shorter than '09 with an average speed 2.5mph faster! Yep, I'm pleased with that.

Trying to prepare for the 2010 Assault on Mt. Mitchell, just two weeks from tomorrow. Been needing some time on some serious hills, doing some climbing unlike any found around here, so early yesterday I left home and drove to the top of Mt. Mitchell. I figured if I left my car at the top, I had no choice but to climb that sucker! It was a real eye-opener when I got there, though; instead of finding temps in the mid-60's, they were in the upper-40's, with winds that were showing some real attitude! At noon, gusts were up to 51mph, and by 4pm they had "settled down" to only 43mph!
Wanting to get off the top as soon as possible, I rolled down as fast as I could. Not too fast though; it was so cold, I would shiver and shake the bars. Went 25 miles to the dam at Lake Tahoma and turned around and started climbing. Most of the ride back to the top was granny-gear slow, but I made it back to my car, and actually faster than any climbing I had ever done in that area. I know I am not through training, but yesterday gave me a good indication that I can, in fact, complete the Assault this year, after two failed attempts.
So, I will keep training, working on my nutrition, and next Saturday do another century for the Lexington Greenways Alliance. This AOMM thing has me like a man possessed and will be the climax of my cycling year!
Be blessed, be safe!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

1 May 2010

Did the Tour de Cure today, raised $155 for the American Diabetes Association and rode 101.57 miles. Had a great time, my friend April finished her first century today, and I am toast. I'll have to write more later, and hopefully post some pics. Peace out!
Be blessed, be safe.