Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Assault on Mt Mitchell

Made it !

I started from Spartanburg at 6:30 in the morning with a great send off from Amanda, Lenny and Rick.   It was super to see them out there so early in the morning to watch the old guy set off for the mountains !

Ready to Go !

Rode out of Spartanburg through some flat country, then we got into some rolling hills.   I was with several groups of people in nice pacelines, and I got to Marion with an average of about 18.2 mph.  For me, Bill's Mountain was not all that bad, and I thought I rolled well on most of the other hills, only getting passed by a few other riders.  

At Marion, they had some lunch and I stopped by to check it out.  I got a BBQ sandwich, but my stomach was a little off, and only ate a little bit of it.   This was probably an omen.   I rolled out of Marion, setting off for the Blue Ridge Parkway on Hwy 80.    At about the 3 1/2 mile mark, someone had written the distance on the pavement.   That was a very long 3 1/2 miles, getting on up to the BRP !   I have a feeling for how long 3 miles is at home, roughly from Speedway to home, and this seemed like a lot more.

At the BRP, we got a little recharged with a Coke and some chips, and headed on towards Mt Mitchell.   But the little group that I was with were all running slow.  As one guy remarked, "16 miles at 4 miles an hour is going to take a while".    But we got there, saw lots of people getting SAG's, and made it to the rest stop where Hwy 128 heads up to the Mt Mitchell State Park.   There were rain clouds.  Lots of them.

Started up 128, which is pretty steep, perhaps 8% or a bit more.  This starts to hurt after having done about 100 miles, and then the rain came.   And the hail, and the lightening and thunder.   It was epic.  Glad I dragged the rainjacket along, and glad I had a plastic baggie that I could put the iPhone into.  At the top of Mt Mitchell, a lot of trees have died due to aphid infestation or ozone from power plants, so you are a bit exposed to the sky, and I am right out there in the elements !

Happy to get to the finish and to find my dry clothes bag, and since I had put my stuff into a plastic trash bag inside, it was all dry.   The tomato soup that they served was wonderful, and helped to take off a lot of the chill.   Then we got to sit on a bus for a ride to Marion, and then Spartanburg.  I think we got back to Spartanburg at around 9:30 at night, making for a long day.

My finish time was about 16:51, making for about 10 hr, 21 minutes or so.   That is about 1:30 more than I had hoped that I would do.  But it is what it is, and I did climb about 11,000 feet and rode over 100 miles, so well worth the experience !    And Dave's bike case worked well, with the bike arriving in Spartanburg intact and it only took 6 days to get there via Fed Ex ground, another good benchmark.

It was great to see Rick, Patti, Charlea, Jordan, Samantha, Lenny and Amanda in Spartanburg, and Rick and I got a chance to drive over to Tennessee and see Ted, Marie, Jenny and Roy.    A trip to Houston to attend my niece's graduation is next ( no bicycling ), and then it's time to head off to Seattle for the Big Ride Across America.  WooHoo !

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