Another Tour de Cashiers for the books. Wicked Awesome time was had by all. To everyone who missed it.... too bad, get Clucked!!! KB should be writing every one a detailed description of the weekends happenings, but until then enjoy the pics!
Festivities commenced on Thursday night when honorary Hoffen John Dennis arrived in AVL. We showed him a good time downtown at Early Girl Eatery followed by Zambra's and whisked him away to Highlands, NC on Friday afternoon. Something you should know - John Dennis is the funniest person you will ever meet. Except for Kate.
Friday night was pretty low-key since we had the big ride to look forward to bright and early on Saturday. Joshica, me, Eric, and John Dennis headed into "downtown" Highlands for some dinner and met up with Jim Snyder back at the mountain house. I was having second thoughts and night before jitters and the boys were instigating by talking about the pace they would set and how I would have to keep up. Yawn.
We agreed to pack Eleanor up at 7:45 and leave the house at 8. I was up at 6:30, but Joshie and Jim didn't get up til much later, putting us out the door around 8:20 or so. We just about missed the riders meeting, but made it in time to realize that Jim Morrison wouldn't be riding with us at all since he was doing the century loop and they took an immediate turn off our course from the start line. Always gotta go big, JM. At least he represented in his Hoffen kit this time.
The last time I rode TDC was 2 years ago and I had been on a road bike for less than a year in the flat lands. I rode the 25 mile loop and it was horrendous. I cried multiple times and vowed I would never do it again. Reluctantly I agreed to give it another go this year and was peer pressured into signing up for the metric (thanks, Joshie!). Joshie, Jim and I started the ride together and 1/4 mile later on the first climb of the day (seriously, why do they start us on a climb that makes my lungs want to explode?!) they powered up and I never saw them again. Just pickin', we were the definition of a group ride (most of you reading this have no idea what that is). They were amazing!! Waited for me at the top of every climb and we rode everything else together. That was not expected, but it was a pleasant and welcome surprise. Eric and Jess cruised the first several miles in the Fit beside us snapping photos and heckling. I specifically remember on a standing climb I looked at Jess and she said "this is hard stuff!" referring to her trying to take our pics. I flipped her the bird and kept on.
The bad weather was holding out and we all felt great. Less than 10 miles in we thought we lost Jim in a port-a-jon but turns out he had flatted on a descent and Joshie had to turn around and climb it to find him. This immediately put Jim on edge, resulting in a cautious creep down all following descents, which later caused Joshie to run off the road nearly into a ditch, which he gracefully navigated out of, giving me a small heart attack. We reached the first rest stop at 12 miles and with the looming weather situation we decided to have a team meeting. Do we go right and do the metric, or bail left and head back on the 25? For some reason they left the decision up to me (after they both expressed that we should get the fuck outta there in order to avoid domination) and I chose right. Onward on the metric!!
Thanks to Joshie's GPS he was able to tell us what was coming up and how long it would last. We comfortably approached the first of two major climbs at around mile 33 ish. I was going slow and steady, actually passed 3 other riders, feeling fresh and strong (for me). No cramps, no rain, life was good. I arrived at the top where the boys were waiting at the rest stop and Josh complained that I looked too calm. Apparently he was cussing at Jim the whole way up. As I was munching on an orange the sky opened up and Jim started immediately shivering. He's a skinny guy, gets cold fast!! He was ready to go but I needed a few minutes to eat and stretch so we agreed to meet at the bottom of next descent. 5 minutes later Josh and I saddled up and it was a full on downpour for about the next 30 miles. The rainy climbs and flats weren't bad, but descending in it sucked. It was COLD, it hurt, and we were forced to go much slower than normal.
What felt like 1/2 mile later but was probably closer to 7 or 8, we hit our next significant climb. The boys took off, feeling much better than I did apparently. My legs were tight and rocked with cramps so I crept up this 4 1/2 mile road full of switchbacks and steepness. More gears would have been nice. While I suffered, Josh and Jim decided to have a photo shoot at the top:
It's kind of a blur at this point, but somewhere between the photo shoot and the end I managed to leave both water bottles at a rest stop (then I borrowed one of Joshie's and left his at a rest stop, but that one was recovered), Joshie's POS crank almost fell off just before standing to attack, and Jim actually froze to death. We defrosted him and he was fine. The last 10 miles were a bitch!! We thought we were in the clear with all the major climbing behind us and only 1/6 of the ride left, but it was one grunter after another and we were all feeling it. That's the only time I recall Jim Snyder actually complaining (besides being cold) - I think we came around a corner and saw another short, steep-ish hill and he muttered "This is impossible or ridiculous or something".
After 63 miles and over 7,000 ft of climbing, my pedal time ended up being 5:51 and the boys were 5:28. They could have done it much quicker I'm sure, but I appreciated the company. Wendy's for all!
After showers and a 30 min decompression session, we hit the booze - HARD. This might have been the best mountain house party to date!! Joshie mastered the grill, John Dennis worked some veggies, and all of our bellies were happy. A couple games of pool, 6 rounds of Squirrel, and the real Sardines game later, we found ourselves (minus JS who was already asleep) "sardined" on Joshica's bed requesting songs of the human jukebox, John Dennis. 1-4 hrs later (no one is sure how long it lasted) Jess woke us all up at 5am and kicked us out of her bed. An EPIC weekend in many ways, to say the least. We miss you John Dennis!!