2009 Gentleman's Ride Re-Cap: The Real Story
I'm afraid I cannot share the same sentiments that our dear Kenneth has spoken of. This was a ride of torment and bodily abuse. A ride that for the first time, I cracked mentally before physically. This was probably the hardest ride I've ever done. And masochistically, I want to do it again (but several months from now).
The ride started with an early morning wake up so already this was not off to a good start. Most of you know how excited I get to wake up early. Despite my grumbles we took off from the gnome home on what was to be a 72 mile course of pavé and dirt. Along the course there would also be several extracurricular challenges to boost points and make the ride/race interesting. All in all a fun and exciting challenge for the day. Everything started as planned......
We were all pretty chipper heading up to the first KOM, a 4 mile climb up to the parkway. We all chit-chatted, getting a nice warm up for the climb which hit us at about mile 13-14. I knew I had a slight advantage heading into this as I have done this climb before. I knew the beginning was steep, so I sat back trying to maintain my composure so that I could push it a little toward the last half of the climb. Nope. not for me today. Pretty much from the start I was gasping for air and trying not to drown in my own sweat. Again those of you who know, I sweat like a waterfall. it's disgusting, just ask any of my bikes. I finally made it to the top, dead last. needless to say, I wasn't too happy. This is something I've become accustomed to in my days of riding as I am a rather large person, but I really wanted to do better than that. Oh well, maybe next time. Mad props to Kenneth though for smoking Jimothy in the home stretch!
The ride continued up the Blue Ridge Parkway heading up toward the top of Mt. Pisgah where our second challenge would await, an individual time trial... downhill. This would have to be the best part of the ride for me. I'm not a climber, I'm a descender. as Jimothy puts it, I'm aerodynamically dense. Not sure if that's a cut or a complement, but I like it. This was a 3 mile jaunt down the parkway ending in an overlook parking lot. The course was awesome. it started with a brief uphill, and then from there it was all downhill to flat. perfect for me. Off we went in one minute intervals. I decided to go last as that way I would be able to see the finish because everyone would be standing around. The short uphill had my legs screaming from the start. Too much standing around watching everyone else take off. I crested the top and started the descent. I felt pretty good. I was really trying to push it on the flats and completely spun out on the downhills. with the group in sight, I gave it everything I had and almost caught our dear kenneth at the finish. I really felt like I had given everything I had. Too bad, still not enough, 2nd place. Jimothy had me by 10 seconds. Damnit. I'll give up though he's a fast mo-fo. Oh well.
After the time trial, we headed down 276 to meet up with our first dirt of the day. We headed up a forest service road The road was decent. A few loose rocks, but pretty well packed down and a hell of a good time, especially on the descents. I tried to best Jimothy on the downhills again through some of the tight switchbacks of the road, but he alluded me every time. I could get close, but then my tires would start slipping so I'd have to back off again. I'm going to blame this on a clincher setup as opposed to Jimothy's tubular setup. There's no way it could be me. Yea right. We eventually ended up by the Pisgah Fish Hatchery and from there booked it in one of the most beautiful pace lines ever ridden to one of our favorite post ride locales, Dolly's Ice Cream, for our next challenge.
Now normally, I would love to get Dolly's after a ride, but here's the thing, we're only half way. And on top of that, our challenge here was to eat a cone of ice cream as fast as we could. Ouch. After many minutes of grumblings we all reluctantly took the challenge. Will the G took top honors here as he completely deep throated the hell out of his ice cream cone. Kenny came in second, then Pete, Eric, Jim, Kyle and myself. You can't rush ice cream, it's just impolite. Just trying to be a gentleman.
We hit the road again, now with a belly full of a seriously bad idea, and made our way back down to the horse stables road for some more dirt and a pretty serious climb up and over to Avery Creek for another KOM. Did I mention how bad of an idea the ice cream was. The start of the horse stable road was a decidedly slower pace than we had been pushing earlier in the day. Once the road turned up, the group was decimated. Everyone was slowly meandering their way to the top. The McNasty and Jimothy were the clear winners here. As I understand it, Jimothy edged out Kyle for the actual win at the top. The amount of effort must have been staggering. When asked what he saw at the top when he arrived, Sir Kenneth had this to say, "I came across the top and just saw two lifeless bodies. At first I thought they had both ridden to the death! Meow." I managed to make to the top, but not without several bouts of cussing and walking. Needless to say the climb was EPIC. We finally all made it to the top but you could see that everyone was beginning to feel the pain. At this point the few remaining challenges were off, survival was now the name of the game.
We descended down the other side, back onto pavement for a bit, and then onto the road of crushing souls, a freshly graveled road up to Yellow Gap. Damnit. I still have chills talking about this road. You would think that a road that had just been graded and had fresh gravel on it would be awesome. Wrong. It' is the loosest, must uncontrollable, bone jarring, energy sapping road you can possible imagine. At first it really wasn't' too bad. Just nice rolling elevation changes. But soon the gravel started to take it's toll. I couldn't really feel my hands anymore from the incessant chatter of the fork and handlebar. Holding a line that was relatively gravel free was impossible and we literally were all over the road trying to find some sort of smooth traction. No dice. Then to make it better, we started to climb. Now, you're not only lusting after a smooth line, you wan traction too. Not happening. I was all over the place. In fact there was one point that i almost wrecked in front of a car. I was trying to cross to the right side of the road to get out of the cars way, when my tires decided that they would rather go down the hill sideways instead of up. I fortunately corrected the bike, but the amount of energy to do so was too much. I was off the saddle again, walking. Our sag vehicle came up and asked me if I wanted to catch a ride. I seriously wanted to, but I'm pretty stubborn some times. "How much further to the fucking top!" , I asked. I was reassured that it was only a few tenths more and I would be there. Hesitantly I declined and decided that I would ride on. This was a mistake. As soon as the car pulled away, I tried like hell to figure out how I was going to waive them down to stop so I could get in. Alas, no such luck. I rode for about another tenth of a mile and then that was it. I could not ride this particular road any more. I walked to the top. As I arrived everyone else's face told the story.
We were done. We had almost ridden 60 miles of some of the greatest mountain paved and dirt roads on the east coast. It had kicked our collective ass. It was an awesome accomplishment and an awesome disappointment. Most of us piled into a dirt filled "support vehicle, " my element (Poor, Poor, Eleanor. Her life has been nothing but hell and dominations since I bought her.). The rest road down to the bottom of the climb, ending up in the North Mills River Camp Ground to await more vehicles to shuttle them back to the Gnome Home, except for one Mr. Jimothy. As a true glutton for severe bodily punishment, he successfully completed the entire course AND on top of that managed to ride back all the way to the house. Our decided winner of the event. Way to go, Jim! And, I hate you, you suck!!
So what did I think of the ride? Very mixed emotions about it right now. I loved it, it was awesome. I really enjoyed the challenge and got completely pushed to my physical and mental limit. I hated it, I'll give it a capital FU and a middle finger to boot. It kicked my ass and I don't like to give up. It was the hardest ride I've ever done and I didn't finish. Unacceptable, I'll be have to try it again. But right now, I need a drink.
I think some thanks are in order too for two of our Hoff ladies, Jess and KB. Jess drove ole Eleanor, our support vehicle, and was always at the ready with whatever we needed. KB was our photog for the event an pulled off some excellent shots. Thanks girls!! A big thanks as well to the man himself, Spank. He concocted this ride of torture and were it not for him, I wouldn't be in pain today. Thanks. A Lot!
B- sorry you missed it, you would have been pissed at the end too, but you would had had a good ass time!! Yet another reason you need to move back here.