This weekend, we survived--albeit with a couple of casualties--our second installment in the "Blakey-blake's Terrible Trio" of hills up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The majority of us were on board for a beautiful but challenging 50 miles to start from mile marker 23--IMWisconsin and Louisville folks rode about 80 miles, while Coach Blake himself rode about 120 (does this tell you anything about the man?!) Early that morning, Lynn met me at our Wintergreen rental condo for some power breakfast--coffee, pancakes, eggs, bacon, and toast--before we loaded up our bikes, and kissed the husband and kids goodbye. The rest of the Oliver family had a great day planned, full of hiking with the Sophie dog, swimming, and golfing.
We started the ride at about 8:30, heading to mile marker 13 and back. That 10 miles went pretty quickly--about an hour, as we are all getting over our fear of bombing down the hill at 40+ mph. Along the way back UP to mile 23, Shawn, Derik, and I stopped for a little action-snaction, wild blackberries! The self-portrait was taken early that morning. I wasn't looking so happy later on...
Following a quick rendezvous at the cars to refuel and pee, it was off again, this time headed south to mile marker 38. Ah, what glorious downhills. There was one stretch that was dead straight and blistering fast. No need to worry about cars, turns, or shady spots hiding pot holes. I think I'm glad my spedometer/odometer is broken--I really didn't want to know how fast I was going. My butt was up off my seat, my head was low over the handle bars, and I just FLEW. I didn't give a second thought to how I would feel headed back up this bugger. But I did think "Thank God half the bike in Placid is downhill...no need to pedal." Ha. Down, down, down we went for 15 miles....uh oh. At the turn around at mile 38, everyone was bemoaning our return trip, and how much it was going to SUCK BALLS.
And it did. For the record, I much prefer not stating the obvious--why remind myself of what pain and torture it is or will be to climb for miles going all of 8mph? I tried to tune everyone around me out, and focus on my pedal strokes, pulling up as much as pushing down, and just turning that crank. I held on to Lynn and Shawn for dear life, knowing if I fell behind I'd only become demoralized with my slowness. Headed back up that straight downhill, just 4-5 miles from our cars was tough. At that point, I'd had it with climbing in the saddle. I had to stand up and grind through it, otherwise I'd quit. I was so glad to finally see mile marker 24--the end was in sight.
All in, the 50 miles took about 4 hours. Many folks said their average speeds were about 12-14mph. A newbie BRP'er, bless her soul, had cleat issues and could not stop on the way back without having to remove a shoe before exiting her bike. We all battle our own demons out there, and I must give kudos to TriGirl40, who admittedly HATES hills and stuck it out and finished all 50 miles. She did not look happy at the end, but as always looked amazingly strong. Back at our cars, we happily met for our picnic on the pavement--a tradition begun on our first Blue Ridge ride last year--to rehash the ride and refuel. The party continued on at Bethany and Bart's, with tons of yummy food and Sandy's great Mai Tais.
Today we packed up our kids and dog, and drove Maddy to camp before driving the 3 hours back to Richmond. Maddy'll be at camp for 3 weeks, having a great time. We'll miss her so! Home now to long runs, laundry, and packing for Placid!