Well, I left Clayton at 10am on Wednesday, December 26 headed to Sylva, NC. It took me way longer to get there than I anticipated, so I missed out on the ride that Jschen & BikeWNC did after lunch. Not much else to say about that day, except that I finally got to meet Jason and he is a very nice young man.
Thursday, December 27:
The three of us left Andy's house and rode over to the BRP (Blue Ridge Parkway) at Balsam Gap and did a short ride up to Grassy Ridge Overlook. This was at elevation 5,280' and included a continuous climb of 6 miles. The first half of the climb had grades in the 6-7% grade and the last half around 4%. The wind was blowing really hard (per Cyclemagic's phone call comment - "sounds like a tornado"). And, it was getting colder. We decided to turn around and head back down and go ride in the valley. The descent was really fun, but I was a bit cautious due to the road being wet, some ice, wet leaves, rock debris that looked like leaves and the high wind. We then went for lunch at Wendy's and over to Franklin to ride the Burningtown Loop. Motionbased data for BRP and Burningtown.
The last time I rode this loop, I think I did a lot better. That climb really took a lot out of my legs considering I set a new PR for my threshold power. I think it was harder due to the effort I put out on the BRP. That's ok tho; we all had fun and it's a social ride not a race. Later that evening, the three of us went out for beer & pizza at Nick & Nate's. That pizza was really good.
Friday, December 28:
This was a wash...rain all day long. We sat around talking, surfing BF and other sites. Roadrider arrived a little before lunch and the four of us went to lunch. Andy said we should be subjected to watch High School Musical 2 since he's watched it so many times:). It was actually better than I thought it would be. That evening, we ate at Restaurant 553, loaded up on pasta & a couple of liquid carbs.
Saturday, December 29:
Official Tour de Pain ride (Ring of Fire). We started out in Cullowhee, NC and had a 15-20min warm-up over flatish to rolling terrain before starting to climb Cullowhee Mountain Road. I think we had discussed riding something like 60 miles, but this was later changed. OMG. This ride was hard. It was sustained climbing for, like, 4.5 miles. I think the average grade was like 8% with some sections in the 12-16% range. Roadrider was wishing for different gearing...39/26 made it extremely hard. I had to stop a few times - my legs were hurting so bad. But, I finally made it!! Jason came back down a very short distance and rode back up with me & roadrider! I have never been so glad to see the summit!!
The descent was absolutely amazing! I followed Jason down and had a max speed of 51.2mhp!!!! I tried to follow Jason's line the best I could as he is a great descender! We made a stop at a gas station on Hwy 64 for "lunch" and decided then to shorten the ride. I didn't feel like I could do much more climbing and neither did roadrider. Our choices were 3000' or 1500' more climbing. We chose the 1500' option...I really wish that we could have done the 3000' (Ring of Scott) but I was not sure that I would have been able to complete that ride:(.
Anyway, we headed on towards Elijay Creek Road and more serious climbing. This climb wasn't as hard as Cullowhee Mountain, but it did offer up several steep sections of 10% plus grades. I did ok on this climb, with several regroupings and rest periods, but still it wasn't easy. Finally, with all the hard work completed, we had another fast descent! This one was a little trickier due to some debris on the road and sections of the road in not too good shape. Then it was just a little flat/rolling ride back to the cars. Motionbased data for Tour de Pain.
Roadrider left for Winston-Salem and Jason, Andy, and I went back to Andy's house. Jason packed up and headed to Charlotte to meet VegaVixen and get some riding in down there. I stayed one more night, as I was really tired and didn't feel up to a 5-5.5hr drive back to Clayton. I got up around 8AM today, loaded my stuff up and headed home. Rain all the way. Even with the rain, I made it home in record time --> 312 miles, 4hr 40min.
We also discussed, briefly, about getting together again in May for a SEBF mountain ride. Thinking about starting at the Pisgah Inn and doing the Pigeon Loop.
Pictures & other reports can be found in Jschen's Visit thread and some in Go For a Ride Bring Back a Photo thread on Bike Forums.