I left work early on Thursday (7/3) to drive down to Charlotte to stay with a friend over night and up early for this ride the next day. I managed to twist my friend's arm a little bit and convince her to join me & Andy on the ride. It was her longest ride!
It was a really nice ride, what I remember of it, and I'd like to do it again next year. It started out pretty good, but I failed to eat/drink properly and by the first rest stop, I had only drank a small amount. I took no gels too, as I had mixed up a bottle of Sustained Energy and was planning on sipping on that for about 3hr of the ride. I was pretty tired by the second rest stop....there were lots of intervals done to catch up to Andy when I was dropped on any little hill. That just wore me slap out. By the third rest stop, I had been dropped by Andy & Jodie about half way between the two stops. I had a hard time getting to this rest stop. When I finally did arrive, I immediately found some shade and poured some water over my head. I got the 3rd degree from Andy about what was I trying to do, why was I not eating/drinking like I should? Dunno. I just didn't.
We left together from this rest stop, but I don't remember much about the ride between that one & the fourth one. Also, there were two climbs on this route...Grunt #1, which I and Jodie had to walk up. I just had nothing left in my legs to climb it and was going extremely slow. Grunt #2 was the same thing. Except I decided that I was not going to walk this one. I did have to stop about a tenth of a mile up it, but I rested and got back on the bike. Zig-zagging up the climb. Can't tell you how great it felt to see the end and to see Andy waiting on me (and Jodie) at the top. Other than those 2 hard climbs, there wasn't anything terribly hard about the ride.
From rest stop 4 to 5 was where the real difficulty began. It was a 6-7 mile climb out of the Greenville Watershed to the top (rs #5). My left knee was really starting to bother me and pretty often, it felt as if someone were jabbing an ice pick into it. I could not keep up with Jodie and Andy on this climb and at one point, Andy came back to pull me up the climb but I couldn't hold his wheel very long. When he dropped me, the guy who was with us, asked me if I was ok. I told him no and he went on up and told Andy. I guess, fortunately, the SAG wagon was pulled off to the side and Andy was waiting there. He told me that I should catch a ride and I agreed (at the time). I hitched a ride up the climb to the last rest stop.
Once at this rest stop, as I got out of the SUV, I cramped up in both quads. I could not move. I had my hands on my quads, trying to squeeze the living daylights out of them to stop the pain. Excruciating. So bad, it brought tears to my eyes. Eventually, I was able to fall to the ground on my stomach, but the cramps were still there. The people there said that they had a vehicle coming up to get me and they'd get my bike later. Oh hell no. My bike stays with me. I told them I was going to ride the remainder of the ride. They thought I was crazy. Then good ole Andy shows up. :) He helps to stretch the quads & hamstrings of my right leg, which is cramping the most. It helps a bit and I'm finally able to get up and walk around and then get on the bike.
I ride around and around the parking lot, stretching on the bike, drinking the remainder of what's in my bottle until Jodie shows up. By then, my legs are feeling a little better and all 3 of us leave together again. It is a 5-6mi all downhill section to the finish. Twisty & curvy roads! OMG. That descent made up for all the pain. I let Andy & Jodie go on ahead of me because, even though I felt better, I wasn't up to letting the speed build up too much. Finished the ride in 4:17 (for my distance of 61mi). Over 5 hours total time. Not what I or Andy had expected. Oh well. Next year, I will be in much better shape than this year and will try to ride at Andy's pace if possible.
Overall, a great ride.....