So, got on the road and made it up to Barry's place on the river around 4:45pm. Tommy and his ferocious dog, Jim, had arrived just a few minutes before me. OK...I've NEVER had a problem with dogs, every one I've ever met has liked me. Until now. So, there is good ole Jim sitting in the yard (guarding the property most likely) and I hold my hand out for him to sniff and see that I'm not there to bother anything. Damn, next thing I know, bad ass lunges at my leg and bites me. Rips my friggen shorts too. Uh. OK. I head towards the backyard, trying to keep this beast away from me and get Tommy's attention. I do and tell him that Jim bit me! Well, Jim gets corralled and tied up, Barry asks do I want a beer? Ummm, hell yes - with the stupid drivers around the A'ville area and getting bit for the first time in my life, that beer is gone in couple o'seconds. Take care of the bite with a little alcohol (no not the beer) and neosporin. All is good now. :)
With that out of the way, cooking goes on for the 3 of us...steak, chops, mahi-mahi, pasta/sauce, salad, bread. Good eats. Barry gets some firewood for the campfire and a nice fire is started. The Raleigh Contingency starts arriving a little later - sit around the fire for a while, talking with everyone, then, unfortunately, it's time to leave. I had plans to spend the night at Andy's for Friday and leave with him to ride to the start of TdT. Get over to his house, get stuff ready for the ride, chat a bit, then off to bed. I slept great Friday night! First time in a long time - didn't get up until 6:30am, about 30min before we were to head out.
Tour de Tuck
Arm/knee warmers/vest was in order for the ride, and something to cover my mouth/nose so I didn't have to breath that cool morning air. Those cool temps will bring on the EIA very quickly (exercise induced asthma). After talking with Barry & Tommy Friday night, I started with the century riders so that I could get through the first 2 'climbs' without having to try and work so hard to keep up with the metric riders. That worked pretty well. I stayed with the group at the start of the climb, but I didn't try too hard to stay with them. Got onto the 4-lane and worked pretty hard to catch up with 2 guys in front of me cause I didn't want to go solo and wanted that draft. Those guys looked to be good for some good drafting. :) So, caught up with them and got a good draft all the way to Sunset Farm Rd.
One of the guys (turns out to be Edde) pulled to the left and told me to go on cause he wasn't a good climber. He lies. Since we were riding about the same pace at this time, we rode together for a while; he dropped me at some climb before getting into Cherokee, but I saw him at the 1st rest stop. The ride into Cherokee was as it was last month - just rollers and some good descents. As I was leaving, the metric riders started coming in...I looked for Andy & Neal, but didn't hang around - I knew they would eventually catch & pass me. On to the parkway. I'm feeling way better climbing this time than last month, but I'm still not able to climb at more than 6.5-6.7mph. Sucks donkey balls big time cause I know I have the power to climb better. Weight is killing me. Anyways - not long after getting on the parkway, here comes Andy & Neal passing me. Andy mumbled something about "let's go catch that break-away!" Right. Not. I climb at my pace and no one else's unless I'm prepared to blow up. I was not.
The climbing was uneventful. Not as bad as last month, but barely better. I had to stop a couple of times to stretch the hamstrings & quads. I wasn't properly hydrated leading up to the ride nor was I very well rested. 4hr sleep a night just isn't cutting it. I knew it was only a matter of time before the cramps hit me. Yep...after that little short descent and then the last little climb, started to get the cramps in my right medial quad. I have learned to just push on through the pain of these cause if I stop, my legs will just lock up and then it's even harder to ride. So, pushed on through the cramping, got to Soco Gap, ate a couple of crackers, filled the bottle up. Saw Edde there too. Met up with some woman from FL riding with her friends. She was hurt (injured back) and just could not keep up with the friends. That's a good thing for me...she and I rode together for more than half of the Waterrock climb. Then, she dropped me cause I was getting cramping in both legs. Had to slow way down. I also dumped all the water. No point in carrying that extra weight.
Finally. Reach crest and who do I see??? Edde. We talk for a couple of seconds and I head on out. I had to put my arm warmers back on during the climb up WR cause the wind was blowing and I felt chilled. So, off I go. Love that descent from WR!! I'm pedalling for all I'm worth and I look back and there is Edde. He hangs onto my wheel for the whole descent. We stop very briefly at the rest stop in Balsam, then head on back to town. We ride together for a while, but I slowed up too much in some of the turns and he hammered away...just couldn't catch him after we got onto the flatter section near town. So, I just eased up and did a good little spin back to the start.
TdT web site has me finishing in 5:02hr but my powertap has 4:52hr. Neither are times I wanted, but I'll just use those as times to beat next year. I wanted 4:30hr and think I could have done that if not for the cramping. Oh well. I did finish and I was not DFL.
Found Andy & Neal, got some food, sat around talking a bit. Saw Edde again. In a kilt. Never knew I'd be seeing him again later that night at the Hammer Inn. /rolleyes/
The Hammer Inn
So, I had told Barry & Tommy that I would be back over to the Inn after a shower at Andy's. Got that done, left directions with Andy on how to get to the Hammer Inn for the 'recovery' ride the next morning and headed on over. Just about everyone else was there. Got the chair and a couple of beers and went down to the river to chill. Then it's decided that we need to head on out to get something to eat. I won't go into all the boring details....supper was at Mill & Main in Sylva...I got introduced to Mr Jamison (several times) along with several Guinness beers. I think I had quite the buzz going on Saturday evening. :)
Back to the Inn after supper, sitting around the campfire talking/laughing. Have no idea the time when I went to bed in the tent. I do know I woke up around 3am and had a splitting headache. Managed to go back to sleep till 7:30am when I heard voices. All went to the Huddle House for breakfast, to the UC at WCU for the 'communal poop' /rolleyes/ and then back to the Hammer Inn to prepare for the Sunday morning ride. Andy and Neal were there waiting on us.
Sunday 'recovery' ride was one of the fastest recovery rides I've done in a while. Same ride up Caney Fork that Andy, Neal and I did after Roan Moan. Except this was a very fast paced ride. I did ok till the climb, got dropped as usual. Caught back up on the descent, mainly cause I think they slowed up a bit. I was able to hang onto the back end of the group till a couple of miles before the turn-around. Made it to the turn-around, got a few pictures taken, then time to head back.
Well, it's pretty much all down hill for a long ways. I went out first and kept looking back to see where everyone was...I was going to be sociable and ride with the group, but they were taking freakin' forever to catch up to me. So, I said F'it. Let them catch me if they can and I cranked it up a notch. Damn. I held them off for the longest time. When I saw that they were going to catch me, I slowed up and jumped into the paceline. Then it got really fun. Lots of fast riding. Awesome! Dropped again on the backside of the first climb, but everyone waited to regroup at the crest. I thought that was nice. Once we regrouped, headed out again. Rich and I nearly got a squirrel that came running out into the road, but fortunately, he (squirrel) skidded to a stop and turned around. I just knew I was going down.
Fast pace on the way back to the Hammer Inn. For some damn reason, I found myself out front a lot pulling - I don't normally do that much pulling - guess I was unconciously making my case for acceptance/membership into the Honorary Hammer Club. :) Good ride back in - fast & furious, hanging onto every wheel I can - not going to get dropped. Managed to do ok till Hammer took off on the last little ascent before the turn to the Inn. I wasn't ready to race it to the turn. Had I known it was going to be a race to the turn, I would've participated, but instead I just let those boys go and took it easy.
So, back at the Inn, people are getting stuff packed away and preparing to head home. Andy & Neal leave and I tell Andy I'll be over in a while for a shower and get the rest of my stuff. Of course, after a ride such as this, one must partake of a little soaking in the river and a few recovery beverages. :) Gary, Mike, Margo, Hammer, and myself did just that. I did not want to go home. But, all good things must come to an end eventually, till the next time. Said my goodbye's & thank-you's, over to Andy's for the shower and then home.....
The Hammer Group at the turn-around Sunday morning. Left to right: me, Neal, Mike, Gary, Margo, Rich, Hammer (Barry), and Andy.
Me & Margo at the turn-around.