This is gonna be pretty short & sweet, I think....
Started with cool temps, opted for no warmers cause it was going to get up to the mid 80's and i didn't feel like carrying them around. The ride got started around 9am - Andy, Neal, and myself were close to the front but not with the lead group. Those guys were fast!!!
I took off and didn't attempt to stay with either of the guys. Andy had told me not to worry about him and treat this as an AoMM training ride, which it was...hooked up with 2 cuties in green kits from Boone maybe and 2 other guys. The 5 of us were doing well together, taking pulls (I took short ones, remembering the advice of "don't do any work, let the others pull you around") and then we got swallowed up by the group Andy & Neal were in. Probably 30+ riders.
Lots of slowing/speeding up, which I knew was going to happen and I wasn't nearly as concerned about it as last year. Not to say, it wasn't nerve wracking, it was, but I was better prepared for it. I stayed up towards the front of this group until around 36mi, where the first climbs started. Got to this point in 1:30 and at this time, I had a 23mph avg.
Andy and Neal caught me on the climbs, as I knew they would, both passing me. I didn't find the climbs to be all that difficult this year. Last year, I thought they were hard as hell. I eventually caught up with Andy a few miles from Bakersville and we got to the rest stop together. 41mi/1:52/22.5avg.
I felt really good to this point - last year, I suffered and didn't think I was ever going to get to that rest stop. We refill our bottles, and set out to do the climbs on Hwy80. Not anything like it was last year. I was spinning pretty well up some of the climbs too. I started to feel a little on the bad side towards the end of the climbs on 80 - I could feel my calf getting a little tight and when I stood on some climbs, my dang quads wanted to start cramping. but, it was never enough to really cause any problems.
Reached the last rest stop, where Andy was waiting on me...he asked, as I rolled up, if I needed to stop and I said no and kept on going! He caught up with me shortly and I pulled us all the way to the next turn, which took us off of the main, trafficky road and told him he could do some pulling. He comes on by me, says "get my wheel" and off he goes! I didn't even have a chance to!! He dropped me!!!!
So, I didn't bother trying to catch him, I was getting tired, had a headwind, and my legs were not feeling too good. Started to get a serious cramp in my inner thigh, left leg when I was very near the last climb in Burnsville. Managed to keep going and finished about 6min behind Andy.
I am very pleased with how I rode today. 62miles/3:18hr, 3100'+/- climbing. No pictures from the first part of the ride, but if you want to see hte scenery, check out Andy's Burnsville Metric Recon thread on Bike Forums...I do have a couple of pics from late in the ride, but haven't downloaded....later...
Tomorrow, Neal and I are going to ride teh BRP from hte intersection of Hwy80 up to Mt Mitchell. Another training ride.