Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mini Assault on Mt Mitchell

So, Andy, did one of these "be there, 10am, ride to Mitchell" messages the other evening and, well, it is the mtns and you know me....I was there...

Met Andy in Marion, we found a place to park over by the campground, unloaded and got our gear ready for the Mini AoMM. We saw several groups of riders as we were getting ready, probably doing the same thing we were getting ready to do. It was a little chilly, but not too bad at the start, but would get colder the higher we climbed. When I left Clayton, it was pretty nice and there were blue skies until I got closer to Marion. It was overcast and cloudy, with wind when I arrived. We both wore arm warmers and carried a vest/jacket, knee warmers, extra bottle and other stuff.

Heading down (or up, which ever way you wanna look at it) Hwy 80, it's not all that bad for the first, 7-8mi. Here's a few pics towards the beginning, with the requisite leg shot I always have to get.

This was the view I would have all day, when Andy was even in sight. I don't know how he does it. I can never keep up with him. Maybe one of these days, some year, I will, but it's not looking promising..

Initially, it's a little bit flat, but then you start to go up a bit, climb around the dam for Lake Tahoma and not long after that, you see this:

I drove up this route last year and thought, ok - this isn't so bad, I can do this...until I got to that sign pointing left. Then I thought, OMG, there's no way in hell I'll be able to do this. That was last year and last year, I would've been correct. Anyways...this is where it really pitches up and the serious climbing begins.

More along Hwy 80 (at the first really sharp pitch up):

The climb up Hwy 80 wasn't too terribly bad, but I also didn't have 75+ miles already in my legs. I think come May 18, I better make sure I have that "sheer determination" packed away somewhere because I think I'm gonna need it.

It took me about 1:20 or so to get to the BRP, where, as usual, he was waiting on me.

So, that was around 12mi from Marion to the BRP. We had another 12mi to go on the BRP before we got to the entrance to Mt Mitchell (17mi total to the summit from Hwy80/BRP). All climbing, except one or two decents. This, wasn't especially hard, but I had a little trouble just finding my pace and settling in for the climbs. I managed though. It really started to get cooler as we went further on the BRP, we got rained on a little too. When we got to the first long descent, we stopped at the top to re-assess...Andy tells me that it's probably a 2.5mi descent, then 4-5mi more of climbing before we reach the entrance.

Pics along the way...
Hwy 80

My normal view:

At this point, it's either finish the ride or turn around. I really hate to not finish what I've started and there's been very few times that I've told him we need to turn around on rides. Maybe I haven't said that. My hamstrings were hurting a bit (don't know what's up with that...) but, I didn't drive 3hr to quit. So, I told him let's do it. OMG. can you say BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR??? We descended for a short distance and I saw an overlook...pulled in to put the knee warmers on. It should've been a hint when I saw the other riders meeting us - they were all decked out in much warmer clothing! Knee warmers on, finish the descent.

Jigglywatts became shivery/frozenwatts after that descent. I don't know what the temp was, but it was damn cold to me. I wanted to turn around then and find some place warm, but not quiting. I finally reach the overlook that's just before the entrance and I don't want to go any further! It was very foggy, slight drizzle, and cold. And snow on the ground. Andy had talked to a couple of the riders and they told him it was all closed at the top - no hot chocolate, nothing to see. We opted to turn around and not go on up to the top.


I was so damn cold. And we had a 4-5mi descent. In the rain, that felt like it was ice pellets on my face. A couple of climbs later, we are back at Hwy 80 and I'm ready to get off this mtn!
Descending 80 was a blast!!! I was behind a van initially, but he pulled over and let me pass him. Not a lot of traffic on the way down, so the turns could be taken wide, when you could see that far ahead.

So, it was a good training ride, I'm glad I got to do it before AoMM. My friend Neal and I may ride up Hwy 80 from the other side after the Burnsville Metric and then up to MM, depending on the weather.

Ride Stats
2:57hr total climbing
4:15 for total time
~6000' climbing.

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