Well, here it is right at 2 weeks before Assault on Mt Mitchell. My riding is actually coming along quite well, though I haven't had anything near the amount of climbing training rides as I've had in the past. I did go one weekend to Mt. Airy and did part of the Tour de Gaps ride. Only did around 50mi of that because I burned all my matches on the first 4mi climb. Looking down at the PT and seeing your average watts only 9w off your threshhold wattage and not backing off...well, ones legs would be done for the day after that. So, with only that ride and a couple rides in Saluda, I wanted to get to Marion at least 2x before AoMM.
My Dad has been in the hospital lately and this has kinda messed up the ride schedule, as far as getting to the mountains to ride. He's doing much better and out of the hospital, so I decided to take this Saturday and go to Marion. I really wanted to see if I could even do the climbing on fresh legs because I know how very hard it's going to be on legs with 75mi in them. So, off I went Saturday morning! :)
Left the house around 645am (too late), stopped for gas & another bottle of water - didn't actually leave Clayton till right at 7am (too late). Looking at the weather forecast earlier in the week, it looked like it was going to be a great day for riding. As I got closer to Marion, though, clouds were rolling in and it started to rain. :( Arrived around 10:20am, parked across from Tom Johnson's (on Hwy 70) and waited for the rain to quit. Didn't take long. Temps came down from mid 70's to mid 60's and I started off with arm warmers. Stopped not long after starting because the saddle bag was rubbing my left inside leg and going to mess the shorts up. I stuffed it into a somewhat less filled jersey pocket. That didn't last long - it was pretty humid and even though the temp was around 66-67F, it wasn't at all chilly. I had to get the arm warmers off, so stopped to do that and I ditched the saddle bag, intending to get it on the way down...:)
The first 8mi weren't too bad, but I don't know - I just didn't seem to have a lot of energy and struggled slightly on the little bit of climbing around the lake. Not too bad, but just felt off. Finally reached the left turn sign, meaning the real climbing starts and one has about 3.5 miles of hard climbing to reach the BRP. I don't think I did too bad, all things considered, but I am slow. Slower than previous years, but I suppose that is to be expected since I've not been climbing and I'm carrying a few extra pounds. Reach the BRP, stop to rest for a few minutes and head on.
It wasn't too bad, but I think I went too hard on the Hwy80 part (not as hard as the Mt Airy ride) and this of course would affect the rest of the climbing. Climb, climb, climb. I did pull into a couple of the overlooks to rest for a minute or two and even had to take a pee break. What's up with that? I hardly ever used to take those breaks. Anyways. After the pee break, it was a 2.5mi descent and then about 4-5 miles of more climbing before the entrance to Mt Mitchell. This climb is where the legs really started to protest & hurt. I mean, literally, hurt. There wasn't any cramping, but I would have to stop every so often to let them rest. And, when it got to the point of stopping, they hurt so bad when I stopped - just lean over the bike, grimace and wait for the pain to end. Then climb on....
Finally reached the entrance and I made one (wish it were) final stop before heading up Hwy 128. There were so many times on the climbing that I thought of quitting and turning around. But, I had to finish. Just had to. I didn't drive 3hr to quit and if I quit, how was I to get my mountain top picture, proof that I made it to the top? :) On I went. Initially, it wasn't too terribly bad, but the legs would just not stop hurting and I had to stop more frequently to rest. But, I finally made it to the Ranger Station and knew I had a false flat to ride and then only a small bit more of climbing.
One last stop at the drive to the restaurant and then the last push to the top. Finally!!! I made it!! But, damn, my legs hurt. Fortunately, the store was open at the top and I bought a Coke, drank it down, took my picture and started the journey back to Marion. I really wanted to go to the tip top, but there were lots of visitors and I didn't think I could ride my bike to the top like I did last time. Didn't want to waste energy pushing it to the top either. So, I headed back.
Very, very windy at the top and the descent down 128 wasn't all that fun. Wind blowing me over the road, the brakes were funny (front one has a bump or something and I didn't trust it), stopped to put on knee warmers and the rain jacket too. It was that chilly descending - but I was also soaked with sweat. Made it to the bottom of 128 and I could smell the brakes!!!!! Then it was a long & fast descent on the BRP, 2.5mi climb, descent, and one little climb to the Twin Tunnels and Hwy 80. I think all the descending would have been much more fun, if I had been trusting of the brakes....
Finally arrived back at the car at damn 6pm. Total time was 6:45hr which included all the stopping I had to do on the BRP and 128. Had to stop on the way back too - once to take off the warmers and stretch (getting cramp in right inner quad) and a couple times to just rest. Overall, I guess I'm pleased with the ride, but it was very hard. But, what should I expect when this is really the first major climbing I've done?? Everything else I've done recently has been miniscule (1800-2000' and 3500') compared to this ride. 7000' climbing (there and back).
Marion to the 3.5mi climb
44min, 413kJ, 173/158, 8.84mi, 73rpm, 12mph
Hwy 80 climb
41min, 425kJ, 173/172, 3.56mi, 54rpm, 5.2mph
BRP to Mt Mitchell entrance
1:47hr, 812kJ, 142/129, 11.63mi, 52rpm, 6.5mph
Hwy 128 to top
1:00hr, 436kJ, 132/126, 4.65mi, 46rpm, 4.6mph
Top to Marion
1:41hr, 334kJ, 107/56, 28.61mi, 58rpm, 16.9mph
5:55hr, 2422kJ, 145/116, 57.3mi, 55rpm, 9.7mph
Depending on the weather and how I feel, I may make another trip to Marion next weekend...I'd like to try it again, making sure that I've eaten well the days leading up to Saturday and maybe make sure I've got more fuel with me on the ride. I had 2 bottles of perpetuem, a gel, and 3/4 of a Hammer bar. Probably only 7-800 calories, plus the Coke.
Now, I have a 2hr ride with 3x hill repeats to do sometime today. I wonder how I will feel going up Jordan-Narron today after all the climbing I did yesterday? :)
Picture at the top (parking lot) from yesterday: