Two of my favorite conditions to NOT ride a bike in and that's just what I was seeing as I drove to Brevard NC Saturday morning for the Assault on the Carolinas. Rain in large quantities fell all the way until I got to about 7 miles from Brevard and it suddenly stopped. Not only did it stop, it had not rained at all. Cool.
I got there and got ready, filling bottles with Heed and Perpetuem, pumping tires and having no idea what I was about to endure. I learned that my wingman for the day, Bob Lamberson, was on the DL (I knew it must have been bad. Bob is as hardcore as they come) so I would be flying the singlespeed flag solo. I wasn't sure how things would go as I am still new to riding a singlespeed on the road. I have been riding them off-road for years but there is a few differences from that and on the road. Group riding on the road is very hard. My gearing is 42X16 and that's good for about 23 mph on flat ground and me spinning about 120-130 rpms. Most decent pacelines on flat ground are going around 25-27mph. On climbs, unless they are very steep, I can make up alot of ground to geared bike roadies but back on the flats, I can't hang very good.
Then comes the fabled climb of Cesar's Head. I had heard alot of things about this climb and how bad it was. That and the fact that it it came 40 miles in had me a little worried.
Self doubt runs deep in my family.
I did pretty good for the first dozen miles until we came to this 1/2 mile climb called Mt Smacknthenuts. (I don't think that was the real name but it should be). I wasn't even warmed up yet and this thing was in the neighborhood of 10-12 percent. It hurt. After that, I rode alone for the next 30 miles which included several climbs and
The rain came a few miles before the turn for the 60K ride. I wasn't to concerned with the rain, it was the lightning that bothered me. Still I took my chances and turned for the 100K (I later found out a lot of people chose the opposite) and began a fairly long climb. About a mile into the climb, the rain turned Biblical. There was hard, hard rain, wind, some hail. When the lightning flashed I'd count 1......2......3...... and wait for the thunder. My threshold was 3, if it got that close I was crawling under something.
It never did.
The rain continued through the 30mph descent on the other side of that climb and it was cold. I saw people under porches, in barns. Tempting as it was, I wasn't going to stop. I have learned from riding in this crap that if you stop, you might as well quit. You get cold and your body just says hell no. As it was, after the long descent in the rain, I found myself on some really bumpy roads in South Carolina and my legs felt like tree trunks. Every climb I came to hurt and I wondered if there was anyone left on the road ahead of me.
There was and I started catching them. This was good for my morale and I started having fun again. At the base of the climb up Cesars Head, I caught up with Michael Ritter and Paul Windsor and it was nice to see some familiar faces. I rode the climb really conservatively. I had heard so much about it that I was a little intimidated so I didn't want to blow up before the top. Plus over the top there was still 15 miles of unknown to go. I took it easy. It turned out that the climb, although hard and steep in a few places, wasn't that bad. I have ridden worse. It took me about 40 minutes to get to the top and then I was rewarded with 15 miles of
Yep the remaining miles to the end were mostly down. It was nice. I rolled across the finish in about 4:11 and immediately got dry and some warm food.
I was happy to have stuck it out and finished. Mentally and physically it was a nice boost. Getting the singlespeed was probably the best addition to my training for the year as I can now train on the road and be very close to the kind of riding I do off-road in regard to physical and mental stress. Plus in riding crap like the AOTC, I don't have to worry about messy clean-ups. Just wash, lube and go.
Thus ends my "spring training" so to speak. Next for me is steady rides during the next couple of weeks but also paying attention to rest for the Cohutta 100.