Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 28 - Waving the White Flag

Today was another flagship day - crossing the Appalachians and boy it was not easy for this recumbent rider!

This morning was cool - to the tune of 50 degrees at the ride start and it was foggy again.  I elected to sag forward to the second sag stop since the first 30 miles had 4000 ft of climbing.  The total climbing for the day would exceed 10,000 ft.  Looking at the route card, I thought the section I chose to start with would be gently rolling and would get me warmed up for the big climb to the Virginia State Line.  Oh, was I wrong - gentle and Appalachians do not go in the same sentence.  I was climbing an 8% hill, or should I say bump in the road, at mile .8!  The only thing that kept my mind off of falling over was looking at the beautiful scenery.  The sun was shining through the trees and you could see the mountains that we would soon cross looming not too far in the horizon.  There was still a little fog hanging in the recesses between the mountain ridges.  Very peaceful.  We soon turned onto a little one lane road.  The road did have small gravel, smaller than a pea but bigger than sand, scattered over most of the surface.  As long as it wasn't deep, it did not pose a problem.  Otherwise, my tire could skid in it and cause me to fall.  As long as I was climbing, which was mostly at 4 mph, a fall would not hurt too bad, but if I were descending, a fall could end up hurting pretty badly.  So, I was more cautious on the downhills which robbed me of some momentum.  This section was very steep climbs of half a mile or more with switchback type rollers with really sharp turns and sudden pitches.  It wore me out!  Some of it was so steep, I had to just walk the bike.  I honestly did not think I would ever get off of this road and to the sag.  I think I was at mile 11 when I finally made it back out to the main road.  11 miles and it felt like I had been out there forever!  We had about a 4 mile downhill section and then we started another long climb.  This one jumped up to 7% in a big hurry.  I was able to ride for about a mile when it pitched a little higher and I just couldn't stay steady.  So I would walk for a little bit and then get back on the bike for a little bit.  This went on and I was prepared to continue this to the top when Tim J passed with the sag van!  Yeah!  I was never so glad to sag!  Although 7% doesn't sound too steep, I just couldn't keep it up.  So, I waved the white flag!  I surrendered!  Whoo Hoo!

I ended up sagging to the Virginia state line.  The climb was 7 or 8 miles and was steeper than my earlier climb.  Before I left the state line, I checked my stats.  17 miles, 8.5 mph, and 1765 ft of climbing - over 100 ft of climbing per mile - pretty tough.  So, from the state line we hit a really beautiful section of the Shenandoah National Forest - a very thick tunnel of tree covered road.

So, even though I did not get to ride as much of the climb as I wanted, I still feel that I did the best this flatlander could.  Steep is not my favorite, but it was very very beautiful and I am glad that I was able to climb as much as I did.

Congrats to all of the riders that did make the whole ride - it was not easy!

Foggy start in the  Appalachian Mountains

Barn of the day

View from the twisty steep pitchy one lane road.

Bob L at the top of the climb Tim J rescued me on

Tim J, a 24 year old mathematician and crew member from MN, at the Virginia state sign.

Blue butterflies

Tree lined Shenandoah National Forest

Tomorrow will be another climbing day - we will be going over the Blue Ridge Parkway and hopefully it will start to flatten out.


Rando Rob said...

I remember riding over the same hills that you did today, a couple of months ago on my own PACTour Transcon ride. These are some very tough climbs and probably the hardest day of riding on the whole trip. You described the scenary quite well, very beautiful and wild, including the fog in the morning. I sang 'Country Roads' to myself all day.

Congrats on getting through the worst of it. Only a little farther to go!

Nancy said...

The Appalachians are my most favorite place in the whole wide world. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth to me. The only place in Virginia I've ever been was the Roanoke area. Oh! I am covetting your time there, but the climb....not so much. Hills are my weakness, too. You're gonna have to take me to Vicksburg several times before my A race the end of Sept. The course it VERY hilly! It's hard to believe you will be home next week. We expect you back at the gym PRONTO!!! But, we'll give you a little respit. Girls night out just as soon as you are up to it! We must toast your accomplishment!

Enjoy the ride.....wheither it's on the bike or in the van! :o)