Really wanted to continue my mountain training and DMac put together an informal ride from his cabin in Landrum. Ended up being 13 of us, with local legend and current NRC ranked #5 in the nation, our very own, R Farina. Joined by ChrisS, Lars, ChrisD, Hardy, Andy, Addy, Meredith, MariAnn, Rachel, David and DMac.
Started out fine, fairly mellow, warm and talkative bunch. I felt surprisingly good. Our first real climb was Hog Pen, about 5-1/2 miles in length - not steep, but just kept coming. To be honest, Rachel and Robin set tempo for a few miles. I thought I could help out, came through, started setting tempo and a half mile later popped like a cannon and that was pretty much the story of my day. It really got no better even though on occasion I thought it would because of the flats and downhills that I could power through. But at each climb I started with the lead group and always found a place to pop again, usually early on.
I was so far off the back on the big climbs that I couldn't even see folks in front, which took the pain and frustration out of the mix. I was able to make my way up, over and the waiting pack was ready to motor on. I have to say, I couldn't have had better company with Meredith, but not because she is slow, but because she has been off her bike and doing quite a bit of running. Going back to her roots I see. And for the record, she coached me up the Green River and Old Camp Indian climbs. Green River was absolutely brutal with 19 switchbacks, plenty of traffic coming down, dirt, gravel and plenty of debris.
Made it up over Old Camp Indian (barely) and almost home, but knowing full well that Dmac's driveway awaited me (it is a magnificent ending to a tortuous ride including very steep incline and a couple of switchbacks). The big talker that I am, I was ready for the challenge, of course, until I stopped pedaling from all the freaking cramping and quickly unclipped, lay on my back and knew the day was over with 75 miles. I didn't mind pushing that freaking Fuji up the driveway. Day over... my worst mountain ride in ages, but couldn't ask for a more beautiful day to ride my bike and have some of the best company a man can keep.