I did it.
I cancelled my normal Saturday morning ride with the Sunshine guys so that I could take a ride with some friends along the route for the USACycling Pro Championship coming up in September. It is listed as a 21.9 mile ride, but I must have made a bad turn here or there (which I really think I did) because I ended up with a 22.8 mile trip.
At 8 a.m. I got a call from one of the guys that I was going to ride with to let me know that they had decided to cancel the ride due to rain. It wasn’t raining at that moment but it was threatening. It was too late to catch up with the Sunshine ride (later I learned they did not ride) and I had to decide if I really wanted to do this alone. By 8:45 a.m. I figured if I was going to do anything today, I had to do it.
I rode easily up to Main St. through Cleveland Park in order to warm up. It was about a 3.7 mile ride. The USACycling Pro Championships Road Race course awaited. I rolled off onto West Broad St. and then onto Buncombe St. Then things got confusing, but somehow I ended up on Old Buncombe Rd. The next stop would be Paris Mountain.
Seven miles later I was getting ready to turn on to Altamont Rd. The ride to that point almost seems flat, but if you look behind you — or look at the elevation profile — you will see that it is a constant climb. There isn’t any coasting. Then comes the turn to begin the REAL climb.
In three miles you climb nearly 1000 feet. There is little time to catch your breath on the way up. I averaged about 8 mph on the climb. My heart rate was in the high 70s and low 80s the whole time. It seemed like it went on forever! Finally, I reached the top.
Soon after cresting the mountain, I found my heart racing — but it wasn’t from exersion, it was from fright! There is a curve that comes up right when you feel you are on your way. It is a U-turn that warns you to stay at 15 mph. They aren’t lying!
I came into the curve a little hot and realized I wasn’t going to make it with my wet tires on the wet pavement. It became obvious when my rear tire went out from under me. I corrected and then fishtailed two more times before I got the bike under control — just avoiding running into a rail fense on the other side of the road.
Due to the wet conditions, I decided not to push it as I continued down the mountain. I maxed at about 40 mph. The rest of the ride to the bottom was uneventful.
I crossed State Park Rd. and started up Piney Mountain Rd. It really isn’t a mountain — more of a hill — and after doing Paris Mountain, it was a piece of cake. Then you take a little jog to the left onto 291 and then right onto Rutherford Rd. A left puts you on North Main St. This part of the ride was a relief after all the climbing. There was a lot of downhill in this section.
You then take a right onto Park Ave. and then your next left onto Richardson St. (or is it Townes St.?) which takes you to East McBee Ave. Take a right into Cleveland Park and take the high road around the park and you are ready to head back up West Broad St. to the finish line.
How do these riders do this five times?! I really feel like I could have done it one more time — but five, I don’t think so! Either way, I’m happy I did it. I’ve now put 342 miles on the bike in three weeks and cleared a mental hurdle by climbing the mountain.
Today’s Training Line:
The statistics for today are a little off. They only represent the time I spent doing the circuit. My total mileage for the day was 35.8 miles. I had hoped to do 40, but the rain was starting to get to me and it was lunch time.
Distance: 22.80 miles / Average Speed: 15.4 mph / Time: 1:33:05
Average Heart Rate: 156 bpm / Level 5: 0:35:15* / Work: 1994**
* Level 5 is the time heart beats between 165 and 183 bpm
** Comparative number to measure exertion during different sessions
Data collected by Sports Instruments ECG Pro 7 heart rate monitor and Cat Eye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer