Mountains of Misery

You know, I’m probably the last to figure this out, but there’s a double entendre in “Mountains of Misery.” On the one hand we might understand it as the mountains in which or of which there is misery. But what just hit me is that it’s really MOUNTAINS [as in a-whole-heaping-lot-of] misery. To the right is the elevation profile via my cyclocomputer.
Don’t you love Mountain Lake?

I found a summary of my first Mountains of Misery ride — 2005. In fact my profile picture is me on the bike climbing Mountain Lake. Ouch! For your enjoyment, and my sentimentality, here’s the highlights:

  1. At about mile 20 we did a screaming descent into the small town of New Castle. I caught and passed so many people who would pass me again.
  2. At mile 28ish my four-ride-old rear tire flatted. I was carry an extra tube and was able to change my tire, but I lost probably 20 minutes. I couldn’t help but think, “‘Steelforme’ would be proud of me.”
  3. At about mile 60, we began a Cat 2 climb up John’s Creek Mountain. I did pretty well with my 12-27. My legs, though, were rubber for the next 20 miles. Just before the climb, a photographer from Birds Eye View was taking pictures. I asked him, “Can you make this any easier?” He said, “Stop peddling now.” So much for magic.
  4. At about mile 80, after a pretty cool descent on chip/seal roads, I thought I’d rub the gravel off my tires. (Having flatted already, I thought I was being smart). I laid my hand across my front tire — clean as a whistle. So, I thought I’d do my back tire. Incidentally, my seat tube and rear tire are a lot closer than my Trek 1100 (which is a sport touring frame). At any rate, I’m descending now at roughly 25mph with my left hand wedged in between my rear tire and seat tube (my hand was saved by my wedding ring and cycling glove) and my right hand struggling to maintain control of my erratically weaving velo. the cyclists I smugly bombed past on the descent, didn’t know whether to express concern or laugh.
  5. At about mile 94, we passed the New River which was sort of a red-neck Memorial Day vacation spot. I was verbally accosted by several women who seemed impressed by the figure I cut in my Lycra. “No time now Ladies, I’ve got a mountain to climb.”
  6. The climb up Mountain Lake was just as promised — miserable. About 2.5 miles into the climb, I was passed by none other than Mike “Heft on Wheels” Magnuson who blew passed me in his Team Mack kit all spry and perky. (He was finishing the double metric route — ouch!) I kept him in sight for a while but once the grade got over 8%, I couldn’t keep up. Halfway up the climb was the last rest stop. I heard one of the volunteers say it was only 1.3 miles to finish. I thought, “I can do anything for 1.3 miles.” Unfortunately it was TWO point three miles! I UAD’d (unauthorized dismount) within the last mile. People were dropping like flies. I thought I’d either have a heart attack or fall over. The thought of my wife carrying my body back to Winston or falling and scratching my new bike was more than I had the will to overcome. But I was able to finish on the bike and was smart enough to get back on the bike before the finish line and photographer could see me.
  7. I finished in the top half at 8 hours and 28 minutes. It took me 2 hours to do the last 17 miles, and I averaged 13.3 mph.

Four more days…

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