2007 Blood, Sweat and Gears lived up to to the promises. Here’s the Good Doctor’s account:
Getting to the line early. 0700. Good call.
I probably burned way too many matches getting up Shull’s Mill. My heart rate was 180+ for some 17 minutes (that’s well above threshold for me). My legs would protest that effort the rest of the ride and the next day. The lure of riding with a fast group after Shull’s was too great of a temptation.
After Shull’s, I got on with the second group. The lead group was supposedly some 30 strong. The second group had a good 20 riders in it initially. As we passed through Blowing Rock we took the initial right and then came to the second light that had someone there controlling traffic. A vehicle was stopped in each lane and the volunteer signaled for the riders to come around them and through. Unfortunately, the vehicle in the left lane thought the volunteer was motioning to it and turned left right in front of us. We were far enough back and moving slowly enough that nobody hit the car. Sheesh. The guys in front of me were pushing so hard as we left Blowing Rock that they almost went right by the left turn. Given the climb on that road, I was tempted to keep my mouth shut and just keep riding. Reason took over and I yelled ‘Left Turn’ in time for them to brake and make the turn. I still had to push my heart rate back up above threshold on all these climbs to hang on to this group.
Once we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway our group started to pick up a few riders that got shucked from the lead group. I watched one rider get pulled by the Park Rangers for crossing the yellow line. Several more riders had their numbers called out for doing the same. They did not seem to mind the pack riding as much as crossing the yellow line. There may be some fallout for next year’s ride.
What was a 1/4 mile gravel road stretch doing in the middle of a road ride? I can’t remember if this was before or after Snake Mountain, but it sure was an interesting obstacle.
Somewhere near Meat Camp Road, about 53 miles in, I lost contact with the second group and rode alone until the top of Snake Mountain. The climb was tough, but even with tired legs it did not seem as bad as I remembered. At the top of Snake there were a few riders that I hoped to be able to ride with after the descent. I was careful on the descent and at the end was able to get into a group of about 5 riders. The little group grew to about 7 just before George’s Gap. Sadly, my legs couldn’t give me enough to keep up with this little band up the gap and I ended up riding alone most of the remainder of the ride. The descent of George’s had a couple of 180 degree switchbacks that required quite a bit of slowing.
On the climb up to 321 a small group of riders caught me. I rode with one or two of them on 321. I was behind one of them when he hit a pothole and I watched as his rear wheel was obviously out of true afterwards. I mentioned that I thought he’d popped a spoke and he fell back to check his wheel. As I climbed Mast Gap I was still holding out hope that I’d be able to break 5:30. When I got to the 1 mile marker my watch was reading 5:27 and change. I jumped on the pedals and did my best to get in before 5:30. I was fortunate to be able to get in just under 5:30 by cooking that last mile.
I hurt today more than I did after Misery or Mitchell. I attribute the pain to Shull’s Mill Road. There has got to be a better way.