Chum and Red signed up to do Blood, Sweat, and Gears. No Famous Leo this year. Instead, Chum and Red were set to meet up at the start. Red arrived at 6:15 for the 7:30 start, and it was just in time. The cars started rolling in right after, and it was bumper to bumper. The weather was cool, and though a little cloudy and foggy, it began to clear just as he arrived. Chum arrived early enough, but check in and parking was a pain. He almost missed finding a parking space.
Rule Number 1. Arrive early. Carpool if you can. Parking is a premium.
Chum and Red arrived at the start line in front of Valle Crucis school, and it was packed. Red heard a rumor that his brother-in-law was at the start and was planning on riding the half-century. Red couldn’t find him though.
Red was not feeling too great. Nervous stomach? He didn’t sleep well either. Chum on the other had had said that the Chumettes were a little sickly too. Something in the air?
We headed out down to 105 and over to Shulls Mill Rd. The climb up Shulls Mill went as expected. Red climbed harder than he should’ve. Chum, faithful friend, stayed with Red and paced him up to the Parkway. The ride out through Blowing Rock, up the Parkway to Idlewild was to be as expected. Riders passed Red on the climbs; Red passed them on the descents. He was feeling a little worse.
By the time they made it to Railroad Grade road and the rest stop at 40 miles. Red was hurting. He didn’t drink enough, and he had er, an emergency. Red hadn’t felt this bad on BS&G sine his first ride in 05 after having eaten a certain high volume, low quality pizza joint. Good thing he ate there the previous night. Endurox and and calamari? Der Jan knows how bad it can be.
Rule 2: Don’t eat at Cici’s the night before a big ride. Don’t eat out for that matter. Just bland normal food will do.
Big Hill Road, 194, then the Ramblers turned right at Meat Camp where they began the climb up Snake Mt. Chum was feeling cheeky, and it didn’t seem he and Red were going to make the 7 hr goal. (They might’ve had Red not spent so much time at the previous rest stop). Here’s the last Red saw of Chum climbing Snake. It was further up and further in for Chum as he motored to the finish.
Red on the other hand is a big diesel — not unlike a a big dump truck. He put it in the low gear and did the squat lunges all the way up Snake. He did the obligatory “snake” swerve to combat the 18% at the top. And he’s glad to say he made it without stopping or walking. Red actually passed people on this climb, but only because he wasn’t walking. Apocalyptic is all he can say about it. Granted it’s not as hard overall as some climbs, but it was hard enough with the bête noire.
Once he was over the top he passed a petite femme of a cyclist who had passed him on the climb. As she saw him accelerate past him on the descent — as he always does, she said surprised, “You made it!?” Yeah, yeah. He made it.
The rest of the ride was uncomfortable. Red made it over the Col du Tennessee and down into Trade. He made it to old US 421. He caught, passed, pulled a group to the rest stop at Cove
Creek. Red was done, and he was thinking he was bonking.
Rule Number 3: Drink and eat early. Oh yeah, and eat the gels you’ve been carrying for the last 70 miles, stupid.
What to do? George’s Gap? Bethel? 321? He didn’t have it today. Red made an executive decision. Executive Order number: He ain’t gonna do George’s Gap. Instead he’ll cut off the 13 mile loop and save himself for wherever he comes out. Bethel? 321? and then Mast Gap and the finish. Was it a good move?
Rule Number 4: It’s only a quarter of a mile past the George’s Gap turn, and 421 dumps you right into 321 at Mast Gap. If you’re feeling bad. Take the shortcut.
Red climbed Mast Gap and made it to the finish, and not too poorly. He saved himself an unknown but most likely worse fate. And the look on Chum’s face as Red cheered him to the finish was well worth it.