Sunday, May 24, 2009

Assault on Caraway Mountain

Mitch, Scott, Rob and I headed out for G'boro Saturday afternoon for a "60-ish" mile ride from Revolution Cycles. Watts Dixion was organizing this one, and for only $10 we got a neat ride with a good climb, post-race food and Hummingbird ale (in growlers!) and a chance at some cool raffle prizes. On to the fun...

With a 1pm start time, it seemed auspicious from the beginning. We finally rolled out with a smallish peloton around 1:15 and immediately there was trouble. In addition to navigating city stoplights and traffic, a rider had two flats within the first 3 miles. Better than this, no one brough along sufficient supplies to fix it and keep going! We had to wait for the SAG waggon to bring a tire pump for the poor guy. Now, at 1:45, we were finally off and running.

After a slow pace in the city, the illuminati (cuz they knew where we were going) started to pick up the pace. Unfortunately, these guys loved to hammer and yo-yo vs. keep a steady pace. More than once we'd speed up a hill just to get to a stop sign and come to a complete halt with heartrates in the 160s. Eeesh.
Nevertheless, we arrived on the slopes of Caraway Mountain (which some had said was "like Pilot") with a small group up front. I was dangling on the back of this crowd, but again, not knowing the route or climb, I was hesistant to go 100%. By the way, I should add here that the first person to the top of the climb was guaranteed a sweet $140 Cane Creek headset. I was in the market...

Market or not, I wimpishly slipped off the back as the group turned for the summit. This section was just ridiculous. I heard one guy say the grade was 22% for nearly 1/2 mile. I'm not sure I believe that, as it was more like two steeps and a plateau in between, but on a standard crankset and with 30 disorganized miles in the legs already, it was quite painful. I ended up 6th to the summit with Mitch and Scott right there as well. I hear the guy who won was 13th at Mt. Mitchell last year. Again, eesh.

We took a quick break and then made for home. Here is where it got really hard. Again, the ride leaders were just hammering...over hills, down hills, but relatively easy on the flat. Our group splintered at mile 41 or 42 as we just lost interest in (and energy for) that kind of punishment. We formed a grupetto of 4, with a strong female rider from California. We rolled in pretty steady, but were a good 15 minutes behind the hammerheads. Rumor has it they took a shortcut back to the bike shop...

Despite all of this, there was great food at the post-race event. Chicken, corn, hot dogs, and growlers of beer. Nice. Oh, and Scott was cool and gave me the coffee he won in the raffle!

Now, what about that 3 Mountain Madness?

I think my facial expression says it all.

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