I'm looking at the calendar and I see we have exactly three weeks to go before we depart for Austin. I am really getting stoked about this trip! In the last few days, I logged 174 miles on my bike. This is to be our last long mileage weekend. From here we'll taper the mileages down to give our bodies some recovery time. The theory is that we'll fully recover over the next three weeks and be as strong as we are going to be when we leave from Greenville Memorial Hospital.
This weekend actually started for me on Thursday when I took a day off to climb Caesar's Head. It was a great ride and I really love the climb. I'm going to be looking for some other long climbs like that one, although I may not have a chance to ride them before our trip.
The next long ride was a night ride scheduled for 80 miles starting at 8pm Friday evening. Jeni, Perry, Taylor and I decided to log an extra 21 miles before the rest of the P3C3 team arrived. This of course so we would have a full century on the night - we would meet at 6pm.
It was raining pretty hard when I arrived at the Donaldson parking area a few minutes before our 6pm meet time. I was not looking forward to starting off in a hard rain, but we got lucky and it really let off as we waited for Jeni to arrive. I think she brought us good vibes because it let up just about the time she arrived.
We did the short Donaldson route at a pretty easy pace. Perry and I played around a little on some of the hills by pushing the pace, but mostly it was a relaxing ride. It took us a little over an hour and when we returned to the cars, the P3C3 group was assembling and getting ready to ride.
Of course, with an 8pm start time, it was dark when we left Donaldson. I won't even try to repeat the entire route from memory, but I did recognize the route for about the first 20 miles or so. Once we got to Possum Kingdom, we hung a right and headed into unknown territory (for me anyway).
One significant thing that came from this night ride - it was pretty surprising for me too. We saw at least 4 live snakes warming themselves on the pavement. One of them was a very large copperhead. I think Perry ran over that guy! Jeni also ran over at least one, and I about took Perry out (Sorry Perry!) when I swerved to miss a smaller snake later in the night. That is more snakes than all I have seen while out on my mountain bike - that's the surprising part for me! No-one was bitten, so they just provided some heebie-jeebies that eventually turned into laughter.
It was a fun ride. At one point, we did a brief stop where Joe and Big John decided to hop into the SAG vehicle. Tedd tells us - just a little ways up here and make a right on Dairy Road. Ok, so Dustin puts on his afterburners and takes off the front. I hold near him just so no-one is riding by themselves. We keep looking for Dairy Road, but alas, it doesn't come. The group comes back together and Jeni, Perry, Jerry and I were up towards the front. Tedd says 'just a little bit up the road'. Still, no Dairy road.
It continued this way for a number of miles - finally we stop at another stop sign and Tedd once again says 'Just a little bit more and then on the right'. So, we go a little bit - no Dairy Road. A little further, still no Dairy Road. Finally we smell the Dairy farm and we come to the intersection of Dairy Road. It was pretty funny. We had a good laugh about that 'just a little further'....
At one point, we turned left at a stop sign - Tedd calls out 'Look for [whatever] road on the right'. Ok, so off we go. Jeni, Perry, Jerry and I end up off the front a bit and I was out there leading the way. We're riding and riding...no [whatever] road. We keep riding and riding some more - maybe about 3.5 miles or so before we come to the intersection of Hwy 252. We stop and the others are not far behind us. Turns out we missed the turn. Seemed like our SAG team of Jennifer and Kim did realize the mistake and had managed to stop some of the group, but the rest of us were further ahead. They caught us right as we turned around.
So, what happened is we should have turned right at that stop sign. No biggie really, so we got a few extra miles in. We got back on track and continued our ride.
As we began to get back into recognizable territory, light batteries were wearing down and the rain started picking up. We still had 20 miles to go and it came down on us pretty hard for a while. I stopped to put my rain jacket on at one point - it was actually pretty cool once you got wet.
It rained on us for something just under an hour maybe - I don't really know how long. It did let up as we rode up Reedy Fork road. Perry and I once again played around on those rolling hills with our little friendly competition. He hammered me a few times, I hammered right back. It was really fun.
As we turned onto Perimeter road, we thought we would be heading with the wind. And we did for about 1/4 mile - then it became a crosswind that was quite hard when we went around the end of the runway! Perry and Jerry had gone off the front while Jeni and I rode together. Screaming something about Wind (and FIRE!). It was a fun ride with really good people. Perry, Jeni and I ended with something around 107.5 miles.
Saturday night we had a big dinner at Ron's place. It was fun, although it rained cats and dogs almost all night. There was lots of good food and of course the camaraderie. Ron and several others talked about the trip logistics, plan, etc. We'll depart from the Hospital at 3pm on the 18th. We have to arrive 2 hours prior to get some photos taken and other last minute things completed.
Throughout the night, the energy was really high. Everyone was in good spirits (and it wasn't because of the spirits either!). It was really nice to have a number of Veterans there (folks who did the ride last year). They shared some really good insights with us rookies. I left Ron's house really excited - and if you've been keeping track of my blogs about this event - this is part of the reason I changed my plans and joined this team.
3 years ago