I've ridden these roads before, many times. Today I did it from a little different direction. The assault on the Carolinas is a benefit ride where the monies go to various charities in Transylvania county. It really turned out to be an awesome day for a ride, I'm glad I signed up. It didn't hurt that the metric century(ish) route included Hwy 178 from the NC side, and Caesars Head from the SC side.
There were about 800 riders present amongst the three rides (100k, 60k and 40k). Of course, I did the 100k ride to make sure I was able to get in the climbing. It was a great ride, a large pack lead the route for most of the ride. I dropped off the back on the first climb - a short but steep bump on Walnut Hollow Road. I hooked up with a number of guys and we set off in pursuit mode. Wouldn't you know it, we caught the pack just before they turned on to Hwy 178 (and more climbing).
I set my own pace up the climb, staying near some of the guys who chased back on with me. When we got to the Continental divide, a clydesdale got out front and started pushing the downhill pace. This happens to be an awesome descent, and when we went through a couple of turns, I could see that he wasn't quite as good in the turns as I am - you know I had to pass him!
The descent was AWESOME! I did have a couple of guys follow me into the first turn after passing the clydesdale, but by the 3rd turn, there was no longer anyone behind me! I love descending! Bending through the turns just makes me smile HUGE!
It flattens out a bit (well, it rolls really), and the group started to re-form. We rode a paceline until we got to the next descent section, and of course, I was by myself after a couple of turns. But of course, they caught me when the terrain went back to rolling. No problem, I fell in with the small pack (maybe 10 guys) and we went to work.
We could see the big pack ahead of us as we rode along hwy 288. We just about caught them as we started the ascent of Caesars head. I helped in the chase, but as we got close, I backed off a little as I knew they were going to leave me on the climb. Better to save what I could for the climb I thought.
Although the climb started around mile 42 (and 42 hard miles it was), I am still pleased with my 42ish minute ascent to the state park. A little slow compared to my best, but considering the terrain we had already covered, I feel good about it.
Some folks passed me on the ascent, and I passed some others. At the top, I ended up riding by myself for quite a number of miles. Just as we turned off of Hwy 276 on Barclay road, a small group of about 6 (who I had ridden with earlier in the ride) caught me. I grabbed on to their wheels and we rotated for the last several miles.
I feel pretty good about the 3hour, 21 minute time for the 65 miles that this ride covers. Me and a number of peeps rode hard and the climbing was tough. The organization of the ride, the volunteers and the SAG stops (although I didn't take advantage of them) were awesome!
I met a number of guys who had been riding in the area for the past week. This was their last ride before they got in their cars for the ride back to New Brunswick (Canada!). A bunch of great guys, who can really ride a bike.
Hard to beat a day like today. Hope everyone else had a great day as well.
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