The start was unusually chilly, but I was not complaining. The weather fore casted a perfect day to ride. The first 15 miles was pretty neutral and my legs were happy with that. In the past two weeks leading up to this, I had logged some hard miles. For me today was all about pushing through fatigue and finding that zen.
|Party pace roll out. Photo Cred: Jimmy Deane|
David Goggins, an ex Navy Seal and motivational speaker, has a 40% rule that I am struggling to embrace, but bound and determined to by September 23.
When you think that you are done, you are only 40% into what your body is capable of doing; that is just the limit we put on ourselves.
Once we turned onto the gravel, the pack broke up pretty quickly, as the road rose to the heavens. I found my groove and stayed in it for the 4 1/2 mile climb, where, at times, I saw 18% grade. Jimmy Deane (not of sausage fame) went up the gravel like a scalded pig. I kept Don in my sight and used him as my pacer.
The legs were ok at the pace I was pushing, but there was definitely no sparkle. At the top, Jimmy and Don had stopped to wait on the rest. I kinda wished they hadn't, but not wanting to be a douche, stopped as well. Today wasn't really a race, but more of a group ride. Over the next 10 minutes, the others trickled in.
The descent off the backside was super fun. With the previous days' rain, the road was tacky and traction was superb! Towards the bottom, it turned into pavement. Still bombing the descent, just behind Jimmy, we almost became a hood ornament when a blue haired person in a mini van approached us, careening left and right across the road. Thank goodness for disc brakes and quick reflexes! I don't know if the person was drunk or having a stroke.
Once onto Hwy 143, I was treated to a bit of a head wind. This road rolled steadily uphill, with a few small curvy descents to keep it fun. The first rest stop was at the Snowbird picnic area. I quickly refilled my bottles and motored on. Some stopped longer, but I knew my body needed to just keep moving.
With my Garmin timer set every 15 minutes, I made sure to drink and take in some calories. Just before we hit the second section of gravel, FS 81, the road pitched upwards. I was hoping that I would not have to use the 40% rule until I hit the 3rd and final gravel climb of the day, but it was on the 9 mile climb up the gravel that I had to embrace the suffering.
Thankfully, the road was in perfect condition, unlike last year when it was so dry and loose that I could not stand without spinning out. Today, climbing up to the Skyway crossing I alternated between sitting and standing. Halfway up, Hill Billy made an amazing pass. Good gawd, he was flying like he was on a moto! Apparently those weekly group shop rides with the young bucks had paid off!
|His kit was dialed! Photo cred: Jimmy Deane|
At the top was the second rest stop. Wayne and Jimmy were already there and I rolled in with Don. Once again, we waited on the others. I learned a valuable lesson right here. After 20 minutes, we finally rolled out onto the North River Road descent. Most of it was so steep, there was no need to pedal. By the time it leveled out and I had to re engage the legs, they were nowhere to be found. Apparently they thought the ride was over at the Skyway and so had completely ... shut ... down.
The struggle up River Road was real. Fortunately, Don was feeling just as bad. Together we agonizingly made our way to the final gravel climb, Harshaw Gap. The first mile or so of this climb is pavement, which helps when it pitches to 15%. When the tires hit the gravel, my legs had finally decided to come back to life. I enjoyed the rolling nature of this climb. With so much traction, I didn't have to scrub too much speed in the corners and could carry momentum up small inclines.
|Harshaw switchbacks of death! Photo cred: Jimmy Deane|
Plummeting off the backside of Harshaw, I found my smiley face again. Once I hit pavement, I still had 11 miles to go, but now the legs were at least firing on 6 of 8 cylinders. Most of the pavement was still downhill, but there were a few short but vicious climbs we had to "oomph" over.
I was glad to see the final left hander back to the start. 6:14 moving time, but the real kick to the body was the 6:54 elapsed time. No wonder my legs were cranky! Although I enjoyed getting to know everyone better, next time I will save the banter for the end. So, in the future, if I don't stop, it is not that I am a "dickette," but that I have the engine of an old Massey Ferguson tractor: once I get it going, I gotta get it done!
I definitely put the 40% rule into effect on this one. Thanks Wayne for making it happen. Now that there has been 10 editions, the CC has got to keep going.