Saturday, July 17, 2010

de Gaps! de Gaps!

Well, really only one gap.  As you will also see evidence of this on the CLM blog and Barry's blog, I won't overdo it.

Next week is the (in)famous Hurt, Pain, & Agony ride and we're all stoked to hit it.  That said, we needed to hit some climbs longer than those we typically find between our front doors and Pilot Mtn.  Barry suggested to do part of the Tour de Gaps route and the idea stuck. 

Today, I found myself in a gravel parking lot beside Reeves Community Center in Mt. Airy at 8:00 am with Barry.  Mitch and Cisco were to arrive shortly to make our group a merry 4.  Our plan:  Hop on the Tour de Gaps route up to the top of Squirrel Spur (4 mile climb at around 7%, I would guess) and on to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Shortly after departing the parking lot, we crossed into a state known to be for lovers.
The roads to the bottom of Squirrel Spur were perfect for a morning ride.  Farmland as far as one could see, until one could see the Blue Ridge Mtns creep into the frame.  On the lower slopes of the climb, the humidity made itself truly known and we all began to sweat buckets.  Climbing around the first two corners, we could already see across the valley and back to the roads below.  At this point, Cisco increased the pace a bit and I latched on with my elastic band.

The climb up Squirrel Spur is actually very nice.  The grade is mild and the pavement very good.  Very little traffic exists here so you are indeed left to your thoughts and free from distraction.  Unless, of course, you are distracted by the worrying amounts of sweat leaving your body.  I did a little math and quickly surmized that I would run out of fluid on the way back.  Other distractions?  The sveltle cyclist in front of you dancing on the pedals and looking rather fresh.  True, he does not have a front derailleur on his bike and that is like, 70 grams, but surely that couldn't help him TOO much.  Or could it?

My previous experience on the climb helped as it is a steady, unrelenting grade.  Overcook it once, and it will nash its teeth into your cramping gastrocnemius.  Cisco and I regrouped at the top with Barry rapidly closing.  Impressive.  The descent was downright hair-raising and may have taked a few years off my life as I maxed out at 49 mph.  Not bad for a toothpick on wheels!

Apart from the wonderful friends on this outing, a key highlight was the stop at a corner store.  We grabbed some Gatorade and yes, some homemade fudge.  The woman behind the counter essentially convinced us to buy it and I am glad we did.  Yummy sugar goodness.
In summary:  Climbing was good, friends were better, and I think we're as ready as we can be for HPA.  Oh, and Mitch won the haybale climbing competition.  You should've seen him bunny hopping across that row!  Yee-haw!


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