Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Blue Ridge Challenge

This ride is NOT for the faint hearted!, screams Bike Washington.

Some of my tri-peeps set up this group ride for Labor Day. I waffled. Am I fainthearted? I don't think so. I think I am realistic. I like to push myself, but within reason. I'd asked a few folks who have done this ride and who know my abilities to give me their candid opinions, and got some candid answers.

So, I came up with an Alternative Ride, open to anyone who wasn't sure they were up to the full Mt. Weather experience.

The Alternative Ride would start at the same place as the Big Kids (Marshall, Va.), and go 23 miles through beautiful rolling country to Bluemont, the start of the first big climb. We'd decide when we got there whether we wanted to go ahead or not.

See Bluemont?

Only one person took me up on my offer, my tri-peep, Supersnail. S. and I took off together, about 1/2 hour after all the Big Kids left. We were out to have fun.

Even the flat part of this ride is hilly. But I managed every single hill. Thank God for the granny gear, which I renamed the testosterone gear, because I PERSONALLY KNOW SOME GRANNIES WHO CAN KICK YOUR ASS.

Just had to get that out there.

S., on the other hand, who is about the size of a minute, had no granny gear. She only had two chain ring thingies in front. So that automatically confers hardcore-ness on S.

We had a simple rule on our no-drop ride: Whoever was in front would wait at the next turn for the person behind. That way no one had to slow down or speed up for the other person, but no one would ever be left alone. Perfect-o!


We made it past mansions, and roadkill, and vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, farms, horses, cows, all the way to the General Store in Bluemont, where we stopped for water . And where, much to our surprise, as we were contemplating our next move, our favorite tri-peep J. came riding up to us, back from the group tackling Mt. Weather


"Ut-oh," I said as J. approached. "Tell us! How bad is it??" Like he was coming back from the front lines. Which he kind of was.

So he told us it was hard. And if big strapping J. thought it was hard, err, what did that portend for us??

Nevermind, we decided to press on, to at least go up the first big hill out of town, and what's more, as a cruel joke, we were taking J. with us. He'd have to climb it again!

The first hill started about 2 miles past the General Store, just past the Ice Cream Store.

Holy. Mother. of. God.

We started up. I had been trying the shift up/stand up (hey that sounds like a Bob Marley song!) shift down/sit down routine advocated in this article. I had been trying to keep a good cadence throughout the ride. My only goal now was to not fall over and to keep going forward.

J. and S. started up, then stopped. I went past them in slow motion, asking J. if I should stop for a while. He said, laconically, "Probably." (He's a man of few, but carefully chosen, words.) But I knew if I stopped I'd never get going again, so I pushed on.

Holy. Mother. of. God.

I kept going. I kept going. I dug deep. I kept going.

I have no idea how I made it up that hill, but I did. At the top there's a hairpin turn so you have no idea that you are actually at the top until you take the turn. Once I turned I started laughing and let out a yell, "I made it!!!" I was so happy!

I sailed up to the start of the next big leg, Rt. 7, a major highway, waited, and watched. A few other cyclists sailed by me, heading up to Mt. Weather, the biggest hill. J. and S. soon joined me and we took this fantastic photo of all three of us


We hung out for a while, wistfully talking about proceeding up the main attraction, how hard would it be, could we do it? But we talked ourselves out of it. Another day. We'd done a lot. And J. did it TWICE!

We turned and flew down the monster hill to the other Main Attraction: the Ice Cream Store.


To make a long long story short, we hung out for a while at a store right out of the Waltons (Me: "This is right out of the Walton's!" S: "Huh?" J:"What's the Walton's?" Sigh, nevermind.) then hopped on our bikes for the long hilly ride home. It was long, and beautiful, and funny. We sang songs, and joked about how hell is an endless uphill in Virginia. We laughed so hard we cried. We flew down hills through little towns and we worked on our hill-climbing skills.

We learned what we were made of.

We celebrated Labor Day in style.

Post ride:
My BFF Supersnail far right.

P.S. Photos to come!


21stCenturyMom said...

Congratulations on making a big hill - woot!

As for that article - I have NEVER heard anyone yell "STANDING!" and I climb every weekend. Also - you breath however you breath. Lesson - listen to ME not to dumb articles on the internet. Just sayin'

a.maria said...

aw, sounds like a friggin fantastic ride!! well done!

a.maria said...

and yeah i just read the article... nobody ever yells "standing".

but i'd pay money to see you do it!! ;)

peter said...

Looks like it was a nice ride.

Thomas said...

You're a trooper, Jeanne. Well Done!

Janice said...

Congratulations on the ride. Two weeks ago a couple of us did this and I was hesitant but made the BRC. So glad I did! Though I was promised a vista at the top of Mt Weather and all I saw was a big chain link fence and trees on the opposite side. This is definitely not a ride for the faint hearted - regardless of whether you do the first hill or all of them.
One other note to keep in mind for the future, when you descent on the opposite side and are cruising around near the naked mountain winery, the road is really jacked up - I had to slow down for fear of crashing. My forearms got a workout at that point.

Lesser is More said...

Glad to hear you survived and lived to tell about it! When I get a chance in the coming weeks, I'm going to make sure to give that ride a go.

eileen said...

Let us know when you plan on doing the English Channel Challenge.
You. Never. Cease. To. Amaze. Me.

Dori said...

Good job! But then, you are a marathoner, therefore you can do anything. I especially liked all the pictures. :-)

ShirleyPerly said...

Wow, great job on a tough ride! I wish there were more really steep long hills around where I am. I say that because there aren't any and don't know the pain I'm missing ;-)

PS - Cool that you too have been asked to try the Mission products.

Runner Susan said...

Holy. Mother. of. God. Hee.

Excellent ride Jeanne! How is your crotch feeling now?

Vickie said...

Good going on that ride! I've pretty much gotten to the point where I would rather go by myself rather than get dropped on those kinds of rides.

SuperSnail said...

Yeah, thats pretty much how it happened.

You rocked Jeanne. Watching you make it up that hill was inspiring.

zandria said...

"NOT for the faint hearted!" Sounds pretty intense. But if anyone can do it, it's you! :)

Rainmaker said...

Very nice! I sniff a half-iron in your future...

Susan said...

YOU are HARDCORE, woman!

Supersnail is about 30 seconds...

Judi said...

BIG CONGRATS!!! See what the power of positive thinking does for you? And the thought of ice cream? YEA!!

Rae said...

Way to go!!! And I love the new term testosterone gear!!!!!