Thursday, September 29, 2005

Super Sally Part 1

You would have thought there was gold in them hills by the way Sally rode Bridge to Bridge mountain century with a sub-6 hour time. Several of us including Sally trekked down to Lenoir, NC last weekend to take on one of the epic rides of the season. This timed event is one of those events that organizers constantly say is "not a race" even though they time the event, publish "winners" and have a mass start of about 900 riders. Some of us try to play it like we are not all into the timed aspect of it, but with 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing, it is way too exciting not to be competitive. The last 2 miles takes us up Grandfather Mountain which has an 18-20% grade.

As usual, there was only bone on the start line. A big part of ending with a good time is to stay with the lead group on the first 50 miles of rollers. I hung on tight that first 50 and noticed Sally was still in the lead group of about 200 riders also. She had never completed the whole 100 since it was cut short last year. That worked into my strategy to, well, beat her to the top, since I knew very much what to expect for the final 50 of climbing since I have finished the event at least 7 times.

I could tell by the way Sally started up the first major climb (13 miles up) that I was not going to out climb her. Simply put, she dropped me hard. But being older and presumably wiser, I thought I could outsmart her. I decided in my sick mind not to stop at all for the whole ride. I carried my own food, and the volunteers are great about giving race-like feeds at the rest stops, so I took Gatoraid feeds on the bike from all the stops. I had announced to Sally the day before that I would be stopping briefly twice, so I figured she would stop at least twice and that I would sneak past her as she refueled.

I rode like mad once on the Blue Ridge Parkway portion. I hooked on a 5-person train, and at mile 75, I finally caught Pete, Sally's dad. I should have known at that point that I would not catch Sally since Pete has not been able to catch Sally for the past year though he tried in that famous Ft. Story chase that left him with a broken clavical. I pushed on though, determined. I even stripped so you know I was serious. At mile 90, I passed Justin as he was leaving a rest stop. Surely Sally was now behind me if I was with Justin! I actually slowed down from mile 90-98, not because I wanted to, but because exhaustion had set in and I felt my goal was secure. Justin climbed out of my sights.

At the bottom of Grandfather Mountain mile 98, Kelle was on the sideline egging us on. He called out for me to catch Justin, and I casually called out, "Has Sally passed?" Kelle called back, "Oh, yeah, long time ago." The GF climb was the familiar 20 minutes of torture, especially since I knew Sally would be at the top all happy, looking down on my suffering self pushing up that last portion. She did an unbelievable 5:58 and I finished 6:18. She finished only 100 yards behind Ethan which is a total scream. So many other great performances by Pete, Mark, Robert, Lori, Steph, Janice, Woodhouse, Wild Bill, Austin, Tom F, Ethan. Mechanicals claimed Tim, Kelle, Nick and Frank. Convoying, shuttling and eating with everyone brought on the usual "what happens in --- stays in ---" (lyrics above by Marshall Tucker Band)


JB said...

Great write up and ride. Congrats to all finishers. Especially Sally - you go girl. Glad to know other folks were sufferin' while I was that weekend. So when do we hear Part 2?

Another verse of that song might apply to that last climb:

"They say heavens at the end but so far it's been hell!

Liz Schleeper said...

Indeed, John. I was trying to do a write up with the 1st lyrics describing Sally and the heaven-hell ones describing me but it just got too complicated for a darn blog.