Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mad Mission

(right, Stacy comes from behind at the foot of John's Creek Mountain outside Blacksburg, VA. Photo source: birdseyeview.net)

“Timed to perfection” as Phil Liggett would say. I reported last year that Stacy passes me on Mountains of Misery Century at exactly the same location every year. It’s bizarre that over a 100-mile stretch that takes 7 hours, the same 2 people of 550 show up in exactly the same spot every year. What makes it even more weird is that this exact spot is the only location where the photographer sets up. I really did not think it could happen exactly the same again, so in this photo, I did not know she was approaching. St-raaange.

I pedaled to this point thinking Stacy was already up the road. We had ridden parts of the first 40 miles together, but our riding styles are so different that we never stayed together long. She nailed the long climbs and blasted down the descents, leaving me, whereas I broke from her on the flats and did not make early pit stops. I had last seen her at mile 40 when she and the eventual women’s winner Flauvia left my tail on a steep climb. I pedaled squares and felt lead legs as they crested the hill in perfect motion. But I must have passed her back at a rest stop.

The thing about this pass Stacy makes at the photographer is that it is a permanent pass, the one that seals the day. She probably puts 5 minutes on me during this epic switchback climb up John’s Creek Mountain, and I never can make up that time for the remaining 40 miles. She steals more time on the final hour-long climb up to Mountain Lake at the end. She finished this year 6:50 and I had a PR of 7:03.

BJ cursed me by telling me ahead of time, “Get a song in your head!” Patty Griffin’s Mad Mission attached to my brain and reverberated there for most of the 7 hours.

This is my sixth year up those mountains, and I need to say while the wounds are fresh that it’s a grisly 100 miles. Misery organizers say that there is 10,000 feet of climbing, but for the same effort (and comparable fitness) that I put into 10K feet of climbing at Bridge to Bridge, this ride takes me an hour longer. It is more along the lines of Mount Mitchell which also advertises 10K feet of climbing. It’s hard for me to gauge Mt. Mitchell though because each of the 5 times I did that, something would always go wrong to delay my finish time (mechanicals, crashes). Everyone I know who has done all three says Misery is the hardest.

Can’t say enough about how incredibly well organized the event is. James really puts his heart into this one, and this year he even brought Bob Roll into town Friday night. Lori, Dag, McMahon and I did not arrive into town until Saturday, but it sure is great to know that Bob Roll made his first Virginia appearance, thanks to James making it happen.

Dag, I am learning, is one who demands loyalty of others and appears equally willing to give it. He and McMahon got a little lost while looking for our post ride restaurant in Waynesboro, so Lori and I had already ordered. The second he walked in the front door, Dag (3rd generation Italian-American) said he could smell good Italian cusine, but he apparently also sensed our betrayal. He locked eyes with me and yelled, “Have you already ordered!”—I gave no answer across the room so he knew—“Unbelievable!” he yelled. He was fine with the meal except for the margarine.

(above, John's Creek Mountain Switchback. Photo source: Spacecraft blog)

No comments: