THE DAY AFTER IT ENDED
I woke this morning after better nights sleep then much of the last 15 days....a crappy motel, extreme fatigue, eating too much to late, an aching body part or the throbbing saddle sore all taking a turn for that individually or in any combination....there was no desire to ride....and even if there were it was pouring down rain and 54 with gusty wind....my body feels ok with nothing hurting (except the saddle sore) but just a tired feeling....my thought is the recovery period will not be too long with good food and rest....
RESEARCH, PLANNING, PREPARATION, EXECUTION, ADJUSTING
these are the pillars of the ride....and if the ride is deemed successful by any measure all were equally important....the research was extensive....without good information it is impossible to have a workable plan....with a plan in place, the preparation starts....instinctively I felt this was going to be a huge test for me with the possibility I had over-reached and would fail....that fear enabled me to proceed with an 8-10 week build up that raised my fitness level to be as ready as I have been for any previous test....it was a good thing I did as needless to say, several days I was looking over the edge of the cliff and almost falling over....the execution left very little margin for error....there were several days of dark to dark on the bike....and the minute the day's ride was over getting ready for the next day started....the routine was strict and disciplined....it all falls apart without being able to adjust to the inevitable things you knew would come (rain), the unexpected (sewer grate crash) and the never imagined (park facilities closed)....
MOMENTS IN TIME
there are several things that happened that I do not have the ability to explain....the kind and generous couple in the Moab Bike shop in Franklin who offer me dinner and a place to stay in Nashville with a promise to have me at the next days starting point at the time I wanted....as tempting as it was that was too much deviation from the routine to handle....when I was lost in Murfreesboro and looking at my phone trying to figure out how to get back on course a guy on his way to work makes a u-turn, then stops to help (Bert, a cyclist helping a cyclist)....Bert helps confirm the best way to get back on track and eases my frustration and anxiety....as I arrive at the Smoky Mt Natl. Park entrance of Little River Rd only to find park rangers blocking it, Lou (another cyclist) is there also trying to enter....Lou saves me from a devastating amount of additional milage by offering to drive me 35 miles out of his way....Lou delivers me to the lobby of my motel and will accept nothing in return....climbing on the BRP without access to water I roll into a vista point and beg....not only am I given as much water as I can possibly carry, multiple people want to have their picture taken with me before I leave....plus or minus a few minutes and none of these things occur....
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Clingmans Dome Rd is closed in Smoky Mt Natl. Park....the climb would have taken at least 1 1/2hrs out and back along with an additional 1,600ft of climbing to a day that turned out to be the most difficult I've ever had on the bike....on a day when there was no recovery from the previous day, the climb up Mt Mitchell would have to wait for another time....the next day I rode very strong from Blowing Rock to Meadows of Dan....faced with 140 mile day from there the next day to Buena Vista, it was pouring rain in the morning....a decision was made to shorten the day to just Roanoke and readjust the remainer of the ride....in retrospect, that 140 miles as planned would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible....the ride ended yesterday and it is pouring cold rain all day today and is expected to rain through the weekend....these are more things that I cannot explain and all could have caused the ride to fail or be a reason for the ability to finish....
if two people can grow closer together while separated in distance we did....she tracked me the entire way....saved me....multiple times....I rode past an exit to my motel and got a miles saving phone call....she encouraged me....the number of phones call Sandy made to try and find viable options for food and water due the facility closures was well over 150....I was alone but never really alone....knowing that inspired me, gave me strength and courage....
TO MY DAD
I hope I have done you proud....your spirit lives in my heart and mind....
Texas....flat and then the tough steep rollers....plus the heat
Louisiana....beautiful national forests but people are a-holes....will never ride another mile in that state
Mississippi....the Natchez Trace Parkway is beyond description....and the people were so sweet
Alabama....there for just a few hours....crossed the Tennesee River there...go figure
Tennessee....a cyclist dream....a state 3ft passing law for bikes....beautiful and killer hills
North Carolina....the Blue Ridge Parkway....most difficult section of road I have ever ridden....and beautiful too
Viginia....more BRP....and the final destination....what's not to love?....
Longest Day...Day 1 Home to Crockett, TX 171 miles
Shortest Day...Day 13 Meadows of Dan, VA to Roanoke, VA....in the pouring rain
Toughest Day...Day 10 Gatlinburg, TN to Asheville, NC....125 miles and ~13,000ft of climbing
Fun Day...Day 12 Blowing Rock, NC to Meadows of Dan, VA....the BRP was not killing me that day
Strongest Day...Day 5 Ridgeland, MS to Houston, MS....137 miles and I crushed it almost non-stop
Best Day...Murfressboro, TN to Spring City, TN....got lost, lost an hour to EST and was super strong in the hills
Death Day...Day 6...Houston, MS to Waynesboro, TN....160 miles, rain, 20 miles longer then planned
Painful Day...Day 11 & Day 15....a body that did not want to participate on both days, pain, pain and more pain
BY THE NUMBERS
71,000ft of climbing in Smoky Mt Natl. Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway
12,759ft of climbing Day 10
9,000ft of climbing in 90 miles Day 10 on the BRP
5,048ft Newfound Gap, Smoky Mt Natl. Park
3,760ft in 13 miles @ 5.2% to Newfound Gap, Smoky Mt Natl. Park
1,845 total miles for the ride
$1,048 - motels
$968 - food & stuff
649ft James River lowest point on BRP
171 miles longest day
$165 - bike shops
158 phone calls Sandy made chasing info
123 miles per day average for 15 days
122lbs my weight when I started and surprisingly the same the day after the ride is over
103 hottest temp
80 advils taken
$75 per day average for motels
$65 per day average for food and stuff
59 miles shortest day
46 lowest temp
20 (at least) a-holes in Louisiana
15 days of the ride
14hrs longest day of riding Day 10
6 pizza delivery
5 Waffle House breakfast
4 McDonalds breakfast
4 tubes of Neosporene for pain
3 saddle sores, (1) killer, (1) hotspot left sit bone, (1) beginning sore right sit bone
0 flat tires (not counting sewer grate)
I appreciate you following along....it's been a terrific adventure and a challenge that in all likelyhood I will never attempt again....not to say there won't be another multi-day ride in the future, just not one like this....I have placed a marker out there for myself....that's what I wanted....without the support of Sandy and family it could not have been done....and I feel grateful and fortunate for the opportunity....