S - 9600 yards
B - 277 miles
R - 30.3 miles
Time - 22.00 hours
I would describe myself as a fair-weather cyclist. I feel no shame (or relatively none) in admitting that I prefer riding in sunny conditions. I do not think I am alone on this one, am I? Well, needless to say for anyone that lives in the southeast really but the past weeks have absolutely sucked with regard to weather. Until Tuesday the 9th I had not ridden in continuously sunny weather for probably at least 2.5 weeks. That is positively, without question, ridiculous. It's summer dangit! We're supposed to be having hot, humid days full of glorious sunshine!!
This past week especially tested my mental limits given our departure for a training camp in Suwanee, Georgia for the weekend. Now, the whole goal of a training camp is to focus on one thing: training. Duh. This one (and all training camps for people that work full-time) was going to focus on biking (since biking is the most time-limited for 40-60hr work week type peeps). North Georgia contains some of the most awesome climbing on the east coast of Murrika.
Before I get to that, however, it is important to note that Tuesday night showcased the first ever 4x400 Store Championship relay! IOS was asked to put together a team of employees, which Melissa did, to go against teams from TrySports, Run For Your Life, and Charlotte Running Company in the last event of the RFYL Summer Track Series. We ended up coming 4th place (out of 5 teams) while running a 3:56:xx 1600m. The first two teams each had quite the ringer, with a UNC track sprinter anchoring the winning RFYL team with what was most likely a 50s effort and Anthony Famiglietti anchoring the CRC relay team. I was pleased with my own performance in an unfamiliar event and that of our team although my hamstrings were a bit sore for several days after this effort!
On Thursday Jenny and I traveled up to the far reaches of Northern Charlotte to the suburb of Huntersville for a 100 mile jaunt on our bicycles with some friends. For the first 2.5hrs of this ride it rained. Not just a pitter patter of light drops on your windshield kind of rain, but the "I am not sure I'll be able to see where I'm going" kind of rain. Later that evening I drove south to Suwanee, GA to the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson (Tim's parents) for our long weekend camp.
Since Jenny wouldn't be arriving until Friday evening the morning brought with it some sweet, sweet bro time for myself, Tim and Ashley. We headed to the Ft. Yargo State Park to peruse the trails for 90 minutes, which was easily one of the most humid experiences of my life. Later in the day we braved some pretty serious rain to get in an open water swim in Lake Lanier before turning in for the evening in preparation for Saturday epic-ness.
I have had the great opportunity to test my legs on the 6 gap ride before when - long ago - John Behme, Scott, Brad Wickard and myself all did [most of] the course but in reverse back in 2010 I believe. My memories of that day involve a lot of getting dropped by Behme and Scott and telling them to "Stop looking back at me, it's DEMORALIZING!!" Needless to say, that day and those words have never been forgotten by those two...
With redemption in mind, our day started close to noon (or just after it) at the High School where the "official" ride starts. The rain began, quite literally, 30 seconds into the ride just after exiting the HS parking lot...
I cannot get this video to embed unfortunately so a link will have to suffice:
Here is the gist of the ride:
That little doozy at mile 55ish is more fondly known as Hog Pen Gap and is, without a doubt, the most difficult climb I've done in my years of riding. Beech is easy in comparison. That is no exaggeration. Easy. Hog Pen is 40+ minutes of misery for most riders.
The other picture that sums up the ride is this one:
It rained on and off for all 6 hours of the ride. The one, single descent that was dry (and the best descent on the whole course - off Unicoi Gap) was made slow and brake-tastic by the presence of some slower riders up front holding up vehicular traffic. The entire descent was spent at the whim of these riders and cars in the interest of safety. Oh well. At least we were badasses according to Rule # 9
The weekend was awesome, the biking was epic, the friends were key and the festivities were glorious. A fabulous celebration of America.