Monday, August 20, 2012

The Blue Ridge Breakaway Bike ride August 18,2012

Here I am at the finish line just after I completed doing the bicycle  ride.

The big day arrived to do the Blue Ridge  Breakaway Bicycle ride in the mountains of NC.  I don't have the  official total of cyclist that had enter to ride in this event but at last count it was over 500 cyclist and if I heard right they expected about 200 more.  The event feature 4 different routes with different lengths of the ride ranging from 24 to 105 miles in Length.  Not knowing what to expect I elected to do the 24 mile Rabbit ride route.

Rabbit Don't let the name fool you; this is not a warm and fuzzy beginner level ride. An intermediate level ride with several challenging mountain climbs. The Rabbit rolls through the farm lands of Jonathan Creek and Crabtree. The ride is marked by two moderate hill climbs over Coleman and Hyder Mountain before finishing with a scenic tour around Lake Junaluska.

The above description my route is pretty accurate. It was not a warm and fuzzy ride. I was really pump up and though I would be among the front cyclist at the finish line but the mountains climbs was much steeper and long than I expected.

At 7:30 AM Saturday morning August the 18th the race was started. Well it was not suppose to be a race but for me it was. A race to be sure I did not finish in last place. 

As the ride started I did not feel my energy level was all that good. I was probably in the middle of the 500 plus cyclist. The first 2.6 miles before we turn  on highway 276 was not good. My heart rate got up to 148 beats a minute and before I got to the end of the first 2.6 miles almost everyone had past me by. I felt terrible and thought to myself this was not going to be a good day for me. My max heart rate is 148 beats minute so I was on my max heart rate on a road which only had a slight uphill climb. My average  speed was only about 10 MPH.

At the turn of Highway 276 I was all alone not a sold in site. After I got on highway 276 it ran slightly downhill for the next 7.7 miles. That was  good for me, my average speed went from 10 mph to as high as 25 plus mph. It wasn't long before I started to passing everyone, I mean I was flying by the other cyclist by the end of that 7.7 mile run I had pass most of the cyclist except for a small group. I thought to  myself now today wasn't going to be bad after all. However my heart rate was now at 152 beats a minute has had been for all the 7.7 mile run.

At the end  of the 7.7 mile run we had make a right hand turn onto Coleman Mountain road. This was the beginning of some serious mountain climbs. It wasn't long until my heart rate was  up to 155 BPM and I had just only begun climbing. That was not good, I didn't see how I was going to keep on going with my heart rate that high with the worse climbs to come. I haven't had a heart rate that high since 2005. 

The climbs was very hard. the roads was very twisty probably as more than any roads I ever been on. One girl did wipe out on one of the turns but I not sure how bad she was hurt. For the next 9 miles it seemed to be all uphill. There was some downhills but going downhill was 10 faster than going uphill so the downhills took only few seconds to do, uphill took forever.

At mile 16 there was a sag stop with food and drinks to get fuel up with. I debated about stopping there and losing time to the leaders. I thought we were over the worse of the hills and it was going to mostly downhill the rest of the way. I felt going  downhill I would make up the time I would lose at the sag stop. I happen to mention to one of the girls helping at the rest stop that I was glad that it was mostly downhill for the rest of the way. She corrected me and said, well she said I had to cross Hyder Mountain which was extremely steep and twisty.  I told her she just broke my heart as I did not see how I could do another steep climb. She tried to soothe me by saying well it wasn't that bad.  It was worse than bad. Again climbing that mountains sent my heart rate to 155 beats. For all of the 16 miles I had already done my heart rate never got below 145 beats. However I was never stress by the high heart rate but my  legs was really getting to feel the pain. Well I made it up Hyder Mountain  and though there wast no more hills to climb.

Now I was getting close to the finish line, my heart rate had finally got down to 140 beats. As I turn on the road around Lake Junaluska I could smell the finish line. But the  Rabbit Ride had one last attempt to break me. The ride around the Lake has some pretty good climbs on it. Probably made worse by the fact my legs was turning to jelly. Then there was only a mile left to the finish. At least that was flat. By that time I felt my GPS was lying to me and maybe there was still al long way to go before getting to the finish line.

Suddenly there it was the finish line. I had made it never stopping once except to the sag stop and stop signs. I always stop for them.

My stats: Ride time 2 hours  25 min. 20 seconds .9 tenth of second. Has I not stopped a the sag stop like  many did not do I probably would have finish around 13th or 14th place. So I got to be happy with my time but wish it had been better.

In 2005 before my accident that left me with a cripple left leg I my hear rate rarely ever got as high as it did on this ride and never for as long it it was. So comparing my performance with 205 I say I think I am in as good cycling condition maybe even better than I was then. It has been a long 7 and half years to get back to this level.

The next day after the event I had to go back over the route in my RV to see the countryside where I had ridden. On the bicycle I had to ride so hard that seeing the scenery was a little hard to do.  The route was extremely scenic so much that I want to go back and take some landscapes with my camera.

I am sort of in the middle at the start line getting ready for the big show.
One of the curves on the Rabbit Trail. This curve was easy to take compared to the many others on the routed.
I am stopped here scratching my head trying to figure whether to turn left or right.
At the finish line the finish order was posted so the riders could see where they finish at in relation to the other participants. At the point I was in 29th place among 36 riders that had finish at the time this was posted. They could have been more that finish later but the final order of finishing will be publish later,