Archive for May, 2014


I have been training for this for the whole year, and now what seems to be in a blink of an eye it’s here. While I was getting ready I was having mixed emotions, I mean am I ready to tackle this challenge? No matter the outcome, part of me wishes I had more time to ride and to lose a bit more weight. If I am honest with myself I do not feel ready for this, I’m antsy and nervous and I really am sure this time I bit off more than I could chew, but there is no backing out now. Patrick and I are packed and the bikes are on the car and we are headed to South Carolina…. ROAD TRIP!!!

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We had a great ride up for the most part… funny thing when you put two men on a trip who are used to driving and finding their own way, I bet it would have been comical to watch us debate routs and why this and why that hahaha! 

 

We got to see some cool stuff on the way, the first night we stayed in Greenville, SC not in Spartanburg because the hotel was over booked. For the most part that was fine I mean they comped the room and were super nice. Our issue was finding good food and beer in the area of our hotel. The staff at the hotel although nice seemed a little clueless, seemed none of them were from the area or just really had no opinion… so we go to the first place we found using our phones and well it was a touch disappointing… waited forever in a place that was not really busy, and then found out that probably 55% of the beer on the menu had been changed or they just no longer carried it… so after trial and error we finally came up with 4 beers (4 oz.) each to try for our sampler… and ummm we really think they got those all mixed up. Yeah we finished what we had and just left.

 

Went to try another place and the line out the door made us not even stop… so once again back to the phone and see what it said… well we found a place pretty close to our hotel, and man was I surprised. It was not at all what I pictured by its name and honestly that place alone might be worth a trip back there someday. If anyone who happens to read this goes to Greenville, SC you have to try Bacon Brothers. The people there are so nice… they grow their own herbs and smoke all their meats on site. It’s an awesome place.

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So we sleep… get up and time to head to Spartanburg… uneventful trip check into the hotel with no issues at all… and then it happens… we get our stuff, head up the elevator step out and start walking to our room and I notice the door is slightly open. I push the door open and pow… “Why… is there a man in my room?” it came out of me before I even had a chance to stop it. He kinda scared the crap out of me… as I walked in he was about to walk out, someone from the hotel fixing something. That became an ongoing joke for the rest of the trip. “Why is there a man in my room… “ lol I told Patrick I would make that the title to my blog when I finally wrote about the trip.

 

The view from the hotel was perfect. We could see where we would be starting the ride in the morning.

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We put our stuff up and got ready to go check in for the ride. We had some time to kill so we went to the lobby of the hotel and got a drink… it was the coolest thing. They had a WII set up on a big screen and also had a pool table down there. So we goofed off for a bit while we waited to go check in.

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I will say that the gathering of vendors was not as big as I expected to be honest, but the people that were there were extremely nice and a pleasure to talk to. We got checked in and I walked around a bit and then it was time for me to leave… I was going to have to spend a good deal of time on the road because I had to drive the car to the camp ground at Marion so we would have a ride back the next day. Then catch a ride on a bus back to the hotel and eat and get settled in.

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The drive to Marion was uneventful I stopped at a little country store for a coke and a snack. I found the campground without too much trouble and got on the bus where we waited for over 30 min past the time it was supposed to leave. But honestly I was just sitting there listening to people talk strategy, what they were eating or going to eat, how hard they would climb, how hard it was last year and how nice the weather was. It went rather quickly, so between Facebook and texts and people talking the wait was not too bad. I slept part of the ride back, it’s a habit I have when I am not driving on long trips, I just pass right out. As a kid I spent a lot of time on buses, you could say that Greyhound was a family business for a long time, and the bus reminded me of those trips.

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Between texts and naps I was back… one more trip inside the convention center because I forgot my water bottles in the car and then I was off to meet Patrick in the hotel for food. They were doing a pasta buffet, yummm.

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The food was good and Patrick was close to being ready for bed… I don’t sleep a lot on a normal day and the night before an event I really have trouble sleeping so I headed down to the bar in the hotel for some last min carbs…

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It’s morning… and the time has come… I felt a little sick… it was just the anticipation of the ride. I really did not think I was ready and already had it in my head that I would stop at Marion if I did not think I could make it. Even as I had that thought I laughed at myself… I knew better… As we left our room to head downstairs with one last, “Why is there a man in my room…” with a nervous laugh we were off…

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Patrick had some last minute mechanicals to work out and I went and found a spot in the line and snapped a few pictures.

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There were a lot of people all bunched together with no real rhyme or reason behind it. Everyone laughing and talking like this was just another Monday afternoon ride.

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5…. 4… 3… 2… 1… and we are off…

 

   Patrick and I got separated early he got in behind some folks who were going just a bit faster than I wanted to start off with. I learned in a previous ride this year, I was not killing myself to keep up early. I needed to save every ounce of energy I could… so after a few miles I could not see him or his group anymore.

 

The roads were like most big rides I have been on good spots and bad spots, so nothing big to note there. But between the sunrise, fields, hills, and the mountains in the distance I was blown away. This if nothing else was going to be a beautiful ride.

 

 

The first bit was a normally hilly ride, lots of rollers, a few nice downhill spots, I felt pretty good. Then out of nowhere there is this climb… Bill’s Hill… holy sweet mother of sprockets… I am not sure if I am glad I forgot it was coming up so I really had no time to think about it… just shift and climb. And honestly about the time I started doubting myself it was over… I was out of breath and I passed a few people cramping up and one even seeming to get sick. But other than being tired I felt ok. Humm… Maybe I can do this…

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I stopped at the next rest stop and talked to a few people who were laughing because if I thought that was tough I was going to get a rude awakening… I had not seen tough yet. *sigh* What did I sign up for? Why? I will never, ever, do this again… my mood was slipping.

 

Ear buds in and music on… I have some go to music and some motivational tracks that I brought with me… I knew ahead of time I would need every trick I could think of. So back on my bike time to go…

Before too much longer as I was getting worn out I notice my mileage and knew that Marion was close… this would be where Patrick and I would meet up and here we would either talk each other into going forward… or just getting in the car lol…

 

Well Patrick was well ahead of me, and smartly he decided to go ahead and not wait too long, he did not want to get stiff and chance getting cramps because he waited too long. I did not blame him at all. So I walked around a little, talked to a few people and read through my texts… My friend Marcy sent some pictures from the people in her office where she works. They were holding up signs for us, telling us we could do it and she was saying we had a village behind us. My friend Shannon was taking time out of her day all the way from Texas to help keep me motivated, as were other friends and family. Carole one of our “Pack” members kept close tabs on us all day as well encouraging us to keep it up… with all of these people behind me… I could not stop now… I have to at least try. But man I was tired. This was the most climbing I have ever done on a bike, and I was about to more than double it.

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Well off to the parkway… The climb to get to the parkway was tough on its own… there were cool tunnels and the view… man the view was beautiful. I had plenty of time to look at it too because I was creeping along between 2.5 and 5 mph in some places, just struggling to keep moving forward. The climb was a bit demoralizing because you’re working so hard and not really getting anywhere. I am not ashamed to admit that I was 240ish lbs when I climbed that mountain on my bike and gravity was not my friend. Down from 274 in January, I was wishing I would have dropped even more at that moment.

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When you’re pushing that hard you really think about anything that will make it better. So back to my music, and back to looking at the view… stopping her and there to take pictures I really was trying to move it the best I could. For the longest time I pictured Patrick already at the top waiting on me, to get a good photo of me coming in or to tell me we were stupid and everything hurts… then around a corner and I see a rest stop… good I really needed more water.

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And to my surprise there was Patrick in a Sag… he had mechanical issues and was done about 5 miles from the top. You could see in his face he was worn out and tired. I wanted to stay and talk and just hash over our day… but I shook that thought off, I did not want to be rude but I really had to get moving I could not sit long, and one of us was going to finish if it killed them… please oh please let’s not let it kill me lol.

 

The switchbacks were brutal… 13% grade in one spot but if you did not hit the road just right then the angle of the road increased that in the turns significantly. Man I just really wanted to stop… this was stupid I kept telling myself… this was not for cancer… or not for MS… I had not involved any charity in this ride like I did so many others in the past… why in the hell was I doing this… oh… this one was mine… for me… to dig deep and do it for myself to prove that I was good enough and that I could do it without any other reason than to challenge me…

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Stopping a few more times here and there to get some awesome pictures and talk to others who were taking breaks. I happened to see some eagles and got pictures of them in a tree… the tunnels of course… but back on my bike…

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Finally to a point where I just did not want to go any further and it had to be close I flagged down a car headed down the mountain… I did not even give the pour guy a chance to ask me what I needed… in a breathless, exasperated voice all I said was… “You got to tell me I am close… please tell me it’s just around the corner… I have to be close…” he said I was, and the lady in the passenger seat in a cheerful voice told me not to give up… and there was a little kid in the back clapping his hands… that was all I needed. Off I went.

 

Around the last few curves and then the end was in sight… my legs were shaking and my back hurt, I could not feel my hands and my shoulders were on fire. But I did it… I did it.

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If you were to ask me at the moment would I ever do it again… I may have taken a swing at you and told you to hush your mouth … but now… Patrick says he has unfinished business with that mountain and well, even though I finished I feel like I do to. I’m not sure what I left up there… but I feel like I need to go back. It was tough to celebrate because my friend did not make it… I felt bad for him because of how bad he wanted it to… maybe that is it… I’m not sure… but I know I will go back… and I will beat that mountain again.

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It was one of the best and worst rides I have ever been on… but looking back it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself in my life.

 

It took me 11 hours and 30 min to complete the ride… with lots and lots of stops, putting my saddle

time at 8 hours and 48 min. My total amount of climbing was over 11 thousand feet… My HR monitor

was acting up so I do not have a true avg for the ride.  Here are a few link to my GPS data for you

stats junkies…

http://www.strava.com/activities/143316080   Strava

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/503221299    Garmin

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Mt. Mitchell 2014

I will do a blog about this later… I just wanted to post this for now… thank you for your support.

Bipolar emotions…

   Bi-polar emotions…

 

First off let me say (because of the way people over react in today’s world it is sad I feel the need to first put a disclaimer before I write my blog…) that in no way am I making fun of… making light of… or down playing a mental illness. This was just the best and fitting comparison for my purpose.

 

With that said WebMD defines Bipolar as Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior. With that thought, it is the best way to describe the roller coaster of emotions that I am feeling about my upcoming journey.

One min I am excited and I cannot wait to go, the next I am scared and I have no clue as to why I signed up for such a thing. As most people with Bipolar disorder take meds to balance out their thoughts and feelings, I have my friends and family. The fact that I am not alone in this and that I am going with someone else helps greatly. We also have a supporting cast of family and friends who will be cheering us on from home, in texts and well wishes, who at this point if I am honest believe more in our ability to complete this task than I do in my own at this moment.

Assault on Mt. Mitchell is a tough and grueling ride that has in fact been going on sense 1975, which is fitting because that is the same year I was born… almost as if this was meant to be. Some web pages list this ride as the 2nd hardest ride in the US, so what the hell am I thinking. I mean at one time I was a weekend warrior cyclist, now I ride a bit more. I have my own group that I ride with normally 3 times a week but as much as even 6 times a week. It’s our “Pack” if you will… tight nit and supportive of each other in more than just cycling. Mitchell was a challenge I first heard about a few years ago and put it out of my mind, I mean first off fat guys do not climb hills well, 2nd ummm I am not crazy… or was not crazy at the time. I mean the pros use this as a training ride, and it is also a qualifier for RAAM, I am neither anything close to a pro nor do I have the ability to attempt RAAM. (I will have links for what I am talking about at the bottom) I have watched a ton of YouTube videos on the ride, and read other blogs about it, I have been told by people I look up to how hard it is and how often they had to stop and walk the bike because it was just too much of a climb in some areas. But ya know… how do you find your breaking point unless you reach it.

I have a feeling my friend Patrick and I will reach out breaking point and either have to stop, or we will push through it and have a new one. This ride is going to be epic for us in many ways and will give us something to talk about for years I think. As these bipolar emotions run through my head and heart, I am playing the waiting game… two more days and I will be on the road to the event… and then the next night I will not be able to sleep at all. A combination of a child waiting to come home with a bad report card knowing he will be grounded and get his but spanked… and a child waiting for Christmas and the best presents ever… now you see why Bipolar was the best way to describe my emotions right now…

 

So for any of you that read this, on May 19th at any point during the morning or day, if you find yourself with a moment to spare… say a prayer for us… send us some positive energy… rub a rabbits foot for us… anything you want to do. Because I have a feeling we will need every bit of it. And once we are done I will post some pictures and let you know how we did.

Thank you to all my friends and family who always support my crazy ideas and challenges… May the Pack roll on… and please oh please lord don’t let me get kidnapped by crystal meth tweekers, cause then we would just be shit out of luck. (inside joke)

   RAAM link info here…

 

   MT. Mitchell link info here…

    Here is a picture of one of our centurie rides… 4 of us ride together a lot… but like most packs we get people that wonder in and out that we still consider part of the family for as long as they are with us… we take care of each other.

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