I'm not one for writing long winded reports to pat myself on the back but for those of you that may be considering doing this in the future here you go
63 miles and 8327' of climbing. The ride consisted of 9 climbs according to the Garrett Co Grand Fondo site or 11 climbs if you map it with mapmyride.
That explains the comments that I heard a couple of times of
"DAAAAAAY-EM! THEY DIDN'T EVEN COUNT THAT AS A CLIMB! What the HE**"
1 Cat2 climb
2 Cat3 climbs
4 Cat4 climbs
4 Cat5 climbs
Category 4: Usually less than 2 miles in length. Climbs of 250 to 500 feet in elevation gain.
Category 3: Between 2 and 3 miles in length. Climbs of 500 to 1,500 feet in elevation gain.
Category 2: Between 3 and 6 miles in length. Climbs of 1,500 to 3,000 feet in elevation gain.
The Grand Fondo website has the following climbs
White Rock Rd .75 miles / 550' Average 13.9%
Old Morgantown Rd 3 miles / 1000' Average 6.3%
Everly .6 miles / 350' Average 11.0%
Collier .4 miles / 300' Average 14.2%
Pigs Ear .4 miles / 300' Average 14.2%
Devil's half acre 1.25 miles / 600' Average 9.1%
Bowman Hill 1.1 miles 800' Average 13.8%
Negro Mountain Rd. .6 miles / 250' Average 7.9%
Final climb .75 miles / 500' Average 12.6%
Began the absolutely gorgeous day at the start line with Paisan and hundreds of others in 60 degree weather. I was talking to some at the begriming and there were 3 there from Delaware and they came out to this ride to "try some hills". I thought to myself that this isn't the place to be "trying hills" especially if you are from the shore.
The first 4.7 or so miles of the ride you don't even have to pedal once you get going fast enough that you don't fall over. You come to a 200' climb that lasts only .4 miles so "It doesn't count."
The first listed climb is White Rock Rd which has some very steep short parts at the beginning then levels off to an 8% grade. This is where Paisan told me - "Never thought I'd see my heart rate start to recover when climbing 8%"
At mile 15.5 you just stop peddling and take in the scenery until mile 18. It's literally all downhill - I never pedaled a stroke. Conserve what energy you can because after Aid Station 1 it's gets ugly. Paisan and I decided that we didn't need to stop here.
A short 250' climb over .6 miles (Doesn't count) then a short downhill to the climb at Old Morgantown road.
The Old Morgantown Road climb seems to last forever and was one of the two that I hate the most. While Paisan prefers these long gradual climbs I'm more of the 'hit me in the face and get it over with' kind of climber as that's what I live around. I don't believe we saw anybody doing any 'cross training' on this climb.
The climb at Everyly starts at mile 27 and is a short, in your face, average of 11% climb which is the kind I will accept. We met up with Dan at the bottom of this climb and the comment of
"This is 2012, why haven't these people discovered tunnels yet?"
I believe this climb is where a guy was mocking the gearing selection that Paisan and I had (I have a compact and threw on a X9 long cage with a 36 cassette for this ride).
The comment of "How's that 34 and 28 with 2 feet working out for you?" would be heard more than once as this wouldn't be the last time that the same person would be taking his bike out for a walk.
Don't get me wrong, if you have to walk some of the deal then that's fine and I am glad you are out ridding, just don't mocking laugh at a guys gear selection when you are walking your bike. Makes about as much sense as wiping before you poop.
We saw a woman pulled over at the top of the climb so we stopped to see if she needed anything. She said she didn't and then asked if that was "the big climb". I told her No, that Collier Road and Pig's Ear Road sucked. You could see the ashen look come over her face as she huffed. Sorry but if you ask me I'll tell you how the cow ate the cabbage.
You then have some rolling terrain until mile 32 where the climb at Collier Road starts. With an average grade of 14% this one left many doing the 'cross training' thing.
You turn onto Pigs Ear Road at mile 35.5 and it gets ugly again with another average grade of 14%. This is where I came up on a guy and told him I'd just sit here and draft him to keep my heart rate down. He said his has been in the high 150's just about all day and asked what I was trying to keep mine down to. 145 was the answer. Another ashen defeated look from a person.
Next up at mile 38 is the long climb at Devils Half acre, the second climb I hate. It begins as a shallow grade climb then finishes hard. Really, just maker the hill steep and get it over with. Dag gum.
Slightly more than half way into the climb you make a slight bend to the right and look at .4 miles of folks cross training or just leaning on their bikes. I believe this is where Paisan offered to stop and help a guy fix his bike. The guy said that he was OK and Paisan said "Really? Are you sure? Cause I'll stop and help. Really I will. Please."
At the top of this climb is Aid Station 2 where Paisan and I pulled in for some much needed water to mix our Heed/CamelBak mix with. Both Paisan and I were wearing Camelbak Skeeters (50oz) for water and had two 24oz bottles that we had Heed/CamelBak Elixir mixes in.
At mile 45 starts the Bowman Hill climb. Another of the ones that found many cross trainers and the same 34/28 with two feet guy walking up about a mile of it. This climb has some steep patches in it which included 4 at 20%, 2 at 14% and then 2 "recovery" patches of 8% and 6%. I believe the comment here was "I've never been so glad to see 8%!"
There is a lot of cruising between the top of this climb and the short climb on Negro Mountain road at mile 55 including another of the now infamous "THEY DIDN"T EVEN COUNT THAT AS A CLIMB!". For the record I don't count Negro Mountain Road as a climb. It's just like being home at less than 8%
You cruise to the bottom of the finish climb which is a 500' climb over .75 miles for an average grade of 12.6%. Really? You put the finish of an 8000'+ ride at the top?
I told Dan and Paisan that it was nice ridding and I set off to get to the top. I had one skinny pass me and I passed many that were either cross training , holding their bikes up or just grinding away defeated. This was a timed climb which I did in 12:32 placing 262nd out of 596. The "winning" time was 8:20
Some other memorable moments:
The Wasp trying to dry hump Paisan's arm - too funny.
Talking to an older guy at the truck when we were loading up about nutrition and hydration. He'd asked Paisan and I what we were using so Paisan, in his typical give the shirt off his back kindness, went to great lengths explain how he arrived at his nutrition and hydration needs and plans. After a lengthily explanation of what was used the guy just scoffed and said, "That doesn't work." Paisan then asked "Weren't you the guy on the Pig's Ear climb pulled over and beating on your thighs like Mike Tyson because you were cramping?".
Yes was the answer.
Really, you are telling people that never cramped during a ride what doesn't work yet you were cramping at mile 35? Really?
At the end of the day it was a great way to spend 5 hr and 40 min or so with an average HR of 134 and a max speed of 55.7 mph. Yeah, I'll bomb down one side if that means I can coast up the other. If you are fat you use momentum to your advantage. It's just physics, not rocket surgery.
Thanks again for everything Paisan. Looking forward to Mountain Mama in August.
If anybody is inclined to try it I'd highly recommend this ride. It's well organized, to the point that the sweep the roads before the ride.
If you do want to do this ride prepare for it well. I'm an emeritus and live in an area where I average 52' a mile on "flat" rides.
If you don't have any hills around you you can always just put a plastic bag over your head and have kids beat your thighs with a hammer for hours on end. In the end it's about the same.
Registration opens Jan 1 2013. I'll be one of the first to sign up.
Paisan - if I missed anything let us know.