Today's ride was one of those days that one misstep just seemed to lead to another. I took a day's vacation and drove up to the mountains of NC to do a "reconnaissance ride" for a pretty tough century next weekend. I wanted to check out the featured steep climb that comes in at the 60-65 mile mark that I've heard many stories of people pushing their bikes up.
It was a really comical day. I spent 2 hours putting together a map last night so I thought I knew every turn. It was a route that I had not done before but felt comfortable I could figure out the roads. It started out pretty sad as I turned out of the parking lot the wrong way at the very start and I didn’t figure it out until 4 miles down the road. The only option was retrace the road I was riding on. After that I was pretty gun-shy on the turns so I stopped a good bit just to make sure I was tracking along correctly…….in fact I stopped WAY too much.
It was a really good chance to try out the 34/32 combination. About 15 miles in there’s a really good 1-2 mile 11%-13% climb up Buffalo Rd. I had done this climb before on another ride. I did the first half mile or so in the 34/28 and then shifted to the 32. I could tell from the noise the 32 was making that the chain wanted to jump back to the 28. I even tried to hold the lever over to keep it from jumping but that didn’t work. So I dropped back to the 28 and cranked away.
A little later, I stopped at a General store and borrowed a screw driver and figured since all the other gears were shifting well I probably just needed to adjust the limit screw so the derailleur was closer to the rear wheel and a little past the 32. That did the trick and the 32 really came in handy on the next climb.
I really love riding in this area except for the canines. I'm used to dogs staying in yards and being leashed. I bet I averaged 1 dog for every 5 miles today that wanted to come out and see what I tasted like. The bad part was some of the ride was an out and back so I got them in both directions.....
Since my mileages were off from my map because I had started incorrectly, I was trying to keep up with the next turns in my head. That was about like counting laps at the Time Trials-it just didn’t work. Since I’d never been past the turn to the featured climb, I thought I had passed it so I stopped at the next road and looked at my map. Unfortunately my pride and joy of a map didn't have enough info on other roads so I thought I’d ask the next driver that came up to the stop sign where the road I was looking for was. I had just unclipped with one foot and when the next driver came up I leaned the wrong way and over I went. It was the most uncoordinated and ungraceful move I think I’ve ever made. (at least there weren't any rose bushes in my way!!)
The only thing that got messed up was my saddle. It got turned about 30 degrees counterclockwise. I was afraid to try and swing it back around for fear of damaging the seat tube so I started searching for hex wrenches. It was really interesting trying to ride “side saddle”. The second house I tried, a really nice elderly gentleman named Jack took me to his barn. He couldn’t see very well nor hear so he let me go through his tool box and he had a set of the multi-tool allen wrenches. That did the trick and after a little adjustment I was off again. Thank goodness for kind people!!
Snake Mtn is the featured climb and it is a pretty challenging climb-especially with it being 60-65 miles in. It was not as steep at the top as I was expecting but it did hit 17% for a pretty long stretch and needless to say the 32 really came in handy.
I had to use different water bottles this ride as I'd lost 2 bottles this past weekend (new cages are on order)!! When I dumped the gatorade in the new bottles before riding there was some black pieces that floated to the surface. They were hard and looked and felt like bug parts. I pulled them all out and didn't think any more about it. And then I switched to this bottle about half way into the ride and took a big drink. A BIG piece of bug came out into my mouth.....at least I didn't swallow it!! Yuck!!
After climbing the next to last major climb I got stopped where they were resurfacing the road and had to ride on fresh asphalt and behind tar trucks. My tires picked up every little piece of gravel and I kept waiting to hear a tube pop-but I got lucky there.
When I got back to the car and tried to get my shoe off I realized my "ratchet" had been bent when I fell. I have the shoes where the strap tightens using a ratchet. The bad news was I couldn't get my shoe off until I fixed the ratchet so I could release the strap. At least I was back at my tool box!! It wasn't easy straightening it trying to hold my foot out the side and avoiding cramps but needless to say I got it done.......
I felt like I was out there ALL day but I stopped a lot and took pictures and just enjoyed the day the best I could.
So, in spite of going the wrong way, riding 75 miles instead of 65, my new gear not working at first, lost of dogs chasing me, falling over in front of someone, twisting my saddle, drinking bug parts, riding on fresh tar and not being able to get my shoe off..........I was still smiling when I got off the bike.
It was a picture perfect day and I just really enjoyed being out on the road. I know the next ride will have to be better!!