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  1. #1
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Mountains of Misery - Would you Stop?

    I'm doing the Mountains of Misery ride in Blacksburg, Va for the third time next week. This is one of the hardest rides I've done, mainly because it finishes with a four-mile, 12% grade that is just a killer when you've already done 100 miles.

    There is a rest stop about 1.5 miles from the top. For the last two years I've skipped it on the theory that if I stopped, I would never be able to get started again.

    The first year I made it to the top, but just barely. Last year I had to do the "walk of shame" the last quarter mile because of some horrendous hamstring cramps, as well as just general exhaustion.

    I'm thinking of stopping at the last rest stop this year. What's your advice? Does it help to re-gas, or does it just make it harder to get back on the bike?
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  2. #2
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    I tend to avoid rest stops that are located on steep climbs. I find my legs tend to tighten up on stops and having to start again on the pitch makes it especially tough. For example, I've never stopped at the rest stop on NC 80 on the Assault on Mt Mitchell. BUT, last year I did stop at the sag on the last climb on Mountains of Misery. I really didn't have a choice as it was so very hot and I was so very tired. I made another stop further up the hill too. I'll probably stop again this year because MoM will be my first century of the year and I'm really not in as good shape as I would like to be. That last climb is tough!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Depending on my gearing I would keep on riding if I was still spinning. After 100 miles I think mashing to get the work done would bring on cramps. At least for me, 1.5 miles for 10 -12 minutes is doable after a rest no matter how tired I am. Will you feel like you cheated yourself by not completing the steep climb by making the stop?
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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I'd have to really be in trouble to stop that close to the end.

    If you just barely made it or didn't make it in the past, consider bringing lower gearing. Or using lower gears on the earlier climbs, to keep your legs fresher.

  5. #5
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    What Jim didn't mention is the rest stop comes in the very steep second mile of the climb which is near 16%. Starting a climb at mile 101 that will average 12% to the finish at mile 104 is very hard. BTW AJ, that last 1.5 miles takes a lot longer than 10-12 min. For me anyway. lol
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  6. #6
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    I know that hill - being a Hokie (Hokie Hokie Hokie High!).
    These are some killer hills and although the elevations make the heat and humidity a little less, that can be a brutal last few miles. It would not be unreasonable to expect that the last 4 miles would be done at something less than 5 mph. That last 1.5 miles could easily take 30 minutes of rolling the pedals over at a leg burning, knee crushing 30 rpm. Take the break, message the legs, keep walking around, grab a little sugar and drink - then get back on the bike and proudly finish!
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    ^^^ Yeah, how I wish I could ride at FTP the last 30 min on the finishing climb of a mountain century. I've yet to figure out how to make that happen.
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  8. #8
    The guy in the 50+ jersey PAlt's Avatar
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    ...and I'm doing the Double Metric ? Reading this doesn't exactly inspire me gang.

  9. #9
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    JimF-If it were me I'd make it a "game time decision". I'd have a goal to not stop but smile at the nice workers there and ask them for an extra spray of water mist or two--that always feels so wonderful.....for 2 seconds. But, if you really need to stop you know they are there for you. Maybe you can get one of the volunteers to give you a big push to get started up that nasty climb.

    There is a little pulloff just before the start of the climb at the finish that might be an option as well. You could stop there and then try and do the last 3-4 miles without stopping. I think that is what I did the first year.

    The less than encouraging news is that it looks to be pretty warm that day--just like BikeWNC likes it! That could make the last 10 miles up from the lake a little more challenging.

    PAlt-this finish will feel like a bump after Brasstown-except for the higher temps. I don't think you'll need to be standing quite as much on this climb at Brasstown either. And it will be perfect training for the Death Ride.

    Good luck to all you guys. I'd hate to think what it would be like trying to lug all my extra weight up that finish this year!
    Ride your Ride!!

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    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    One dang forecast said high of 70 and another 86! I about melted by the end of the Ruby Ride so I sure hope the cooler prediction wins out. Last year on the climb up Salt Pond Mtn it was so hot I feared heat stroke. I get really lightheaded in the heat. Guess I should move to Norway.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    I think it would depend on heat and humidity for me. Cooler and less humid, I'd probably keep going. Hot and humid, I'd probably stop for a bit, hydrate, eat a bit, and gather myself. But, a totally game time decision, as noted by others.
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

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    I've done that ride twice and used a triple with 12/27 and it STILL wasn't a low enough gear for me. The first time (2007) I stopped at the rest stop, stopped 3 or 4 times on that damn climb, but did pedal to the top. BTW, that last 16% grade has short peaks of over 21% in places...measured twice with a GPS and other riders got the same numbers.

    The second (2009) I managed to get horrible IT band problems starting about mile 80, and in the end I walked the last mile or so. I've never seen any climb as tough as that final MoM climb and it's even tougher with 100 miles in your legs. My heart rate on the climb was actually lower than many points earlier in the ride because I just didn't have enough left to get my HR high!

  13. #13
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Yeah, it will probably be "game time" this year. The last two years I didn't plan to stop, and I didn't. I just "blew by" the rest stop at 4.5 MPH or whatever. It's just that after I had to bail out before the finish last year, I couldn't help thinking maybe I would have been better off if I had stopped.

    I'm in quite a bit better shape this year than last year. I've done pretty well with distance and climbing over the winter and the spring. Last year I had some setbacks with surgery, and a crash recovery.

    I'll plan to skip the last RS this year, but if I have to stop I will. I really, really hated walking across the finish line last year
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  14. #14
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegheny Jet View Post
    Will you feel like you cheated yourself by not completing the steep climb by making the stop?
    A bit
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  15. #15
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
    Take the break, message the legs, keep walking around, grab a little sugar and drink - then get back on the bike and proudly finish!
    Thanks for the permission
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  16. #16
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
    Thanks for the permission
    You don't need anyone's permission but your own.
    Have fun!
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  17. #17
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
    Yeah, it will probably be "game time" this year. The last two years I didn't plan to stop, and I didn't. I just "blew by" the rest stop at 4.5 MPH or whatever. It's just that after I had to bail out before the finish last year, I couldn't help thinking maybe I would have been better off if I had stopped.

    I'm in quite a bit better shape this year than last year. I've done pretty well with distance and climbing over the winter and the spring. Last year I had some setbacks with surgery, and a crash recovery.

    I'll plan to skip the last RS this year, but if I have to stop I will. I really, really hated walking across the finish line last year
    Got it! You're going to do great this year and I'm predicting if you can manage the heat and keep cramps at bay you'll easily do it without stopping. If you were doing 4.5 mph you were going faster than me! I was struggling to pass people walking and they were only doing 2.5 mph! Just keep listening for the cowbells, loud speaker and commotion and smoke that last 1/4 mile!!!!

    Of course it's easy for me to talk about sitting in a nice and cool 74 degree air conditioned office......
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  18. #18
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One of my rules is never to stop on a hill-either up or down- but this one sounds a bit brutal. If I were to stop it would not be for very long. Time to get off the bike- Take a gel and a full bottle of water and while doing that I would be stretching the body to get it ready for the final slope.

    But hate to say it- Seeing as how you know where the brutal part is- I would take the pace out for a couple of miles beforehand- Take the gel and water at this time--Then Blast the final couple of miles at a 40 cadence in the lowest gear you have got and hopefully with enough speed to keep upright.
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  19. #19
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    Originally Posted by cyclinfool
    Take the break, message the legs, keep walking around, grab a little sugar and drink - then get back on the bike and proudly finish!


    This sounds like sound advise, if needed. If not climb it non stop. I find rest stops enjoyable & relaxing.
    If you want a lighter bike ? Eat more salads !!!!

  20. #20
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    But hate to say it- Seeing as how you know where the brutal part is- I would take the pace out for a couple of miles beforehand- Take the gel and water at this time--Then Blast the final couple of miles at a 40 cadence in the lowest gear you have got and hopefully with enough speed to keep upright.
    That's not far from the truth at all. While the ride as a whole isn't the toughest century I've done, the last 3 miles are very hard. I'd fair a lot better if it was 45 on the climb. On steep grades I seem to lose about 10 watts for every 5 increase in temp above 45. Last year was 90, you do the math.
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  21. #21
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    I've done MoM several times-- and the last 4 times it has been the double metric... I stopped at the last rest stop last year because it was so HOT... Literally, I stopped long enough to get some ice in a cup to cool my neck, a quick sip and back on the bike. Unfortunately I won't be there this year It is one of my favorite rides (if you haven't done the double century, consider doing it-- you get 2 more mountains, and they are truly beautiful...)
    have a great ride!

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  22. #22
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buelito View Post
    (if you haven't done the double century, consider doing it-- you get 2 more mountains, and they are truly beautiful...)
    Maybe next year
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  23. #23
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Followup: I was feeling pretty good (considering) when I went past the rest stop, so I decided to keep on chugging. They didn't have misters this year, but a guy did offer to dump some water down my back, and I took him up on it.

    So, story ends: no stopping, no walking. I made it to the top this year, unlike last year:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/88856729
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  24. #24
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post
    Followup: I was feeling pretty good (considering) when I went past the rest stop, so I decided to keep on chugging. They didn't have misters this year, but a guy did offer to dump some water down my back, and I took him up on it.

    So, story ends: no stopping, no walking. I made it to the top this year, unlike last year:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/88856729
    We must have ridden near each other for most of the day. My ride time was a bit quicker but my overall time was slower because Neal was cramping and I waited on him at the rest stops later in the ride. One thing I find weird though is your Garmin shows over 9700' of climbing while my 800 reads just over 9000', Neal's 800 is between the two. How can they be so far apart?

    BTW, I did stop on the way up the climb. I just don't seem to have the leg strength to turn over the pedals for the length of that grade that late in the ride. I rode past the rest stop but that next corner I was pulling wheelies it was so steep and I pulled over on the left at the next road intersection. I felt great most of the day and kept slowing hoping Neal would keep up but his cramping really hurt him, though he finished to his credit.

    All I can say is that last climb is just cruel. lol

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  25. #25
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I kept leap-frogging a couple of guys who I thought might be you and Neal, but I was too shy to ask One had Asheville NC somewhere on his kit. I was the fat guy on the Cervelo with yellow highlights.

    GPS's are a mystery sometimes. I always goes by the one that gives the most impressive stats.
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