I'm feeling somewhat proud of riding 103.4 miles this past Saturday. My longest ride before that was about 40 miles around Johnson City and Elizabethton, TN. Most rides have been less than 20 miles.
My route was sorta planned and sorta spontaneous. I rode down 107/S. Roan St to Okolona Rd, turned on the road that goes to Laurels and on out to 19E.
From there, I rode up to Roan Mountain, TN and got groceries at the little store there at the turnoff for Roan Mtn State Park. I had initially planned to ride through the park and head back home over Hughes Gap rd through Buladean, but, on a whim, I headed on up 19E to Spruce Pine, NC.
Though I fought a headwind the whole way to Spruce Pine,
I couldn't have picked a prettier day to go for a long ride in the mountains.
Well, in Spruce Pine, I was 60 miles or so from home, and feeling a bit whooped from the climbing. I called my wife for directions, and she routed me over to NC 226/80 etc, where I stopped for a cup of coffee. The feller at the gas station looked at me funny when I asked him if I was going in the right direction to get to Tennessee. I was.
So, more climbing, more descending. I sat on a guardrail at a stop sign 3 miles outside of Bakersville and chatted with a guy for a few minutes. He was a little excited about my ride. It was nice to talk to a positive person, tired as I was.
Somewhere around here my right knee decided to start acting up, and it got progressively worse all the way to Buladean. This hampered my speed considerably, but with no cell phone signal, I had to ride.
I stopped at the little store(The Foxx Den) in Buladean, which was closed, and refilled my bottles at their spigot, sat and smoked my pipe, and tried to prepare myself for the darkness that was fast approaching. Damn, my knee was hurting. Back and shoulders and neck were sore, but manageable, but that knee was possibly turning into a crisis.
My water was sufficient; I had food(oatmeal cream pies, bananas, and tater chips), I had lights. I had it to do.
30 miles to go.
I crawled up out of Buladean in low gear spinning about 40 rpms and trying not to scream with every stroke of the pedals. Up until this time, I had climbed all the hills, but now I had to walk for about half a mile. No help for it; it hurt to bad to pedal uphill without weaving all over the road. So, I walked some. In fact, I walked into Tennessee.
I didn't realize how low my headlight batteries were, so the long descent into Limestone Cove was pretty hairy. It was DARK and Fast. I tried to brake intermittently and keep my speed below 30. I was cold, too, so I stopped at Limestone Cove to get my jacket on and, on I noticed my tail-light was dim. I went ahead and changed out all my batteries and man, what a difference. When one is hurt and cold, some things are not as obvious as they should be.
Now, warm and with better light, I poured on some steam, as well as I could, anyway, and made it to Unicoi, and on up to the BP at Okolona Rd just inside Johnson City. I realized my wife had tried to call, so I called her back and chatted.
She said, "Baby, I can come get you," to which I replied, "Hell, I just rode 98 and a half miles. I've got to make it a hundred."
I made it.
Had to walk another two short stretches uphill between there and home.
But, I made it. It was fun, super fun. My knee is getting better. I can't wait to do it again.
I learned a couple of things.
I need to be stronger, and I need lower gears(I'm running 42/52 with a 14-28 freewheel). I need to true my wheels better.
I had enough to eat, just barely. I ate a small ham sandwich, one piece of American cheese, four or five packs of cheese crackers, a small bag of potato chips, 3 bananas, and 12 oatmeal cream pies. I drank six bottles of water and 1 cup of coffee. I never felt dehydrated, and never really bonky(when I felt bonky I ate).
My bike (1989 TREK 400) felt unstable at speeds over 30 mph. However, the wheels need some truing. I can feel a bump in the front one.
Other than that, the bike held up fine.
Total time 14 hours with quite a few ten minute breaks thrown in.
Next time I think I'll try for about 10 hours over a similar route, or I may ride Carver's Gap next and down into Bakersville. I love Bakersville. It's quiet and pretty.
Thanks for reading,