Day Two Elevation Profile

'Tour de Blue' Log:
Monday 10/4
Day 2 - Acts of God and Hans...

OK, so we went to get on our bikes, but like it was raining but we really wanted to go bike riding and we didn't know what to do and then it started lightning and stuff but it got better so we decided to go bike riding and then we did but it started raining again and...

Up until yesterday I had been scraping around trying to find material for this page. Now there is so much I can hardly figure out what to say. I just want to spit it out all at once; but there is no room. Or time. Last night Hans and I got about 4 1/2 hours sleep after working on web pages. Don't say it - I know - dumb. But we're caught up in the energy.

Today wasn't suposed to be dramatic. In fact after yesterday's huge climbs today should have been a let down.

Not.

Yesterday we started at 9:45AM because of Acts of Hans. Today it was Acts of God. Rain, rain, rain. Intending to start at 8:00AM, we awoke to find pouring rain and lightning. Weather Channel just rubbed it in. So, after deciding to wait for clearing, we took a small side trip to the Folk Art Center in Ashville, NC where Mike and Karyn shopped while Hans and I slept in the van. Not wanting to put off the huge climb necessary at the start of today's ride, we finally started at 10:30 when the rain had slowed to a drizzle. Predictably, it started to pour again as soon as we started moving.

I have never ridden in rain and was dreading the possibility. When braking, you initially have no response whatsoever. Then you panic. Finally the brakes start to grab as water is removed from the rim by the pressure of the brake shoes. Then you let go of the brakes; and when you want to brake more you have to go through the same process again. This is not fun on descents. Not being a super confident descender, I let the other guys go ahead, first Mike, then Hans. The rain also meant that we were generally soaked the rest of the day. It did clear and was one of those cool days in the 60's with fluctuating fog and clearing.

It took until 2:45PM to summit Craggy Dome at around 5600' with a fair amount of editorializing near the end of the climb. We just didn't have legs we had yesterday. Today we also rode close together and talked more. The great thing about this bunch is that when someone is ranting, someone else is laughing. We got a good laugh out of Mike smacking his head on the tailgate not once, but twice, while unloading bikes this morning and the awarding of the "yellow shorts" for being last finisher - to me. Weee. There is a scary degree of self deprecation on this tour.

Next, Mt Mitchell, the highest point in the US east of the Mississippi. The BRP doesn't go to the top of Mt Mitchell; it goes past the entrance to Mt Mitchell State Park. But even that you earn, so when we crawled as far as the park entrance at 4:00PM - 40 miles into our day - we just threw the bikes into the van and drove to the top for fun. It was Hans, whose cell phone hasn't worked since he left Virginia, who said it -

Quote of the day:
"I'm gonna try my cell phone from up there and if it doesn't work Nextel is really gonna get an earful from me." - Hans
Well, it did work, though with difficulty. Hans checked his phone mail. There was a message from Spencer Gifts telling him that they had four rubber chickens waiting for him. This is completely true. I am not lying. He had ordered six.

OK, at this point we were in the same postition as yesterday - too many miles left and not enough daylight. But it was mostly descent and we still had a chance to do a lot of it. So when Hans had finally badgered me into another "photo shoot" with the yellow shorts I just blurted, "Enough chicken boy! You will eat my chicken shorts! Let's ditch him, Mike."

Until today we couldn't have imagined a descent any more intense than yesterdays. But today we went down a mountain, late in the day - in the fog. It's not as crazy as it sounds. You can't go quite as fast. The double yellow line becomes like a yellow brick road; and things loom at you out of misty nothingness. It's not the formless mist that normally drifts around these mountains. On a cool day like today it is well-formed powder-puff clouds that you travel through, or see in the valley below. The moisture collects on your clothes, eyebrows and bicycle. Sometimes we rode out of a cloud just long enough to see a scene to take away what little breath we had left. Then back into the cloud.

Tunnels. Wow! Entering a tunnel in a dense, evening fog on a dowwnhill ride is surreal to the point of being one of those after-death experiences. Because of the lack of contrast, it is really not as difficult to see as you might think. Karyn followed us closely in the van, as she did last night. But her headlights made little difference to us today.

There were two 500' climbs tossed into the overall descent. My legs were badly fatigued. And after yesterdays bonk I planned not to let it happen again. So just prior to those climbs I ate Power Gel, an excercise carbohydrate suppliment that digests very quickly. It's anti-bonk food. Combine that with a desire to just get it over with and you get pretty good results. I beat chicken-boy and finished first.

We didn't make the overall mileage. It was too dark to get beyond mile marker 331, so we are 20 behind our 80 mile per day goal. But we just completed the two most grueling days of the Tour de Blue and are pretty proud to have averaged 12.3 MPH (based on actual ride time) in some of the tallest mountains on the east coast. Tomorrow the goal is to make up some mileage, enjoy the surroundings more and stay dry. And outrun chicken boy.

Injury Report:
Mike has some knee complaint. Hans has some knee complaint. I have some foot complaint. But we are not really complaining as long as the Advil holds out.

Eric





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The End of Rain 10/4/99