View to the Southwest from the Grandfather Mountain parking lot.  © 1999 Hugh Morton. So Who's the Little Guy Sayin'
"Hey, wait for me"?

Who indeed! So we shall find out. You could bill this challenge in one of several different ways:

    1) Wisdom of Age 
         vs. Exuberance of Youth 
           vs. Arrogance of Technology
    2) Age 
         vs. Beauty 
           vs. Aging Beauty
    3) Paralegal 
         vs. Engineer 
           vs. Programmer
    4) Moe 
         vs. Larry 
           vs. Curly
    
If you ask us, we probably won't commit to any of the above. After all we are not exactly trying to kill each other; mostly we are all just trying to avoid getting killed. And besides, Karyn (Mike’s wife) wouldn’t put up with it. Yes, behind every Lewis or Clark there inevitably is a Thelma or Louise who stays two steps ahead so that the job actually gets done. Karyn will be driving the support van, scouting hotels, slinging Cliff Bars, and slapping us out of it when we loose our sense of humor. When you look at it like that, there will be four of us biking the Blue Ridge Parkway ‘cause without Karyn there is no way we could complete this ride.

...but back to the little guy. Mike, Hans and I have each taken different approaches to this ride.

Mike is the road warrior. He thinks every step of the way. He almost never gets ground down mentally, even when he has been ground down physically. So his body will do things when tired that the rest of ours won’t. This is because while we are thinking, “Damn I am tired; I don’t know if I can finish”, he is thinking, “OK, I told Karyn I’d be home in time for church and I wanted to mow the lawn first, so I’ll have to keep up a at least a 8:00 pace for the last 5 miles of this run...”. Mike has the experience. He has been biking a lot the last few years. Biking to work. Biking to the dentist. Biking while visiting the inlaws. Biking, biking, biking. He can grind out those long, long rides. He has done several 100 milers. He was even hit by a car once while biking from work, which puts him way off the chart in experience points. Mike is making some equipment upgrades and changes, but his biggest ally is going to be muscle memory, 50 years of it.

Hans is the idealist. “Yeah, we can do it and then we’ll drink beer”. This man scares me to death. Trouble is, he can probably do it that way. Hans is my brother. We are built nearly the same, but I am 7 years older. I consistently feel it my duty to inform Hans of the byproducts of aging because, firstly I know what his body is gonna feel like in seven years, and secondly, I want him to think I am really degenerating so I can sneak up on him. Truthfully, Hans has always been a better performer as an athlete than I. I started running at 21. He started running at 13. Hans has been working too much and working out too little the last few years. Though he has been doing training rides this summer, Mike and I definitely have the edge on him there. But he’s got talent. At 16 he used to ride a crusty old Huffy around the hills of upstate New York (foothills to the Appalachians) on 60 mile rides in 40 degree temperatures. He reminded me of that the other day when I was warning him of the results of my BRP fact-finding tour. I reminded him that he just turned 30. Hans is making almost no equipment changes and will come pretty much “as is”.

I, Eric, am the technologist. I may also be the most risk averse on this ride. What the hell, I know my limitations. At 15 I use to ride down hill at 50MPH without a helmet. Now 35MPH is fine with me. I ain’t biked hardly at all the last 4 years. I ain’t never biked much on no actual mountains. I ain’t never done no 469 miles in 6 days. I did, however, bike to the top of Roan Mountain in East Tennessee back in September 1993 on a lark. It was a 12.5 mile ride at 7.5 MPH. I was so excited to get to the top I stayed to watch the sun hit the horizon. Unfortunately the temperature dropped faster than the sun; and when I started my descent the wind chill made my body shake so badly I couldn’t hold the road. I had to go back to the top of the mountain and beg for a car ride down the hill. Besides that my only other real claim to fame is the four month relationship with Jennifer during the summer before my senior year in high school. This in itself would be unremarkable except that Jennifer lived about 10 miles away in the next city, over and beyond the hills we lived in. It was a downhill ride all the way there and an uphill ride all the way back. Though it made me a strong biker, I had some question at the end of four months as to whether biking was very good for ones health. Thus on this BRP ride I have decided to embrace technology, so that even if I don’t make it - my bike will.

Bottom Line:
We will be all rooting for each other on this ride. But if one us does crack, he will never hear the end of it.