Thursday, April 5, 2012

If You Like Pina Coladas and Getting Caught in the Rain

If you like climbing mountains, with lactic acid on your brain, 
If you catch flying squirrels at midnight, and hang out on the interstate 
Then you'd fit in real well, on the Speedway Wheelmen escape.

Our action-packed trip to Tennessee left me too tired type, even after a couple of extra days off of work, and even then I wasn't sure what I wanted to say.  It was an awesome trip.  It's hard to give it justice, especially when Adam's "epic" post and Sarah's artistic rendering already covered the high points.

I guess since this is supposed to be my blog about my training, I'll mention some that, even if it is not as entertaining as acidic hot tubs, epic thunderstorms, bubble butts, "fuck Satan", or flying squirrels.

While I wasn't up to the ability level of most of my teammates, I still got in over 10 hours of riding during the time we were in Tennessee.  The highlight was a four-hour ride on Friday was somewhere between 60 and 70 miles, depending on whose bike computer was consulted.  The first part was a long climb up and over the Foothills Parkway, which I basically rode alone.  I was able to hang with the group to base of the climb, but once we pointed upward, I settled into my own pace, which turned out to be pretty good one, for me at least.  At the end of the parkway, I regrouped with Val, Eric, Janelle, and Bob.  Much of the group had opted to keep climbing on the Tail of the Dragon to the North Carolina border, but that sounded like a good way for me to bite off more than I could chew if I continued on.

The rest of our grupetto decided we should take a longer but flatter way to Townsend.  This section was actually harder for me than going over the mountain, because their pace was such that I could hang with them for decent chunks of time, but the effort was well above threshold for me.  It was a rough couple of hours of burning, dropping off, regrouping, and burning some more.  In the end, I inadvertently set new all-time peak power records for 20, 40, and 60 minutes on that ride.  It kind of sucked, but it also made me feel like I am probably stronger on the road than I give myself credit for.  I just don't like hurting that bad when there's no tight turns and obstacles to distract me.

The next couple of days were easier for me.  The team rode the Cades Cove loop on Thursday night, but we set out too late in the evening for me to finish before dark, so I wanted to go back ride the whole thing on a day that the rest of the team was doing a harder ride.  So while Adam and Josh were doing their leg-breaking "Homestead Loop", and the rest of the team was doing a 30 mile climb up the Cherohala Skyway, I opted to do the Cades Cove loop alone.  This allowed me to go as noodly a pace as I wanted on my tired legs and to stop and take pictures as much as I wanted.

The final day was a nice, flat, conversational ride along the river with Sarah and Janelle, before we packed up and headed home in time to get stuck on I-75 over 4.5 hours.  Sweet.

Anyway, it was a great time it was totally worth missing the Ouachita Challenge for, even though I did get a little jealous of folks' Blowout Mountain pictures on Facebook.  I guess you can't have it all.  In the end, I gained some fitness, bonded with my teammates, and acquired a good arsenal of stories to tell.  Oh, I also drank my first Pina Colada during out post-ride Mexican feast on Friday, thus the title.  I was disappointed it didn't actually come in a coconut shell like in the picture on the menu, but overall it was pretty tasty.

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