Some of the top guns from the Boone Area Cyclists posted a ride this past Saturday...a training day on the BS&G 50 mile loop. We set out at 9 am from the Valle Crucis school and from that moment forward, it was an epic day.
I'm not much on remembering routes, but I do know we toured through Blowing Rock (a portion of the Bistro ride), up and down many climbs, near the parkway, through Banner Elk and down a torn up Highway 194 back to Valle Crucis. Matter of fact, the under construction 194 has caused BS&G to be rerouted for 2011.
I had to come to terms with myself once again on this outing. My climbing wasn't bad and for a good part of the day, I could hold pace with the big boys. Now that I'm riding a compact crank, I can drop in behind a top performer and judge apples-to-apples on gear choices. My old Felt had a triple chainring up front, which gave me a lower gear option than the compact crank. However, there's no way I could use a lower gear if I want to stay on pace. Lower gearing means slower climbing and these guys can push the crank. So with this crew, you drop onto the little ring up front and the big gear in back and grind.
I can continue to improve on ascending. I can get lighter and stronger and I will. But I'll never descend on pace. I can't. I'm too inhibited and don't have the skill. This wound in my endurance sport DNA goes back almost 40 years. My first love was motocross racing, where I quickly learned early I didn't have the stuff. Never had the courage to hold the throttle on when needed. If you've ever watched a really good rider (bike or motorcycle) it's all momentum, carrying speed through the turns and staying off the brakes. I have too much self preservation. And in any sport with speed, you better be completely invested or park the bike.
Think that I have done the best I can with what I have. I know that God dropped a gem on me when he allowed me to build to the mountain bike rides I currently enjoy. But the moment I try to pick up the pace, I'm picking myself up off the ground.
So that's where it ended on Saturday. Going down 194 is one of the steepest, fastest, curviest sections you'll see in this part of NC. In addition the pavement was broken up with some sand and grit on spots. The other riders were over the top and gone. I came in a distance back, dragging the brakes and riding with my butt off the saddle.
It's sad to admit when your best effort isn't good enough. For some reason, the Lord didn't allow me to have one of the things I coveted most in life. This is where faith comes in, believing He had a different (better?) plan for me. But that said, not being able to hang it out when needed has been a gaping hole in my life.