It was a small, inaugural event with lots of potential. Caring volunteers, nice course with ample flat stretches, nice aid stations and finish line food.
The event was initially intimidating, in that I was paranoid about riding. Was concerned about the fear of falling. But that was put behind me within the first couple of miles, when my buddy Earl and I pulled a pace line at 20 mph.
The actual "snake" was a 2.5 mile climb through switchbacks. Nice pavement and good views. A couple of nasty dogs on the climb but I think that's becoming mandatory in Tennessee...can't seem to go there without a bad dog story.
My shoulder adapted to the ride, but I'll admit that the constant pressure of leaning into the bars brought a deep ache. It was probably premature for 100K but I set the goal and completed the task.
After cresting the snake I enjoyed the following descent. I whooped a few times and felt the exhilaration flow through my body.
I have come to believe that one of my worst shortcomings is taking the great gifts God has given me, then devaluing them to expectations. Being able to ride in the hills of Tennessee is no norm. Cycling is one of my greatest blessings in life. So as I coasted down that hill, I prayed:
Thank you Lord for all you have given me. Thank you for friends and country roads and my Specialized Roubaix. Thank you for healing my body and allowing me to ride on yet another occasion. Thank you for this day and how I am allowed to use it. I'm a rich man and you have put me in this place. Thank you for all you have given me.
We pedaled into Damascus, Virginia, then stopped for a few minutes in this great little town and portal to the Creeper Trail. Then it was time to pound out the final pull, 13 miles back to Mountain City. Plenty of pizza and cookies were there to greet us, presented by smiling volunteers. I sat in the sun and ate. Life was tasting sweet and fulfilling. God is good.