Sunday, July 28, 2013

Roan Moan: There's no need to groan

Yesterday, I had the privilege of completing the Roan Moan, which incorporates an epic  seven mile climb to the top of Roan Mountain. Once the experience was completed, this master competitor can tell you that when it comes to a (wo)man and his/her mountain, this is a must-do in the southeastern cycling community.

The event is promoted by the Bakersville Volunteer Fire Department and all proceeds go towards needed emergency equipment. Both rides, the metric (62 miles) and the 100 mile go out of the fire department yard.

Weather was treacherous. I'm a late adapter and finally purchased a smart phone, which means I can now track storm cells moving into the area. A nasty gray and green blob was moving towards us at the start and only a few miles into the race, we got hammered for about an hour.  Lightning strike count 1, 2, 3, 4 kaboom! Thank you Lord it's four miles out, keep riding. At one point I was making a scary descent, road was wet and greasy through the curves. I had snot rockets that needed to eject but I was afraid to take my hands off the brake levers. There was no other choice, I snorted and let the rockets fly right onto my jersey. That's an event I won't forget soon.

There's something about getting wet. Dreading the impending rain, then adapting to seepage as it comes into your crotch padding and socks.  Then you are complete wet, when water is dripping from every crevice in your body. You feel gooey all over, then dig in and ride.

The storm abated and went to a drizzle. We rode on, climbing and descending on picturesque country roads. Riding the Tweetsie railroad grade was like moving through a tunnel carved out of forest.

Big story on the day was a crazed canine (a boxer) that attacked and rammed a woman on a bicycle! The loony mutt hit her so hard it broke spokes in her wheel. The impact sent her tumbling, but thank the Lord is was wet pavement and she slid with minor road rash.

We hit the Roan Mountain climb 41 miles into the ride. In 30 years of pedaling, I don't think I have ever climbed that distance. The organizers painted Pac Man (remember him?) icons on the road each mile up. It's a methodical grind in your two lowest gears. Around every turn comes another climb. Mentally, you have to stay in the moment and relax every muscle, garnering support for your throbbing leg units.

I rode to the top with Lou McLean, a top performer in the Boone Area Cyclists. Slow pull to the crescendo at 5500 feet. I stopped for a bit at the aid station, then slipped on my rain jacket for the ride down. I didn't have to pedal for seven miles, that was the payback. It was a nice gentle cruise back to the finish.

Thanks to all the wonderful course volunteers who supported this event. It's a pleasure to be part of something that stands for what's right in the world. The Bakersville Fire Department folks were great people, supporting their community. Many times, the media depicts our country through the lens of large urban center issues. Let's not forget that the USA features hundreds of small, micro communities and as a whole, they represent a substantial portion of our country and its values.

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