|Photo courtesy Robin Rohlke. (L to R) Tom, Tim, Paula & Dave|
Monday was an add-on break connected to the Easter weekend. So, instead of drinking 12-packs like many others in the parks were doing, a small group of us opted for a big dose of punishment, pre-riding the new Beach Mountain Century loop.
Here are all the details on this flog-your-way-to-the-top epic ride:
We took a 10 am start out of Valle Crucis, with an immediate climb up 194 into Banner Elk. If you have not made this climb, well, you better come over and try it for yourself. If it wasn't for the casual attitude and pace of ride leaders Paula and Dave, I would have packed up the tent and went home. You have to take it ever-so-easy on the long climbs and then enjoy the descents on the other side.
Near Bethel, we did the Cat-1 level climb on Stone Mountain Road. It's 1.5 miles of body pain. You'd think cycling was in the legs, but you're putting so much into it that when I got home, it felt like someone got after me with a ball bat.
What' scary and a bit of concern is the fast downhill after the Stone Mountain crest. There are switchbacks and gravel is abundant. I'm sure many on the tour will go all Johnny Race on the way down and get into the corners hot. Carnage and chaos may ensue.
There's more to it, but 58 miles later we were back at the start, with a 12 mph average. You have to ride mountains to understand. On this day, we skipped the actual Beach Mountain climb, but that's another story.
Let me state it here: The Beach Mountain Century will separate the big boys from the little boys and the big girls from the little girls. It incorporates all the best our area offers. Tough duty, but the views are amazing.
Ride hard, ride well, but most important remember speed kills. Go home safe and in one piece.