Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Up In The Clouds

It's been raining here...a lot. Other than the Cackalacky Cup Saturday night, I haven't had much bike time. I even took a few days off for the specific purpose to ride bikes somewhere, and the rain shit all over my plans. Forgive me for being a little whiny, but yeah, this sucks.

Last Thursday, Little Miss Sunshine and I took a trip to the mountains. The plan was to hang out and enjoy a nice relaxing day off, and that's just what we did. We had considered bringing our bikes, but ended up without them. That's okay, because I knew for sure I would get to ride my bike the next day. Here was our destination for the day:

Mount Mitchell. At 6,684 feet, it is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. That's one place I hadn't been since we moved here, and it was nice to finally get there. A few years ago, Little Miss Sunshine, The Dirty Party Cycle, and myself climbed to the top of Grandfather Mountain (5,964 ft), and it was hard work. The hiking trails are pretty rugged, but the views were well worth the effort. With Mount Mitchell, you could just drive right to the top. It was way too easy.

With hardly any effort, we were way up in the sky. We could see all around, and it felt like we were on top of the world (on this side of the world anyway.) I really enjoyed the view.

It was very nice, and we spent a little time up there. Being from Florida, I can't get enough of these mountains. Being a cyclist though, I wanted more. I wanted to ride my bike around there...anywhere. We drove around a bit on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and stopped to look at the mountain that we just uh, climbed.

All that beautiful land was begging me to ride on it. There were a few options, I knew of at least two. The first, would be to ride my mountain bike up Curtis Creek. I've ridden in the area last summer when we all went to Kitsuma, but I didn't make it over to the other side. Since I've never been there, I was a little worried about doing it all by my lonesome. I needed someone to show me the way, but I didn't want to wait for that. I had the next day off and I couldn't wait to return to Mount Mitchell on two wheels. This presented a problem if I wanted to round up a guide. I didn't know anyone that could ride with me at the last minute, so I started thinking about a different kind of ride up there.

When we were driving back down the mountain and on the Parkway, I thought about my road bike. Sure, roadie shit is boring. but riding up in the clouds sounded like a nice treat. The distance didn't seem too bad, but it was steep as hell. Little Miss Sunshine didn't even bat an eye when I mentioned it, since she knew that there was no way to stop me. I had to do something on a bike near Mount Mitchell, and I may have found it...or so I thought.

A road ride, with a crazy climb. It was pretty much all climbing from the town of Marion to the top of Mount Mitchell, but I wasn't worried. I thought "If I got tired and couldn't make it, I could just turn around and coast back to my truck." Sounded like a "good enough" plan to me. On the way back to Charlotte I called the MadSS, who told me that he had ridden that particular route in the past. I told him I was thinking about it.

"It's a nice ride, and it's only 28 miles."

That didn't sound too bad, but I think I misunderstood him. Only 28 miles round trip sounded do-able, even if half of it was climbing. On the drive home, I proceed to inform Little Miss Sunshine that I would be attempting this madness.

"Be careful, and don't get dead", she said.

When I got home, I got on The Google and looked at the route. I was wrong. It was 28 miles ONE WAY. Oh yeah, all of that was steep climbing, with a shitload of switchbacks. I wasn't deterred, since I still had my strategy of turning around if I couldn't make it. The goal of reaching the summit of Mount Mitchell under my own power would be my motivation, and for some reason I thought I could do it.

The next morning I woke up at 6:00, and made sure Lunchbox got off to school. I looked outside and it was pouring rain. Shit. I checked the weather around Mount Mitchell and they were getting it worse than we were. I don't mind riding in the rain, but trying some roadie death march in a monsoon sounded way too dangerous. I took my ass back to bed. Ride fail.

Will I still try it? By golly you betcha. I should probably hurry up though, since it will be winter around these parts soon. In fact, it's a lot colder at the top of Mount Mitchell even in the summer, so I need to get crackin'. I don't want to wait until the spring cause well, I may forget about this whole crazy idea. I guess that could be a good thing. That way I won't die. Going out on a road bike is not the way to do it, that's for sure.


madSS said...

oops! I think I did say 28 mile round trip. I forgot to count the 28 back. fuzzy math sometime. the cool thing is you can hit around 50mph coming down the hill so it feels like 5 miles back. I go up with ya

TheMutt said...

Yeah, I'm down for it. I may not be able to keep up with you, but I'll give it a shot. I may need to add more gears to my road bike first.