Monday, April 29, 2013

Road Trip

I got away this weekend and went to My brother's in Chicago. It was nice to spend some time away and with some family. My parents came up Sunday and we all spent the day together.

Ramona and I sitting out on their stoop.

Ramona had never been on the "big" swings before, but I didn't know that so I just put her on one gave her a push.

She liked it. I swung quite a bit this weekend. I started to get vertigo after a while. I don' think adults are supposed to swing for extended periods.

Us on the "big" swings

We did a lot of watching cat videos on my phone.

I didn't bring a bike, but we did ride a little bit. I was on the trike and Ramona on her push bike.

me sitting in

We had to dismount for this stair run-up

Daphne isn't quite as much fun yet, but she's getting there.

Lisa helping Daph across the shaky bridge.

It was a great weekend to be outside there. We all had a great time. I am always amazed at how quickly I can get to Chicago from here (assuming there's no traffic jams). Under 4hrs, more like 3.5. Totally worth it to see these guys.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Big Week...bookended in snow

The week ended in TN, but started out with some snow...on April Fools Day nonetheless!

I snapped this pic out the window. Hard to see, but there's snow falling.

This was the week we were heading to Eastern TN for some riding in the Smokys. But we weren't leaving until Thursday so we had to get through most of the week here first.  
I planned an easy little ride for Monday, a workout for Tuesday and a ride to specifically hit some of the hard pitches around Bloomington for Wednesday. I knew I'd be riding some really steep stuff in TN, so I wanted to wake up whatever mechanism it is that makes you push yourself up 20%+ grades.
We arrived Thursday late afternoon/evening and it had been raining all day. It stopped raining by around 4:30-5, but was still very wet outside. Plus the temp was in the low 40's. A few of us suited up and went out for an easy 1.5hr ride anyway. We got wet form road spray, and it was rather chilly, but sitting in a car for extended periods does tons of damage to my body, so I'm far better off getting a ride after driving than not.
We had a big ride planned for Thursday. Around 80 miles, 3 mountain passes (one being the famous Tail of the Dragon climb which climbs from TN in to NC over 11 miles with over 300 curves). The final pass of this ride features the famed "Sweetie Pie" section which is a nasty 26% grade. That's hard no matter what, but 1) you hit it at ~3hrs in and 2) you hit it at the end of ~15-20min of pure climbing. It's a hard, hard ride.

a few of us at the top of CD
Saturday we set on a ride I have never done before, but have heard of. The ride to Clingman's Dome. CD is the highest point in TN and the second highest point east of the Mississippi. The full ride from where we stay is 90miles and 3 mountain passes. The actual climb to CD is 20miles, all uphill. It took us ~1hr40min of climbing too reach CD. And it was still quite a bit of snow and ice up there at 6,700'. It wasn't super cold at the top, but it was in the 70's at the bottom. People who had been there before said to take a jacket up because you'll need it for the decent. This was advice I took and was glad I did. Like I mentioned, it took 1hr40min to get up, but a little over 30min to get down! If you do the math, 20miles in 30min is an average speed of 40mph. You go really fast for a really long time. But it was so chilly that I kept pedaling the entire way down to keep the blood moving. It was unlike anything I've ever done before; both the climb and the decent. So I started the week with snow here and ended the big rides of the week with snow on top of a mountain.     

a few (more) of us top of CD
That night everyone came over to our cabin and we annihilated some pizzas and watched Supercross. We were leaving the next morning and had to be out by 11am so a few of us got up early enough to do a good solid hour ride and have time to get the place cleaned up and be out on time.
Everything went off without a hitch and we got home without too major of traffic problems. Getting put back an hour or two on the those interstates this time of year isn't too bad (even though it totally sucks). All of the old people that spend winter in FL are coming back north and the highways are super congested. It's just the way it is.
All in all it was a great trip with good people and awesome riding. Between the riding I did in TN and what I did before we left I put in over 15hrs on the bike last week. That's a really big week for me. I'm still feeling pretty good and I still have "building" workouts planned for 2more weeks. Then I'll be due for a rest week.
And that's that. Definitely not all that's happening in my life, but pretty much the up-to-date happenings of my cycling.
As always, thanks for reading!