Well, I don’t know that yesterday was lazy or hazy but it certainly was crazy. It was just one of THOSE days. I don’t know if it was the result of poor sleep the night before or maybe the after effects of a crappy “Monday on Tuesday” work day. Maybe it was simply Karma rebalancing my universe from lunch when I had an enjoyable chat with a reporter from our local paper. I was extolling the virtues of cycling and what a great area we have here in Haywood County for experiencing the beauty of the area from 2 wheels be they motorized (as in motorcycle NOT as the accusations leveled toward Fabian Cancellera this season) or self-powered. Whatever it was, yesterday was one of the hardest days of riding I’ve had in a long time…
I seemed to start out o.k. although the heat of the day surprised me when I left my office at 5:00 p.m. It was still 93 degrees according to my thermometer. That is, of course, strength sapping heat. I decided, foolishly it turns out, that I would add a loop over Hyder Mountain Road to my normal commute home. Hyder Mountain is a serious climb that has an average gradient of 7.42% over .85 miles but turns up to 11 or 12 percent for the last 60 yards or so. This climb is part of the upcoming inaugural Blue Ridge Breakaway and I wanted to test my general fitness over this part of the course.
I had a good start to the day even though it was hot. I seemed to be climbing well going up the initial portions of Hyder Mountain but ran out of pretty much cardio and leg output as I was headed toward the final climb portion that tops out at Fincher’s Chapel. I tried to push through it but even going to my “Lance spot” didn’t help on this day. My heart rate had climbed to 182, I was dizzy, and seeing black spots so I called it quits. Knowing that I was riding solo, I didn’t want to get myself into a heatstroke situation or worse.
As I was cooling down and letting my heart rate drop back to normal, I greeted a cyclist, who was making the climb quite nicely. He had a nice steady cadence going and was out of his seat as he crossed through the gap and out of sight. I briefly considered another go at the mountain but ultimately decided to leave it for another day. I gave a nod of respect to the mountain and descended back to my normal route home along the Pigeon.
It was along the section from Hyder Mountain Road to Clyde, NC that I realized how much was taken out of me on the mountain. I felt I was pushing too high of a gear on my way to Clyde because my legs were just drained. I went to shift down from my big ring to my middle ring only to discover that I was already on my middle ring. It was really a struggle to get home from this point and I had about 15 miles to go.
(Struggling on a crazy summer day…)
(Farm land along Thickety Rd.)
(A couple of my regular greeters along the way!)
(Some gorgeous horses call Thickety Rd. home)
As I proceeded along Thickety, I passed one gentleman watering his lawn. I briefly considered asking if I could ride through his yard to cool down. I thought I was beginning to recover somewhat at this point but still had two climbs to go before making my turn south toward home.
(A cool descent under shade… finally!)
(Ascending to the church on the first of two climbs)
It was an uneventful run in from the intersection of Thickety Rd. and Champion Dr. for the final 8 miles to Bethel. I was very pleased to see the Navigator waiting on me at Bethel Grocery for the ride up the mountain to our home. It was an evening of cramping legs and feet at home as we watched the carnage of Stage 3 of the Le Tour on Versus’s recap of the day. I’m glad this day and ride is behind me. Even though it was somewhat painful on the day, I wouldn’t trade it away. I’m already looking forward to my next ride up Hyder Mountain!
* Lyrics credit:Lyrics – Bradtke, H; Carste, H; Tobias, C
Song – Those Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer
Performer – Nat King Cole