The reporting is done, the ride covered. All that is left are perhaps a few observations and then it’s time to get back to the normal activities of riding in the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas.
A few observations:
- Haywood County citizens have a rich history of working together for common causes. Perhaps it is the cultural legacy of mountaineers surviving with the help of neighbors and not looking to the government to fix everything. Whatever it is, this ride served as another rallying point for the community and it responded wonderfully.
- Of all the riders and all the routes, I heard of only a SINGLE incident of an auto buzzing a rider or group of riders. Similarly, I heard of ZERO incidents of dogs chasing riders. Again, kudos to the community members.
- Comments from participants were overwhelmingly positive about the entire event and most said they’d be back next year and bring friends. This certainly bodes well for the ongoing success of the ride.
- The local Ham radio operators provided a much needed and valuable resource that came into play quickly when the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed down by BRP officials due to the inclement weather on top.
- The BRP officials made a wise decision in closing down the ride. The danger levels for riders were simply too high. I’ve been in those situations on the Parkway on both motorcycle and bicycle and they are dangerous. As always, SAFETY FIRST!
- The care and concern for participants shown by the event planners and organizers would be hard to top anywhere. From providing outstanding aid stations, sag support, and the unexpected rescue of stranded cyclists on the mountain, they did a superb job and should be commended.
Some final thoughts/ponderings on my personal experience:
Many of us face existential questions in our daily lives. Many of us seek out answers to those questions in man’s never ending quest for enlightenment. I know and embrace many of the “hats” that I wear in my life: husband, friend, co-worker, advocate, Principle “Keep the Navigator Happy” assignee. The one puzzling question that still leaves me searching for answers is this: After near 3 years in my return to cycling, have I earned the right to call myself a cyclist? In my quest to answer this question, I’ve stumbled trying to elucidate what makes a person a cyclist. Does any amount/frequency of riding qualify? Does a specific type of riding override all other forms of cycling? Was the Unicyclist a cyclist? Is a long distance ultra-endurance cyclist more or less of a cyclist than an individual who focuses more on weight loss and fitness in their cycling efforts? Does completing a metric century or century by and of itself give me the right to call myself a cyclist?
It is questions like these that often come to mind in the wee hours of night, when the darkness of the day is most fully enveloping me. I toss and I turn from the exhaustion in my legs and my back all the while wondering, “Can I legitimately call myself a cyclist” or am I merely a “Fred” in development? (Please note: no insult or injury to anyone name Fred is intended here. I use the term merely because it has been taught to me as meaning “someone who pretends to be a cyclist but isn’t really… They probably have a kickstand and reflectors still on their bike. Again, not my definition.)
Well, at least part of the question was answered for me this past weekend. You may think it is because I completed my first metric century. That would be a logical assumption to make but, it would be wrong. My effort pales in comparison to what many people do on a daily basis. You see, the moment came to me in my ride prep the night before the ride. It wasn’t that I was carbo-loading in my selection of a pasta dish at supper. It wasn’t that I had carefully gone over my Fuji and packed early – well, except for those little things called water bottles. No, the moment of partial truth came to me as I did something that I’ve never done for any sport in which I was involved in my lifetime and I have been blessed to participate in many different sports.
You see, clarity came upon me as I sat on the edge of the bathtub, spreading shaving lotion on my left leg. Yes, that’s right I SHAVED MY LEGS for the Blue Ridge Breakaway. I am CYCLIST! Hear me ROAR! It was a marvelous experience almost as good as the first time I shaved my head many, many years ago. The smooth move of the Gillette Fusion up my leg removing a lifetime’s growth of hair made me shudder with joy. Why, I didn’t even shave my ankles in high school football when they were taped due to sprains.
So, it’s out now. I’ve tried to encourage the Navigator not to be too jealous of the smooth touch of my legs. I let her slide her leg along mine the other day just so she could experience perfection. There you have it! I’m outted. I outted myself. No one noticed at the ride or, at least, no one commented at the ride on my sleek aerodynamic legs. I feel absolutely confident that without having shaved my legs, I would have finished my ride in 5 hours and 15 seconds instead of 5 hours and 9 seconds.
I bid you adieu for now. I leave you as I proclaim “I am a cyclist fer sure!” I’m really uncomfortable with this stubble though. I think I’ll go shave….