This was technically a cyclocross ride but I rolled it with my MTB since I don’t have a ‘cross bike.
Devil’s Backbone Brewery was the start/finish for this 27-mile ride up and over (and up and over and up and over) some tough 17%-20% climbs including a Category 1 summit up and across the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail. This was probably a top 3 most-difficult ride for me. I definitely rate it behind my first century ride but I’m having trouble coming up with another one in front of it.
I walked a decent bit but felt like I got into a good groove on the 5-mile(!) ascent in the middle of the ride. I was able to draw upon my meditation practice this year to keep focused on making circles (pedaling) while on that climb and really feel like it made a positive difference. That was very cool. Rather it was cold. So cold that there was a good bit of snow still on top of the mountain from a snowfall 10 days prior. The descents were a different fish. Miles and miles of paved downhill on a poorly maintained mountain bike are not the sort of thrills I generally go for. I spent the time trying to convince myself that my odds of survival were just fine. It all worked out in the end but goddamn it was scary through a couple of different sections. The cold, dusty air set me up with a hacking cough through Monday morning. Good times.
We followed up the ride with some pints and a sandwich. It’s rare that I come home from a tough ride and say “I’m not sure I’m doing that again”, but that’s where I was on Saturday night. I’m a little closer to being tempted to try it again next year now that I know what to expect. We’ll see.