Monday, March 30, 2009

I Can't Quit You!

I was supposed to race my mountain bike in the Uwharrie’s yesterday. That was until I got a Facebook message from my buddy Steve – “We’re doing the Blowing Rock loop if you want to bag the MTB race.”

Holding a Blowing Rock ride over my head is like tempting me with a box of Cadbury Eggs (one of the best parts of springtime, by the way…ooo, delicious fondant why are you only available for Easter?) – I simply cannot resist and I can’t stop at one. I bagged the race which was made easier when my teammate, Leah called and said she was baggin’ it, too. After four days of rain, neither of us wanted to get our brand new jerseys that muddy.

The predicted high for the mountains: 45 degrees. When we left Charlotte at 8am, it was 60 with a predicted high of 70. How could the mountains a couple short hours up the road be so much colder? A 10 degree difference is normal, but 25? Huh, (shoulder shrug). Maybe the weather people were getting it wrong in the mountains.

Well, they didn’t. The temperature swings during our ride were astronomical compared to normal. 20 degree swings in temp that became a little un-nerving after we had climbed and descended Beech Mountain only to look up at some ominous clouds cresting the peaks. At one point I was so hot I regretted my decision to wear knee warmers and a wind vest (speaking of wind, standby…I’ll get to that). I had my arm warmers pulled down and my jersey zipped open in an effort to cool myself. Fast forward 30 minutes – as the ominous clouds began their ruthless pursuit of us – and I was so cold I was sure I was bordering hypothermia. The only thing to do – push a little harder to try and stay warm.

Pushing harder, though, was complicated by hurricane force wind gusts that smacked you in the face when you came around a corner. Descending Beech Mountain was a little scary. My bike shook back and forth like it was convulsing as the wind hit me and I tried to fight it back. One gust pushed me and my bike violently 5 yards to the right. Had I been huggin’ the side of the road instead of in the center, I’d still be stuck in a tree somewhere on the side of Route 194.

Despite all that, I loved the ride. It’s just too beautiful up there to have a bad day. Had I experienced all this during a ride in Charlotte, I’d be writing an angry blog about a really shitty ride. But there’s something about the level to which you push your body (and bike) through the mountains that is internally satisfying. I simply can’t quit and I can’t say no to riding up there.

Sitting at Canyons Restaurant afterwards with a huge burrito looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains as the clouds moved in swallowing our view, we got a phone call from a friend – the snow had just started on Beech Mountain. We all collectively sighed with relief that we’d cheated Mother Nature if even just a little bit.

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