Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Day 6: King of the Mountains

Day 6
Afton to Lexington 52 miles

Woke at 6am, and packed my stuff. By about 7.15 me and Dave were on the road. With a big old mountain to climb!

Got to the Blue Ridge Parkway turning and began the 27 miles of mostly uphill cycling. Even early on it was clear that the effort required would be rewarded with absolutely stunning views. My camera's memory card can hold around 2500 pictures, and I could have used most of them today.
An early stop to look at the views

It was good to have a person to ride with too, we took regular breaks at pretty much every overlook to take photos and have a drink.

The actual climbing wasnt as bad as I imagined it would be. I think my problem on the previous days was that I would try and power up the hills, up out the saddle but this would just tire my legs out. Today was all about using the gears on the bike. Most of the day was spent using the 2 lowest gears, but it wasnt too tiring on the legs as the gears were doing the work. It was often slow progress (7mph was a rare sight) but it was doable. I think from now on my hill technique will be all about getting up them easily, rather than quickly!
Hope he isnt scared of heights!

Thats not to say it was easy. Afton was at 1000ft, and we then had a downhill, before climbing up to around 3,300ft at the highest point! But those vistas were worth every pedal turn.

AT about 1pm (already 5 hours on the road) we covered the 30ish miles of the BRP we had to do, and prepared to take the plunge down to Vesuvius. It was extremely steep. I really dont know how Eastbound riders get up it. We had to stop regularly, as our rims were overheating with all the braking required. With lots of hairpins (or switchbacks as americans call them) it required lots of braking.
I would NOT want to have to climb up this!

But we soon reached Vesuvius and headed to Gerties. Gerties is another popular stop off for TransAm riders. They do great food (after all the effort, my cheeseburger tasted amazing) and riders write their names all over the interior. I left my mark for posterity, although writing on the ceiling is actually quite difficult!

The next part of the ride was a lovely long gentle downhill stretch. The only problem was the road was melting from the heat, so I ended up with loads of stones stuck to my wheels. We even took a quick paddle in the river to cool off at one point.

After conquering the mountains, the ride towards Lexington was great. The downhill gradient meant that it was easy to keep speeds of around 16-17mph without too much effort.

Stopped at a service station for more gatorade (I really should buy shares in them, as I seem to be drinking so much of the stuff!). Then there was a really quite horrible climb towards Lexington – not what was needed after 10hours on the road!

Got to Lexington at around 5.30, and found a cheap motel. For two of us, it was just $25 each – bargain. I am conscious that I havent used my tent much yet. I think I was get further into the centre it will get much more use, but as Im still feeling my way into things I dont mind getting motels. That seems to be a common consensus amongst riders.

Do really feel like I achieved something today, and that I am a bit more of a real cyclist now.

Anyway, my pizza has just arrived so must dash. My Garmin said I burnt over 5000 calories today, so I think I've earned it!!!


  1. At 7mph the polka dot jersey is just out of reach. Enjoying the updates, Paul

  2. Hi Mike, all of work are reading your blog - we are all jealous
    as he'll!
    E mail me at work so we can organise a skype session?