Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 Storming of Thunder Ridge

 2012 Storming of Thunder Ridge

     I had all but decided the night before the ride that I would do the 100 mile course and only cut back to the 75 miler if I was feeling out of my element. My prep work for this ride was suited to make this either a low endurance event if I did the 75 mile route or a high endurance event if I did the 100 miler. The two courses split in different directions around mile 65 and when I reached that point I couldn't fully comprehend what I was getting myself into, but I vowed to press on.

     The 100 mile course had 7 Aid Stations and I stopped at each to allow for some limited recovery. The Storming of Thunder Ridge group ride is just that, a ride, not a race. No official or unofficial results are kept, so with no pressure to perform, I just motivated myself with some abstract goals of finishing strong and making a solid effort. I set my Garmin up so I wouldn't be able to monitor the data that I often use to define my performances and instead I only monitored the data for the specific sections of the ride between the Aid Stations. I had a ball park idea of what my overall moving time and pace were, but since I was doing the full 100 it was more important to focus of just finishing and staying comfortable than it was to push for good statistics.
Elevation Profile for the SOTR Full Century.

     I'm going to break this post down into the 8 riding sections and 7 aid stations since thats the way my Garmin Data recorded it:

Their is a little white dot on the horizon at the top of the mountain. That white dot would be the observatory on the Blue Ridge Parkway and this routes biggest landmark.
     Start to AS#1: Almost 18 miles of gently rolling hills. Speed was easy to summon, but holding back was the plan. An avg speed of 15.6 mph on this section was right in line with my expectations.

Sedalia Baptist church was good  to donate the use of their facilities for use at AS#1

     AS#1Casually consumed a few food items, went to get back on my bike and I hear air leaking. Closer inspection revealed the seal around the stem had ruptured. I had two extra tubes with me so I changed the tube and rather than flag down ride support I used a CO2 cartridge to inflate my tire. Total waste of a CO2 cartridge because ride support showed up anyway to help someone else. Not to let an opportunity pass, I flagged the guy down and asked him to check the pressure since I don't carry a pressure gauge. Turns out the CO2 cartridge only took it to 90 lbs and I usually run 115, so he topped me off.

     I'm a competent tube changer, but not particularity speedy. The debacle cost me about 15 minutes, almost the whole field was now way out in front and riding with any cyclists that would have made good pace setters was now no longer an option. The whole event dynamic had changed, but I usually ride alone anyway, so it was now more or less another solo ride. My Overall finish time would be handicapped, but I was still in a good position to have strong moving time and a strong overall time with a subtraction for the mechanical failure.

     AS#1 to AS#2: This part captures about 15 miles including 9 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the first 6 miles of Thunder Ridge. My Garmin memory auto erased the geographical data, but the Parkway miles were typical of the sections I routinely cycle on in that they can be tough if your not used to it. I am used to it for 5 mile stretches, but 12 miles of straight up would be a challenge. Aid station #2 was about half way up, so that helped. Shortly after turning onto the Parkway I started seeing a few other riders here and there, so it was good to know people were around.

     AS#2: Aid station #2 was uneventful, as it should be. I consumed a few calories and proceeded to carry on with the course.

Nice view of two chemtrails in the sky. Wonder why they keep sprayin the general public with that stuff anyway?

Event namesake parking lot.

Almost to the Observatory!

     AS#2 to AS#3: The remainder of the 12 mile ascent. I held it steady in the 7.3 to 7.8 mph range.

     AS#3: Lo and behold its Neil B. and David! I knew Neil from High School and had met his friend David at a triathlon last year. Strong cyclists to be so far back in the pack. They were headed out as I was arriving at the aid station, but we spoke for a moment and turns out they had a late start, so I wasn't the only one dealing with delays.

Good view of Sharp Top Mountain

     AS#3 to AS#4: Finally! 13 miles of hard and fast descending! This is what its all about folks! Last year I couldn't enjoy the descent like I wanted to due to wet roads, but today I took it just aggressively enough to keep it fun, but not dangerous. I coasted a little too in order to minimize any saddle soreness. This section also had a few miles of rolling hills after the descent.
Ran into Neal and/or David at most of the aid stations #3-7

Otterville Baptist was good to donate their parking lot for AS#4
     AS#4: Similar to AS#3. Tried to keep it around 10 minutes, but didn't closely monitor the clock

     AS#4 to AS#5: Ok. Now I'm starting to feel it. This was just a short 5 mile section with no serious geography, but my will power was starting to weaken. I felt good physically, but I just didn't feel like pushing the pace much at all.  The heat was starting to get harsh too, which is probably why my will was getting low.

     AS#5: Decision time. This is where the 75 and 100 mile routes split. Will power is low, but nothing hurts. I still have some push, but I'm hesitant to use it being unfamiliar with the distance. I go for it. Full 100! If worst comes to worst, I'll use the granny gears and just take things at a leisurely pace.

     AS#5 to AS#6: (Garmin geographical data retained here on out). The heat was becoming bothersome when I allowed myself to think about it. The next 7 miles had net elevation loss and I took 'em rather strongly. Unfortunately, when the elevation loss stopped I found that my will power was getting burned out too. I dropped down to the small chain ring for the first time and stayed in it for a good long while.

     AS#6: Routine stop. Mostly typical in terms of food selection and rest time.

     AS#6 to AS#7: Almost 19 miles and I stayed in the small chain ring about the whole time. Mentally I wasn't were I needed to be for a strong finish, but I wasn't disappointed or worried about finishing, I was in leisure mode and happy just to be moving forward. Just a short distance prior to aid station #7 a cloud burst open on me for like a minute and a half...just enough to get things damp and cooled off.

     AS#7: Spent above average time at this one. Only 7 more miles to go, but I was ready for it to be over. I took roughly 15-20 minutes to regroup and get motivated, before heading to the finish.

     AS#7 to FINISH: Cooled off and refreshed from the longer rest and the rain, I took this 7 mile section with a hint of vigor. I was glad to be done with it, but instantly rewarded to know it was worth it to have pushed past the mental barriers.
Just finished 100 miles, attempt to smile is feeble at best.

Dear Kneesee finished her ride then worked as an event volunteer for like 5 hrs!

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Final Time: 9 hours 5 min.
Final Time disregarding mechanical trouble: 8 hrs 50 min
Final Moving Time: 7 hrs 25 min 15 sec (13.48 mph avg)



  1. Those are some great views. Nice job getting it done!

    1. Thanks! I really like the route. Good combination of challenging terrain, scenic views and cultural architecture,