Saturday, I rode here http://www.mapmyride.com/s/routes/view/road-cycling-map/georgia/dahlonega/31803394 I like the link because I can see the profile and you, dear readers, can ALSO see the profile. It isn't very impressive (for impressive, see the profile for Stage 14 of the TdF), but it was still a step beyond the first time we went up to the Gaps last month.
Maximum speed: 39.5 mph
Average speed: 13.4 mph (1 mph faster than last time!)
Distance: 49.41 mi
We expected a large group from Sorella to be there, leaving from Turner's Corner and, as we had already opted for a 50-miler, we rode the front three gaps again, leaving this time from the Walmart in Dahlonega, about 10 miles from Neel's gap.
This made a big difference, I think. Last time, we did a piddly 3-mi warm up which, I'll be frank, did nothing to actually get the legs going: I still felt like I hit the first climb cold. This time, however, we rode 10 miles, pulled into and then immediately out of Turner's Corner 10 miles later, and I actually felt warm (it takes ~7 miles for me to get going). We hit Neel's, and I didn't feel great, but I found a comfortable pace, remembered that it took about an hour to crest it last time, and then hunkered down for the long climb. I did NOT drop into the granniest of gears, knowing that if I could spin at a higher gear I would get stronger. Keeping an eye on the average speed, it didn't look like I was going any faster, but I definitely got to the top 10 minutes faster than last time (and my back didn't hurt and I wasn't dreading starting the day).
After Neel's, I knew from experience that the worst part of the ride was over. I also had half a pack of Honey Stingers (those things are aMAzing), and just booked it (for me on hills) the rest of the way through the ride. D passed me on Wolfpen, but I kept him in my sight the whole rest of the climb, getting to the top not long behind him. Rode up Woody's and back to Walmart with him. The descent from Woody's was the best payoff ever, except for getting stuck behind an SUV for a little bit of it. I swear, I felt freaking GREAT the whole time.
We had gotten to the ride start just about on time, and it had been drizzling to raining the whole drive up. I was secretly (and then not so secretly) hoping that we would get rained out, but nature would not cooperate. Instead, I had to do the damn ride and by the time I crested Neel's I had totally changed my tune. I felt great, amazing, spectacular, etc. etc. I couldn't get over myself! It was a great ride, and I think the weather DID cooperate, afterall: 68F and overcast the whole time! Perfection!
It also didn't hurt that the TdF had entered the Pyrenees the day before and I was acutely aware of how quickly those fng guys climb. I will not be put to shame by the skinnies!
Sunday, I rode the KSR with the usual group of great people. It was great to ride with K and V again, it had been forever! I was definitely feeling the ride from the day before, so I took it easy (and by took it easy, I remember feeling like I was pushing and just not getting much reward for the effort). I did NOT go around the mountain. I DID, however, get the breakfast special at brunch following the ride, which I enjoyed immensely.
Maximum speed: 33.8 mph
Average speed: 12.9 mph
Distance: 30.13 mi
Summation: I am a happy, happy girl.