The title of this post is an understatement of close to the highest order. It wasn't just a weekday ride, it was a Ladies' Day Ride in the Gaps. L, N, VR, VW, and I took the morning off to ride the front three gaps up in the North Georgia mountains. It was the first time for everyone but L and me, and from beginning to end it was a great day (except where I spilled my entire coffee on the floor in the back of my car). N and VW are riding Fletcher this season, and so they won't be joining the Tahoe team on either of the Gaps rides we have planned for GTRs. VR wanted to have the ride under her belt once before tackling the challenging course with the additional responsibilities of mentoring other riders up the climb.
Let me tell you, it was amazing. The weather was cooperative in the best way: cool and sunny and a light breeze throughout (until 5 miles from the end where it whipped up and got a ton of small debris in our eyes). The promised rain was nowhere to be seen, and the other cyclists out and about were friendly and encouraging. I love riding up there, because I love the challenge of the hills, the whizzing descents, and the beautiful country roads. The views at each summit are lovely and inspiring, and the rolling road out to Suchess is fast and enjoyable.
I made it up Neel Gap in good time: we hit the bottom and I found a comfortable rhythm and cadence (about 70rpm) and just took off. I knew I could maintain it for the duration of the climb (51 minutes from Turner's Corner to the summit). L bridged the gap and rode the second half up with me. We clearly took more time at the top than my legs would have liked, because when we got to Wolfpen and the rollers to Suchess my legs were toast. Lesson learned: keep moving and don't let your body cool off. Even with the tired legs, however, I was able to "bomb" down the hills, which are technical (Wolfpen) and fast... and satisfying.
I was pleased with myself in terms of hydration and nutrition: I got it exactly right, such that riding back in to the store I found myself hungry but with plenty of energy.
I am looking forward to taking the team up there next weekend, and though I am nervous because I volunteered to sweep the ride, I think it will be a great day for everyone. I don't think there's anyone who's going that won't be able to do this ride, and I am looking forward to sharing in their pride for a hard job and daunting challenge mastered.
Maximum speed: 36.9 mph (Strava says 44.8, which would be nice if it were true...)
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Distance: 38.00 mi
It was a completely great day.
Strava details can be found here.