Yesterday Gwynn and I participated in the Blue Ridge Brutal (BRB). We preregistered a couple of months ago for the 50m route, but we recently received notification from the organizers saying that the routes would be shortened this year due to construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), so we chose the shortened 75m route.
We drove to West Jefferson on Friday afternoon and stayed overnight at the brand new Hampton Inn. During my first BRB back in the late '90s, the ride began with an anaerobic (for me) procession through downtown. This year we enjoyed walking through town both Friday and Saturday evenings before dinner at Frasers'.
The start was very typical (although I do miss the old days when they used a shotgun as a starter's pistol), as the hammers always seem to fly out of sight before I reach the BRP. If you want to see a "hammer fly out of sight", I highly recommend this event. We briefly visited with Gyros Don Page and Fernando Puente, prior to the start, before they flew away. 8^)
Gwynn and I started at the back of maybe 250 bikes. A light rain began falling as we rolled out NC163 and up Phillip's Gap toward the BRP. The parkway was very foggy. Even though we were deprived of some breathtaking scenery, at least we were able to see the freshly painted double-yellow line and used it for navigation. When we exited the parkway on NC16, we said goodbye to the rain and fog, but continued to enjoy cool (~75F) air temperatures for the remainder of the ride.
While I was pulling up a climb on NC16, Gwynn said: "You can go a little faster, I'm wobbling!" ;^) We made our first stop at the second rest area (36m) and enjoyed some homemade zucchini bread. As you would expect after this many miles, we were sharing the road with riders of all abilities, because we passed some faster riders when we skipped the first rest area and also passed an occasional hammer that had been grounded by a flat. The homemade snacks were good enough to warrant another stop at the third rest area (47m) just before we crossed the New River on US221.
That was our last stop before the finish. Since this was the first time that I've ridden the "75m" route, I was surprised by a couple of long hills in the last 5 miles. Next year I'll expect to see long hills while riding in the mountains. 8>)
We had 66.9m @15.4mph while on the bike and ~4.5 hours elapsed time.
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revised on Saturday, February 28, 2015.
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