Getting out of Rt 211 was the second roughest stretch of road of the day. Basically 4 miles at 6%, with peaks at around 9%. Not all that hard when you think about it, but after going out a little harder than I normally do on a century, this climb hit me a little harder than I was expecting.
But one of the coolest parts of the climb is the Mary’s Rock Tunnel. Even with a headlight, and three blinkies, it was still pitch black around me. Because of this all I could see was the light at the end of the tunnel, and it felt very disorienting, but exhilarating. There were quite a few tourists parked after the tunnel taking pictures of cars (and me) coming out of the tunnel.
Slightly after the tunnel, the clouds starting rolling in, bringing some misting drizzle. It wasn’t that bad, and didn’t seem to be constant. After finishing the climb, it was stop #2 at the Pinnacles Picnic Ground. Yet again, my wife thought I rode more slowly than I did. I had passed her along the way without her noticing, and she went all the way back to US211 before catching back up with me at the Picnic Ground.
Now the normal stop. In the Xterra, I had a couple of 2.5 Gallon containers of water. Each stop I refilled my two water bottles to the top. I kept one bottle with Skratch, one just water. Normally I swap back and forth with 1 bottle Skratch, and then 1 bottle water. The only time I go Skratch with both bottles is when it’s very hot and humid. But in this weather, I alternate otherwise I get a bloated feeling from just too many electrolytes (It’s got what a Cyclist Craves!).
When I ride out on these long rides, I follow some advice I got early on; When riding endurance, drink on every 15 minutes (10 minutes if it’s Hot). Also, drink when you feel you need to. And if I don’t get a breakfast, eat every 45 minutes, but if I get breakfast, eat at the top of every hour (elapsed on the ride, not on the clock). At rest stops, refuel a bit, but don’t overdo it. So this being a normal rest stop, I made sure I still had 2 gel packs, and a couple of rice balls. And man I make good Gorp.
I didn’t need to use the rest room, but it was getting a little chillier, and there were some possible rain, but I eschewed the Showers Pass jacket, and I hopped back onto the bike, and headed out.
Over the next 45 minutes, the clouds blew in, blew over and it spat a bit more on me.
I radioed to my wife and had her stop at the next overlook so I could put on the rain jacket.
The problem was, it still didn’t get all that rainy, just spitty. And it was still a lot of climbs to reach Skyland. So needless to say I was overheating – Base Layer, Jersey, Long Sleeve Jersey, and Rain Jacket. Ugh. So I toughed it out (by unzipping just about everything and flapping wildly in the wind) until we got to the next stop, at Big Meadows and the Byrd Visitor’s center.
At the Visitor’s center, I paused for a selfie with the CCC engineer. Also, with the variable nature of the weather, I erred on the side of not overheating, and took off the jacket.
But that would be a bad decision I would soon find out.