They say you never forget your first time. And they just might be right. Registering for the High Pass Challenge yesterday got me thinking about my first century ride last night. I was thinking that the HPC didn't really sound all that tough -- 120 miles and 7,500 feet of climbing is nothing to laugh at, but it's not really intimidating if you like hills.
My first century ride, however, scared me to death. It was the Blood, Sweat & Gears: God's Country Century Challenge in the mountains of North Carolina. It was 100 miles (I clocked it at 107 miles) and nearly 13,000 feet of climbing. The race was on beautiful mountain roads (including a 21 mile stretch on the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway), very well supported, and featured enough climbing and nail-biting descents to make me actually think about taking a seat inside the ambulance that was parked atop the highest mountain pass. To make things more difficult, I lived at 25 feet above sea level back then and couldn't find a hill over 100 feet tall within a 2 hour drive. Nevertheless, riding into the wind all the time must have been a good hill simulation because I finished the damn thing in a time of 6:05. And vividly recall pedaling past people pushing their bikes on a hill. Folks who recognized my East Carolina Velo jersey who cheer me on and I was told "Awesome job flatlander!" more than once that day. You never forget your first. That was back in 2002 when I was training for the off-road Ironman whose name shall not be uttered.
They just ran this year's race and the winning time was barely under 5 hours. Compare that to the Flying Wheels Century where even lil ol' me was almost under 5 hours. Without drafting, mind you. That's how tough this race is.
Kristin and I have been talking about heading back to NC for a while now. We have some property we need to check on; Kristin wants to see her old friends and co-workers; and I certainly wouldn't mind paddling back out at Cape Hatteras for another surf session there. Not to mention, that I secretly also want to embark on a BBQ-based road trip from North Carolina through Tennessee and into Missouri. I think we're going to need to do this in the next year or two and wrap it around a stop in Boone for another stab at the BSGGCCC. Man, even the acronym is a handful.
Here's a link to the ride site where you can see maps and elevation profiles. Don't let the highest elevation point fool you though, this ride is plenty tough!