Short but still a bear, we're going to climb up to the saddle below Reddish Knob twice on pavement. 6,000 feet of vert in 38 miles. Doing my ORAMM-based math, that's a lot. I ride out with the lead group to watch the sprint, and when it's done, we head up the climb. This is the riding that I really miss on road days. Head down, endless climbing. Eventually, I find myself out front and on my own. Not really an accomplishment, as the others are trying to get up with minimal effort. Just feels great to find a tempo and lose myself in it.
photo cred: Jennifer WThe stage goes off, up something and then down with more up in the down than one might expect. "Speed scrubbers," Carp calls them.
photo cred: Nate SGet down to the bottom in one piece, beer, Coke, many food stuffs. This will be the last time I eat until I get back to Charlotte, so I make it count.
Back up the backside of the mountain. I feel a little sad and watch others ride away until Nate rolls up on me strong.
photo cred: Nate S"Last segment of the last day. Might as well blow it out," he says to me with his mouth part.
So I go ahead and do that.
Head down and climb and climb and catch others and relish the last really big climb I'll do for quite awhile. I'm truly happy.
The start of the last stage. Uphill. This (for me) is the only race that matters. The sooner I finish, the sooner I pack up, say goodbyes and get to Charlotte without falling asleep at the wheel. Tour exhaustion is not a great travel companion.
I gun it from the start and find myself in different company than usual... because I don't normally have such strong motivation to do much else than survive. At the top, blown out descent, another tiny climb and then a very remote downhill. Steep as anything we've seen. Amazing fun.
Get to the bottom, bang a right turn... gravel. See Buck catching me in the distance. Do what I can to preserve yet another pointless placing in the non-GC. Finish.
No beer. Sprite (because... no Coke). Clean up, high five anyone I can find, and get in the car. Drive home. Should be non-stop but the gas light comes on 20 miles from home. Shit. Makes sense tho.
Home, unload, shower... try to tell The Pie all the important things I can think of before passing out into the deepest of sleeps.