Hardcore cyclists know the names well: Mount Mitchell. Hwy 80. The Blue Ridge Parkway. Sections of road that offer tough climbs, exhilarating descents, and spectacular vistas along the way. After completing our two day training event that featured 8,000 feet of climbing at grades on 7-9 percent with full panniers, one thing was clear: The crew is ready!
Hwy 80: Marion to The Parkway, with a basketball?
I never thought I'd get dropped on switchback riddled Hwy 80 by a cyclist that had a basketball strapped to his bike, but it happened. We must have been quite a sight lumbering our way up to the Eastern continental divide. Total climbing for the day was 3,500 feet.
Day two: Mitchell.
After spending the night at an idyllic campsite along the Toe River, the crew departed for our 27 mile ride to the summit of Mount Mitchell. The milage may sound modest but those in the know understand that all but about 7 miles of this ride is uphill on serious mountain grades.
The final five miles to Mount Mitchell is humbling, as the pitch never ceases and ranges from seven to eleven percent. Many a cyclist has been forced to walk to the top, but not this crew. All finished strong under their own power, to the cheers of the Memorial Weekend crowd.