Monday, July 28, 2008

ORAMM 2008: off road assault on mt mitchell

yesterday was my second oramm. the route was slightly different than in 2007 when we turned on the blue ridge parkway instead of crossing it. the route wasn't much longer but it did include a 10 minute downhill followed by another hour long climb.

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we got rolling around 8am and i tried to keep in front of the huge mass of slow people. old us 70 was an interesting way to get up to kitsuma as it was truly an old road getting reclaimed by the forest. i'm convinced that unless you're the first five riders to reach kitsuma it becomes a virtually impossible climb.

i was able to climb all of the switchbacks on kitsuma except the last two. it seems like that effort may have put me in a bad place later in the day. cresting the top i shifted and unlocked my shock and soon enough we're pausing for the first short steep climb. another few short steep climbs and its time for one of the best downhills around. i ride a few switchbacks, passing some people in these corners, then take the low road when the trail split and passed a few more people. i followed amos ivey and we talked briefly about actually riding switchbacks instead of walking them...

we start pedaling up mill creek road and turn onto singletrack. after a short hikeabike theres more technical climbing (i made most of it) its time for grassy forest service road. this is where my right knee began getting shooting sharp pains. i kept trying to eat and take my tylenol and soft pedal my way to aid station #2. once i got there i took some advil, got my bottles, refilled my camelbak and got ready for curtis creek rd (mile 26 to mile 36):

curtis creek rd. people who have ridden oramm know all about it. 9.2 miles. 2572 feet climbing. gravel gravel gravel. i stopped once we reached dirt, took off my helmet and attached it to my camelbak. my gloves were hanging on my shifters to dry out.

all i did was pedal, curse my knee, drink water, eat, and take endurolytes (not enough!!). i kept telling myself negative thoughts about the climb ie 'two more hours of this road!!!' but soon enough a walker told us there was only another mile. reaching the aid station #3 we were told they are out of water. i get like a 1/2 liter of water from a guy from biowheels. i was told this was the second year in a row that aid #3 ran out of water. oh well, should have gotten there quicker. i tried not to sit around and got back on the bike. descended the forest road and caught some asheville guys and tried to hang with them on the climb to the parkway. i popped my red bull with about a mile until pavement. i got a full let me repeat full camelbak refill at aid #4 and then made my way to the hikeabike up to heartbreak ridge. after that i made my way to the front of the few people about to roll and hit it. heartbreak ridge is really an amazing thing, except that my hands, arms, and legs were all cramping. i'd love to ride heartbreak ridge on its own one day...

i had a couple scary spots where my fingers cramped and couldn't pull the brake levers. oh well, who needs to slow down... so i made a wrong turn once we reached the trail from earlier in the day and ended up at private property signs. ooops. backtracking got me to an orange flag that i didn't see and back to the star gap trail or whatever its called. aid station #5 brought some more water and a banana and hope. the pedaling up the random forest svc road was tough. it was hot and not shady very often. i met up with kip clyburn and his BMCC jersey and it took a second to realize we knew each other and had ridden about 5 laps together at the BURN 24 race in may. we were done talking and caught some other guys then had to walk up to the railroad crossing bridge thing. some more granny ring pedaling got me to kitsuma. i walked the first few switchbacks and actually managed to ride some of the others. i had to walk a bit of the flat spots because the roots sent cramps through my legs when trying to pedal and reaching the final stretch of downhill was pleasant. i caught the asheville guy i rode with earlier and we paced each other back to town. he told me i could take the stage win but i was hoping for a sprint finish. oh well. crossing in 8 hours 14 minutes didn't really warrant a sprint finish. at least i beat my 2007 time by an hour and it was a tougher course...

hopping in the creek and laying in icy cold water was great. i reflected on my last 8 hours 14 minutes 14 seconds, 62.02 miles, 10,581 feet of elevation gained, innumerable leg, arm, finger, and jaw (yes, jaw while trying to drink from the camelbak) cramps, and the pasta i was about to eat. yum