I'd grown weary of my same-old routes and could not find another soul around here to join me on an adventure. I looked up cue sheets for other area routes but was not in the mood to navigate on my own (primarily since I'm horrible at it).
I just wanted some open road to go pedal my butt off without thinking. This was perfect - a straight shot and no way to get lost! I made the 40 minute trek to the closest entry point, not really knowing what I was in for.
The speed limit is 45 MPH and traffic was light (and polite). I started off in a pretty stiff headwind, wearing two layers and arm sleeves, and finished up with calm winds, in just a tank, under a clear blue sky.
I passed through rhododendron-lined stretches, over the signature rock arch underpasses, and made a brief stop at one of the many scenic overlooks as well as the Mabry Mill. Would you believe I only saw two other cyclists on the road, but lots of motorcyclists.
I'm still getting used to the deeper wheels in the heavy cross-winds I encountered on the ridge tops. But I am enjoying the new cassette Steve picked out that includes a smaller cog (11 instead of 12 I think). In the past, I would sometimes run out of gears on the descents -- no longer. I topped out at 43 MPH, pedaling for every bit of speed on a particularly delectable stretch of downhill at the end.
This ride, especially the all-out fast parts (!), gave me a gigantic adrenaline rush that lasted all day (and even now). It was pure adventure to me and I never thought of it as training, or triathlon prep, or anything I had to do.
Usually part of me is glad when I near the end of a ride long. But when I saw the Tuggle Gap sign, I let out an audible "awwwww". But I'll be back on the Blue Ridge Parkway, that's for sure.