So this Saturday is the long-awaited ‘Marquis de Sade’ ride. Those who are aware of the historical figure
will understand that this is no ordinary ride. The Marquis was fond of a sort of wicked, deviant, sadistic form of pleasure, which could easily compared to some idiot (me) who decides to ride their bike up a mountain. In other words, this one will hurt.
The ride begins at North Greenville University in Tigerville, SC and hits the biggest climbs in the vicinity. There are three specific climbs that I’ll be feeling Sunday morning. There is the Saluda Watershed, Green River Cove, and White Oak Mountain, otherwise known as “the one that keeps on going.” The course for this year has been posted and it appears the total elevation is not as much as originally advertised. There are only 5,700 feet of climbing compared with the 8,000 I expected.
Needless to say, this will be the most difficult ride I have yet attempted. This will be the measure to find out how well, or how little, I have trained. I’ll admit that over the last few days I have been a bit scared. These roads are daunting, and when viewed on YouTube, they look nearly insurmountable. Today I feel a little more confident because, with the help of others, I have a strong plan of attack.
First off, I have not been on the bike since Sunday. I had planned on doing a slow, short ride yesterday, but the weather had other plans. I will likely do this tomorrow instead, but the pace will be so slow and most will be downhill, so this will do little more than keep the muscles loose.
I am eating well this week. So far I am maintaining three balanced meals that include protein and the good kind of fat, and the appropriate mixture of carbs, calcium, and all that other good stuff. Since I am not riding too much, there is no need to “carboload” although I will probably have an extra serving of carbs both tomorrow and Friday night. More importantly, I have a plan for the ride. In short, I will be regularly feeding myself either via liquid or solid. There are only two rest stops, so I will be carrying a decent sized fanny pack with gels, Clif bar minis, and maybe a couple goodies. The rest stops should have more substantial offerings to keep my belly full.
One of my poorer tendencies is to try and ride with the pack rather than slow down and pace myself. That is my competitive instinct. I always want to be the front runner and take the wind, and sometimes I am strong enough to do so, but in this case I will want to take it easy and not push myself. I will ride at a reasonable pace during the flats and will spin up the hills. The course will be plugged into my Garmin so I don’t have to worry about getting dropped or lost. Speed is not a factor for me. I would like to conquer it in five or six hours, however ambitious that is, but since I will be taking my time, the more likely scenario is 7-8 hours including stops.
The videos below show the three hills through the eyes of a motorcyclists. There probably are bicycling videos out there, but who has time to watch those?
White Oak Mountain – The grandaddy of them all. This is over 4 miles and according to the course map, the average grade is almost 8%. This video perhaps does not do the road justice because it is going down, making a number of the hills look more less challenging. Trust me, they will look like hell going up.
Green River Cove – This is like White Oak’s younger brother. I believe it is half the distance and overall not quite as steep, but this is no slouch. This one will be even more difficult because it will be at the end of the course, after my legs have been ‘white oak’ed to death.
Saluda Watershed – After looking at the other videos, this one looks like a cakewalk. It is a lighter grade, around 3% and I think the steepest is 6%, but it goes on awhile. This is the first of the climbs and frankly does not look like much worse than what Fort Jackson throws at me.
(image credit: Bob Scofield)