After all the training, all the blood and sweat, the time is almost here.
Yesterday I travelled to Spartanburg, got situated and attended two local events. The first was a documentary from the 1988 Assault on Mount Mitchell. It served as a brief preview of the course we’ll be riding tomorrow, as well as a glimpse into yesteryear. Although it was just a scant 23 years ago, it looked like a different universe compared to cycling today. The only thing in common was that (most) people wore similar bike shorts. Fashion was completely different and everyone — yes, I mean everyone — had a mustache. There were even a few ‘business in front, pleasure in back’ mullets thrown in for good measure.
What was really interesting about this documentary was that people did exceptionally well despite archaic technology compared to today. There were no aero designed carbon bikes, compact cranks, or state-of-the-art bike computers. In one scene, a rider was guessing where he was and how far from Mitchell. Tomorrow most riders will know where they are relative to rest stops most of the time. Of all 1600 or so who attempted the ride that year, roughly 1200 succeeded.
Later in the evening, after checking out the infamous Beacon Drive-In, was the VeloSocial gathering. It was, as you would guess, a nice social mixer with ride organizers and participants. We got to hear about GlobalBike and a brief speech from Rahsaan Bahati, a cycling pro with origins in Compton, CA, who told his rags-to-spandex story. We also got to watch a driving video of the Mitchell course, which was interesting and scary at the same time. I left right about the time the video reached Marion, but was surprised some tough hills leading up to the big climbs. Having overstuffed myself at Beacon, I skipped on the food, but the local beer was great.
All in all, it was a good first day. This morning I had a nice, short ride just to get the legs warm. Everything felt great and I am confident of having a good performance tomorrow. Later today will be packet pick-up and a special expo where I will probably spend too much money. This evening we are driving to Marion to drop a car for the return trip tomorrow and plan to get some heavy pasta to fuel us tomorrow.
To all those riding tomorrow, good luck and Godspeed!