A few months ago I got my first real taste of mountain riding. The Marquis de Sade ride out of Tigerville, SC featured a handful of insane climbs. The biggest climb, White Oak Mountain, kicked my behind. I made it up after a struggle and a little bit of walking. The next climb was Green River Cove, which also kicked my behind, although not quite as much. I stopped for that one to catch my breath, but I made it up through pedaling power alone.
This weekend we are staying at The Orchard Inn in Saluda. We arrived earlier this afternoon. The weather was nice so I decided to revisit the Green River this afternoon. From the Inn, it was around a 25-mile ride. I descended via Holbert Cove, which has some steep sections, but is a more gradual and straight descent. After roughly 10 miles, I hooked up with Green River Cove Rd, and followed the river back from where I came. This road is mostly flat until the end, where it ascends around 1,000 feet in two miles via tight switchbacks.
The ride was pleasant and uneventful most of the way. It was on the warm side, but comfortable compared to recent Columbia temperatures. As the miles passed, I began to get nervous. I remembered how difficult the climb was, and this time it was just me against the mountain. There was no SAG support. I would have to get over alone, one way or another.
Finally, more than 20 miles in, the climbing began. Wow, I had forgotten how tough this road was. It was steep and the switchbacks were tight. I got into a rhythm in my lowest gear and just grinded my way through. Most of the climbing was in the 6-8% grade, with a few steeper sections that got as high as 14%. What really makes this climb challenging is the switchbacks. If you take them on the inside lane, you’ll have to deal with a short incline of around 20%, whereas the outer lane is around 8%. Needless to say, I took the easier way whenever possible.
My goal was to just grunt it out and not stop. In that, I succeeded. The only stop was at the very top for the photo op above. It was a glorious view that my iPhone camera doesn’t do justice.
One mountain down. This time I conquered it cleanly. Tomorrow I’ll be revisiting good old White Oak again.