Monica Desjardins (2)
Tellico Highlands ride report for 4/10/22 attempt
Bike-Trek Checkpoint SL 6 46/30 x 11/34
I have had a busy month building my endurance for the Cohutta 100 NUE mtb race. Thankfully there have been some local events that met my training needs, and it has been a fun ride getting some solid training in with my friends. So I decided that spring would be a good fit for me to tackle the Three Rivers ITT Challenge. After riding the Waucheesi 88, I still hadn’t had enough of those incredible views.
Sunday morning was cold, I rolled out just before 9am and it was still 31. I wore a Pactimo Summit base layer, mesh Summit Jersey, Summer sleeves, Divide wind jacket, Summit Raptor Bibs, Storm Thermal knee warmers and toe covers with chemical warmers. I also had a wool neck gator, and fleece ear warmer on. I knew it would reach 70 by 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and would pretty much need to shed layers later and be in a summer kit. With the blue bird skies, I could get away with less insulation and just rely on wind protection for warmth. This worked well, but I could have done better with the divide wind vest vs jacket, but it’s so hard to tell how cold I will be. I strapped my Revelate Shrew seat bag on the Check Point to ensure I had plenty of room to stash layers. Also shoved several Skratch bars, peanut butter crackers, and Spring Energy packs in there in addition to a couple first aid items, tire plugs, Tubolito, and levers. My Revelate mag bag was full of Skratch Chews and a couple bars broken into bite size pieces. I also stashed some chain lube and multitool there.
At 8:50 I snapped a pic of my Garmin and started to roll, but realized my helmet was still in the trunk of my car. So I grabbed that and rolled out of Oosterneck Overlook for a short road section before making the right onto the first climb. I had been having issues with my seat post and decided to stop early in the climb and check it and pull it up just a bit. Whew that felt way better so brought it up ¼ inch, and sat into an endurance pace up the climb. I started getting warm quickly on the Wildcat climb and ditched the jacket. There was so much to see and I was just lost in thought climbing, taking it all in, and feeling grateful for the experience and having strong legs. Even eyed a few turkeys, hawks, and a crow led me up the last pitch before the descent of N River road. Stopped at the top, ate a snack and put my jacket back on for the ride down. Took it cautiously fast down but the gravel seemed much better than during Waucheesi. Had to stop for a truck that backed into the road, when I looked down to push off, I saw my front axle lever open. It was loose and I tightened it up, and was thankful the truck made me stop. Finished the descent, then followed the river and another short climb and I was rolling through Green Cove.
A right turn put me on N River Rd. I was looking at roughly 9 miles of climbing. After a bit my legs started feeling loaded weird and I realized my seat post must have slipped. Stopped, pulled it up and cranked the bolt down probably too tight out of frustration and mashed back up the mountain, with some muscle relief. This road is absolutely gorgeous and soon I started seeing a speckling of snow which turned to a full blanket. It was stunning and I was so happy with how things played out. One hour into the climb and I was ready to be done with this one, a bit cranky with some traffic passing and I saw a moto ahead. It happened to be Jeff Honcho. Another pleasant surprise and he also mentioned seeing Ali Whittier up on the Skyway. The grade towards the top gets increasingly steep and after the hard left turn I know the Skyway is close, but dang the road becomes increasingly soft and is soon almost a sheet of ice, with a few ruts of slush from the motos. I slogged the last ¼ mile through the slush and decided to take a mental break at the top.
I was happy with my later start at this point. Had a high calorie snack and put on my jacket. I did this up on the road where there was cell service, sent a text to Thom, and also lubed my noisy chain. I was realizing my bike was in need of a good tune and maybe even bottom bracket service. Next push would be a 11 mile road section of road to Indian Boundary, mostly downhill but a few pitches. Cherohola Skyway feels like being on top of the world. I soaked in the views and let my body rest some. I focused on drinking the rest of my fluids so I could refill my liter bottles at Indian boundary. The little single track loop around the lake is such a reprieve and mental rest and I took it pretty easy avoiding hikers and dogs. I stopped and checked a bathroom there, but that was locked and then rode down towards the lake to snap a pic, then off to find a spigot. The store was closed, I was hoping to be surprised by it being open, and imagined I would buy a little pecan pie. I stopped close by, filled my bottles, mixed Skratch, drank a 5hr and ate PB crackers and some chews. A stretch was necessary at this point. My triceps were wrecked, and overalI I was pretty tired. I also removed my knee warmers because it was after 2pm and pretty warm. I went to roll out and realized that my Garmin no longer showed my route. I messed around going the way I remembered, but frustrated because I would hate to dnf because I missed something dumb. After hitting the road I noticed a pit toilet and that seemed like a legit chance to stop for a pee and see if I could reset my route. I struggled opening the bear proof dumpster to discard my trash. I then remember this happened last time I rode in this area the route dropped. After my route replotted I headed off towards Citico Creek and up to Farr Gap.
At this point it was just another slog of a climb and I was mentally over climbing, but still capable of putting down the pedal strokes. The fatigue was setting in. At the top I messaged Thom and told him I would not be done at 5:30, due to my breaks. I ate more and enjoyed the descent, then filled another bottle at the pipe spring at the bottom. Lots of friendly drivers in this area, one guy even stopped to let me by so I didn’t have to suck dust. I made the left around the gate on Bark Camp and this is where the wheels fell off. The gated road doesn’t get any traffic and is full of debris that will destroy a wheel or derailleur. Plus there were way more trees down compared to a few weeks ago due to storms and what looked like a possible burn. I could not get momentum. If I got to roll down hill it was just to climb over another tree in the bottom and then mash up the steep with no momentum. This is unimproved forest road, and reminds me of the Big Frog loop near the Ocoee. It was a mental low point, and I was just in TNGA mode, moving one foot in front of another, walking or peddling. I started watching the map and my dot was moving so slow. I remember looking at the clock with some irrational thoughts about the sun going down while I was stuck on that ridge. But I reset my mantra, this is exactly where I want to be, Its supposed to be hard. Just keep moving, hop off the bike quicker, hop on quicker were directives I had, but legs felt heavy and sloppy, finally the worst was over, and I was working my way off Millers Ridge.
I stopped at the bottom and ate a handful of chews because I was mentally done, and the last 14 or so miles were mostly downhill and paved. I just need to spin. I hit the bottom of Turkey creek and cranked out the last few miles of River Rd at around 19-20mph. Glad it’s all downhill, lol. Rolled into Oosterneck and snapped a pic of my Garmin 530. Stopped the computer and Inreach. I had to put a towel down and just lay on the pavement next to my car for a bit. It was a hard, long day. I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially the hours of riding where I swear I didn’t have a single thought besides the want of putting one foot in front of the other. It was rather satisfying to have a long day of riding without expectations other than the want to finally be done. Now to start planning for that ol’ Dirty 130.