Day three was embarked upon with trepidation.
The plan was for a group ride with people all of whom I was certain were going to be stronger, faster, more skilled and with boatloads more endurance than yours truly.
guys with Pisgah in their backyard.
guys that can tear legs off strong people.
guys that actually win races.
guys that have tactical shotgun training. (relevance = none. just thought i'd throw it in there)
guys with almost nothing in common to me.
Thoughts included but were not limited to; "if this goes into hammer-fest mode I'm going to have to borrow a map and maybe a signal flare.. maybe a pistol with one chambered round ..for me."
..this on account of my having not done so very much on the fitness front since King and I did the Gatineau Loppet.
that was February. that was fun.
this is April. this could hurt.
Consequently, the thought of hanging on the wheels of a bunch of locals while they tear up their trails for a 4-5hr day of Pisgah climbing with the OBR and myself (the weak link) in tow was a bit worrisome.
Billy - courier
Drew from I9
Eric, from I9
Bill Nye (is that one word or two?)
I'm ashamed to say that less than a week gone and I've forgotten a couple names already so with apologies to those unlisted and adding
Craig and myelf the group made 12. (!!) yay! large groups are slow!
Anyway, it turns out my fears were unfounded. The pace was fine. To be clear, it was lots of work with some extended climbing but it was all good, and I never felt like it was a struggle until near the end which is how a ride should be. It was clear that a few of the guys weren't working too too hard and/or could work at that pace for a lot longer as they were training for Pembar but the pace was social and permitted chatting for the most part.
This ride was the highlight of the trip without a doubt. While every day was brilliant with stunning scenery, buff trails, good company, laughs and more, the Turkey pen ride with the big group was phenomenal. The people were really great and it was truly enriching to have met so many good folks. Generous spirits all round. The riding was incredible and included long sustained climbs, some technical bits, some of the narrowest benchcut trail cut into scary steep mountain side, beautiful refreshing stream crossings, and rippin fast descents. good. times.
Of course a big ride demands a big meal so while half of the group had lives to get back to, our half, either devoid of lives or simply better / luckier in the time management dept headed off to chow down on,
..wait for it.. Mexican.
yep more swaddled-baby sized burritos and big beer. I was particularly enamored of the full size steins. They're integral to my training program for an upcoming European training camp/tour/pass-bagging/beer-up/pastery fest and I didn't pass up the opportunity for more training.
The day didn't even end there.
nope. After stuffing our pieholes the OBR and I followed Drew and Eric around to a bike shop and then followed their recommendations to another shop where we met the overwhelmingly friendly and impossibly handsome Jason P (dude should be a model or something) owner of Carolina Fatz.
After being rocked by the frenetic and friendly energy of our Carolina Fatz visit we finally headed back to the Ramada-Team Big Ring staging area to plan the next maneuver. yep. more Mexican!! Off to Salsas (again) for a late dinner and to seal the deal on a phenomenal day!
Trails included Squirrel Gap, Mullinax, Laurel ridge, Bradley creek, South mills and maybe more. I don't know but it was awesome. Many thanks to Dicky for leading the way