End of the year epic sassafras mountain ride (2D)
3D view of the major climbs on this year's ride
It has been an annual tradition for me for the past 15 years to end the season with a truly epic ride. During my college days, that would involve a 200+ mile ride in the mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. In my older and busier days now, I have shortened the ride down to about 100 miles, but still with awesome climbing in my college playground of the NC/SC/GA tristate area. This year’s ride included two major climbs — Whitewater Falls and Sassafras Mountain — with countless smaller hills in between adding up to over 11,000 feet of climbing. And at 108 miles, it was a few miles longer than the past few years as well.
Check out my power and heartrate stats below: I love that my highest heartrates are on the crazy awesome descents!!! Leading into the long descent from Sapphire down to Rosman, I saw a big truck coming up behind me on US64, so I hammered the last 200 meters or so to just stay ahead of it before the start. Then he didn’t catch me until 15 miles later just before I turned onto US178 to head into Rosman! Plus for Sassafras Mountain, there is only one section where it is safe to really let it out, but that section happens to start with a 20% ramp before settling down to a nice 10-15% downhill gradient. I maxed out at 59.4mph staying above 50mph for almost 30 seconds! It definitely felt like the fastest I’ve ever been on a bike – especially since the road is rough. The bike feels like it is going to break up underneath you.
Whitewater Falls – Sassafras Mountain – Epic Ride Heartrate data
Whitewater Falls – Sassafras Mountain Epic Ride – iBike Power data
Sassafras Mountain Climb and Descent, time-based
Sunday was another great day of racing at the Greenville Fall Cycling Extravaganza. And it was another podium for me, one step closer to the top but not quite there.
For Sunday’s race, we raced on a short course on the industrial park side of the Donaldson Center military airport. This was like a trip down memory lane as I recalled many a Tuesday Donaldson Center training race, and winning the 1/2/3 state road race back during my days as an undergrad at nearby Clemson University almost 15 years ago. It was awesome to be able to drive around the course, point out the airplanes and jets to my 4 yr old son and 6 yr old daughter, and share all the memories of past races with my wife, including the spot where I attacked to win the state road race. That spot was just barely off the course that we used for the crit on Sunday.
Our field for Sunday was a little bigger than Saturday with 17 riders starting. I counter-attacked a move on the start of the second lap and got a small gap solo. I wasn’t going to be able to stay away by myself so I just kept a steady pace until the field came back up to me. Then on the fourth lap, I responded to another attack in the same spot where I had attacked two laps earlier. This time, a group of five of us got away including a rider from every major team. With few people left to chase, we quickly extended our lead to about a minute. A few laps later, though, I attacked for a $20 prime and only Andy Baker (Team Ion) was able to grab my wheel. He took the prime, but we had a sizeable gap and decided the best thing to do was to keep the pressure on to see if we could stay away. We did, and eventually our three breakmates were absorbed by the chasing field, and Andy and I were able to keep that 1 minute lead all the way until the end. In the end, Andy was definitely stronger and took the sprint fairly easily.
Even with just missing out on the win, this was a great way to wrap up my best ever season. I’ll be working over the weekend on a season summary, but this season has had everything in it – the most wins, the most podiums, the most state championships (2), my best placing in a nationals race (5th), and my best placing in a national series (9th).
- Attacking on the second lap
- Responding to and going with what ended up being a 5-man move
- Attacking for the $20 prime, initiating 2-man break with me and Andy Baker
- The finishing sprint
- The start of the five-man break
- Attacking for the $20 prime, initiating 2-man break
- The break with Andy Baker
- The finishing sprint