In this years edition of Cherohala crossing, I had redemption in mind! You see at last year’s Cherohala (2010), I had a long steep uphill/downhill the day before at the Drama Queen ride, then didn’t properly get nutrition after the ride & was basically doomed from the start of the Cherohala ride.
This year I felt that I was better trained, and had better preparation. We did a fast, flat, fun ride at Jack Rabbit the day before. Got good nutrition after the Jack Rabbit ride. Had a great dinner and adult beverages that evening with friends.
Up early the next am for a great breakfast feast & off we went to downtown Murphy, NC. We meet up with everyone, get prepped, someone gets bit by a friendly dog while attempting to grab the stick, get a pre-ride photo and off we go.
The ride rolls out at a very friendly pace, we head towards the airport just East of Murphy, suddenly we make a turn, and the pavement ends. First climb of the day & it is 6 miles of gravel uphill. This climb is only steep in a couple sections, although definitely uphill. The 6 miles of climbing seems to take a really long time, especially if you don’t know the climb.
Everyone is regrouped at the top & we charge down the other side. Just before the road turns to pavement, we find Gary, Angela, & Gary’s Mother who is driving the 2nd sag wagon. We grab some food, refill bottles & start the pavement section over to the base of the Cherohala parkway (base of ‘Tail of the Dragon’).
The Cherohala crossing is mainly a CX bike ride, however, I do it on my mt. bike – although it is a dis-advantage on the uphills & roads, it is an advantage on the downhills – where the least amount of energy is used.
Upward again for 2 miles, then a quick turn back onto the 1 mile gravel decent – up 2, down 1? – back to the climbing, uphill for 7.5 miles this time, and it was on this climb that once again my body decided it wasn’t happy. the alternating elevation changes of climbing, slight downhill, climbing (and last night’s beers MAY have had something to do with it?!) CRAMPS. I could get on the bike pedal for a little while, stand, sit, avoid it all I could, but suddenly I would cramp again, stop stretch, drink, eat, pedal again, cramp again – repeat….
I was battling M.J. for last place & after seeing him in the car, I envisioned everyone at the top, waiting. I finally decided to give in and catch the broom wagon to the top. Once there, everyone seemed to be still busy chatting & getting nutrition.
Once again, shortly after the last person arrived, we all headed down off the Mt. and into Tennessee. Once down onto the pavement we went a few miles and stopped at a local country store for refreshments. By now my stomach was not happy with everything I had consumed in attempts to halt the cramping, so I opted for a Sprite. I headed out a bit sooner than everyone else, but it seemed that they caught up quickly.
We went up the road a bit further and it started to rain just as we were getting to the next gravel climb – but this gravel road was being worked on, so instead of dust we were getting some mud. This climb kicks more at the beginning, then rolls more towards the top. I was happy to get over the climb with out any more cramping and figured I would pick up some folks on the decent….. No. everyone was Gone! I dropped down the road only catching 1 person before getting back onto the pavement. Up the road we went & made the turn for back to Murphy, NC.
From FarmerG ‘finish in about 7:40 total with a ride time a bit over 6:00.’
Awesome area & beautiful views – if you can pick your head up enough to see them.