they go up.

the only thing my thoughts kept going back to this entire ride was the scene from ghostbusters...

where do these stairs go?

they go up.

except, instead of stairs, throw in road. i probably asked myself "where the hell am i going?!?!" about 8,000 times as i weaved up the mountain, on the verge of passing out and not knowing when my next descent or flat or even false flat was going to save me from the uphill climb. ah, the joys of biking new routes....

today's 90-min ride was a brutal one, covering just about 21 miles and nearly 4,000 vertical feet of climbing along the beautiful blue ridge parkway. for a flat-road fan, this was definitely outside my comfort zone. for example you know when your average speed is hovering around 14mph and your max is up by 40, you're dealing with some pretty nasty elevation. for comparison, i would like to point out that arizona's favorite mount lemmon is something like 6,000 vertical feet strung out along 60-miles of road. so shorter but definitely more intense with the elevation/mile:

what was really cool though, was that the route was curving around the mountain range so i would stop at one of the many many scenic overlooks, snap a few photos, bike onward, zoom down into a valley and then back up a lung-busting incline (seriously, some were in the 25-32% grade range) to the scenic overlook at the complete opposite side of the valley. here google earth gives the best example of just how beautiful the route was:

the scenic overlooks were all wonderful places to not only take photos... but also catch my breath. i may or may not have abused the photo-op stops. from the french broad overlook at 2100 ft...

to the the tanbark ridge overlook at 3175 ft in the sky...

to an overlook above bull creek valley...

and then through a dark dark tunnel that made me nearly pee my pants when a truck flew by...

and then i got to the very top and my turnaround point, signed a petition for some random asheville hippie (something about wanting to keep his dreads in the navy) and then zoomed back down.

and when i say zoomed, i mean ZOOMED: hands gripping the horns, laughing at how fast i was going and occasionally letting out a little scream (maybe when i hit the 40mph speed record?). while my 10 mile out of the out-and-back trip took a little over an hour, the return (still with some brutal uphills of its own) only took about a half hour. but the hour of sweat and frustrated huffs was totally worth the feeling of flying during the final 30-minutes.

and then i passed my final overpass, saw the sign and had to stop. you can't see it in the photo but it says: Knoxville - 123 miles. and all i can think of is, "yeah, 123 miles and just about 6-months!" ... because i'm already counting down the days to rev3 knoxville!! i am totally ITCHING to race and can't wait! my official training is going to get underway on 12/1 (as opposed to my current random run, bike or spin class and avoid the pool training routine) and i'm ready to put in the work.

and so that was my past week... i drove DC to NC on saturday, have ridden nearly every single day since arriving here and am now currently en route to new orleans for some turkey day festivities. oh yea, i am officially a blue ridge bike junkie.