July 25, 2007

Black & Blue Relay - 200 miles - July 21, 2007

I did it. The Black & Blue Relay is a 200 mile bicycle ride through the Black Mountains of Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This was the inaugural ride. I was part of an amazing day of bike riding, and I will never forget it.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing some of my experiences. I hope you enjoy!

Getting to the Start

I set two alarms. The clock radio in the room, and my wrist watch. 4:10am. It’s the night before the longest ride I’ve ever done in one day. 200 miles. When I tell people what I’m doing I get all kinds of responses. Everyone has an opinion. Some think I’m crazy. Some wonder if it’s possible. Others try to compare it to something they’ve done – horseback riding, hiking, running – everybody wants to connect to it in some way.

The alarms are going off. I force myself to sit up. I look at the clock – 4:10am. As sleepiness begins to take a back seat to the reality of what I am about to do, I am suddenly wide awake. I stand and walk across the room. As I begin putting on my bicycling shorts, I realize that I better wake up Nancy and Garren. They are going to ride SAG. SAG is the support vehicle in a bicycle ride. They will be driving the route, supporting me, refilling water bottles, having food ready, and helping me to stay on course. I roll the bike out of the hotel room into the cool mountain air. It’s going to be a great day!

After a 40 minute drive to the start, I begin to unload and make final preparations. It’s still dark outside. The sky is beginning to lighten up gradually. 17 other teams are at the start, ready to take on the challenge of riding 200 miles, from Grayson Highlands State Park, VA to Asheville, NC, through some of the most beautiful mountains on the east coast. All the riders are gathered at the start line. Everyone seems a bit nervous, but ready to get going. At 6:00am, we get the go ahead, and begin our descent into the valley below.

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