Stage 2 - 26.2 miles
The second stage was a amazing as the first. The scenery, the mountain air...it just doesn't get much better than this! I cruise along, mostly alone, enjoying the beauty all around.
Stage 3 - 29.2 miles
Riding alone isn’t so bad. When others are around, I just feel like I have to keep up. I always feel like I have something to prove. When I’m alone, I can set my own pace. This can be good, or bad. Stage 3 is where the first steep climb will present itself. As I am trying to pace myself up a short climb on Hwy 105, I am passed by three other cyclists. I jump on their back wheel and climb to the top. As we cruise along at a pretty comfortable pace, two of the guys start wondering if we missed a turn. I pull out my cue sheet. I misread it and conclude that we are on the right road. Two more miles till the next turn. They pull off at a fire station to assess the situation. But I am so sure of where I am that I just continue on my own. About 10 minutes later I realize that I am indeed on the wrong road. How did we miss that turn? I call Nancy on the cell. We try to figure out how far off course I am. I turn around and begin heading back. I am way behind now. How far did I go? Why didn’t I stop with those other guys? Will I ever make it back on course? I begin to feel very stressed and irritated. This is really not the way my day was supposed to go!
As a Christ follower, I have made many wrong turns. Coming down from a spiritual high, a mountain top experience, can give you a sense of pride, a feeling that you cannot be defeated. You get the idea that you know all you need to know, and end up "leaning on your own understanding." Rather than trust those around me, I made a foolish decision to strike out on my own. It ended up costing me valuable time. I could have listened to the advice of my 'small group,' but instead ignored their warnings and made a bad decision all by myself. And what do we always do as soon as we are in trouble? We call out to God for help!
Finally I see the road I am supposed to turn onto. I’m back on course. I try to call Nancy, but cell reception in the mountains isn’t always so great. I wind through a mountain golf course, then turn onto the beginning of the first big climb of the day. If I keep up a good pace, I might be able to catch up. Is there any chance anyone is still behind me? I must have ridden an extra 8-10 miles. I won’t know for sure until I get to the next Exchange Zone.
I finally cruise into the Exchange Zone just passed Grandfather Mountain. I am the last rider now. The closest group left 5 minutes ago. It’s time to kick it into high gear and catch those guys, or I’ll be alone all day!