Assault on Mt. Mitchell – George’s Take

This write-up is courtesy of ‘friend of the family’ George Berger. Thanks George and Empwr Cycling Team for the post…

“It was fantastic until Marion, then became something else entirely… The rule-of-thumb for this ride is that it takes most people about the same time to go to Marion as it does from Marion to the top. For me, it took less time to go the almost 75 miles from Spartanburg to Marion than it did to go the 25 miles from Marion to the top of Mt. Mitchell. Spartanburg to Marion was a ton of fun–pacelines and big groups, even with rollers and Bill’s Mountain breaking things up a little, and the triathletes causing a lot of confusion for everyone else.

Then unrelenting climbing and switchbacks up Highway 80, followed by an unremitting 13-mile climb up the Parkway (one very short and fast 2-mile descent about 2/3 up made it bearable). Even then it keeps getting steeper, with the turn from the Parkway onto the Mt. Mitchell road, and you’re staring traffic in the face and sucking exhaust for 3 more miles until the finish. I stopped a number of times for breathers, and walked a bit just to keep from cramping too badly–part of my plan, but it’s still slow. I’d hoped to get done in 7:30, but did 7:38 moving time and 8:13 total time…slower than most, but hey–I don’t climb with a damn, and I made it to Marion in under 4 hours.

If that all sounds like fun to you, you’re a born climber. I’ll stick to the first half from now on…

And even though his time still turned out pretty good, I passed Wojtek at least twice, stopped by the roadside fighting with his bike…he just needed his singlespeed! Of course, he promptly passed me back +1. You’ve seen his write-up just now I’m sure…

I’d second the comments about getting down. It also took me less time to ride from Spartanburg to Marion than it did to take two buses down from Mt. Mitchell to Spartanburg. We didn’t get lost, but did end up almost to Asheville before getting on I-40 in the pouring rain to go back to Marion. I understand why they make everyone take a bus down, but it could be a whole lot less complicated–maybe having buses that go directly back to Spartanburg, for one thing.”

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