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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fear the Mountains.

After spending a day near Florida due to the fact that it was too cold to ride in Dahlonega, GA we drove back up with the forecast promising better weather.

Instead our (myself and my buddy Mike) ride consisted of riding in -2 degree overcast weather, which transitioned to -7 degree and heavy blowing and drifting snow as we gained altitude.

Our route, 3 gap, consisted of 3 major climbs , the biggest being over 1500ft. The ascents were actually tolerable, as we barely went over 15km/h and since we were sustaining anywhere from 300-350 watts, we were able to keep toasty. It was the descents that were the hard part.

Descending at 50-75km/h for 5 minutes, sucks all the warmth out of your body. After teh first descent my hands were beyond numb. Our water bottles had also frozen by this point.

The second ascent, which was not as big as the first, but significantly steeper with rough pavement was a godsend. (Only when its this cold, is a hill a good thing) Once again, working hard on the bike was the only thing keeping you warm. However, a stiff headwind, and decreasing temperature ensured that we were unable to warm up.

3gap

Upon reaching the top we realized we HAD to find a place to get warm. We were 40k out from home (Hiker Hostel) and the weather was frigid. We resorted to warming up at a locals house who had a gas fireplace. With out him, I am positive that I'd be in the hospital suffering from hypothermia. Of course I should mention that we were properly dressed as best we could. Neoprene booties, Lobster gloves, two million layers, waterproof breathable jacket etc. All of this was still no match for a snowstorm and heat sapping descents.

After warming up for a short period, we rode home. We were forced to throttle our pace, not because of fitness, but rather..the faster you went, the faster you would cool down. Having only consumed half of a water bottle, and half a frozen clif bar, we were dangerously close to bonking, which would have been almost life threatening in that weather.

We finally made it home shivering uncontrollably, and in the hot shower i took as soon as I got it, i experienced pain like never before. Frostbite is a bitch. Warm blood flowing back to cold hands and feet is even more of a bitch.

So I have frost bite on the tips of my fingers, im a little worried about the fingernail on my pinky; and I know that I will never underestimate how much colder it gets on the mountain.

The plan is to do lower elevation routes for the rest of the week unless it warms up significantly.

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