Riding Down to the Star.

One of my favorite rides is on the Blue Ridge Parkway down to the Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain. The ride back? Not so much.

The first 20 minutes I averaged almost 30 MPH, including some short big-chainring-US-Postal-gee-isn't-EPO-great power climbs. The rest of the ride my average fell and kept falling.

When I started it was pleasant, with the early morning mist rolling over the road and temperatures in the mid-60s. Three hours later, the temperature had risen almost 20 degrees, the humidity about the same amount, and the energy flowed out of me in liquid form in steady streams. I was melting.

Still, it was a fun ride.

I got passed by one of the locals who was ticking over a respectable speed at an EPO-era cadence. I, on the other hand, was doing my best impression of a fat tourist who mistakenly thought a ride up the parkway would be a nice, relaxing way to spend the morning.

Further up the mountain I regained my climbing cred by totally dropping three heavily-loaded touring cyclists. I was a machine. One with some serious malfunctioning components operating at well below design specs, but a machine just the same.

Near the top of the climb my bottom bracket started creaking horribly. I was glad nobody was around to hear it, because it was loud and embarrassing in the same way a pre-school child announcing your sexual habits to a full restaurant of strangers is embarrassing- only more so because I actually care what other people think about my bikes.

I finished the last water bottle, and coupled with the bottom bracket they killed and thoughts of extra credit miles. As it was, I spent the afternoon limping up and down stairs.

That's how I know it was a good ride.

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