Mountain Mama...not quite Mountains of Misery but close.
The ride began with a mass start. I'm not a fan of these. I don't do well with a lot of riders close by. I feel claustrophobic. As soon as the ride started I tried to get away from the crowd. The goal was to stay together and pace ourselves. I broke both rules. The climbs were not as difficult as I expected. The climbs were long and gradual. I do well on those. Perhaps I should have eased up on the early climbs (there were a total of nine) but my legs were feeling strong and so I would move ahead of the group. Occasionally we would regroup. For a while my friends and I were riding along together. We even stopped to take photos! There came a point when I decided to break away on my own. For the last 35 miles I was on my own. There were four more climbs left to go. I had the climbing profile clipped on my handlebars. I could see what I was up against. The final climb was going to be tough. With a strong headwind on the initial ascent my legs were working hard but with a turn in the road my legs felt relief with a tailwind helping to push me up the mountain. Overheating concerned me. I poured water over myself as I worked my way up the mountain. I ensured my heart rate stayed within a comfortable zone. I didn't want to crack half way up the climb. After all the average grade on this climb is 7.8%. There was always that possibility of it becoming a sufferfest. It wasn't long though before I saw the top of the climb and I knew that I had a fast descent into the host town. My day's work was done.