From January 2nd through the 6th I made a trip to my favorite “vacation” destination Oconee State Park. “Vacation” meaning travelling to the mountains for some serious elevation to climb while on the bike. I have visited this area a few times and every time I leave I am humbled by the experience. Prior experiences include cold, wet, windy bike rides as well as one particularly hot and humid ultramarathon. This trip proved to be no different than the others.
Arriving on Friday afternoon with Rebekah and trusted cycling buddy Daniel Baer, we headed out for a quick ascent to the Fish Hatchery. The weather quickly turned cold, wet, and windy and stayed that way until Sunday afternoon.
Saturday included a visit from friend and old USC teammate, Mike Lambert for an ascent to Highlands, NC. The conditions were terrible, but after 25 miles and 3,600 feet of elevation we made it to Pescado’s, the best taco shop in all of Highlands. After a refresher the descent back proved to be much colder and more terrifying than ever.
Sunday afternoon brought better weather and allowed for a delightful ride to Cashiers, NC for Daniel and me. After a cafe stop we made it back to the park before the sun started to set. Daniel and I had planned Monday to be a long distance day and even bought a map of the area to plan out our route. After a spectacular ascent to Highlands we had our first café stop where I downed an espresso and a KII Kookie (picked up 4 dozen on the way up to Oconee!). Shortly after heading out we encountered a section that the map had showed as significantly curvy and downhill. Even with large amounts of braking, I ended up over shooting a turn and had to put the bike down on the edge of the road before I went the rest of the way down the mountain. Unfortunately, I had a not so great fall on my left shoulder which I later found out to be mild AC joint separation. While it won’t be a terrible set back, it is preventing me from returning to the pool for longer than I would wish due to some loss of ROM and pain with weight bearing. All being said, it could have been much worse and I know better than to push my body before it is ready.
As if this wasn’t enough, we soon came to a portion of the road that became dirt and gravel. Fully expecting this portion to soon be over we kept on plugging along. 7 miles later of riding road bikes on mountainous gravel roads we finally hit the end. Needless to say this had provided enough adventure for us for one day and decided to head back to the park.
As always, the mountains succeeded in humbling me and showing me why I do this sport. That combined with the beautiful scenery, trails, waterfalls, cafés, and cabins will ensure that I come back for another round.
Am currently planning races for this year and looking forward some huge gains! Until next time.