One of our final rides as a group took us to the ever challenging Sassafras Mountain climb.
As I am no longer a virgin to this climb, I had an idea of what was in store. The weather cooperated with little breeze, blue skies and sun shining. We left the house energized for a good, long ride. The roads in this area have a superb shoulder with enough room for at least one rider and at times two side-by-side. The pavement is almost always smooth with sections that are a little rough. Rough meaning that there are a few bumps, never any potholes or frost-destroyed roads.
We all stopped to regather at Bob’s Roadkill Grill. It doesn’t seem like a bustling place. The loop takes us up a switchback climb, slight descent and then another small switchback climb only to drop us off at the doorstep of Sassafras. If it’s your first time no words can really paint a picture of the climb, so I’m not expecting you to visualize this perfectly.
The climb begins with a few rolling hills that gradually grow steeper until you hit this 17% wall. This is the hardest part of the climb for me because you weave your bike back and forth across the road to reduce the grade, barely. After a good 500m or more the steep sections that remain don’t seem so bad after the beginning. The climb is mainly up but some smart pavers chucked a few downhill sections into the ascent. Luckily, Matteo and Ben had made it to the top first and Ben came back down part way to encourage both Emily and I to finish the finally climb strong, event though my legs screamed bloody murder!
The rest of the group made their way up and we had a nice little snack to re-fuel. As everyone knows, what goes up must always come down, and in this case coming down is quick and fast. Zooming down tarmac at speeds of up to 80km/h makes you think that sprouting wings would definitely send you into take-off mode. Strung out in a long line with hands in the drops and eyes straight ahead, descending is one fun activity. I wish I was more confident, but that will come with experience.
Some pretty nifty parts about the ride and following:
– Saw a pretty large black snake slithering on the opposite side of the road
– Climbing Sassafras and claiming the QOM (Queen of the Mountain) on Strava. Also grabbing the Gran Fondo Strava Challenge which was 160km in one day.
– Ripping it back to the house with Emily, Matteo, Ben and Lees.