The day started well. Tito and I met Harvey Snapper, Rapid Robert the RR, Ivan the Giant, and hard working Smitty at Timberlyn shopping center in Chapel Hill about 6:15 AM. Everyone was on time which was an auspicious start to the day. We all piled into Harvey's roomy Suburban. Harvey's new six bike roof mount worked flawlessly.
We arrived atop Hanging Rock at 8:30 AM to find the park office and restrooms closed (opens at 9 AM for future reference). The weather was a light misting sprinkle with the temp about 45 to 50. The roads were wet. This caused some concern for most of us, but especially for first time Three Humper, RRtheRR. His eyes darted back and forth from one Irregular to another each assuring him he would be fine; the prediction turned out to be more than true.
On the way to Pilot and looking to the west, we can see an ominous dark cloud completely covering the top of the mountain. Arriving at the park office, we continued towards the top without stopping. Having never even tried Pilot before, I had no idea what awaited. Harvey had a new compact crank. This was its first real test. He took it easy. This caused him and me to ride together towards the top. We soon entered the cloud. It was raining inside the cloud. Visibility was about 15 feet at most. Unbelievably, there was traffic on the road. I don't know what they expected to see at the top. Thanks to Gary Smith's (TLC_4_Bikes) excellent work on my bike with the new gearing and bottom bracket and some back and forth crisscrossing, I made it to the top! Yay! First time for me! IvanN was a horse all day. Tito rode well with the leaders. And, RRtheRR, not surprisingly, found all this climbing to his liking and never appeared fatigued. The others were waiting in the fog. You literally could not see more than 10 feet in front of you. Of course, there was no view [the street-view ends before getting to anything "panoramic"]. Descending Pilot Mt in the rain is something to be done carefully. We got hot and sweaty going up and froze on the way down. We all made it down intact and took a break at the park office. Lots of skulls of dead animals and photos of the original owners of Pilot Mt before being sold to the state.
It was raining hard now. We all were miserable despite our elation of having conquered Pilot. Harvey said he was "Sour on Sauar". I said "yeah, me too." We rode on towards Sauartown. Just as with Pilot, there was a cloud hanging on the top of the mountain. By the time we got there, the rain had stopped and our spirits lifted. We decided to ride up to the switch back [click here for a street-view from the second "sharp curve -- the editor cannot trick himself into calling either of the sharp curves a "switchback"]. About half way there, I said, "Tell you what - let's ride all the way to the top but leave out Mickey on the return home". I had started to look at the clock. I had to leave my house for the Duke game at 5:30 PM. Again, we rode up into the cloud where it was raining again. Harvey found the new gearing to his liking and sailed up the slope. This time Smitty deigned to ride in the back with me. He even dismounted just after the steep switch back with quad cramps. But, he got back on and caught me before the top. The others were waiting appearing like apparitions out of the fog once we were within a few yards of them [click here for "panoramic" street-view from the very end of the paved road atop Sauartown -- hehe]. Down we go! Careful on the switch back [click here for street-view from the lower sharp curve] and then let it go on the straightway seeing 36 mph on my computer.
On back to home base. We salute Mickey but keep going. The others were way in front of me now. I could see Smitty far ahead. The others were even more ahead than that. Neither my computer nor my cadence often got into double digits on the return trip.
I passed Hall Rd and then saw the welcome sight of the park entrance. Up and up I go. There is one killer pitch up in the middle that required the crisscross, but I remained on the bike. I could see Smitty up ahead slowly, slowly turning the cranks. Finally, I see the even more welcome sight of the parking lot and Tito's friendly face on his bike as he was just beginning to wonder if I was ok. I suppose he was going to ride about three-tenths of a mile back down the hill to get me. Haha. Inside joke with Martin [see 6 paragraphs before the end].
Back to Raleigh in the Suburban. The time is really starting to squeeze me now. A quick call to the home front reveals an unhappy wife. My return time estimate coincides with the time we need to leave to go to dinner. Snapper's call home revealed another concerned wife. They need to leave for friend's house at 6:00 for dinner and the game. Smitty calls his work to tell them he will be an hour late. Robert and Ivan are afraid of the fate that may await them. Only Tito is relaxed knowing that Kim will welcome him despite his arrival time. Thanks to Snapper for taking Tito back home which put even more pressure on his time. Tracy, my wife, had recovered her normal good spirits by the time I met her at the restaurant. The UNC victory ended a great day. No shower or shave before the game caused some sideways looks from my fellow fans.
It was a great ride with great company! First time I've done all three humps! Next time, we'll throw in Mickey.
IvaRicochet Robert sent a link to his Garmin stats: Robert's 3-hump Garmin stats
(I actually received Robert's Garmin stats prior to receiving Iva's report. I would bet that Iva actually wrote his report after I received the garmin stats and sent a message to the whole mountain crew noting that they had skipped Mickey Rd. That would explain Iva's detailed explanation of why they skipped said road.)
A couple comments from certain sages within the IRs:
I am certainly glad that I was NOT tempted to go to Pilot, etc.. Other than seven not fitting into Harvey's conveyence, I would NOT have cared to ride mountains in the rain, descending through rainy, foggy clouds with my vision cut down to only "feet", with wet rims and wet brake pads.
Congrats. More balls or guts than I have for the rain, or ... less sense.
Clearly ... less sense!_