When I was young, I watched a documentary on Mt. Everest, the highest elevation on earth. I can vividly remember thinking to myself, “one day, I’m going to climb that … how awesome would it be to say ‘I’m on top of the world?!’” Well, as I’ve grown older, I’ve also grown smarter, and I certainly realize that I could probably never afford to even attempt climbing to the top of the world. That knowledge won’t keep me from climbing the highest elevation in the United States east of the Mississippi River, though. That’s exactly what I will set out to do with about a thousand others on our bicycles on Monday, May 20 this year.
At this time last year I had never heard about this bicycling event known as “The Assault on Mt. Mitchell.” In fact, I first learned about this challenging century ride from a new friend Jim Simes from South Carolina when we met to do the “Redbud Ride,” a century bicycle ride in Kentucky in April. He surprised me by accepting my invitation to join me at that ride. And now I will return the favor by accepting his invitation to join him at what some call “the toughest ride in the southeast U.S.”
With official registration set to open in just a few days, the anxiety has already begun to build for me. Luckily, for me, I learned a very valuable lesson on preparation when I traveled to South Carolina in October to ride in the “Hincapie Gran Fondo.” That lesson is: mountains are night and day different than hills! We have some very challenging hills in my home state of Kentucky, but I can’t ride anywhere near my home where I can find 10-15% grades for more than about a mile or two at the most. And yes, we certainly have some 20+% hills around here too, but that’s just what they are. Hills. Not Mountains.
My mindset to complete the “Assault on Mt. Mitchell” is simple: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. I have set some lofty goals for my 2013 cycling season, and I’m glad, because it has kept me stoked to train hard through this off-season. I must admit, though, as much as I look forward to enjoying this season, I’m a little more focused on climbing Mt. Mitchell, than any of the other rides right now. My official training outline is also pretty simple: 1. Lose Weight, 2. Strengthen My Core, 3. Cycle, Cycle, Cycle! And on May 20, when I roll up to the starting line, my plan for success is pace, hydration, and nutrition.
I jokingly tweeted back in the fall that I not only intend to climb Mt. Mitchell, but I planned to finish with a couple of guys Jim Simes and Aaron West who both finished right around 7 hours last year. Believing that, is almost as far fetched as thinking I will climb Everest, but I have no doubt I will complete the “Assault on Mt. Mitchell” and when I reach the top, I will be proud to say, “I’m on top of the eastern United States!”
Join me in my quest to climb Mt. Mitchell, if you dare: