Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sassafras Loop

We're down in Brevard, NC. The forecast is about as abysmal as it can get for this time of year. 100% of rain Sunday, chances of snow Monday through Wednesday. With a few hours of daylight left Saturday, Arik and I decided to get as much of a ride in before the perma-gloom settles in. We had a bit of sun poking through at the time.

I've heard about a climb called Sassafras Mountain just south of Brevard in South Carolina. It has some pretty brutal grades in it. If we rode it from our rented vacation home, we could just fit the 60mi ride in the remaining daylight.

Arik has been riding about 4x as much as I have the last two months. This had me a bit worried, even if he professes to not being a climber. He can put out mad Watts on the flat. Lose the draft, bye-bye for me. Starting a week of long rides with a hurried ride with climbing usually doesn't bode well for me.

It was nearly 60F heading out. Shorts, but not short sleeves. Our house sits atop a spanker of a hill, nearly 500ft climb in less than a mile. Pitches hit 20%. We'd have to climb that when we got back. Sassafras has 20% grades in it too. It gains upwards of 1800ft.

Heading south, the sun quickly disappeared and the wind kicked up. The temp dropped at least 10F. We wasted no time getting to bottom of Sassafras. The climb did not disappoint. Arik has straight up road gearing, I brought Mt Washington climbing gears. Yeah, I'm evil like that. The scales tipped a tad in my favor heading up. At the summit spur junction, looking right up another wall section, I commented only a mile to go. Arik said "A MILE!!?"  I didn't think it was that hard, but I was clearly digging a hole I didn't want to be in on the first day.

Switchbacks at ~20% grade

The summit was completely socked in with clouds. Arik's GPS read 41F. Yeah, soaking wet, our bare knees and fingers were going to feel great on that descent. It was pretty cold.

Sassafras Mtn Summit

We made it back to our house north of Brevard just as the sun was setting with about 3.3hrs riding time. The driveway up sucked, as expected. Coming home to a double-digit 400-500ft climb each day will get old, if it doesn't kill me first.

The view from our rental does not suck

We're down one man right now. Brett picked up the flu a day before the trip and was knock flat out on his ass. We're hoping he can join us on Monday. I need him to help throttle Arik back, else I'm doomed.


Aaron said...

Too bad about the weather. These are some horrid conditions for late March.

Sassafras is a tough climb. I've only done it once, but it has been paved since then. The descent was pretty rough when you had to try and dodge potholes at a 20% grade.

Fygar said...

"Not much of a climber".. . . Riiiight. Arik also has a bridge in Brooklyn he'll sell you and some land on Florida, as well.