6000ft of elevation? Sure, I'm up for a challenge.
2+ hour drive in the early morning to get there? Nahhhh. Amira, hit me with that AirBnB door code 😂.
Before checking in, I stopped by the Outdoors Expo. Picked up some RELoad bags for my gravel bike and ate some surprisingly fantastic French fries from a food truck. Wish I could remember the name of the truck cause it's worthy of a shoutout. Basically, if you're in Pittston, PA and there's a woman making burgers and fries in a food truck that only accepts cash....do yourself a favor. I also filled out my raffle ticket (that's foreshadowing for later).
Fast forward a few hours of chatting and chewing at the expo....
8 of us altogether in the AirBnB. Not one of us could figure out how to get the TV working to watch the basketball game.
Actually, I knew how to get it working but I don't really watch bball like that and there was some good conversations going so yea...not sure if anyone from that evening is gonna read this, but if so....my bad.
Thankfully Sannah brought some pastries and fruit because your boy gets snacky and we still wanted to check out the SRAM welcome party before getting dinner. The welcome party was great. There was an activity where you went head-to-head against other cyclists on a stationary track bike to see who could pedal 100m fastest. Winner gets a set of carbon wheels.
Leo was on a different level. He had that fire in him this weekend. (That's more foreshadowing...) He only lost because he had to go against the cyclist who ended up beating everyone and getting the wheels.
Vernon ended up coming in 3rd place and securing a spot for our club on the "podium".
After the welcome party, we got dinner together at a nearby Mexican restaurant. I got the rice and salmon dish with an extra side of rice and a couple glasses of sprite. I told everyone I was carbo-loading like I wouldn't eat that same meal a normal Tuesday night 😂. Deronn also joined us for dinner, but not the AirBnB. He apparently has a spot nearby Pittston and will be hosting us all there next year (I assume).
After dinner, we all went back to the AirBnB. Mikaela was there. She's a machine, but we all chilled together in the living room even though she'd might be more comfortable in the garage (Was that corny? I feel like that was corny.).
While Rob was in the bathroom, we all conducted an elaborate plan to steal one of his cycling socks. Right Rob? Someone took one of your socks? Lol like why would we even do that? What could we possibly gain from taking a single, used sock LMAO.
Fast forward 8 hours of sleep zzzzzzzzzzz.
At the start, Trek had a firepit going plus snacks and seriously chill vibes. We met up with our friends Miko and Dan from Philly Bike Expo squad. Everyone knows Miko. If you don't know Dan, look out for the guy passing you up a hill on a single-speed gravel bike.
We all kind of felt things out for the first few miles. When there's 6000ft of climbing, you gotta do stuff like that.
Deronn and I hung back. Spoiler: Deronn was not about that "hang back" life for long.
Mikaela and Rob both signed up to do the full hundo (like a couple of psychos). There was some overlap in the 2 courses, so we got to hang for some segments together. Dan, Miko and Leo kept a fast pace (told you Leo had that fire in him....) but we all met up at the rest stops.
Waffles with friends is better than waffles alone.
Amira and I both wanted to take in the gorgeous scenery of northeastern Pennsylvania so we kept a steady, consistent pace and focused on making through the entire course in style. Her face is cutoff in this picture - that's part of leading the pack I guess.
The course was tough, but the scenery was absolutely incredible. Actually, I wouldn't describe it as "scenery" because that implies something you simply see. A particular view of an area. It implies a static experience. This course was dynamic and experiential. When I was climbing, things evolved slowly. The mountains in the distance would slowly grow bigger and closer until they turned into gravel and soil under our wheels. We could look back and see the roads that we were once riding on cut through the miles of landscape. A rusty barn that we rode past miles ago now rests in a sloping field off an overgrown road.
Things change fast when you're descending. At 40mph you notice the subtle differences in the texture of the gravel. You have to. The air gets warmer as you go down, and some of the sunlight gets obscured by the trees. At the bottom, your vantage point changes. You can't see off into the distance any more, but that's OK. There's streams and creeks down here. Besides, there's more climbs and more descents to do.
So yea....6000ft of climbing over only 62 miles. There were some tough climbs. As we got closer to the famous taco rest stop, other cyclists would remark "almost at the tacos!" and "last climb before tacos". I felt like it was taking forever to actually get to the tacos. Looking back, maybe the real tacos was the friends and memories we made along the way 😅 But seriously, the tacos were really good.
After it was all said and done (and uploaded to Strava) we made it to the finish. I found out that I won some bike bags from the raffle. I ended up trading with Mikaela for a mini back pack.
Riding back to the AirBnB, one of the neighbors of our AirBnB said that we rode our bikes on her private access road and she has video evidence....so this might be my last message before the FBI comes for me.