Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mount Mitchell Training - Kevin Pearl

On Monday, May 20, 2013, I will make my first attempt to "Assault on Mt. Mitchell." I'm your average recreational cyclist with a true passion for pedaling. No doubt I will get my fair share over the last 30 miles as I ascend to the summit of Mt. Mitchell on my quest to reach the highest elevation east of the Mississippi River on my bike. I'm somewhat of a stranger to climbing mountains on my bike, however I did complete the eighty mile "Gran" course at the Hincapie Gran Fondo ride last year. But I am no stranger to century rides, and certainly no stranger to a good challenge. 

My personality is pretty easy going, although when I decide to do something, I tend to take the roughest route, or road less traveled for the pure enjoyment of the challenge. It's probably why I chose to enlist in the U. S. Marines out of high school, instead of going to college like most of my friends, or even why I chose USMC over the other branches. It's probably why I chose to start my own business at age 25. My inner drive for a good challenge is also why I always sign up for the difficult or longest route when I do an organized ride event, such as Assault on Mt. Mitchell. That's just my personality.

To put it as honest as I possibly can, I am training pretty hard for this event, which I'm pretty sure is a pre-requirement for success. When I asked Aaron which of the big four climbing rides in the Carolinas is the toughest, he had no hesitation in giving credit to Mt. Mitchell. As hard as I'm training, I know there is nothing I can do to simulate the challenge I will experience on game day when I reach Marion, and have several hours of cycling left, all uphill. I will do as much climbing as I can before I get there, but it won't be near the toughness of the last 30 miles at the Assault. That's okay though, because, like I already said, I like a good challenge. 

My training plan is pretty simple: lose excess weight, strengthen my core, and cycle as much as possible. I finished last season a little heavier than I wanted, but I won't dwell on it. An obvious observation when travelling on a highway, is how much slower the tractor trailer trucks climb mountains than regular size vehicles. Once I have shed my excess baggage and reach my ideal cycling weight (I know what it is because I was down there just a few years ago), I will feel like a sports car with the engine from a big rig! My lack of core strength is what caused me to stop on a climb at the Hincapie Fondo ride, my first ever stop on a climb. I don't plan for that to happen again on any ride. With the Assault on Mt. Mitchell coming fairly early in the bicycling season, I think it is very important to just ride as much as possible. That is somewhat of a challenge itself right now, considering the weather has been much more winter like this year, but according to the groundhog, spring weather is just around the corner. Since I'm an optimist, that's what I'm going with. I'll have a better gauge on how my cycling is going after I complete the century route at the Redbud Ride in April in Kentucky. That will be my initial test to determine how far I come, and how far I have to go. 

Until then, safe and happy cycling to all. Stay motivated and train hard. I'm sure it's vital to our success at Mt. Mitchell in May!

Kevin Pearl
Ram Cycling

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