A gloomy beginning to the day. Ominous clouds and chilly weather threatened to undermine our noble intentions. After burning my muscles with some Icy/Hot...the poor man's "embrocation", and watching Jeff hop himself up with a 5-Hour Energy, we started our adventure. We talked and joked...we laughed and teased. Our joy ride was cut short upon turning on the Mitchell Road and the formidable hill that begins with a mile. A true classics hill full of jutting rocks, loose sand, and slopes reaching 10 to 14% it became clear quickly that as Jeff had predicted...'it was on...on like Donkey Kong'. We then proceeded to hammer the sandy 3 mile section of pave while fishtailing and swerving around holes and washed out sections of this logging road.
After a quick pace line to Ausable, we begin perhaps the steepist pitch of the day that is Grove Street...where Doug attacked and proceeded to drop me, much like Contador will drop Lance on every mountain in this TdF, a truly humbling and impressive attack that left me cursing lactic acid and half delusional. Once the group was all together on Green Street, I attempted a cheeky move to get away from Doug, but couldn't get him out of my slip stream, Then we headed on the glasstonite of the Reber Road and the rolling hills, we came out for a nice leisurely stroll South on 9 and cruised it into Willsboro while Jeff, Doug and Shawn sprinted out a few times, keeping the pace real high. We went into the 'boro for some water for some, after doing a bonus hill, and then began the climb out of Willsboro and a quick stint on more pave until we got onto Shunpike. Immediately the attacks were fast and furious for the length of the ride. Sara, our female compatriot rode like a champ all day...constantly bridging gaps and chasing down the would-be climbers. After a 32-mile per hour pace line, we headed towards our last prize of the day...the ever inspiring "Arnold Hill". Along the way we ran into our #1 fan (not my mother this time). Jason B. drove up and told us he'd resupply us should we survive the last climb of the day. At the base of the hill immediately Jeff went out of the gate in typical "Jeff the Bold" fashion attacking the lower slopes like a man possessed, perhaps eeking out the last of his caffeine induced haze. Without panicking, Doug and I refused to chase, and settled in for a little slower climb, and eventually we were able to bring back the brazen attack. 'After playing possum' and sitting on Doug's wheel through the wind to the top, a cow bell was heard in the distance and a flushing of shame and lactic enabled a quick acceleration out of me, and I began to chase Jason up the last pitch while he was wearing only his Speedo, a pair of bunny slippers and helmet with horns...truly a fan of the sport. When looking back, we saw Sara banging away on the pedals with a look of grim 'Cadel Evans' look of determination on her face, while Jeff, reeling from his attack desperately trying to close the gap, but Sara would not be caught this day. Once at the top and thanking our support van and fan, we began the easy ride back to the school. Once there we all agreed that it was an experience we'd not have missed for a moment...and we all anxiously await the next time we should put our fortitude to the test...and give the "Hell of the North v2.1" a go. Until next time comrades...I remain thankful for friends to share my suffering.