On April 10th, 2010, I joined approximately 600 cyclists to participate in a bicycle ride sponsored by the Brevard, NC Rotary Club known as the “Assault on the Carolinas.” This event, which celebrated its 11th year in 2010, includes a metric century (65 miles) course as well as some shorter options.
The ride begins at Brevard High School, and continues through downtown Brevard, up a steep climb at Walnut Hollow, and then along the French Broad River Valley.
The Assault is notorious for “Caesar’s Head,” a punishing climb that begins at mile 45. From the intersection of Hwy 8 and Hwy 276 in Pickens County, S.C. the ascent covers six miles to its terminus at Caesar’s Head State Park. All riders, regardless of strength or experience, are challenged at Caesar’s Head to one degree or another.
This year marked my third “Assault” and my third climb up Caesar’s Head. Old memories of the climb include snow, rain, cramps, and too many rest stops. My goal this year was to climb Caesar’s head at a smooth, consistent pace, without reliving the drama of past years.
To reach the goal, I worked on an indoor trainer a few times a week throughout the winter months. When work and parenthood allowed, and the weather cooperated, I got in as many miles on the road as I could.
To build strength for the climb, I initiated a series of strength/endurance rides close to my office, during court recesses, and other holes in my schedule. These rides were all about slow, steady climbing in lower gears, to simulate the resistance of a steeper climb.
This year’s climb up Caesar’s Head wasn’t fast, but it was smooth and consistent. At the top of the climb, I had strength to gear down and increase my cadence. I finished the last miles of the climb with a fast group of riders and erased the painful memories of prior finishes.
A little bit of forethought, preparation, and persistence made the difference for me on Caesar’s Head this year. This approach has always worked in my law practice, and it turned out to work on the bike too. Looking ahead, it’s time to set new goals for the bike and for the practice.