If Saturday's course was hills, hills and more hills, Sunday's profile showed a massive climb to reach a plateau, a very long segment of rollers and a dive back to the campground. We would see in the long run whether our eyes deceived us.
We again had our mild 5-mile warm-up leaving the campground, and I needed all the flatness I could find. All the previous night and the morning of I approached Sunday with much trepidation. Saturday had put me at the bitter edge of my abilities and honestly I didn't know if I could get through another day's worth. After a bit of warm-up, though, the body started to wake up, and throughout the course of the day I was resolute to climb at my own pace and save the legs for the long haul.
We took a left onto Rock Creek Rd., which we found to our amazement as a flat run along the same creek as the campground is on. Great! Flat! Shortly after our turn, and a map discussion, we came through a bizarre ghost town of shacks and house, mostly all right next to the road. It reminded me of the many images of Europe where the houses are right on top of the road instead of offset. I called it 'Hobbiton' because of its overgrown, forlorn nature. Behind it somewhere is the Bell Farm Horse Camp, so these may have been cabins at one point, but certainly not now. From there Rock Creek Rd. ventured on, nice and flat. We encountered a few horses (where we dismounted) and generally had a more extended warm-up, just what I needed.
Our turn onto 1363 brought us to our next stage, using that "major" road as a link up to yonder obscure destinations. Again we had a map discussion b/c Michael's GPS wasn't agreeing with my cue sheet, even though they came from the same source. We eventually turned right onto to Beech Grove Rd. and found our first obstacle of the day, ostensibly the big one of the day at 1+ mile with lots of double digit inclines (and a top of 15.9%).
At some point, Beech Grove turned into what we were searching for, the rough stuff. My reading suggested that Beech Grove/Devil'sCreek/Peter'sMountain/DivideRd. is a 20-mile continuous mountain road along a ridge in the middle of BSF. It offered no amenities, no homes, no civilization. The KY portion we encountered first was a mixed of heavy gravel, rocks and dirt. It was one of the worst "gravel" surfaces I've ridden and we rode it for miles. Ironically, I was worried for Dave and Michael with their 700c wheels but I had the flat. Unsurprisingly, we made slow time and we found roller after roller, but in this case steep, double-digit rollers and terrible road surface. Over time it took its toll.
By the time we reached the state line, I was done, just like Saturday, cooked. At this point I actually actually consulted the map and found a walking trail cut through that would have substantially cut our trip. I began to hate the ride, hate the road and hate my exhaustion. That said, it was a completely gorgeous stretch of road and I wish I could have enjoyed it more.
Once we turned onto the paved road I began to feel...worse. At one point I even began to feel stick to my stomach and light-headed. I told Michael and backed off from there for a bit. They had refilled their water supplies and seemed a little more frisky, but we were 20 miles from camp and I didn't know if I could finish. Ick!
We had a great run on the TN state road with its sweeping descents and steep climbs, and smooth roads. =) We finally turned onto Parker Mt Rd., our final leg before our 5m warm-down road. From here interestingly I began to feel better. Whether it was refreshment from the food and water or the "horse to the barn" quotient, I was able to push a pace I hadn't in hours. If you told me in the middle of the Divide Rd. that I could do a steady 15mph on our last gravel I might have died right there. Instead, we finished steady and strong in the impeding darkness.
Aside Michael's unfortunate spill coming down the 18% grade of Parker's Mtn almost in the dark, we finished well. I think all of us felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, however tired we were. From there we piled in the SUV, stopped at Wendy's for salty, carbo goodness and headed home, arriving at 12.00 midnight. Poor Michael had to return the remaining 2hr to Bloomington. I have a few more comments about the camping experience, but the bike experience was simply epic and unforgettable.