A weekend of firsts

I had a great weekend – full of challenges and fun. I got to do two things for the first time and had a blast!

First, Saturday morning, I went to participate in the Climb Against Cancer. A local man does an event each year on his bike where he climbs the Saluda Grade 10 times – it is a total of 84 miles up and down a 4 mile road with grades averaging a 4.8% incline. He raises money for programs focusing on cancer “survivorship”; one is the Livestrong Foundation and another is the local Gibbs Cancer Center. It felt good to be part of this event. After hearing him speak about cancer and these two charities I knew I had to make it up the grade at least once.

Susette and I started off just a little before 9:00. The first two miles were uphill but very gradual. Another girl joined us – she had already done one lap and was gearing up for a second. About half way up she told me that was the warm-up – get ready for the climb. I stopped to take a drink of water and she kept going. Susette and I started off together again but then she quickly was out of sight.

One pedal in front of the other… I was going pretty slowly but at no time was there ever a section that I thought I couldn’t handle. Thankfully traffic was light and in some areas where it was a bit steeper I was able to snake a bit. Up and up I went.

I was almost near the top when I saw Susette coming back down – yippee! I was almost there. She turned around and finished with me. It felt so great to be at the top!

Now the hard part! Getting back down. I am not a speed-demon. I do not like going fast downhill – I feel out of control. But there was only one way back to the car. It took up 40 minutes to get up… about 10 to get down!

I tried not to constantly break, but it was hard. Constant twists and turns made it impossible to relax. About half way down one of my worst fears… going fast and in a curve I hear a dog barking! OH no! I hearing dogs on my ride. I am scared to death of them coming at me. THe barking continued as I sped up. Where in the world is it coming from? I am on the side of a mountain with a cliff on my left and a drop off on my right. Low and behold… the dog is in a car that is behind me… hanging out a window and barking at me. Quite unnerving.

This proceeded for a few minutes. Since the roads are so curvy the car couldn’t safely pass. They were holding a good distance behind me and didn’t really bother me at all… except for the dog. It was as if I was being chased! Finally in straight away and they got around. I never got a view of the pooch but I was happy he was gone.

Finally at the bottom, after my forearms and hands were cramped from braking I hit some nice flat road where I was able to pedal and go fast. I rolled into the parking lot to see Susette waiting for me. It was a great ride!

Here is the grade… on the chart it doesn’t look that impressive – but it is 🙂

I drove home with a smile on my face. Another affirmation… if I can do this then I can do anything:)

Next challenge for the day… hiking down the Green River to watch a very unique duathlon. John and I along with my friend Kathryn and her family met at a trail head along the Green River in Saluda. We were going to watch the kayak portion of the kayak/bike race called Jerry’s Baddle. A fundraiser for Lou Gehrig’s disease.

We hiked and rock scrambled to get to a great viewing area. One kayak after another went by – it was very exciting to see them go through the rapids. After watching several we hiked back out to drive to the transition area where they get out of their kayaks and get on their bikes. A 26 mile road race that includes several miles of steep switch backs. Shortly after we got there the first finishers came in – 1 hour and 5 minutes to do 26 steep miles. Incredible. Another racer we got to see was legally blind! He raced the kayak then got out and got on his bike. Very inspiring!

After a bit John and I hopped back on the Harley and headed down the mountain. I was pooped.

Sunday started off with a nice trail run with friends. We are getting ready for a race next weekend. The trail is tough on it’s own but the miles on the bike and the trail made my legs tired. It was hot and I was happy to be done with that race.

After some grocery shopping and some housekeeping my last event for the weekend was coming up… swimming in the lake.

I was a bit nervous and plunge time drew near. I had to meet Katie at 3:30 for my first experience in the lake. I got there and got my gear on ( I need more stuff for swimming then I do running or riding!). I grabbed my kick board and slowly eased myself into the cool water. It was not as cold as I expected so that was good. Soon we were off. She was on her paddle board watching over me while I kicked away.

After a bit the I heard the words I had been dreading. “Put your face in the water”. Uhg. I did a couple of times. “Ok, this time, put your face in the water and I want to see bubbles”. I had to breath. The hardest thing in the world to do. I did it. A couple of little bubbles surfaced. She wanted more… always more…

I managed to do it a few times and got a bit more comfortable. Then, as expected…. “use your arms”. Up until now I had a death grip on the kick board. Now I had to use my arms to stroke. So difficult, Stroke, kick, breathe…. look up at the sky, ear to shoulder, breathe, look at turtles, things floating in the water, can’t see the bottom, water in my nose, water in my mouth… choke, choke… breath….

So exhausting… yet fun.

I want to be a triathlete so bad! I want this more than anything I have wanted. WHY is swimming so hard!

Finally we get to stop and I hop on the boat with Cynthia to watch over the fast swimmers swimming the whole lake. We get to protect them from drunks on boats and teenagers on jet skis not paying attention. These swimmers are amazing. They swim for an hour without losing a beat. One day…



  1. Linda Phelps

    You did great! Sounded like a fun weekend.

  2. Going to be shopping for a kayak now?

  3. You did the grade and got in that cold water, 70 degrees! Everyone had on wetsuits. Have a great week, it will come with the swimming especially when the water gets warmer, we can swim every night after work.

  4. Love it, you conquered the grade so awesome!

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