Awesome. Thousands of riders. Supported rest stops with water, Cliff Bars and fruit. A bit windy and cool but still beautiful.
Paul and John met us at the parking lot as planned. It was a bit cold to start but we knew we'd be climbing right away. Many riders were doing the ride in the opposite direction, presumably as an out and back to avoid the construction. As expected no one seemed to have too trouble on the unpaved section, and everyone had a blast on the new pavement on a fast downhill. There were more cars parked at north entrance than we'd ever seen here before. They were lined up for about a quarter mile past the gate.
The wind was starting to gust as we came around the east side. It remained a factor the rest of the day. It was never directly in our face, except maybe for the climb up to Cloud Cap, but the side wind made for some tricky descents. It was also partly cloudy and cooler than it had been the day before.
I was riding my Trucker. I left all my gear back at camp but I still had a very heavy bike over all of these hills. I did fine, not really climbing much slower than I do on a lighter bike. The Trucker was especially nice and stable on the fast downhills, something I really appreciated after my experience 2 years ago on the Grand Randonneur when I had some front end wobble issues. Though the GR is much better now (after installing a roller bearing headset) I still don't have as much confidence on fast downhills as I did on the Trucker. It was great fun.
This was certainly a different rim ride this year. The car-free days attract thousands of riders from all over. And this year there were 3 rest stops with lots of Cliff Bars, fruit, and water. I especially enjoyed the new nut butter filled Cliff Bars. I ate a bunch of them and really felt an energy boost on the last big climb. I don't think I had been eating enough on previous days of this tour. I will try and east more from now on.