THMMC took a run up to Big Walker Lookout led by ohbuga. For me, it was an early start to the day with a quick run through a carwash to knock some loose stuff off. Little did I realize how futile it would be to spend that $2. From home, the first stop was to meet up in Winston-Salem with several other club members for the run up to Sparta, the official starting point. From home over to W-S had been cloudy but dry. Things changed quickly as we headed up 52 and then over to Sparta on some backroads. A light mist set in, the roads were wet throwing up lots of spray, and there was the occasional patch of snow on the side of the road just to let us know how cold it was. The boxy shape of our MINIs didn't help things from a cleanliness standpoint.
We got to Sparta and met at the Ship's Wheel restaurant. By the time we left, I counted a total of 22 MINIs. From there, we started the "official" part of the run. Unfortunately, we were not far along, on some nice twisties, when I thought I smelled something a little odd - maybe brakes or rubber burning? But then it faded away. For a few seconds. Coming around a curve I saw a couple MINIs pulling over to the side of the road. I followed suit and we soon discovered our first casualty of the day as whaner had a flat tire. Amazingly, their model happened to have a drop down spare. Things really got on track with the help of maacodale who apparently keeps and entire shop's worth of equipment in his Clubbie. We soon had the donut spare on and whaner was able to head back home for some fixing. The rest of us caught back up with the group waiting at a gas station. After a considerable delay.
From there, it was a run up through some great backcountry roads. I did get a kick out of a pickup truck that was trying mightily to keep pace with the run rather than pull over and the last six or so of us by. He finally turned off though and we were able to catch up.
Getting to Macado's in Marion we truly discovered just how filthy our MINIs had become. Not only were boots dirty, but sides, hoods, glass - everything. I think we may be able to lay claim to a new motto for the club - "THMMC - Dirtiest Club in the South". And we all got to commiserate over the thought of how many rock chips we might find after washing the crud off. Lunch was tasty and capped off with some cake provided by ZOOOOM!
Upon returning to the parking lot though, we discovered our second casualty when we found MiniCuse had a flat tire. Unfortunately, no spare for him. The good news is we were in town with a cell signal, so he was able to call for assistance. Alas, it was the end of the day for him as the rest of the group headed out.
Time for more twisties. This may have been the most enjoyable part of the run for me as it was largely uninterrupted and I was able to get into a nice groove. Plus, things were finally starting to dry off a bit.
The final few miles up Big Walker turned into a cloud bound journey as the summit was socked in. Nevertheless, after all that time and miles, I was determined to climb the tower. So, me and Sgt. Pepper showed why we are the El Presidente and Vice El Presidente and made it to the the top. With probably 50 mph winds and ice covering the towering and barely able to see the ground below from the cloud.
For all the challenges of doing a run in the middle of winter, it was still a great time. Got to see plenty of old friends and meet several new ones. And we will all have tales of a truly unique run.
Be sure to check out the rest of my photos in my gallery.