Yes, a beautiful day for a bike ride as about 290 cyclists descended on the tiny hamlet of Monterey, VA. With breakfast brought to my door at 7:00 and promising to hook up with The Donald and Flyin Tuna at 7:50, all I could do is grab the breakfast sandwich and head to the car for the 30 minute drive from Warm Springs. The place is surrounded by mountains and beyond those ridge after ridge of more mountains. You just know there are places up there never set foot by man or woman.
The ride starts at the foot of a mountain so lots of people choose to start early so you are not caught in the descent with a mass of people. A few years ago on the descent a woman went left of center and was killed by an oncoming truck. Above, Greg Dubois, Lisa and The Donald, aka Mark. Mark, Flyin Tuna and me started at 7:50. The Ohio contingent was down this year but Rick Miller was there, Frank Seebode, the above 3, Tuna, Rick's friend Mike, Kirk, Jen...think that's about it.
The first food stop is like at mile 17 and way too early. At the top of the first climb, about 2 miles with an average grade of 7.2%, Mark waited for Cindy while I kept going, thinking they'd catch me on the descent. Reaching the next climb, similar to the first, I got to talking with a guy from the UK and we worked together, added 2 others and had a nice working group as we arrived at the next food stop where I waited for Mark & Cindy. The 3rd climb is a beast and considered by many the hardest. Several spots over 12% and I was cross-eyed when I reached the top
It was a day for firsts. After the ride, a black bear bounded from the brush and crossed the road as I drove home which was starling but not as shocking as seeing Cindy take a pull on the 4th climb. I had to take a pic of this.
Ahhhhh, the summit. I had planned to do the 100 mile route as normal but I also wanted to get back to Ohio today and had been calculating the return time doing the 100 vs 70 route. I discovered my legs were not helpful with the decision making process so at the top, seeing the 70 option, I leapt for it!!!!!
I arrived at the infamous rest stop #3 at mile 50 on the century route, 35 on my route. Rick Miller suddenly came riding in, scattering cyclists in his wake as he paused to fill bottles before heading back out. Rick wanted to break the 6 hour mark but found, like all of us, your time on the first half can not be duplicated on the 2nd. There are 5 significant climbs in the back half starting with Snowy Mountain, an almost 5 mile climb followed by another of similar distance. Rick finished the ride with a total time of 6:20 so very respectable.
Leaving the food stop, I was relieved to find my route did not take me up Snowy, instead putting me on a long ride in a valley bordered by mountain ranges. Really a beautiful setting that I shared with a guy wearing a Virginia Tech jersey and whose 2nd favorite team is Penn State. We did not have much in common. Finished the ride with 5075' of elevation gain and on the road by 1:00pm and home by 7:00 in time to do yard work.
During the drive out, I counted cyclists and saw Rick was 9th on the road. Large gaps between each of the preceding cyclists and everyone riding alone. Without the benefit of a group draft due to the small quantity and make-up of the route, it makes breaking 6 hours difficult. I continued to count and found Mark at cyclist 80 but he ditched Cindy for a younger woman. I pulled alongside Mark and gave him some grief for abandoning a friend. I found Cindy at cyclist #85 on the road. and also paused, shouting encouragement. Well, I have to be honest as integrity is my middle name so rather than shout, "You're lookin good", clearly not the case as she looked rather frazzled, I shouted, "You're not lookin good" a few times. I inquired if she had a bike light, if she wanted to cheat and have me drive her up the road a mile or 10, if I should call husband Rod and have him come and get her...ya know the usual uplifting comments for which I am famous.