2007 Mountains of Misery: The Double Report

For those of you that didn’t make it, let me suggest that you put this one at the top of your list for next year. It’s only a 2 hour drive from our area, it really is treated more like a ride than a race, the support is great, AND there is a great family atmosphere at the finish. Oh, and don’t listen to the tales of woe from those riding this year. Give them another day or two and all they’ll remember is the blissful time they had with their spouses and camaraderie shared with fellow riders. For those of you that went, remember, your spouses are already planning on going next year!

Pre-Ride Festivities
The Greenes (Jeff & Pinkney), Sanders (John & Cheryl), Edwards (Randy & Jennifer), and I went to dinner at an Eyetalian joint in Blacksburg for the traditional pre-ride meal of pasta. Much fine discussion was had, including more than a little trash talk among the riders. From there, we walked through downtown Blacksburg to Starbucks where we sat outside with coffee/dessert and enjoyed the cool of the evening together. We then returned to our hotels, where some of us slept (I’ll bring a teddy bear to Mitchell with me for Jeff).

A Long Day in the Saddle
Awake at 0450, I decided to get up, shower, and turn the alarm off that was set for 0500. I met Jeff in the breakfast area of the hotel as they started to set up. We ate well and took a couple of bananas with us to eat just before riding. We finished loading up Jeff’s truck (AKA – The 747) at 0555 and were off to pick up Randy and John at their hotel. John managed to test the strength of Jeff’s trailer hitch with his shin while he was loading the bike. The 747 is still intact. Once loaded, the 747 was cleared for take-off and we headed on to the Newport Recreation Center. Along the way, it was interesting to note that all four steeds were glistening! There wasn’t a speck of grime to be found on nary a cog or chain.
At the Rec Center, I made one last attempt to get Jeff to ride the Double Metric (DM) with me, but he wouldn’t hear of it. The ‘Special Event’ listed on the web site turned out to be a couple having a wedding ceremony before riding the Century route together (not on a tandem). Here is where our paths diverged as I took the start at 0700. The Century would start at 0710 and I would desperately need those 10 minutes to make up the 26 miles or so I was spotting the Century crew.
The temperature at the start was in the upper 60’s with little breeze. The lead group started out at a very reasonable pace and we averaged 20 mph through the rolling terrain. I would have the opportunity to ride with Bill London, Juan and Judy Ascioli, and one other of the ‘fateful’ six that took the 28 mile detour into West Virginia last year. Ah, fond memories. Cruising slightly downhill at 30 mph at about mile 15 and pondering such issues, daydreaming mode was rudely interrupted by exclamations of “DEER” from the riders in front of me. I watched anxiously as the doe went from the right shoulder to off the left shoulder of the road in front of the group. The doe proceeded down the embankment on the left and was out of sight. Whew! About a second later, just as I’m coming to the spot it vanished, the doe jumps back up on the road and bewildered, picks a line to cross the road right behind me. The poor guy behind me didn’t have time to react or any place to go. He T-boned the doe at 30 mph. When I looked back, the doe and the rider were on the right shoulder and the group behind were stopping to help. The rest of us continued on and alerted the next SAG vehicle a mile or two up the road. I was informed later that the rider suffered a broken cervical vertebrae with no spinal cord injury and the doe was dispatched, presumably by the police.
The next challenge would be the descent into New Castle. I was cautious on the descent and suffered no close calls. I did get to witness one rider playing ‘Cyclocross’ in the grass of the opposite shoulder. Amazingly, he held on and didn’t crash. He told me later that someone had cut in front of him on the descent and then slowed down, leaving him nowhere to go but into some gravel. Once in New Castle, I took the turn to the DM route and the impending climb up Potts Mountain. There are some pretty significant climbs out of New Castle and at the top of one of them you find written on the road – “End of the Rollers”. Gee, thanks. This marks the beginning of the climb up Potts Mountain. It has the same elevation gain as the climb up Mountain Lake, but the legs are fresher AND the grades aren’t quite as steep. It was a long slog up the mountain, but the view at the top was gorgeous. The nice thing about a long climb is that there is often a long descent, and Potts Mountain delivered that in spades.
As I rolled into Paint Bank (really) and passed Rest Stop #3, I waved at Peter’s Mountain and turned towards Jamison Mountain. This part of the course is beautiful. It has mostly single lane roads with a canopy of trees that gives it a ‘European’ feel to it. This climb is about the same elevation gain as John’s Mountain but the grades aren’t quite as steep. Going up Jamison Mountain I latched on to a group of 4-5 riders that I would be fortunate enough to stay with until reaching John’s Mountain. We stayed together and stopped at a rest stop just before John’s Mountain. I filled up my 3 bottles with Perpetuem while I listened to the rest stop worker describe some poor chumps coming through last year that had made a wrong turn. Yeah, I confessed. On the way to John’s Mountain we started to catch some of the stragglers in the Century group. The legs were really starting to hurt on John’s Mountain. At the top of the climb the first of my little group decided to stop. I didn’t need anything so I carried on solo. Since most of the rest of the ride to Newport was downhill, this turned out to be fine.
When I arrived at Newport I had been averaging almost 18 mph for the 6 hours or so that I had been riding. I was starting to believe that I could finish this thing in less than 8 hours. After crossing 460 I started the downhill to the base of the Mountain Lake climb. Somewhere along the way my computer had malfunctioned and the mileage was off. It was reading 130 before I ever got to the climb. Arghhh. The climb up Mountain Lake was brutal. All of my leg muscle groups were starting to twinge and threaten to completely cramp. A van went by with well wishers screaming “Allez, allez, allez!” and I waved as they passed. It was only later that I would discover they were associated with the Horneytown riders. At the one mile mark came the utter despair that I still had a mile to go with a 34/27 gear and a 40 rpm pace. Would the muscles cramp? As I turned the last corner to see the orange traffic cones and started to hear the PA system, I began to think I might just make it in under 8 hours. I also saw Jeff Greene (already changed and perky, mind you) and Pinkney as I started this last 100 yards or so. Their encouragement, as well as Cheryl and Jennifer’s, was greatly appreciated. I crossed the line at 7:55 totally spent and had to collapse over the bike for a few minutes before heading to get a couple of Cokes to recover with.
John and Randy came up just a few minutes later and we all drank, ate, and commiserated for some time at the top before taking a van down the mountain.
That’s 4 T-shirts (you only get the shirt if you finish) from 4 Horneytown riders!
Make your plans to join us next year!
Greg

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