The Ramblers converged in Blacksburg on Saturday in preparation for the 11th Mountains of Misery Ride from Newport out and around and finally back up to Mountain Lake — which, before he forgets to say it, is miserable. (Every year, Red thinks, it’s just about gutting it out — just harden up and climb. Red, if you read this next year and intend to do it, get the compact you idiot!)
So, we ate dinner at a downtown Blacksburg Italian Family restaurant, Ceritano’s — “a bottle red, a bottle a white….” Ceritano’s serves delicious, authentic, slow food. They made accommodation for our large group and gave us plenty of time to linger and talk — the Italian way. Which is to say, Americans are much more demanding regarding quick service. Real, slow food is not a timed event, people. Speaking of “people,” we were all charmed by the family-Chum’s children, “People, I need a straw, can somebody get me a straw? People?” After dinner it was off to S-bucks for a desert coffee. Red ordered a skinny carmel mochiato. Red didn’t order decaf 😦 but fortunately, Red remembered 🙂 but he didn’t drink his desert :-(.
The Rambler’s awoke, loaded bikes, grabbed a bite and were at the start by 6:40. The Good Dr chided his fellow Ramblers about shivering and the cold and the descent into New Castle. He was right, of course; it was 43 degrees!
Chum and the Good Doctor left with the first group at 7am — these studs did the 126 mile route. Why? Because they could. Tailights! left at 7:05 on the 100 mile ride — somewhat ambivalently, but he must have made up for his ambivalence, because Red never saw him again. Red started at 7:10 and was thinking those arm warmers would’ve been a good idea, but after 10 minutes, he was pretty warm, and generally grateful that he wasn’t too hot. The sweeping valleys of the VA Blue Ridge are pretty awesome. However, he’d forgotten how rolling a valley road can be. Here’s a shot looking back towards the Southwest as we make our way toward New Castle.
Red road with group out to the descent into New Castle, and in particular he road with D.C. cyclist/commuter Denise who said she remembered riding with him last year. (Red does not cut the kind of figure on velo that many forget.) Always grateful for company and conversation, Red was happy to pull on the downhills and be waited for on the climbs. Red told Denise about a peculiarly funny photo-op before the descent into New Castle — the community of Looney. The road sign behind reads, “Looney School Rd.” Who goes to the Looney School? The cyclists on the 11th Mountains of Misery were definitely on the road to Looney — and they were getting ready to be schooled.