So, at Looney, Red fell forward from the group he was riding with and enjoyed the descent into New Castle — rippin! Arriving in New Castle, he refilled the bottles with HEED — which was the ticket. He also downed some Edurorlyte tablets. As an aside, I have to give props to Hammer Nutrition’s HEED and their Endurolyte tablets. I felt better on this ride and attribute some of that to their product. On the other hand, the Hammer Gel tropical was awful — if you’re gonna swallow pureed coffee grounds, better just do it and not try to make it taste tropical.
Continuing north, Red made his way into what he calls the “enchanted forest.” He doesn’t know why, it’s just that you’re in the woods for such a long time and then you come out into these sweeping valleys, like this one to the right. He thinks it’s pretty cool.
While in the enchanted forest, Red rode with a couple of other riders. One of the riders was Erica — from VA Beach (a lot of mountains there) who was wearing a Conte’s Bike Shop kit. Erica said this was her first challenge ride. She was doing great — very strong. At about 10:30 we made it to the rest stop at the base of John’s Creek Mt. After filling the bottles again, it was off to start the first climb. Red headed out with Dan from DC. Dan made it to the top first, surprised? Red just kept to his rhythm and did what he had to. There have been times on John’s Creek that Red thought he might fall off the side, but not this time. Were the legs feeling stronger? Red caught up with Dan at the end of the descent. (Red always catches ’em on the descent.) It was a head wind back to Newport, but Red and Dan shared the pulls, and then made the right turn into the spiral staircase. (What’s with the cute names? Never you mind, it helps him tell the story). The little ten mile loop out from Newport and back has been a source of great discouragement in the past kind of like climbing a spiral staircase. One of those rollers tops out at 19% — or at least that’s what Red heard. But did Red whine on the spiral staircase this time? Not so much. Red rode with Dan around and back to the Newport rest stop. 84 miles done. Could it be that the last 17 are that difficult?
Red headed out quickly again. ‘Cause he was not going to get beat up Mountain Lake by those double-metric masochists: Chum and the Good Dr. It was all pretty cool — the climb out of Newport over US 460, down and back up again. Granted, he wasn’t breaking any climbing speed records, but who cares? At about 1:30 Red had made the last decent to begin the climb up Mountain Lake in earnest. There are a couple of mental steps — up to US 460, the little descent on Salt Road the climb up to the first turn just past the woods, the rest stop, and the desperation to hear the finish line announcer and music….
The climb was indeed, miserable. It’s just too steep. Chum and Red were positing the theory that the asphalt up to Mountain Lake is in fact a glacier which slides down the mountain several feet each year due to the steepness of the grade. VA DOT workers merely add a few feet of road at the top. They are in fact, building a road which will end at the beach. Well, maybe not, but all the same, that road’s too steep.
Red was greeted with encouragement by the Rambler wives and Tailights! who finished 40 minutes earlier. Chum and the Good Dr. were no where in site. Mission accomplished. Red’s wife was at the finish to snap this photo. (Is that a smile or a grimace? or maybe just relief and gratitude.) Red finished with his best overall time yet, and though he made a lot of promises on that climb up to Mountain Lake, two days later, he’s ready to start thinking about the possibility of going again next year? Is that sick?
By 3:30 all the Rambler’s were accounted for, and ready for the team photo. Some made a couple of promises after that ride. But you know what Red says, “Misery loves company.” Ride Ramblers.