Sunday, August 16, 2009

112 miles and a lot of climbing

Traveled to West Virginia this weekend to participate in The Cheat Mountain challenge with the "Ho" and 223 other masochists. 10,000 feet of climbing in 106 miles. We stayed at the top of the mountain at a small chalet like apartment with a nice loft. Friday we met up with Juergen and Angelica for dinner and to talk all times and new times. It was good to see them and chat for a while.

Sorry, my camera sometimes doesn't know how to take pictures.

Saturday we were up at 6am got ready and rode to the start a mile from were we were staying. A controlled start down to the base of the mountain for the real start which was split in two groups. I had asked for the early start but they gave me the later start, whatever the start it was going to be the same suffering.

The start took us on another road on the side of the mountain for about a deceiving flat mile and then about a 3 mile climb and another 2-3 mile descent were I caught up to the guys that out climbed me or lets just say went out too fast. The descent was just what I like, lots of hairpin turns and fast. I even caught up to the cars ahead of us and wanted to pass them but for fear of a head on collision with a car coming the other way it was best I stayed behind them. A long nice road with some rollers and short climbs took us to the first rest stop where I waited for Joe. Joe's descending skills are a little slower than mine. Ah, what the heck he just can't descend, let go of the brakes man. After that it was just some more rollers and short climbs until we turned into Watoga State park, then the climbing started with a long gradual climb that got very steep as it got closer to the next rest stop at the top with several sections at 8%. Which the signs let you know, thanks for the warning Watoga S.P. After another stop at the top to pee and refuel we hit the descent with lots of switchbacks and haipin turns, just what I like, nice black top and lots of speed. Again Joe burned the brake pads on the way down I could smell them a mile away. If you thought you had climb a lot you were wrong, after the descent the real climbing started with a couple of rollers and a 7 mile climb to the Cranberry visitor ctr. We took a right hand turn here into the Scenic Parkway and another 3 miles of climbing and about a mile descent and some false flats.

We stopped at the rest stop to refuel and get ready for the home stretch. About a mile or so of false flats took us to one of the most fun parts of the ride, a 3 mile descent where my max speed held for a while at 46mph. Wow, was that a lot of fun, the speed limit was 40mph.
Wat goes down must go up (or is it the other way around) Before the last climb,I have to say that this was the second most grueling climb of the day, 3 miles straight up with no brake I'll say at 6-8%, even Joe which was climbing like a mountain goat and I was having a hard time keeping up with him, agreed. One of the most rewarding moments of this ride is when you pass riders that went out too fast at the beggining and you say hello or just ask how they are doing and they can't even respond and you just keep going a bit energized. It may sound mean but you would understand if you did this ride, so don't judge me if you haven't done the ride. Another 2 mile descent at 40+ again took us to the last 20 miles before the "BIG" climb. The last 10 miles before the climb both of us felt like we were giving it everything we had and we couldn't hit 15 miles an hour. It was like we were pulling a trailer full of cement. about 5 miles from the bottom of the climb the sponsors oft the climb had sprayed painted a nice "look up" sign on the road and this is what they wanted you to see,

what was waiting patienly for you, thats Snowshoe ski resort.
We made it to the last rest stop, we dumped one bottle and kept one for the climb. 6 miles to the top, at this moment I told Joe that if he felt strong to go for it and not wait for me. I wasn't feeling like the first time I did the ride, where my legs seized up 1/4 up the climb and had to fight to stay on the bike, but I wasn't going to keep up with him. I stayed with Joe (or close to him) and another rider for about 2 miles or until the steepest parts of the climb hit, at this moment I tried to keep a sensible pace that would take me to the finish. When I saw the Village sign that said 2.5 miles, I almost stopped to kiss it. It is at this moment that you start watching your garming for signs that the 2.5 miles are getting shorter, after watching my Garmin and not see it moving I had enough and turned it to a different screen. The last mile the volunteers where out in force banging the cowbells cheering you to the finish line. I can't say enough about the volunteers, they do everything they can to make you feel great, they fill up your water bottle, hold the bike for you, anything you want(almost everything, be careful what you ask for) name it and they do it. Don't know what the official time was yet, I was looking for under 8 hrs or under 7:46 which was what I did the first time I did the ride. The ride time alone was under 7:30 not counting the stops.
It was the best I've seen Joe climb, he was a machine, I should've of just keep going on the descents and make him work hard to catch me to drain his energy. Seriously, he rode a great ride and his climbing was excellent.

Some of the roads and climbs are just like what you see in the Tour the France.
And no, this is not a bike path, it is actually a two lane road that looks like a bike path.
You can see how wide it was in the picture below when you see Joe on the right side of the road.
Two full size SUV's don't fit side by side.

The "HO" on one of the climbs, sorry but trying to climb and take pictures at the same time with no hands on the handlebar is hard.

1 comment:

  1. Juan,
    Thanks for the compliments. It was a great ride. I fell we gave it are best effort.