Thursday, May 24, 2012

Allegheny Mountains Loop ITT Day 3

I must have slept good that second night as Chris had to practically shout my name to wake me up. It was 5:00 and we were eager to get on with our final day. There was a water source right next to our bivy spot so after filling up we were in the saddles and rolling around 10:00. We knew that this day would involve lots of climbing however this would also be out shortest day at 120 miles.

I don't remember too many details of the mornings route. I do remember that we came to an intersection that had a sign for Lake Moomaw. As soon as I saw the sign, I remembered the intersection as Vanessa and I camped and rode out of Lake Moomaw a couple of years ago. I had no idea that we would be anywhere in the vicinity of the lake. Thinking back on the great time that Vanessa and I had was a great pick me up.

We came upon a beautiful view of the lake. There had been fog lifting off of the water and it was so peaceful and quiet out there.

As we rode around the lake, we noticed signs for the marina and figured that we should scope it out for some food. Sure enough there was a store however the lights were off and it was locked. As we were rolling out, a lady stepping out of a motor home got our attention. It was just our luck that she was the one running the store. I had some chocolate milk and donuts while Chris had a fresh cup of coffee. We grabbed some extra food to help us through the day and were on our way.

A couple of hours passed and we found ourselves passing by a gas station. Not knowing how far the next opportunity to stock up would be, we decided to stop. I made the stop worthwhile..

All of this food was gone before leaving the gas station.

Not long after our gas station stop is when the real climbing began. It was getting hot out and the sun was relentless. We encountered climb after climb with and the grade seemed to increase the longer we climbed. Lucky for me, I was feeling excellent. My knees, neck, back, feet and hands were all feeling terrific. Unfortunately for Chris, this was his day to suffer. Chris was having a tough go at all of the climbing. His pace had slowed tremendously so I would either wait up or climb for a bit, descend and climb some more with him. This is how the remainder of our day would play out. A little note on Chris.. this guy travels out of state for work each week and has four kids at home. This leaves him with almost no time to train. He was attempting this 400 mile ride with very little riding leading up to the AML and very few hours of sleep. How impressive is that?

We saw lots of interesting sights on this last day including an abandoned inn that was designed by Thomas Jefferson and had hosted presidents Van Buren, Pierce, Fillmore and others. We also saw an old covered bridge and quite a few buffalo ranches and Mountain Lake where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed.

Another highlight of the day was running into a general store/restaurant in the almost non-existent town of Paint Springs. I filled up on buffalo bbq, fries, coleslaw and some sweet tea.

Our pace was slow for the rest of the afternoon which gave us ample time to check out our surroundings.

I had to take a picture upon seeing this sign. It's hard to tell from the picture but the sky was a very stormy grey color. This was definitely a sign of things to come.

The remainder of the ride went off without a hitch except that two hours from finishing, the bottom fell out. We found ourselves riding in a huge thunderstorm which decided to follow us all the way back to Blacksburg. The rain was coming down so hard that it was almost impossible to see. Lightning was striking and cracking all around us with bolts to close for comfort. The wind made it a chore to stay upright and there was enough water standing in the roads to make us concerned with hydroplaning. Needless to say, this was maybe the most frightened I have ever been while riding.

As we rolled into Blacksburg the rain turned to drizzle and our adventure came to an end. We finished up the route around 7:45 pm with a total on route time of 57 hours and 29 minutes. The route proved to be much more challenging than I  expected. The adventure included way more than I imagined possible on some roads in VA/WV. I enjoyed this route so much that I will be back!

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