i hope you've heard about this race before. i did a post on it a couple years ago. didn't do one last year, so i figured i'd make the effort now. i brought my camera along with me this time to document the ride. here are the results of that endeavor. first, a little background about the race. it is tough. 75 miles through the hills of west virginia and pennsylvania near morgantown, wv (gps file). it's all on "roads". some are paved, some are gravel, some are packed dirt, and some are more like singletrack. and the hills are ridiculous. non-stop super steep climbs, one after the other. nothing super long, but they hand out a beating. here's the facebook page if you want to learn more.
this year, four of us came up from atlanta: JD (a hilly billy rookie), tom (his second trip), mr. rogers, and myself (HBR veterans at this point). we got up there late thursday night, we for a little ride into morgantown, rode some of their in-town singletrack, enjoyed some pizza for lunch, italian for dinner, and settled into our little tent city for the night.
we woke up early saturday, got our bikes ready, and headed to the start. this year, promoter extraordinaire JR made us some sweet number plates.
lucky 13 for me. it's on. the race starts in a field at the back of a park just outside of town.
here's tom's new bike, built up especially for the race:
we line up for the start, near the back, it's gonna be a long day, no reason to get over-zealous.
the race starts out with a neutral section as we get out of the park, a long paved downhill (which sucks so hard on the way back in to the park), turn left and we hit the first dirt climb. it's hard, there's people all over the place, passing is hard, as is keeping the same pace as people on lower-geared mountain bikes, but eventually, after a fast downhill, we hit pavement again.
there's still enough people at that point to form groups and get some drafting benefit. JD is still feeling good. won't last.
we then hit the funnest part of the race. a dirt road with mud puddles so wide you have a few muddy and uneven inches to go around them on each side of the road. and if you're not careful, you'll pay, as JD did.
but the beautiful scenery makes up for the early pain.
mr. rogers was already way ahead of us, but we managed to stay more or less together for the first half of the race.
and the climbs keep on comin'
and the heat makes it no easier. every time i looked down at my garmin, the temps were in the high 90s. 105.8 was the highest i saw. it was tough to keep hydrated.
and already, some have to be walked
but we soldiered on
it's beautiful out there
but after some 60 miles, the beauty just means pain
at that point, i've left tom and JD behind. JD was cramping early and tom was not feel much better. i figured they could finish together and i'd ride my own ride.
i was cramping, so hot i'd stopped sweating, but i knew what i had left, and was confident i would finish. i'd been passing people looking way sadder than myself since leaving my buddies behind, which added to my confidence. i finally rolled through the finish just short of 7 hours after the start. not bad given the conditions and the little amount of riding i've been doing lately. mr. rogers finished 13th overall. tom rolled in an hour after me. JD was found passed out on the side of the road and driven back to the start. here's my wonderful bike, after finishing its third roubaix (another milestone: it turned 2 years old that weekend. happy birthday my sweet fantom.)
and me, so glad to be done riding, and already looking forward to next year.
thanks for riding along.