Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lost River Barn/ Raw Talent Ranch/ Ciclismo Training Camp

For the second consecutive year Philadelphia Ciclismo headed south to the Raw Talent Ranch in Mathias, WV.
Jay and Audrey have created something special with this place. The barn is on top of a mountain, smack in the middle of some of the best riding you will ever experience. The barn is a really nice place to stay, I have paid way more for way less in some motels throughout my life as a bike racer. 
Photo: Jay Moglia
Friday's ride was the warm up. After a 4.5 hour car trip we headed out to test the legs and stretch out. 40 miles later and with already 3000 ft of climbing in our legs, the only thing between us and the barn was ~3 mile stretch of dirt road with pitches of upwards of 20%. 45 rpm of brutal. Remain seated or else your wheel slips out and you fall over. These efforts simply cannot be replicated at home. It would be like climbing the Manayunk Wall 10 times after covering it in dirt. Actually can we make that a dirt road, that would be insane. I digress. A half hour and 1500ft of vertical later day 1 was complete. 

Day 2: Last year we did this great loop that included a 25 min dirt climb up to an apple orchard lunch stop. It was amazing and the climb was my style. I was sad to hear we would be trying out a different loop this year, but I was told I would not be disappointed. 
Photo: Matt Harris. 

After fueling up on several nuetella croissants and loading the team vehicle we set out, down the 6.5 mile decent that leas to the valley roads. The descent is a bit of a mind game because you must climb it on the way home.
This ride ended up being one of the best training rides I have ever done. The legs cooperated all day, almost as a thank you for the countless trainer sessions and sub 25 degree rides they endured most of the winter.

The real reason the ride was amazing was the route itself. There was a bit of everything on the ride. Dirt, steep really scary descents, valley roads all in sunny weather. But then 45 miles in it happened. Smoke Hole Road. Arguably the best road I have even ridden on, yea even better than the Blue Ridge Parkway. The road snakes along the river there and in encased in two rocky cliffs. At the other end of the canyon begins the relatively modest climb, up to the extremely fun descent off the mountain. 

94 miles later and a 6.5 mile climb back up the mountain we were home. The climb back up to the barn is a tough one. The middle section is riddles with switchbacks each with there own way of tugging at you with their ridiculous pitch. We all made it up, one way or another and marveled in our accomplishments for the day. 6 hours. 94.5 miles, 9000 feet of climbing. Perfect team riding on the flats punctuated with playing on the climbs.

While dinner was in the oven, we decided to contribute to global warming a bit and burn some stuff. Luckily Jay had some stuff to burn, and by stuff I mean a very large pile of scrap wood. The most responsible person at camp threw fire crackers into the fire. True story.

We all knew Sunday had a chance of foul weather. We were all partially in denial until we woke up to 2 to 3 inches of snow. By 10am or so the road surface had come around a bit and there was actually some traction to be found, at least if you didn't try to drop down a 20 min decent. We stayed on the ridge and tried to at least get a few minutes in on the dirt roads on the ridge. Here is what happened: If you click anything on this blog, click this video.

No brakes, 2 gears, no big ring, as you can see its encrusted in ice/dirt. it was a lot of fun though. Not a perfect way to cap off the weekend, but a decent one none the less. For those of you wondering the only thing broken on the bike were the brake pads were completely shot post ride... amazing. My team Cannondale CAAD 10 was being built as we rode, so this was a nice send off to my Cervelo after 2 years of sterling service.

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