Wednesday, March 28, 2012

West Virginia

Philadelphia Ciclismo ventured out of the city on its annual excursion to enjoy the roads in and around Mathias, WV. If you have hung around anyone on the team for an extended period of time, a WV story is bound to surface. I know I am guilty of telling quiet a few. There's a good reason though, outside of just liking to talk about cycling. The Raw Talent Ranch at The Lost River Barn is a special place. Jay Molgia, who owns the barn has created the perfect mix of things for a group of like minded cyclists to utilize. The barn has a bike shop, banjo, extensive (often odd) VHS/DVD collection, kitchen, and sleeps 20 easily. It also has for lack of a better word... charm. Its an interesting place. There are all sorts of things that capture the eye while you stay there. An old photo of a cycling team, a collection of magazines. A blown out Spinergy Wheel... things grab your eye while you are there. The place itself has a story.
Photo D Lowe
And then there is the physical location. Its on top of a mountain. I have climbed up the mountain three different ways. The relatively easy "Front Side", The Hemlick Rock Rd dirt wall way, and the hardest, the "Back Side" All are proper endings to the other gems you will find when riding the loops and routes from RTR. 
The rides from RTR continue to be the best without question roads I have ever ridden.
Photo: Jay Moglia
Friday's Crooked Run loop, is highlighted by a road bearing the same name. The 4.4 mile stretch of relentless dirt walls linked together by twisting switchbacks was nicknamed "The Devil Climb" by some in our group. My brakes named the dirt descent off it the devil descent... 80 degree temperatures, and even steeper dirt switchbacks on the way down made hands, as well as the brakes they were activating, scream for mercy. When your ears pop on a descent you know you're not in Philly anymore. 
Photo Arthur Gorka
Skin that had been covered for months was re introduced to the sun, and the foundations of an epic PRO-ly amazing bananas tan line was set down. That night, things were burned to pair with our skin.
Photo Arthur Gorka
As amazing as Friday was, Saturday made the camp. The initial round of weather guessing from the magic weather guessers looked dismal at best. 60 to 70 percent chance of T storms, with highs in the 60's. Everyone was expecting the worst when we awoke to rain pouring down. Around 11 we decided to give it a go, and planned a rather conservative around the mountain loop, zero dirt sections and the front side of the barn climb home. We would descend the backside of the barn in the rain however. All 6.7 miles of swtichbacks. It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be, mainly because despite my best attempts to make errors, the CAAD 10's like to turn.
We zipped around the valleys, tackling a number of "smaller" climbs, still many over 10 minutes in duration. Eventually the spray from the wet roads subsided, and we began to see spots of dry pavement. At the base of the final climb, the strangest thing happened, the sun came out. Off came the rain gear, leg warmers and jackets, and bare legs were unleashed on the final climb back to the barn.

Sunday was departure day, but there was still riding to be conducted. We awoke to thick fog on top of the mountain. As we descended the back side climb, I struggled to follow the body of the rider 30 feet in front of me through the clouds. We set a course a long the valley and spun a tight double paceline before turning back to concur the best climb of the weekend, the 2000 ft 5.3 mile beast that is the back side barn climb. Typically reserved for the finale of a 5 to 6 hour ride, it was a treat to hit the climb with only 90 minutes of riding in our legs. We made our way back up through the clouds, and through the now increasing rain. 
Totes Amaze Balls Weekend.
photo: D Lowe

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