Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going Round the Mountain

Well I wish I could have gone around the mountain! Unfortunately the only way to Sugar Grove is over Shenandoah Mountain so last Wednesday I got off of work and headed out armed with lights as well as some warm clothing for the colder temps in the higher altitudes. I crossed Briery Branch Gap then hit the looooong descent on a rough dirt road down to Sugar Grove.

After getting back to pavement I spun along for four miles or so till I turned left onto Brushy Fork Rd. A few miles later and I was climbing up yet another quad-killing fire road. It was all agony and sweat till I saw the moon climbing over the bare limbs of the trees. It was close to the horizon and seemed so large I almost felt I could almost reach out and touch it. Resisting the temptation  I climbed higher until the sun finally gave up its last few rays and left me in darkness. I flipped on my headlight. I could still see the outline of bare tree limbs along the rugged backbone of the mountain but the effort of trying to climb a rocky road with road tires had me paying more attention to the weak light in front of me instead of the twilight beauty. Arm warmers, needed only minutes before to stave of the chill of the air down in a creek gully, were pushed down as I slowly started warming up. Even though I know I am in the lowest gear I have I keep pushing my gear lever, as if maybe the next time I will use enough force to take it down to some imaginary cog which which will give the perfect balance of torque and cadence. Failing to find this gear I just settle to turning over the pedals just fast enough to stay upright and rolling. I have ridden this road a few other times but never in the dark. I know this climb isnt that long but it seems to go on forever. Finally I crest the top of the climb, put back on my wind jacket and arm warmers, then roll into the North River Watershed. I soon start wishing for the sharp rocks of the fire road, at least it didnt have sections of gravel that would like nothing better than to suck down the tires of a cyclist who relaxes his guard for even a second. I finally get a reminder of civilization, a huge diesel trucks bears down on me with its high beams glaring. I was just able to get off the road before enveloping clouds of dust choked me and forced me to breathe through my nose for the next half mile.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. I followed the gravel till it turned to pavement, climbed three little hills, then it was almost all downhill to home. I finished the ride with 54.2 miles in 3 hours 58 minutes showing on my odometer. I'm not sure how accurate it is but my cyclometer said I climbed 4200 feet during the ride. It was almost perfect weather to be riding your bike up in the mountains. People seem to think I'm crazy going on long rides like this. Well I think your crazy if you don't!!

As promised here are some my latest efforts at HDR. I really wasn't totally happy with any them so don't be too critical.

Here is the map of my ride.

Til next time,

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