Day #6) June 18, 2011. Judy Gap WVa – 40 miles in 3:10 hrs.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. Man this was just a gnarl-fest of climbing – topping out near the highest peak in WVa – Spruce Knob. Spruce is over 4K high, and we climbed to the gap at 3950. Literally… we bloody climbed for almost three solid hrs.
First of all again – NO cell or internet service in Cass. I absolutely had to get my client’s workouts out today and catch-up on my emails so I decided to get a motel that offered wifi with the room. After about 45 min of screwing around with the log-on stuff in the hotel and having the cook – a closet IT guy – help me out, I got logged on. I mean I was stressing big time here with such lack of cell service in WVa. This place is as remote as Icefields Parkway up in the hinterlands of B.C. Never in all my trips can I remember multiple days of zero cell service like I’ve had here in Southeastern WVa.
Now the intent was for an easy day today with a ride to Cass, WVa and the start of the Greenbrier Trail – just 40 miles away. But we’re in the most rugged, and highest of WVa’s mts, and that means climb baby climb! So I fully expected to do a doosy or two for the day despite the short distance. I was dead on for a change in this trip. We left the campground and drove back to Judy Gap where we left off the day before. The first 4-5 miles were nice and mellow along the North Fork of the S Branch of the Potomac. But then we started going up, and up, and up – up what turned out to be a 9% grade for like 12-15 miles. It was long and relentless. Bill rode with me today as Judy wanted to take the day off the bike, so he got the full dose of climbing today.
Having climbed the Canadian and US Rockies, I just kind of know how to get in the mindset that this was going to be a long, long day climbing, so I got a comfortable rhythm going and pushed up the mt. Bill was right behind me doing a very nice job of following my rhythm. By about half way up, even at like 10am, the temp had gotten to about 75+ degrees with high humidity. It was ok but feeling a bit parched in the mouth. Used the middle ring with the biggest pie plates in the back to keep it moving with a snap to the cadence. We had probably climbed like 2000 vertical feet by the time Judy came by to let us know we still have a boat-load of climbing left. She had some ice cold water though and that was just beautiful. I think both Bill and I just shot that water bottle down in one gulp.
Now yesterday I had threaded my trusty “sweat rag” to my handlebars to wipe the dripping sweat from my head during climbs. And on this day I put my sweat rag through the handlebars as soon as we started. Today, on that climb, I had little streams of sweat just running off of my forehead and onto my handlebar bag when I was out of the saddle. I’d grab my rag every now and again, wipe my face and temples, put it away, and then a minute later I was just dripping again. This went on for at least 45 min.
So anyway, we continued up the climb for another tens of switchbacks and then finally topped out at the summint of Allegheny Mt – 3950 ft high. I’m going to tell you that I just do NOT have my climbing legs yet. I was a hurting puppy for sure: Just stiff and heavy in the legs. I think it’s a fcn of going from the flats for 3 days straight away to some of the toughest mt climbing in WVa. After we topped out it was like very hard to even get on top of the pedals anymore. My legs felt pretty gassed. Then we just did these woopdedoos up and down for the next several miles to Green Bank. We had planned on looking for a place there but the electronics situation is just freaky up there. Why?
Green Bank has a radio telescope situated there, and you can see it from like 5-7 miles away. The dish is like 300 feet wide – it’s the largest one in the world that actually moves. The whole area up there, in a 3 sqr mile area is a mandatory radio free zone. So no motels no nothing that is radio signal dependent is up there. No cells are allowed near the facility, no radios, no malfunctioning microwave ovens. It’s crazy. That made our ride to Cass a foregone conclusion. So we rode on to Cass, about 7 more miles away and Judy for a motel with wife.
We arrived in Cass and I bolted to the room to hook up my computer, half in a craze. Then fiddled with the connection for almost an hour. Bill drove up and did the radio telescope tour, and said it was pretty impressive. Me and Judy? Well, I was so worried about loosing my internet signal that I’ve sat here for 3 solid hrs getting all my work done. Had to use skype to do my phone calls because my cell is useless. Have to say that doing my job on the road is pretty much paramount to anything else other than the riding. I ride, and then I have to get my work done before fun and recreating. So I had to bag going to the telescope tour – same for the Cass railway tour.
We’re situated right on the Greenbrier River, right next to the trailhead. We’ll get on the trail tomorrow and probably ride the whole thing in a day and end up in White Sulfur Springs for Sunday night. Then we’ll give my mapped directions a third try. Who knows, maybe I’ll get something right here for once.
All the best, Pete, Judy, Bill