Day #8) June 20, 2011. Caldwell, WVa to Peairsburg– 68 miles in 5:20 hrs.
Probably the best, most spectacular day in the mts yet – and certainly the hardest!!
Made it out of Caldwell at about 8:30am, knowing that we’d have one hell of a day of climbing to get to Virginia. Our route would take us through the White Rock Mt area, Dove Mt, Gap Mt and Peters Mt. We decided to 86 my pre-written route due to the fact that we’d have to ride on Rt 60 for about 5-8 miles, and 60 was a bear with truck traffic at 55 mph. Bill had come up with a route the night before that would pretty much parallel my route, but enable us to NOT ride so far east on 60.
So from the end of the Greenbrier TH, we rode along the river on asphalt road to Rt 60, and then east on 60 to a tiny road that goes through Greenbrier State Forest and through numerous climbs in the White Rock Mts. Heck some of the mts here topped out at 4200 feet. The first part of the ride on the county road through Greenbrier was along a creek and nice and quiet. Hardly a car around. Then we hit a small stop for road construction through the park. After that…Katy bar the door – we were climbing.
Judy was the first to ride with me today, and I was worried about that first climb out of the gate, as it just switchbacked up this little one-lane wide road for ever. But damned if she didn’t stay with me the whole way, just going in and out of the saddle like a good roadie should. That thing must have taken about 20 min to get up. Then we descended and did it all over again. Now don’t get me wrong, the climbing was just non-stop, but the sights and sounds were just amazing. I mean the road was something from yesteryear, being only a lane wide and totally busted up asphalt and gravel, just climbing further up than the eye could see. The switchbacks were like 180’s at point where you could look down the road and see where you had just ridden without even looking backwards.
So we went over 4 of these kinds of climbs. Yup four! And they were literally one right after the other – climb, descend, climb, descend, climb, descend. So we got to Glace, WVa, and then changed roads, and again, more climbing and descending through these little towns listed on the map, but yet didn’t even show up on the ride. It’s like some of the towns are just a cluster of one to two houses after 4 miles of riding through forest and mt. And the amazing thing was that after an hour of riding on these two roads not a single car had gone by us or past us. It was just heaven for a cyclist. And the roads out here are barely even marked. Several times we just went on intuition, with Bill leading the way in the van and waiting for us at intersections. I mean it’s a maze of little roads, trails and jeep track out there, with zero signage.
Finally, after about 1:15 hrs, a couple of diesel trucks passed us. But by and large we had those roads all to ourselves. Now I have to say that taking these little back roads is way harder than getting on a state route and just cruising across a state. These little county routes though more than make up for the “getting there fast” by giving you the most spectacular scenery you can imagine. So each and every time we climbed I just reveled in the beauty of the area were working to get through. The scenery was well worth the effort.
Made it to Gap Mills and did the switch in riders with Bill taking over and Judy driving point. This was the portion of the ride that we were kind of anticipating – the Peters Mt climb into Virginia. And after about 4 miles from leaving Gap Mills, we could see this white house way, way, way the heck up on top of the mt to the left of us. I shouted to Bill that I believed that that was where we were going to be climbing. And be darned if just around the next corner there was the left hand turn and the climb to the top of Peters Mt. I think we climbed for about 20 min, which was WAY better than I’d expected, seeing that this was the big boy of the day. Seeing that some of the surrounding summits were about 37-3900 feet, I’d guesstimate that Peters Mt was somewhere in that range. It was a switchbacky affair that just swung from side to side up the mountainside.
The descent down into Virgina was just crazy and technical. Take it too hard and you’re a goner!! There were sections of gravel, sections of broken asphalt, sections of rocks and big sticks, all there to derail the descent. You had to use a bit of body English to kind of negotiate the 180-degree turns so as to not hit a spot of gravel and bite it into the woods. Then we hit a Y in the road, the right lane going down asphalt, and the left lane going into gravel. We chose the gravel and continued to descend steeply. Thank God for hydraulic disk brakes! Finally made it to the little town of Waiteville, Va. Got there and it was just a couple houses. I stopped and asked directions to Waiteville from an old bearded guy who had popped his head out of the door to see what the hell was going on. “You’re in Waiteville,” answered. So then we asked the way to Kire, Va, and he pointed to the west on Rt 17.
So on we went, along another stream valley that began climbing, and climbing, and climbing. Now by that time I was really starting to feel all the climbing of the day, but with such spectacular scenery I in no way could complain. I’d of climbed all damned day long with that kind of scenery. So we finally topped out and began descending…for 10 min, for 20 min, and then for 30 min and we just kept descending. I’d figured that the little stream we were descending along would eventually empty into the New River, which was our destination. And so we descended for another 10 min. Ended up in the little coal and lime town of Kimbalton with really no idea where the heck to go to cross the New river to get into Pearisburg. So we all winged it, riding up yet another mt climb!!
Man, buy that time my legs were pretty cooked, but we kept it rolling. Just before the top Bill stopped and asked directions from a lady at a school. She’d said that we were on the right track and suggested the rest of the route to get us to Pearisburg. So we took this descent down on this kind of interstate type of road, and then up yet another climb. Took the exit to Pearisburg and then rode into town. Didn’t see Judy at the Super K-mart so we rode into the center of town and stopped at the County Court House. Called Judy but no answer. Called, called, called, and called, but now answer. So we hung there for about an hour. Then picked up and road up towards the super w-mart. Called again and got a frenzied Judy on the cell. Story ended up well, with Judy meeting us at Micky D’s. We all just got our directions mixed, with Judy going for a different crossing of the New.
Now we were going to do a hostel that we thought was in Pearisburg, but then when we checked found out that it was like 27 miles outside of town. By then it was 4pm, so we opted for this flop house of a motel. It claims to be a motel for Appalachian Trail hikers, but it more resembles a dump that people rent out by the week. Pulled in and an audience of folks were sitting up on the 2nd floor on lawn chairs drinking and smoking. I mean the look from Judy when we pulled in was precious – wide eyed and drop jawed! I mean there’s a good 15 people up on the second floor yelling at each other and goofing and drinking. This place is right out of Mad Max.
I cooked a Kung Pow Chicken dish out on the pool deck like Jethrow Bodine from the Clampetts for God’s sake. And you should have seen the folks up in the balcony watching me as I cooked Chinese food on a wok on the pool deck with Bill’s NASA burner. It was priceless. Great thing was that his burner gets so hot that when I threw in the dried chili peppers they exploded in a puff of smoke and one shot out of the wok and hit me. Then we ate Chinese poolside by the CEment pond. This place is going to be pretty interesting tonight. We’re going to bring the bikes into the motel and go into a complete lock-down mode!!