Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA

I am sore and hurting. Not from a crash but from being so out of shape for an event. Including the time I stayed in Pennsylvania after my father died, I was two weeks without a bike ride leading up to the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Loop Gran Fondo. If that wasn’t bad enough, yesterday I refereed a couple of soccer matches – something I haven’t done since April or May. My legs were sore going in.

Maybe it was a culmination of things. During my dad’s final days I did three all-nighter’s with him, one time staying awake 42 straight hours and sleeping just two in 62 hours. Last night we went to http://www.bechburgmusikanten.ch/?college-application-essay-help-online-transfer Andrew’s hockey game and I didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 a.m. and was up at 4:45 a.m. Clearly I was suffering from not enough rest.

Joe Dombrowski and Barry Sherry
Joe Dombrowski and Barry Sherry

I arrived in Harrisonburg and went to the front of the line as a prostate cancer survivor and supporter of the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project. There I met http://naturalbydesign.us/best-chemistry-help-sites/ Joe Dombrowski, of Cannondale-Drapec for perhaps, the fourth straight year. I was able to ask him about contracts for next year for source link Ben King and next Phil Gaimon. He said Ben has (or will have) a contract. He doesn’t know about Phil. It’s a tough business.

Joe Dombrowski and Barry Sherry
Joe Dombrowski and Barry Sherry

I also met http://www.nahug.com/cheap-price-custom-essay-united-states/ Jeremiah Bishop at the start. His wife, go to link Erin, came over and gave me a hug. Neither of us knew if I would make the start today. page Robert Hess, of the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project, also came over to greet me.

We rolled out at 8:00 a.m. It was a ceremonial roll out. Two miles in as we turned off US 33 onto Eversole Road I was briefly at the front. I did not position myself here and did not want to be here. My legs felt like crap and I wanted to ride easy with no pressure, certainly not wheel to wheel with the main peleton. When I saw a safe place to exit I bailed out and let the main group pass.

Rider headed up Reddish Knob
Rider headed up Reddish Knob

I also had a reason to doing that. My heart rate monitor wasn’t reading and I wanted to see how high it was as I was pushing it. I adjusted it and it was recorded 35. Then it was zero. Guess the battery is shot.

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When I jumped on I was pretty much at the end of the Alpine Loop and Century riders. The timed section of the Shenandoah mountain climb seemed to start at a different location than in the past (I didn’t ride this route last year). When I passed the bridge over Dry Run I started my timer.

Two riders headed up Reddish Knob
Two riders headed up Reddish Knob

On the climb I passed some (eight) and was passed by some (seven). In the past in this position (near the end of the main group) I did much better. Crossing the top I looked at my time and knew it was bad. RidewithGPS has a segment for this climb and confirmed what I knew: This was the worst of my five timed climbs on this route.

Mole Hill KOM
Mole Hill KOM

Going over the top was sweet. I can still get down the mountain pretty fast. I passed many and was passed by no one. My top speed was 46 mph. Would have liked higher but it was a technical descent. I blew by the first aid station and joined up with a line of riders in the valley. It wasn’t really a pace line because one guy was doing all the pulling and there were six or seven of us getting a free ride. And he didn’t mind.

Big Rock Dairy on the "Loop"
Big Rock Dairy on the “Loop”

The second climb was Reddish Knob. Like the first, it was my worst time recorded except for the first year when it was a dirt climb. So worst on pavement. But a good descent.

Leaving the third aid station I came to the moment of truth. I had been thinking all day I would skip the 27 mile loop and ride on home making it a 77 mile day. I came to the loop. I turned onto it.

Near Stokesville Lodge - I think
Near Stokesville Lodge – I think

The loop was nice but I was all alone. I stopped for a picture then was passed by three women. I first thought about joining them but that may have been creepy and I was worried I would not keep up. I let them go. I was passed by a guy who told me to grab his wheel. I declined and then as he pulled away I caught up to him I told him my dad died last week and this was a day for me to just ride by myself. He understood.

Bridge over North River
Bridge over North River

Then I came to it. The John Deere tractor. My dad’s favorite. He loved his Chevrolet, John Deere, and write an essay on communication Arnold Palmer. And I would learn later that Arnie died today.

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The loop ended at the same aid station (#3). A brief stop and I was off to ride the last segment. And there was a timed climb on Mole Hill. I told the guy at the timing station I hated him. (I was kidding, of course. I think.)

Robert Hess and Barry Sherry
Robert Hess and Barry Sherry

The day was cloudy and cool, around 60 degrees, all day. It never warmed up. I wore arm warmers and needed them, except for the climbs in which I sweated my butt off. At the end, I saw Robert again, but still not feeling great, headed for home. I even skipped the meal.

Finish
Finish

It was a day of suffering. I think the circumstances leading up to it made it much worse than it should have been. But a bad day on a bike is better than a good day on the couch.


Eight Bridges

SHELLSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

This time I got it right.

With rain hanging in the air from Greensboro to Boston, I tried to find a window when it was dry enough to ride. In addition I was coordinating this ride with http://www.mainframechina.com/dissertation-mthode/ Rocky Sprow. We agreed on the start time of 12:30 p.m. and met at Shawnee State Park.

Rocky brought his friend, http://advisorsgroup.pl/?p=writer%27s-block-essay Ed, with him. The last time we rode together I had some girl strip naked in front of me and jump off a dam. I couldn’t promise anything quite as exciting as that today.

Herline Bridge - Longest bridge in Bedford County
Herline Bridge – Longest bridge in Bedford County

We headed out of Shawnee State Park towards Manns Choice. The roads were mostly dry but the sky was gray.  We found the Herline Bridge just five miles into our ride.

From Herline we went on Rte 31 and US Rte 30. We were on the shoulder on Rte 31 for 5.5 miles to the Jean Bonnet Tavern and another 1.5 miles on US 30. This was the sketchy part of the ride but best get it over in the first part. This is marked as Pa. Bike Route S – a major route across the state. But as I often say, “just because you slap a sign on it (designating it as a bike route) doesn’t make it safe.”

Claycomb Bridge
Claycomb Bridge at Old Bedford Village

We found the the Claycomb Bridge  at Old Bedford Village then followed Old 220 out of Bedford. From this second bridge to the third would be 11 miles Рour longest stretch between bridges. Up ahead we could see rain on Blue Knob. It did not look like we would survive without getting rained on.

Bowsers Bridge
Bowsers Bridge

We went through Osterburg which was the location where I followed the Covered Bridge Route last time and missed four bridges. This time I stayed with what I knew was right.

Snooks Covered Bridge
Snooks Covered Bridge

The third bridge was Bowsers Covered Bridge and then it was only two miles farther to Snook’s Covered Bridge.

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After Snook’s it was just another two miles to Knisley’s Covered Bridge. I rode through each bridge and this was the most challenging. The floor boards have large gaping cracks in them and I rode diagonally to avoid getting my wheel caught in one. But I rode it through it.

Kniseley Covered Bridge
Kniseley Covered Bridge

In an area where drivers are usually very nice, we were on Dunnings Creek Road. A driver came up behind us and laid on her horn for about 30 seconds all the while she was passing out. Wow. A young lady too which blew away our stereotypes. May she have a better day than whatever it was that was disturbing her.

Ryot Covered Bridge
Ryot Covered Bridge

The Ryot Covered Bridge was just ahead, about 2.5 miles from Knisley. We survived less a little hearing.

Once onto Rt 96, yet another 2.5 miles just before entering New Paris (“Named for the Capitol of France”) we came to the Cuppett Covered Bridge. It is not open to traffic but one needs to just carry the bike over a guard rail and it has good flooring. I biked through it.

Cuppett Covered Bridge
Cuppett Covered Bridge

So that was it. From Bridge 3 to 7, we saw five covered bridges in less than nine miles. We also had been trending uphill but one big hill was still to come.

There is a one mile climb from New Paris to Shellsburg. It probably averages 4% for the climb but the steeper sections seem to be in the 6-8% range. Rocky and Ed were on my wheel but I kept a good pace up, for me. Not sure what I was doing but I saw my heart rate in my red zone above 170. Usually only Mt Washington brings that out of me. Then it went over 180. I’m not sure I’ve recorded higher on a bike. But it felt good. And they were no longer on my wheel.

In July last year I went up with Chey Hillsgrove and Chelsea Johnson in more than 10:00. Today I did it in less than 6:00.

We descended to Shellsburg then went over to Colvin Covered Bridge. Then it was a turn towards home. We passed the Hillegass Camp. Rocky said he spent the summer of his 6th grade year here and learned to swim in Shawnee Lake.

Colvin Covered Bridge
Colvin Covered Bridge

Eight covered bridges in 43 miles. I could have added a ninth (Turner’s) by adding a couple more miles but it is down a heavy gravel road. This route was perfect. The sun came out. Perfect temperature, no rain, eight bridges not four, and good riding partners.

 

 


Finished the Canal

WASHINGTON, D.C.

After 12 years, I can claim finish to my Pittsburgh to D.C. ride. If I want to.

Capital Crescent Trail crosses C&O
Capital Crescent Trail crosses C&O

In 2001, source url Andrew and I rode out from D.C. but via the W&OD to Leesburg. We did not pick up the C&O Canal Towpath until Whites Ferry. In 2004 I rode from Pittsburgh to D.C. but bailed on the C&O at Fletcher’s Lock, jumping instead to the Capital Crescent Trail. I have never ridden the entire length of the C&O.

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My sister, http://www.hypehoodie.com/javascript-assignment-operators/ Betsy, and her husband, http://www.ngocacr.com/personal-identity-essay/ Tom Plietz, left on Thursday for a five day trip from Pittsburgh to D.C. I decided to ride with them on their final day. They started from Harpers Ferry. I started from D.C.

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I took the trail I knew, the Capital Crescent up to Fletcher’s Lock then jumped on the C&O. When I got near Great Falls I realized I had never been on this path before. When I came back this way in 2004 we had to detour around the Widewater section. But the trail goes through here and it is gorgeous.

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I didn’t take the time for photos as I was trying to meet Betsy and Tom. After I passed Riley’s lock I saw a man standing right in my path. And for good reason. He was watching a snake. I went around him and around said snake – a copperhead. Yikes!

Almost ran over this bad boy
Almost ran over this bad boy

I rode farther west/north and saw Betsy and Tom. I said “hi” as I passed them just chuckling to see if they would notice. I think they did.

Tom and Betsy at Riley's Lock
Tom and Betsy at Riley’s Lock

I turned around and we headed back. We pulled into Great Falls for lunch. I’m all about being green but this place is ridiculous. They sell concession food, hotdogs and hamburgers and the like. But they follow “Colorado rules,” i.e., carry in carry out. They have no trash cans. Now this is good if you drove there and you can put your trash in your car.

Don't buy concessions at Great Falls
Don’t buy concessions at Great Falls

But I was on a bike and had no free pockets or bags to carry my trash. This is what happens when you put bureaucrats in charge of policy. It really wasn’t well thought out. In truth, it kept me from purchasing what I needed.

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We moved on and I tried to keep a pace so Betsy & Tom could meet their train. When we came to Fletcher’s lock, Betsy was feeling pavement but Tom wanted to ride the entire length of the C&O, so we did. As you reach Georgetown you have to search to find the towpath (hint: it switches sides) and then locate the end.

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Even when I rode, I never found, nor did I go looking for, MP-0. It is located by the Thompson Boat House right on the Potomac. We made out way to it then I escorted them to Union Station.

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I was a little worried about being pressed for time but never told them. I got them to their train as it was boarding for Pittsburgh. Perfect.

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And in the end, I can now say I have ridden the entire length of the canal. And kudos to Tom and Betsy for their five day journey.