The Mother of all 300`s is an epic adventure. This would be my second attempt at it. As the name suggests, one of the toughest brevets of this distance. There is this feeling of tranquility. Services are far apart, while you keep on climbing. It is simply gorgeous. It might just be the most beautiful bike ride i have ever done. Above 14 000 ft of elevation gain in under 200 miles is serious business. Coincidentally , the name of the ride is a reminder that on the same day 4 years ago I lost my mom. This made it even more special to me.
You know from my previous post that I don’t really like learning my lesson much . Or maybe I just love making it harder on myself. So in the same fashion I left my job at 10:30 pm and drove over an hour to Middletown , Va. Then took a 3 hr power nap and started gearing up. As I opened my eyes a storm was developing . . . It was pouring rain. It was supposed to be beautiful and hot 90 degree day. I didn’t even bother to check the weather on my phone. Can we even change the plans of mother nature ?
For today, we were expecting to climb all day. Just look at the elevation profile. Should I even comment on it ?
For this adventure I had to prepare myself very serious. Chain – check , Deraillor- check, brake pads- check , cables- check. tires- check. You simply cannot afford any mechanical issues climbing those high grades or descending like Chris Froome.
Once I saw the fat bike again, I had no reason to complain but just shut up and pedal.
After a short delay in registration we set off in the darkness. We were moving south through the rollers of Back Rd. I quickly got into a nice rhythm and ended up in the front. It was dark and I was solely relying on my GPS until sunset. My GPS was pointing to the right , but there was a sign for Highway 81. My believe was that our turn is after the highway exit. Wrong ! It was actually a parallel street to the highway. Luckily , I only dragged few riders behind me and we quickly got back on track.
I was riding with Damon Taafe for a short period of time before he took off. We had nice chat about our plans for the year. He is just an outstanding ultra cyclists finishing last week 300 km in 11 hours . Definitely an inspiration to others. I knew that I will get dropped soon as the first big challenge was coming around mile 28 – Wolf Gap. Very serious climb ( see elevation profile above). Having past knee issues, and not much training this year I decided to take my time , watch my HR and pedal soft. Damon and two more riders were in the front. Behind them was me and Dylan. This order will not change for the next 260 plus odd miles.
As you know, once you go up, then you go down. And down we went . . . The only problem was that it was still raining. We were already looking dirty like pigs . This also might be as filthy as I felt on a bike in a long time. When I looked down – my legs were covered in mud.
Here is few pictures from Trout Run Rd. I told you WV is beautiful, remember !
But there was no time for excitement. After the descend we were on Mill Gap Rd. Another big hill and still wet and rainy. I believe that the best way to deal with it is to embrace it and stop complaining. It is a true mental battle. The dangerous part was that going downhill in the rain is very sketchy.
As I was descending and braking softly I saw a right turn coming. My bike was not cooperating too much. Pressing hard on my rear brake will make me fall and I ended up in the opposite side of the traffic. Luckily no cars were coming up. I was not going to be able to write this report if they did.
Luckily, the clouds broke up and the rain stopped. Now I can clearly see the gorgeous scenery. Just look at it. . .
Our next control was approaching soon. The cue sheet was a bit confusing at the stop sign on the bottom of Mill Gap. After few wrong turns I made my way to the control at The Lost River Grill.
It was the only business open around. We were greeted by not so bike friendly host there. That was actually not a surprise as we looked like we were coming out of a mud pit. I was instructed to pretty much be careful and not get their precious floor dirty. In less than 5 minutes and a slice of cake I was on my way out. Dylan decided to stay and enjoy a coffee. I am just not a fan of sitting for too long as my muscles will get stiff.
We then made our way to Kimsey Run Rd, where more pretty scenery was awaiting. Just stunning. So lets keep the pictures coming.
It was still cloudy , but the locals in Baker , WV were already fishing. Can’t blame them.
I felt the necessity to get cleaner. Luckily , there was a stream running on the side of the road pretty much the whole time . Dylan thought I was joking when I told him that I felt like jumping in the stream to clean up. My cranks, cassette and chain were also covered in mud so I stopped and got cleaned up.
It was somewhere here, around mile 90 on Grassy Lick Rd that I broke my top speed record – 51.6 Mph. Definately not safe, but plenty of fun
Grassy Lick Rd was just so pretty. Pastures, farms, crops and just all sorts of animals. I almost ran over a turtle. How about a lama, swan, horses, cows, ducks and goats . . .
It was still cloudy and sort of hot at the same time. I actually think we were lucky with the weather after all. Those hills would have killed us if it was hot and sunny. I then made my way to Whitacre Rd near Spring Gap. While I was on top , It felt like being on top of the wold. It also felt closer to my mom. I know she is looking from there, guiding me and watching me proudly.
Luckily as the sun was going down and we only had like 30 miles left and the climbing was over. So I pressed the gas pedal and made it to the finish line averaging above 20 Mph.
After 15h27 min it was all over. Still better time compared to 2 years ago with over an hour. Considering the rain and 14000 of climbing I am ok with the result.
This week we are doing a gentle 400km in VA. This is going to be the last preparation ride before racing season.
Few Notes :
- A 100 oz Camelback saved me as services were far apart.
- Keeping your jersey unzipped the whole time because is hot is a bad idea, as the giant cow flies seem to love my chest.
- It was sad to see so many dead animals and beer cans on the side of the road
- Some nasty Dogs were chasing me, including a pit bull while breating hard and charging at me. Scary
- In 200 miles I did not see one police car. Just 2 Sheriff cars parked by a house. Basically you are on your own in WV unincorporated land
- Forgetting your chamois cream on a rainy ride is pretty bad.
The End . . .