I’m sorry for the delay in telling the tale of Wednesday’s ride, but last night’s hotel in Grafton WV had very poor internet.
West Virginia was supposed to be about hills. That will come later. What dominated yesterday’s ride was the road surface.
Roads have life cycles. When paving is going on, you can be sure the road surface that was there before the paving was very bad. We encountered such bad patches yesterday. We also cycled on sections that were coned off for miles to receive brand new surfaces. For a long stretch, we cycled in the coned-off section and thought, “How courteous of them to cone off the road so we could cycle safely,” that is, until we got to the actual paving zone with monster asphalt machines.
There a road worker stopped us. “It looks like you are on a long haul. I’m sorry to hold you up, but I can’t let you ride in the coned off area. If anything happens to you in this area, we are responsible.” What was left was one partial lane with no shoulder on which every truck, vehicle, and bicycle needed to coexist. According to the construction worker, that is where we had to cycle. To tell the truth, I straddled the coned section and the construction zone. When I saw the number of vehicles waiting for me to be growing, I just stopped and let them all go. However, when I was out of sight of the road workers, I went back into the coned section. I kept an eye on both where I was supposed to be and where I was. At one point, I realized there was a large truck coming up behind me in the coned-off section! I quickly hopped back out into the lane I was supposed to be in.
We had gotten used to Route 50, so when the cue sheet said to go on tiny hilly roads outside of Clarksburg, we had a three way discussion about whether to ignore it or not. Susie checked the satellite photos and Pete consulted his knowledge of the area. Lynn missed the important warning at the top of the cue sheet that spoke of heavy traffic in Clarksburg. Our ideas coalesced to keep us on Route 50, but we understood afterward why we should have followed the cue sheet. The traffic was fast and furious, the rumble strips were mean, and there were lots of exit and entrance ramps to negotiate. There was a huge grate in the shoulder with slots lined up in the direction of our wheels; had we not seen it, it would definitely have swallowed a bicycle wheel and sent us over the handlebars. By the time we got to Bridgeport for lunch, the medical gloves I had put on for the cool temperatures were filled with sweat from the stress.
All the weather forecasts we were following promised rain on Thursday, so instead of going from Ellenboro just to Grafton, we elected to continue on and do as much of the next day’s ride as we could. That finally took us to the HILLS. Pete’s reconnaissance work promised us three steep long curvy hills between Grafton and McHenry. We did two of the three hills before calling it a day. Had we heeded all the fear-inducing talk of long steep climbs on treacherous poorly-maintained two-lane roads with precipitous drops if you went over a guard rail, we’d have missed goats, quaint country farms, cows on a roof, fall foliage, late day long shadows, and a gorgeous satisfying 80-mile ride on a warm fall day.
Start location: Ellenboro WV
End location: 17 miles east of Grafton WV
Distance: 81.0 miles
Cumulative distance: 2748.8 miles
Elevation gain: 6834 feet (THAT’S MORE THAN A MILE!!!)
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/742907798