Freezing Saddles Times Terrifying Garnished with Sweet

Satellite weather photos showed clearing by noon, so we had a lazy morning and a long late breakfast. We loaded the car, put the bikes on the bike rack, and drove to the spot where we stopped yesterday. It was foggy, cold, and still raining lightly. The next piece of the ride was a 9% curving downhill on a wet road. I wished I had done it yesterday. It was terrifying. I used my brakes a lot and stopped several times, and finally I made it down to Cool  Springs WV. Here’s a video of the descent.

 

cheat-river
Cheat River on the relatively flat portion of the ride

Following six miles of relatively flat road, the next hill began. When my friend, Marie, wrote in her blog on her cross country trip in Summer 2015 that she would rather go up a hill twice than down it once, I didn’t understand. Now I do. I cycled that 3 mile hill today with grades up to 10% without ever stopping. Traffic was light and drivers who passed were courteous.

lynn-descending-in-rain-on-wet-road

That uphill was not followed by a terrifying downhill; instead it topped out on a plateau that rolled. It was cold and I had not put on enough layers so my strategy was to cycle as hard as I could to generate body heat. The 2689 miles I rode between January 1 and March 18, 2016, during the Freezing Saddles game were my training for today’s ride. I never stopped for food or “porcelain” during the entire ride. Suddenly, I saw Pete stopped ahead; he was at the Maryland State Line sign! I had cycled from California to the state where I was born and grew up. What a sweet treat!

As we got to Deep Creek Lake, the sun finally peeked through, promising a nicer day tomorrow. Pete completed his traversal of West Virginia and heads back to Arlington tomorrow morning. Harriet, who lives in Cumberland, joins Susie to sag for a few days. Goodbye, Pete! Welcome, Harriet! Thank you, Susie!

Ride details

Start location: 17 miles east of Grafton WV

End location: McHenry MD

Distance: 42.0 miles

Cumulative distance: 2790.8 miles

Elevation gain: 3129.9 feet (Note: 13166 feet total in the last three days)

Special features: 10th state crossing (WV to MD) and 11th statelynn-at-md-line-again

Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/743842942

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12 thoughts on “Freezing Saddles Times Terrifying Garnished with Sweet

  1. All the years of crewing that downhill into Cool Springs in RAAM I never had to do it in wet weather. Bad enough when overtaken by laden coal trucks taking up everything from the guardrail to the centerline which couldn’t have slowed down if our lives depended on it and no place for a cyclist to go except over the rail and a tumble into a deep ravine. It’s all part of what makes RAAM a challenge worthy of its “toughest” label. As you say, “Life is like a bike [ride].” Sometimes, too, a bike ride is like that other thing. Stay safe!

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      1. It’s safer these days than it was before digital gadgets. If you have a cell phone with you and topple over the guard rail on the descent into Cool Springs, doing a double flip flop with a half twist on the way (degree of difficulty 3.8), you have time to dial 911 before you hit bottom!

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  2. Congratulations on making it through some really challenging places and conditions! You are so strong! Can we meet you somewhere now that you’re closer to home?

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  3. Soon and very soon you will see the right coast ocean! I have commented but once before. I have thoroughly enjoyed your daily posts. So much more than a travelogue. So much documenting and tracking miles, terrain, elevation, time and weather. One might think you have an affinity for numbers or something…😉 Cheering you on for the remaining days of your ride!!

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  4. Thanks, Lynn, for letting me tag along for 3 fantastic days. Crossing West Virginia on a bike certainly leaves a different impression compared to driving–one notices the road conditions in great detail, and realizes just how big a truck can be. Of course, most of the time it was very pleasant. We had enjoyable conversations on the wide shoulders. The way I’m going to remember it is that, “We talked to each other, and the road talked to us.”

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