In the midwest, I cycled grain elevator to grain elevator. Now I’m cycling cell tower to cell tower. The towers are usually at the tops of hills, so when I spot them, I know I’m getting close to the top of a climb. There were lots of cell towers as I crossed the five mountains from Cumberland to Hancock.
Yesterday’s segment is described on the RAAM cue sheets as the “the most difficult section of RAAM, measured in feet of climbing per mile.” On April 17, I tried it as a “proof of concept” ride. If I could do it and Susie enjoyed sagging (sag = support and gear, or special adventure guide), then the ride was on. I did and she did. Of all the segments of the route that had caused me trepidation, this one didn’t because it held no surprises. There were five major climbs, plus three little short steep hills (that were surprises in April) on the approach into Hancock.
I granny-geared them off, one at a time, recalling the names with the memory device, “Mary, please go to school.”
Then all that was left was Sideling Hill. Here’s a video as I start climbing the last of the five hills with pitches up to 10%.
Here’s a video as I finish climbing the last few feet of Sideling Hill.
And here I am at the top of Sideling Hill. I had a sustained emotional moment as I suddenly realized I had finished not only the hardest segment of the RAAM route, but all of its hard climbs. There are still some hills to come and traffic as I approach densely populated areas, but no more mountains.
One extra nice thing about this ride was a special accomplishment by Susie as sag. There is a container on the top tube of my bike where I carry my phone, snacks, back up battery, cords, sunscreen, lip gloss, etc. For both cross-country trips and the training in between, it’s been slipping off to the side. I’ve been batting it back to the middle for 10,000 miles. In about two minutes, Susie fixed it with a couple of Velcro strips.
What mountain are you working on? Keep at it. You will get there.
Start location: Cumberland MD
End location: Hancock MD
Distance: 40.9 miles
Cumulative distance: 2880.0 miles
Elevation gain: 4616.2 feet
Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/745764910