Friday, September 15, 2006

Day 38 – Clarksburg, WV to Red House, MD

. Friday, September 15, 2006

Temperature: 58°F
Conditions: Rain
Wind: NW 6 mph

Ride Info
Altimeter Trip: 5,610 ft
Altimeter Odometer: 81,690 ft
Maximum Speed: 37.0 mph
Average Speed: 15.7 mph
Distance Trip: 58.7 miles
Distance Odometer: 2,940.6 miles
Elapsed Time: 3 hr 43 min 27 sec

Today was the day. The best word to describe today is EPIC! The rain didn’t let up at all from last night’s thunder storm. It just continued to rain cats and dogs. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts when it was raining, I don’t mind riding in the rain. It’s the accompanying cold temperatures that often come with the rain that I hate. There’s nothing worse than catching a chill because you’re shivering and you feel like you just can’t get warm. The thermometer probably didn’t even reach 60F today. Coach delayed the start time in hoped that the rain would let up, so we all hung out in the church. It became obvious that the rain would not let up, and we needed to get on the road. I was in high spirits and was looking forward to tackling what would be by far the hardest day of the entire trip.

I did learn from my previous rides in the rain and didn’t overdress this time. I just wore my rain jacket over my regular shorts and jersey. The only other things I wore were my wool arm warmers. Wool does a pretty good job keeping you warm even when wet. Everyone else seemed to be freaking out and seemed ill prepared for riding in inclement weather. It was quite dark and dreary out as you could imagine. I knew it was important to keep riding and to not stop. You create your own micro “environment” when riding in these conditions so if you keep moving, you tend to stay warm. I wanted to ride by myself today as I was full of bravado and wanted to slay this beast on my own. The rain was pelting down, and it wasn’t long before I was soaked from head to toe. There were some gently rolling hills as I headed out of town on Route 50, which served well to warm me up and prepare me for what was to come.

The roads ahead were some of the steepest climbs of the entire trip. Each climb was 3 – 5 miles long and contained numerous switchbacks. Fortunately, I was feel quite strong today. I had to give my maximum effort just to get to the top of each hill. The terrain was such that I couldn’t really see that far ahead. I would think in my head that the top of the hill MUST be around the next corner, but NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! The hill would continue on up, higher and higher. I’d go around the next corner, and I STILL wouldn’t be at the top. It got to a point that I bellowed, “FUCK YOU!” to the hill because I still hadn’t gotten to the top.

The descents were tricky as well due to the wet conditions and the numerous switchbacks. It was hard to keep warm on the descents due to the speeds and because I’d be coasting, trying to catch my breath. There were times when I was so cold that I was shaking.

There were numerous dump trucks (full of coal presumably) that were going up and down these same hills. The roads were well paved but narrow, so it was a little scary when the trucks passed me. The hills were really steep for the trucks as well. The trucks provided motivation because they served as a means to pace myself up the hills. I would also try and keep up with the trucks and draft behind them on the downhills. Unfortunately, the exhaust from the trucks would almost make you sick to your stomach.

There were about four “sets” of hills to go up and down before arriving at our destination. It was on the last downhill before the final uphill stretch into Red House that I got my one and only flat tire of the entire trip. I was going downhill around a curve when I hit a rock with my rear wheel. The tire immediately went flat, and I was very fortunate that I didn’t crash. There is nothing worse in the world than fixing a flat tire in the rain. I carry a spare tube and a patch kit along with some other tools. The rock actually left a ¼” cut in the sidewall of my tire. The cut was bad enough that the tube started to bulge out of the tire casing after I pumped the tire with air. But being the experienced cyclist that I am, I brought a “tire boot” with me for just this purpose. A tire boot is a 1” x 1” square of an old cut up tire. You put it on the inside of the tire to act as reinforcement so the tube won’t bulge out. I was a little worried the rest of the way to our final destination as it’s nearly impossible to patch a tube when it’s wet and raining. I was just finishing up fixing my tire when Jim passed by. He stopped to make sure that I was all set with my repair. The two of rode up the last hill and the final five or so miles to Red House.

Red House, Maryland is barely even a hamlet. More of a crossroads really. There’s a red house on one corner, a Ma & Pa convenience store on the other, and the church we were staying at on the other. Unfortunately, the church wasn’t open when we got there so we hung out in the convenience store to warm up. It’s hard to warm up though when you’re soaked from head to toe. It was almost an hour before any other riders showed up. Eventually, the church opened its doors and we hung out there. We had to suffer even longer while waiting for the truck with all of our gear to show up.

The rain had tapered off quite a bit after we got to the church. Once the truck showed up, I didn’t even bother helping to unload it. I figured I did more than my fair share unloading the truck earlier in the trip (nearly every day to this point). I just grabbed my bag and got my stuff set up. First order of business was to get out of my cycling clothes and into some nice dry and warm clothes. Good thing I brought my SU sweatshirt with me.

We had an awesome dinner that night. And boy did I need that food to recharge my batteries. Members of the church brought in home made meals for a sort of pot luck dinner. I wrote my letter to Laura and spent the rest of the evening trying to get my bike cleaned up and ready to go for tomorrow’s ride. I borrowed someone’s hair dryer and tried to speed up the drying process of my shoes. Riding in wet cycling shoes really sucks. The hair dryer helped but my shoes were majorly soaked. I got a hold of some newspaper and stuffed them in my shoes to help them dry out over night.

It took me under four hours to finish the day’s ride. It took many of the others nearly twice as long to finish. It was an epic day for everyone.


Anonymous said...

"Where the hell is Red House?" I'm asking myself. He's finally in MD and I've never heard of the town?

So I google and finally find the zipcode and map it and ... it's OAKLAND!

When we got married, mr newt and his mother and the boys and I spent a memorable week there! We went to Herrington Manor state park and stayed in an old WPA cabin and swam and biked and hiked all week. It was great fun, not your typical honeymoon but we really liked that little town. We even looked at houses to buy, because I could probably have telecommuted to Rockville, going in once a week or so.

That was only four years ago but it seems like a long time.


gwen said...

Wow, what a day! lol I sometimes get to that screaming "f-u" point when I'm splitting wood (a particularly tough one). After hitting it with the axe for the 10th time and it still hasn't split....I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes only cursing seems to work. lol :)

You're so fortunate to have had this trip.