Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 17 - Athens, Ohio to Elkins, West Virginia

Dessert on the Elite Tour - Randy made this one with all the trimmings.

Crossing the Ohio River into West Virginia, at Parkersburg.

Every day when we get in we check the bulletin board for instuctions, changes and where to get our massage!

Harold Trease is one of the nicest guys to talk to, but one of the toughest to catch on the road. Harold has done RAAM twice.

Here I am at the buffet in Elkins, West Virginia. I'm eating as much as I can, but still losing weight.
Len with Franz. Franz rode the 2007 Elite Tour as well as several other PACTour events. At several points during our ride, past PACTour veterans have joined us to say hi to old friends and wish us well.
Boris is a German cycle tourist, riding the RAAM route on his own. We first met him on the Katy Trail, back in Missouri. He arrived in Athens, Ohio, last night, taking a different route, but averaging 140 miles a day.

We’re getting closer. Today was a nice ride from Athens, Ohio to Elkins, West Virginia, a distance of 157 miles. Once again we dodged the thunderstorms and had a pleasantly warm day with a mild TAILWIND! This was good because we did a lot of climbing up long gradual grades on 4 lane highways.

The advertised climbing was 12,000’ which we were a little nervous about, but the actual climbing, based on my Garmin was 7,033’, which felt about right. This was still a lot of uphill, but not as tough as we feared.

The route was challenging partly due to going through Parkersburg and Weston , two old West Virginia towns where we snaked our way through many turns and confusing intersections. This caused a few people to get off course for a little bit, including our Aussie and Brit, Andrew and Jon. A little later on, near the lunch stop, a key road was closed due to a 35’ sinkhole. The road was marked by PACTour support crew to follow the posted detour. Everyone did the detour except Randy, who carried his bike through the sinkhole and continued on. This caused him to miss the new lunch stop. Fortunately the support crew caught up with him and passed on some snacks to keep him going. Susan Notorangelo recalled that PACTour has been stopping for lunch on the original road since 1993.
Randy, Tim, Brad and George were leading the pack most of the way. George and Brad stopped before the end to resume their support crew duties, but as a group they kept up a torrid pace. I rode with Len most of the day, with occasional appearances from Max, in between his five flats.

We got in after Randy and Tim and a little while before a larger group. Some other riders also experienced flat problems as the long miles on the 4 lane shoulders and a few rougher sections took their toll. This section is also done by the regular PACTour Northern Transcontinental ride, but according to Lon, the Elite Tour group was solidly an hour faster than the fastest Northern guys. This makes sense, but it is interesting to hear about how the groups compare.

We had a close call during one of the descents on a side road. A small dog ran across the road, just behind Max and myself and just in front of Len and the tandem – we were doing about 25 at the time. It was a little unnerving as the dog could easily have taken down any one of us. Dogs have not been a big problem on the ride, only occasionally are they loose and many people seem to have installed the electronic fences to keep their dogs from running on the road. A week ago, John Newton had a dog chase him for nearly two miles, but the dog was just looking for someone to run with and didn’t try to take a chunk out of John’s leg.

We ran into a short delay on another side road when a mobile home was being wedged across a private bridge and didn’t have quite enough room. The crew struggled with getting the big mobile home lined up to cross the bridge, holding up traffic for quite a while. We were able to sneak through after a few minutes.

Tomorrow is our last ‘tough’ day, with 15,000’ of hills on the agenda. We cross several ridges and pass through Shenandoah National Park.

What to do when we are done?


  1. What to do when you are done? How 'bout ride the Northern branch of the Lake Wobegon Trail and have a couple slices of pie? Put some of that weight back on!

  2. Two thoughts: 1) Expect that it will take several months for you to fully integrate your experience and what/how it will influence your life going forward.

    2) One of our riders on the Portland tran last year, who was afraid of dogs, counted 92 dog attacks. To qualify as an attack he said he had to get out of his saddle and sprint. We had a lot of dogs in the south east that were on the loose, but I personally didn't count 92.

    One "attack" was really funny. Bunch of dogs and a goat on the porch of a lean-to. All the dogs took chase as did the goat, but he wasn't much of a challenge.

    Enjoy your last 2 days!

    You're awesome.

  3. Hi Rob, You are doing great! I look forward to reading your blog everyday and will be purchasing insulated bottles at your recommendation a few days ago.

    Michelle from Mississippi