Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 18 - Elkins, West Virginia to Orange, Virginia

Getting ready in the fog

Brad the Bagel Man at his post for morning breakfast
Today was a great day on the bike. Starting in the fog, we crossed the rest of West Virginia, rode through the Shenandoah Valley and into Virginia; 10 climbs of at 500’+, two of them over 1,800’, one other at 1,300’, for a total of 12,800’ of hills. This is the most elevation we have climbed on the whole tour. The climbing started right away with four 500’ hills in the first 18 miles. The bigger climbs were next and really took a lot of patience to get up. The good news was everyone made it through, although there were some unusual challenges and successes.

John Downham, our 23 year old Brit had his best day, charging up the hills and leading everyone to the hotel. John was sick for three days in the middle of the tour so it was great to see him get back in form and riding so strongly.
Pat Seeley had a tougher day. His rear derailleur cable broke in the STI shifter so the only solution that would work was to add a bar end shifter so Pat could get back on the road. It took a while to get it hooked up but it worked. Pat had to push hard for the rest of the day to catch up but made it in.
Lara has now ridden with four tandem captains on this Elite Tour. Jim was feeling tired after several of the tough early climbs and wanted a break so Wayne Rosenthal, one of the support crew and an experienced tandem captain, set up Lon’s tandem and Lara hopped on at lunch to continue her quest to be the first person to complete an Elite Tour on a tandem. Her record will be tough to beat.
Lara’s significant other, Ron, met her at the hotel tonight, joining us a day early. It was great to see him and Lara was delighted when she came in.
I had a great day, feeling strong right from the beginning and kept a good pace up and down all the hills. I was one of the first riders to get to the hotel, even after adding a few extra miles, after forgetting to get off US route 33, which we had been riding on all day. I caught up with Harold Trease a couple of times on the uphills and held him off on the downhills, but he relentlessly passed me back on the flats between the hills.
The roads were generally very good. In particular, Old Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia was a delight to ride.
Randy’s brother Richard and his wife Ellen met us at the hotel and we went out to dinner with them – it was nice to talk to someone who is not associated with biking or Elite Tour for a change.
Tomorrow is the last day of our odyssey. We have 143 miles to go to get to the Atlantic beach. The terrain is rolling to flat. We have a banquet at the hotel in the evening. A nice finish but what do we do next with our lives? According to several people who have done these kinds of events, it takes several weeks of months to truly assimilate what the trip meant. I’ll see if I can come up with some thoughts from some of the other riders as well as my own.

Harold passing Rob on the flats

George entering Shenandoah National Park

Jon, Lon and Tracey at Seneca Rock

Randy near the top of one of the climbs

1 comment:

  1. Reading your blog each day has become such a huge part of my life. I truly feel like "my ride" is over and, like you, I'm needing to figure out what to do with myself. Your tour is as how I had anticipated my 2009 tour would have been minus the Elite-ness of it. Since my tour was not as your tour was, I'm even more grateful for your blog showing me the way.