I have wanted to do the 54-mile Mount Weather loop ever since I heard it existed. It is dubbed as one of the toughest hill climbs in my area. It’s also one of the most beautiful.
I got my chance to tackle this Monster Hill™ today. My story starts at 4:59 a.m. when I drank four bottles of Ensure ... And, almost hurled. Actually, it starts last night when I mixed up my Hammer Perpetuem and then inserted it in the freezer so it wouldn’t be hot and rancid during my ride. Normally I put 1½ scoops of Perpetuem in my 22oz. water bottle; which last me ~1 hour. However, I was reading about a cool idea, where you put enough Perpetuem in a single bottle to last the entire ride and then simple supplement with water in other bottles. This amounted to 6 scoops in one bottle. And, it was thick like molasses … Also, this stuff is pretty dang sticky and you can imagine it got worse in the thick paste like consistency. Anyway – Enough about the Perpetuem (but remember about it being sticky … hehe).
So, I showered and threw on shorts then loaded my bike and bolted. As usual my diarrhea kicked in about 50 minutes into my car ride down to Marshall, VA (where the loop begins). Fortunately, I am pretty used to this and popped some Imodium AD from my glove box. After a stop at the 7-11 five minutes from my ride start (where I commenced to blow the bathroom up) I rolled into the parking lot and did a quick change and then unloaded my bike.
My buddy George was there, but he was under the weather and wouldn’t be riding with us. The rest of the group was cool, but I knew no one … So, George made the effort of coming out to introduce us all … He’s cool like that.
I met Andrea (our trip planner and all-around cool riding partner), Mike (AKA slingshot), Bob, and Drew. This was my team of riding buddies for the day and they turned out to be a very talented (read: strong) team.
Unfortunately for them, my longest ride in half a year was 20 miles; which I did last weekend … That said, I was the slow poke in this group of strong bicyclists. Fortunately for me, they have a “leave no one behind” policy. However, I hate feeling like I’m holding everyone up (even though I secretly appreciated the team helping me along).
Where was I? Oh yeah, I was telling you my trip report … Man! I haven’t even mounted my bike yet and already wasted ten of your minutes! Sorry …
Mounted and started. We took off at a nice pleasant pace to slowly warm-up our legs and glutes. The first 20 miles were pretty easy. A nice mild hill ride was a perfect warm up. Now back to the “sticky” Perpetuem. At some point before we arrived at our only real stopping point (a store right at the base of the ominous Mount Weather), I went to squeeze my bottle filled with sticky goop … The bottle lid is a two-piece top and my extra hard squeeze to get the molasses out resulted in the top exploding apart and spewing gunk all over me and my bike. YUCK! My hands, arms, and legs had sticky mess all over them. Oh well, I was wondering when the klutz in me would shine. Viola!
My riding buddies were all gracious and not a one of them laughed (at least not in my face) at me.
Ug. So, we made a quick water stop in Airmont and then headed up to the base of the Monster Hill™. It really is awe inspiring looking up that hill. You can see about a mile up there (the whole hill extends about two miles and is approximately an 8% grade; which doesn’t sound like much until you realize it takes close to 20 minutes to climb it!!! You read that right.
The hill was tough, but not impossible. I trudged my way up there. The others beat me (handily) to the top, but I didn’t have to stop and put my foot down and this pleased me.
Then we passed the super-secret government facility and started down the back side of the mountain. This proved to be entertaining as I reached about 42MPH (that’s fairly fast for me). At the bottom there was a hairpin turn that announced 15MPH. I was unable to burn enough speed and almost went off the road. However, I managed to stick with it and simply leaned over more than I’m comfortable with on a ½ inch tire patch. HA!
All-in-all I counted four serious hills, but my Garmin elevation charts only show two major ones. You can see my Garmin info here: connect.garmin.com/activity/111565876. Make sure you look at my elevation and also heart rate charts … They are fairly impressive. Hehe.
We finished and a small amount of rain hit us for the last mile or two. After loading up my bike, I said my “thank you’s” and wished everyone well and then split.
The loop was 54-miles long and had an elevation gain of 3,763 feet.
Another awesome ride with fantastic folks.
Catch you after my Sprint tri next weekend in upstate New York!
Your faithful friend who knows his raison d'etre,