Philly on the Mountain

The timing was good.  While MABRA was running the Jefferson Cup the PA calendar was quiet and the boys had Battenkill on their minds.  Dirt was specified and I knew where to find it.

Day one was a teaser but no joke.  A late afternoon arrival gave them enough time to do an around the mountain loop with two big climbs including the steep hard pack ascent back to the barn.

I skipped this one.   I had lumber to haul, gravel to shovel and wood to chop.  For real. Not just some macho move even though it is, but these things had to happen.  A stack of fresh live random width rough cut pine had been dropped in front of the barn that morning.  3000 board feet soon to be walls and floors in the upper section.

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Harley at RTR

Battley Harley, number one U.S. Amateur squad in ’08 and perennial East Coast power house showed up on the mountain in Lost River for their annual training camp and tune up before the MABRA calendar kicks off next week.

It is maybe not a surprise that they go deep.  Who is on form, who is not, and who is new will be revealed soon enough.  How the latest line up gels will be tested when the numbers are pinned on and the kilometers wind down.

Clear for now is that lots of Hardy County (as well as Grant, Pendleton and Mineral Counties) was covered in four days.

NUMBERS: 291 miles

29,181 feet elevation gain


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Rain Daze

They roll.  Geared up and feigning resilience.  Ten strong.  No one wants to be the guy who cracks.   Forty five degrees, windy and raining for starters; the radar says no relief.  A big sprawling nor’easter pattern.  The same type that delivered us TWO blizzards this winter (and don’t forget about the DEEP FREEZE that preceded it!)

Off the mountain, through the switchbacks, downward for maximum chill a damp twisting snake of riders, trying to get one in.  The season is here.  Races have already happened and others are filling up.  It’s bite the bullet time.  Group consolidation.  Got to get it on.  If you go I go.

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Backside Barn Descent Video

Thanks to Brian Vaughan from Haymarket HomeVisit for shooting this footage. This is two miles from the barn heading west. It is a six mile drop — 2000 vertical feet — to the South Fork valley.

Descent From Lost River Barn – HD With Music from Bryan Vaughan on Vimeo.

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RTR Camp Guinea Pigs

This weekend was the first big training camp of the year and fortunately the first truly nice riding weather.  Winds not savage, temps not brittle and sun in abundance.  Deep blue sky sharpened by quantities of resilient mountain snow.

Three days, three routes, three moves.

Saturday was the planned ‘big day’ and a chance for me to test out an exciting new RTR route.  I ran it once solo and again with guinea pig # 1, the ‘Soda’ and on both occasions, the length/scope felt right and invigorating.

Now it would be weathered under load with the Haymarket Home Vista Elite Race Team.

The loop is atypical for Lost River with long sustained river valley sections.  After the steep six mile backside descent from the barn the riders head south for almost 30 miles with very little elevation change.

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Before the Crunch

Maybe I have enjoyed my most recent rides because I am at no one’s mercy.  Solo and sightful, albeit it long and grinding: four hours fifty minutes.   Sixty five miles and fifty seven hundred climbing feet with enough muddy dirt (i.e., resistance training for maximum value), to warrant a full post ride hose down.

RTR camps start next week and it will be consecutive beyond.   Yesterday was a recon mission to make sure some of the more remote avenues are passable–remote being a relative word.  It is telling when you stop at a corner store about five miles from some pass and ask if it is plowed, to hear “what road…… Ummmm…. I reckon, I never go up there.”

So I contemplate that as I man the counter, sip my Yoohoo and consume the blueberry frosted pop tarts before pressing back into the unknown.

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