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


DAY 1 – Crooked Road

The ‘warm up’ day.  Starting from the barn we headed east into the valley and up the ridge traveling the long dirt ascent to South Mountain and the George Washington National Forest.

Dropping down on the Virginia side to Columbia Furnace and going further east (and further down the valley) to Lantz Mill, we start to edge back west and also back up.

False flats, short walls, rollers, mini ridges and eventually the intimidating creep back up Crooked Road to the ‘Towers’ and the West Virginia line.  All dirt.   Rideable but relentless.  A true test of strength, patience and nerves.

From there it was a down hill on some steep switchbacks with surprise, shady side of the slope, snowy muddy banks.  Eventually we reach the Mathias Community Center and traverse the 10 mile (with some ridge up and down) climb back to the barn.

70 miles, 8100 feet.

DAY 2 – The Valley Ride

This is the route that is known as the Valley ride because of the long  flat run from Branch Mountain into the southbound Valley.   A good 35 miles of relatively tranquility; traveling south on South Fork Road toward Fort Seybert.   A nice departure from most other Lost River rides and good way to stretch and spin after yesterday’s romp.

Still, there is climbing.  Sipple Mountain is the first climb with an immediate wall, a steady grade, some false flat, steadier grade, and an even sharper wall to the top.  Something to lock on to, down and over before the rolling return through Rough Run and short climb heading into Petersburg for the first store stop at the 65 mile mark.

After the 7-11 refueling stop we take Petersburg to Moorefield through the valleys as the ridge of the barn starts to loom larger.  It’s in our crosshairs and then we are in it.  From the flat road bottom it is seven miles to the barn, the first six are up hill with 2000 feet of gain.

Everyone assumes their positions and incorporates their techniques.  No chit chat.

The Valley Ride.  The ‘flat day’.

85 miles/7037 feet/4’31″/avg 19mph

DAY 3 – Apple Orchard

This was supposed to be the hardest day, but it’s tough to say which day really was.  The numbers are relatively similar and don’t quite indicate grades and surfaces as well as riders whims, condition and pacing, which all change day to day.  I thought it was pretty hard…

Another west-bound move off the backside of the barn toward Kessel, Walnut Ridge and the day’s first climb thirteen miles in, which crests at Fairfax Gravel pit for some industrial edge to go with the lung busting beauty.

A descent to Patterson Creek road and north-bound in the Valley through Williamsport into Mineral County before turning at Russeldale Road and beginning the ascent to the apple orchards.

The climb starts out twisting over the river through a mini rock canyon to hit the entry to the ridge and then it turns and makes a straight shot up the ridge.  It is literally straight.  At first there are horse farm meadows then it goes through some woods and eventually kicks up higher toward the orchards.

When you emerge from the woods you can see a brick warehouse where the apples are housed during harvest, but it is a long way off.  Small and high up the climb.  A spec in the distance.  A lure for some; a taunt for others.

The pitch eases slightly at the warehouse but the road also turns to dirt.   At this point the ridge is all pasture and apples trees.

Scenic but maybe hard to absorb at 180 BPM.  A strange thing.  You know it’s there.  You sense it, feel it and see it but body mechanisms take precedence, at least in a training situation.

Onward toward the top the road splits another woodsy section and spills down slightly into more meadows.  A long stretch of grass and field that is protected from the wind.  Cupped.  A valley on top of the mountain and where we make our sag stop forty five miles in.

From here the ride is complicated and varied.   Descent both dirt and paved.  More dirt.  Half mile steep gravel that challenges the legs.  A section on the slab of a not yet opened interstate.  The Corridor H.  More backwoods stuff and finally the descent into Moorefield and the four miles of valley/calm before the storm into the backside barn climb.

75.6 miles/7,768 feet/4’32″/avg 16.7mph

DAY 4 – Recovery Ride

Relatively speaking…..

We did keep it sensible, dictated by a silent and maybe not so silent group consensus and the vivid recall of where we had already been.

Heading off west again toward Moorefield we pick up the ‘Old 55’.  This is a great stretch that goes 25 miles from Moorefield to Wardensville.  A new interstate is pushing towards Elkins WV and the sections that are complete render the old highway, which is still maintained, virtually car free. A good surface with grades similar to Skyline Drive.

There is a long climb back up from Moorefield over the same ridge we just came off.  We roll steady with some shorter up and downs toward Wardensville and then onto Trout Pond Road headed back toward Lost River.

Coming out of Wardensville the road goes up for awhile.  I pre-described it as a false flat but was told that it is climb.   I guess it is.  Perceptions and descriptions.  Yeah.  It is a climb but I like to think of it as a very hard false flat.  Mostly because against the other climbs we do that is what it seems like.  Also it is mental brace.  To diminish the challenge and create a positive picture, but yeah, after four days and 260 miles done, I maybe should have said it pitches up high and goes on for ever and ever, just so the reality would have mellowed the crew.

After Trout Pond State Park there IS a climb.  About a mile and then a three mile descent to the Lost River General Store.

From here it is ten miles to the end.  All gradually up hill but the first half gentle before starting to pitch and ultimately confronting the dirt climb to the barn.  A good way to finish off a hard block.

The surface was great.  Not wet not soft and not rocky.  Hard packed dirt.

There is a very steep section in the middle of this climb.  Maybe half a K….  It is a big effort to pick the right line and keep the bike moving. This is what makes this climb so exciting.  The final knock-out blow.  Then it turns back into a ‘normal’ ascent and after getting back on the pavement the big yellow barn is a welcoming beacon.

Recovery day.

61.8 miles/6,276 feet/3’40″/avg 16.8mph


A good session.   A lot of these guys already have some base and they may be topping off the tank.  For me it was my third week of camps and my largest block.  Now it is about recovery and seeing what the legs have to say next time they saddle up.

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