Panhandle Pedalers

The Panhandle Pedalers, a touring bike club from Charlestown WV, took a turn on the mountain this weekend for some hills (and stops) Lost River style.

They are the first West Virginia group to come through (which had me on my toes).  There was also an added surprise bonus in that they brought a true Lost River native with them; Scott Bean, who was raised in the Mathias area and whose lineage traces back to the Bean Settlement just beyond Baker.

He grew up on these roads and has a wealth of history and stories.  Turns out his family are Beans and Funkhausers, which means he is on a long strand connecting back to the barn which was built by Grover Funkhauser in 1930 and was originally a cattle operation.

His family had the Lost River General Store in the early 1900’s.  At that time it was the only place for goods and supplies in the area, which was and still is primarily farming.   The town of Mathias was accented by a tannery operation near where the Summit Bank now is, and Route 259 connecting those places was of course an old dirt road.

It is not that way now, but development has been relatively quiet so the echoes still remain.  Hearing the details first hand brings them to life.

The General Store was one of our stops and though not playing the same role as it did then its historic value is crisp and undiminished.

The ride was book-ended between the General Store and Star Mercantile in Wardensville, another historic building that has been carefully preserved and is like stepping back in time.

The fueling pit-stops complemented our trek.   Wardensville is 30 miles from the barn and it is another 20 heading back in a big loop, past Trout Pond State Park on Mill Gap road to the General Store.  From there it is 18 miles heading home with a significant portion of it up hill.

The Pedalers handled the elevations admirably.  Having the opportunity to ride with all types of cycle enthusiasts, beside providing an interesting social cross section, reminds me of just how hard and challenging the sport is regardless if one is an elite racer or a novice tourist.   It is all relative in respect to speed competition and just where one happens to be on the continuum.  Work is work.

Gravity and distance still define the efforts and if it’s your first time doing the hardest ride you’ve done, then your level of suffering may be equal to a racer who has done the route many times but is being pushed even more by competitors.

The Pedalers got their workouts in for sure.  For me it was miles and a leg spin out before race day on Sunday.  The good thing about the hills is with regrouping, efforts can still be got.  All in all, another pleasant excursion through the country.

That was apparent when I hit the race course Sunday for the full throttle no detours competitive activity.   Going from one to the other is abrupt and can possibly raise the question why one would choose to leave relative tranquility for forced turbulence.  There are many answers to that for another time.  What I do know is that as hard as I worked on Sunday the folks on the mountain probably worked just as hard Saturday and that ultimately the idea (along with perhaps some fun), is to push and challenge and hopefully better yourself in the process.


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