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It takes five hours to make it to Hillsboro, West Virginia and our cabin in Watoga State Park. We couldn’t feel deeper or any more tucked into the hills of rural Appalachia. The cabin is hewn and rough, and every surface, structure and contour is made of solid wood. Michael, tomorrow’s host, gets out of bed briefly to say hello.
Over breakfast at the Park Lodge, Michael tells us about today's ride, 'Cold Knob', a 109.5 mile loop. The first half is too stunning to properly explain or describe. For 50 miles we race across endless rolling hills and twisting ridges through a magnificent valley, charging and dipping like a bucolic roller coaster past fields, farms and stands of trees.
But there's a second half to this ride. Cold Knob is two-faced. After a quick stop at Lowell’s Bakery in Frankford for homemade cinnamon buns, pork sandwiches and freshly made slaw, we begin the unpaved ascent of Cold Knob, the ride’s namesake and centerpiece. Steep, rocky and relentless, the climb becomes more daunting and dramatic as the clouds roll in and the temperature plummets. Our spirits drop with the mercury. It’s as if we’ve left the sanctuary of a wonderful lush, green valley for a steep, endless pilgrimage to Mordor. After five miles of switchbacks, we pass wide swathes of deforested hills, bald and covered by piles of gravel, stumps and organic detritus. Gargantuan logging trucks pass with frequency. Dan flats four times. But on the far side of a very long ridge our sprits pick-up when the route drops down from Cold Knob. At the bottom the team and Michael mix it up with a succession of sprints and closings and counterattacks. Back on pavement, we surprise a group of locals and their hounds in the middle of a bear hunt. Apparently moments before, a big black bear bounded over the road, right across our path.
Back at the cabin, over pasta, wine, and stories, we work through the ride details, we rode for 7:18 today with an average of 15.1 mph.
- @Jack_Sadler @raphacondor We’re honoured to have you riding for us Jack.
- RT @dean0downing: I had 6 great seasons with the @raphacondor team, thanks to all at @rapharacing for the support through out. http://t.co/…
- @dean0downing @raphacondor Thank you Dean, it’s been an incredible journey.
- Eeny meeny miny moe. Aka Sean, Freddy, Roger and Francesco. If like me you can't decide which one of… http://t.co/o5b8KuTdCX
- Buying for the obsessive cyclist can be an impossible task. The kit has to be right, but what do you choose? → http://t.co/78RaFQ810G
- RT @raphacondor: 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http:…
- RT @rapha_australia: It's time for #alpedquiz question two. "WHERE DID RICHIE PORTE FINISH ON STAGE 18 OF THE 2013 TOUR?" Answer at http://…
- The #oneoftheseplease wk 3 includes some outdoor products from the likes of @polerstuff - Kletterwerks - and Filson: http://t.co/SG3aSEcjxN
- 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http://t.co/11e5ZxOdoC
- 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http://t.co/TfWWoTG1ge