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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.
- Last week was a great one for Rapha Condor JLT, all the action and images now up on the team site: http://t.co/ftBejPnnCJ
- RT @alainrumpf: Well done @mike_cuming and @raphacondorjlt winner of #TdK2013 under the scrutiny of latest drone… http://t.co/gv81uP9mHP
- In their attempt to cross the US in 24 days, @michaeltabtabai & Andrew Hudon will ‘Leave It On The Road’. → http://t.co/Per6QsCAtt
- We are delighted to announce the opening of a one-month, pop-up @RaphaCycleClub in Tokyo this summer from 22/6–21/7 → http://t.co/Jrc0EKZ9ky
- Huge congratulations to @raphacondorjlt’s @mike_cuming for winning the @TourdeKorea2013 and to @tomsoutham for best DS. #TdK2013
- @danfromnam in Corsica — outtake from our 2013 Spring/Summer shoot #corsica #beningstagram http://t.co/03A7pT9mtj
- Winner Winner Chicken Dinner ! The most important jersey of #TdK2013 hot off the press. http://t.co/Pflx0eUfdv”
- What a day... The boys keep Mike Cuming in yellow, after having to chase all day. Great performance by all.
- Just rehearsing the whole of Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday to recite to the boys...
- UK: Thanks to all who came to to tonight’s Rapha Étape Evening in London with @CyclefitUK — one of our biggest turnouts yet.