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Lost River Barn
WORDS: Daniel Wakefield Pasley
Originally from Jersey, Jay Moglia moved to D.C. to attend American University. After school he worked bartending, playing music, and the odd construction job. During the summer of 1991, faced with no construction work and burned out on the bar scene, Jay found an ad in the paper for bicycle courier.
“It wasn’t like it is now where everyone has the look and the bike already together. I was just some out of work dude who had a beater bike in the garage.”
Three weeks into it Jay was done with all the other jobs and had found his true calling as a cyclist. To hammer in this newfound love Jay rode to Colorado with a friend. After a brief goodbye in Durango, Jay pushed on for the Pacific through Arizona and in the month of June racked up a total of 3100 miles in 34 days. The following summer he rode west again, this time, 4200 miles in 48 days. A year later, at age 33, he started racing. And a few years after that, he was racing Cat 1 in the NRC where, over the years, he took 5th, 7th and a number of top 10 and 20 finishes. In 2000 he qualified for the Olympic trials.
“After I started to race and really get into training, I started looking for mountains. So while everyone was sticking it out in town, I started travelling to the Appalachians and eventually out west to the Rockies. I was holing-up in Arizona in the spring and in Wisconsin for Superweek. I was staying in hotels and meeting people with homes or trailers or bunk houses where we could stay and ride. I was on the road a lot.”
With a vague concept in mind, Jay started looking for land in the Appalachians. In 2005 after an unsuccessful attempt to buy acreage in Virginia, Jay and his girlfriend Audrey sold their place and bought a new one in Lost River, West Virginia. With 11 acres to build on, they thought this was it; they would get permits, build some bunk houses, maybe partner with a local hotel, and establish a cycling destination base camp and tour outfit.
Then Jay found the barn.
“Every chance I had, I started riding out there and going map wild, delving deeper and deeper into the countryside. The road up to the barn was part of one of my rides. When I saw the Barn for sale online, I recognized the Mountain Meadows area immediately. And since it was on one of my favorite rides anyway, I decided to check it out.
It was owned by a pig farmer and occupied by two families. There was a little pathway you could walk through between all the furniture and boxes and you couldn’t go through the front of the house because that’s where the pigs lived. It smelled horrible, you couldn’t get into the corners, the sun-room was boarded-up with dirty blankets, and there was a refrigerator in the living room.
In spite of all that, I remember thinking it was pretty cool. I was tuned into the location - it’s a house on a mountain. I never thought I’d be able to afford something like that. And as bad as it looked and smelled, the place was solid. The barn was built in the 30s but on a cinderblock foundation, and the house attached to it was built in 70s. We got the inspection and everything checked out but still my mom cried when I told her we bought it – the pig thing was really, pretty bad.
I’ve always worked hard busting my ass doing this or that but I’ve never had to clock-in, at all. So with the barn I just decided to sign up for a hitch — two years worth of weekends starting now. I didn’t want it be a grind for Audrey but it was totally 50/50 from the start, we just equally got into the spirit. The fuel was cycling. I thought back to all those crappy times in crappy hotels when I wished someone would ask me what I need and want. And now this - the barn - was my chance to do it right.
The initial three months were just brutal. We’d go up there with Clorox and alcohol and lime and burn incense constantly. We scrubbed tiles for days at a time and pulled up all the flooring where the pigs lived. After stripping almost every surface we’d have these massive burn piles out front. But the foundation and bones were solid.
Eventually I found this old-school lumber yard in Augusta ,WV that had all this rough-cut white pine in massive planks. And we started resurfacing, painting and sanding, and varnishing, which really kicked-up the newness vibe big.
And then we furnished it.
We wanted a place that you’d come back to after a long, hard ride, and wouldn’t need or want to leave.”
Now, at the end of a short gravel drive, some way off the road, on the side of a slowly sloping hill, a large yellow barn-house and cyclists oasis awaits. Jay and Audrey call it the Raw Talent Ranch and it’s available year-round.
The barn-house easily sleeps and eats twelve. The kitchen is stocked with every pot, pan, and appliance you will ever want or need. Classic cycling DVDs and cozy couches line the walls of the adjacent entertainment room. And the sun drenched indoor porch makes for a great post ride nap.
No detail has been lost in preparing this as a true cyclists haven.
The basement is divided between the shop and a section of the original barn. The shop features every tool you could ever need in bike repair. And we are not just talking allen wrenches. (Dan spent the night truing wheels and even removed and cleaned his freehub body.)
On the second floor rests the master bedroom with daybed, half bath and access to a massive barn loft. Which is the perfect venue for live entertainment, dances and music, or a combination of all three.
“By next summer we’re hoping to complete two more upstairs bedrooms so five separate couples can each have their own rooms and the barn will sleep 12 without using any of the common space.”
“I’ve been riding out there every weekend for almost five years and I’m still finding new roads. I can’t believe it. Lost River is unusual in that we have lots of wilderness land, big chunks of national forest and two state parks all in the same county. And it’s all varied terrain. We have mountains, hills, meadows, valleys, as well as a number of small villages and towns. You’re never looking at the same thing for very long, it’s always changing.
In the Appalachians, generally the further and deeper you go down a road the worse and worse it gets until it just dies out in the middle of the woods. But here, you go deeper for miles until suddenly the road you’re on merges with another - just randomly on top of a mountain in the middle of a meadow.
Russ Langley, a racer friend of mine, and I went over the proposed Continental ride together for weeks. We went back and forth about which roads to link together best and how to make it flow, how to make it whole. After we finally settled on a route we brought Russ’s team out, last year they were the number one amateur team in the country. They had 12 guys just rolling it and double pacelining, and the continental guys only rode it 20 minutes slower. Anyway, right after we put it together and rode it with Russ’s team, I found this ridiculous new ride and some completely new turf maybe even better than the ride I took the continental guys on. Maybe.”