Thursday, August 01, 2013

Day 3: Laurel Fork Campground to Lewisburg WV

Early morning finally rolled around and it got light enough to see through the dim chill of morning.  I crawled out of my tarp set up and started getting ready to go.  I decided to dump the Starbucks Via into my water bottle and try some cold coffee.  I nibbled on a granola bar as I packed up and was packed and ready in about 20-30 minutes.  Good to know,  30 minutes a day over 4 days is two hours more ride time.

I went to the outhouses to change into my wet riding clothes.  It was a cold and damp night with high humidity and my clothes didn't dry like the previous night,  but it turns out it didn't really matter.  As soon as I hit the climb right outside of the campground,  the rain started.  And it didn't let up for another 8 hrs or so....

I made it up and over the bridge to Glady and had to remind myself to stop beating myself up over the logistical mistake from the day before.  Things happen and I made solid decisions that kept me safe.  Sure enough the picnic shelter next to the church was there and would have been a great place to sleep.  Next time.

Onto the West Fork Trail, I started the slog south.  The next 80 miles would be rail to trail conversion and I was hoping to get it all complete by the end of the day.  It was raining, but I seemed to be making good time.  I was holding a steady 15-16 mph, through some sloggy damp, chipped gravel double track.   Apparently this section of the trail is less traveled so it did sap some energy.

At one point, I came across the only people I would speak to in the next 25 miles.  A tent set up in the middle of the trail.  Two bikes outside the tent and a wine bottle laying beside the tent.  It looked like fun times.  I greeted the tent and rang my bell.  A nerdy sounding voice inside the tent greeted me.  The excited voice told me that they were just out for a little trip to view the wildflowers, which were abundant,  and they had stopped there because the hummingbirds were numerous.  I told the voice what I was doing and bid farewell. 
 This portion of the trail is very remote,  no traffic, no people, just me and God... and that big crashing sound in the woods.  Not sure what that was, but also not sticking around to find out.  The scenery was great and I was cruising.  Feeling good, but then about 15 miles into it, I was feeling a little drained.  Tired of riding through wet, freshly mowed grass, I noticed a road on the other side of the river.  I decided to find a place to cross the river, and get on the road, hoping to make better time.  After another mile, I found a bridge access , and got on the road.  I immediately regretted that decision because the road was not flat, but rolling hills with punchy climbs.  About 2 miles later, I got back on the rail trail.
 I made it to Durbin,  and then got on Back Mountain Road.  It was still raining off and on, but for some reason this was my favorite section of the whole route.  A high mountain rolling hills paved road, winding through the WVA back country.  Houses all around, but no one in sight.  I was running low on water, so started to look for somewhere to fill up.  I passed a large garage where an older man and a younger man were outside in the rain working on a dump truck.  I stopped and asked if they had a spigot I could use to fill up on water.  They said sure then asked if I was going to drink it. I said yes and they told me not to.  They then told me to go into the back of the garage and get a couple of water bottles out of the fridge,  they told me it was right next to the beer and I could have one if I wanted.  I passed on the beer but snagged a couple of bottles.  One I emptied into my sports bottle and dropped in a tab of nuun.

We chatted about life for a moment and they asked what I would do if it kept raining.  This whole time, with rain pouring down, they were outside getting soaked, working on the truck.  I said"  I'll keep on keepin' on.... kind of like you guys".  They chuckled and we shared a mutual respect.   I rode on. 

After 15 miles of pavement, I came to the little town of Cass, complete with train station, general store and grill.   I settled in and ordered a BLT with mayo on the side.  It came with a side of chips and I also ordered a hot chocolate.  I ate the whole thing.  I wanted to order another sammy, but knew that it would get soaked.  Before leaving, I stopped by the pay phone to call Rhonda and make plans for pick up at the end of the ride.  I wasn't sure where or when I would be tomorrow, but wen needed to make plans.

I took my time eating and getting ready to roll out, hoping the rain would let up, but it didn't.  So I did what I had to do and kept heading south. 
It continued to rain on me for the next 24 miles to Marlinton.  I was soaked, and started to get chilled.  Knowing that was not a good combo,  I pulled off route into town and into the Dirty Bean.  I expected some sort of warm welcome, but did not get that.  The employees were gruff and when I asked to borrow a phone, there was some resistance.  In the shop/ cafe at the same time were two families with a total of four kids.  They were out for a weekend of camping, and were soaked as well.
I borrowed the phone and called Rhonda again to leave a message.  I hung out and chatted, still hoping the rain would let up.  It turns out, one of the lady's relatives live in the Asheville area.

After a long discussion with myself in my head, I decided to pull the plug.  I could not go on in this weather, and everyone in town was telling me that the rain would continue through Sunday.  But the problem was that if I stopped here for the night, Rhonda would have to drive 1.5 hours north to pick me up, then the trip home would be close to 5 hrs.  I  was bummed, but did not want to end up in a hypothermia heap somewhere down the trail.  I found the Old Clark Inn and  spent some time there still trying to decide if I should stay the night or head on down the trail.  They had internet access so I got on to check the weather for myself.  I also called Rhonda and finally got in touch with her.  I found that the rain was moving northeast and should be clearing up soon.   I made the decision to continue pedaling.  The awesome staff was instrumental in helping me through this low time of the day and I am forever grateful for their understanding.  If I ever head that way again, I will plan on making use of the inn!!  Thanks Andrea! ( and they used to live in Asheville)
 Once again, I headed south.  Before I left town, I went to the local gas station for a Gatorade and 2 slices of pizza.   My total rang up to $6.66.   I'm generally not superstitious but today I took heed.  When I went outside and took a closer look at the pizza, it looked like it had been there for a while.  You know how melted cheese looks after it sits all day?   Yup,  I took one bite and decided to toss it.  Oh well.  I ate an oatmeal cream pie instead. 

At this point, bored with the monotony and hoping for an extra kick of motivation, I did something that I have only done once before in my life.  I pulled out my iPod and put earphones in my ears.   The trick is that the screen shows only the white screen of death, but if I only tap the screen once, the music plays.  Somehow it got set on shuffle, which worked out well.  I started pedaling again and enjoyed the distraction.

10 Miles later I came to Jack Horner's Corner,  a cafe, souvenir shop.  I stopped for a Coke, hot dog with slaw and mustard, a Rice Krispy Treat and a pack of crackers.  I didn't stay long and ate the dog while I was riding.  I had 50 miles to go and it was getting late.  I was making good time but was dreaming of a hotel room where I could take a hot shower, eat some good food and mostly dry out.  If I could make it to Lewisburg, I hoped to get that. 
As I pedaled, and the rain let up, people started coming out of the wood work.  Horse drawn chariots, walkers, bike riders, some out for  a little ride, others camping overnight,  horse back riders, people fishing,  more walkers,  some canoe campers floating down the river.  It was cool to see so many people out enjoying the trail.  I pedaled on,  focusing on what Eddie of 55Nine Performance had taught me when I got the WN Precision bike fit.  I had taken the Siren- John Henry down to get fit just a couple of weeks ago, and now, body fatigued but still maintaining the same pace as 6 hours ago,  I could tell a huge difference, and it is worth it. 

Around 3pm the skies almost cleared, and I was able to snap a few pictures of the scenery.
Looking forward

Looking back

Coke, my fav travel treat.  I save it for the last 10 miles.

The only complaint about this trail is the mile markers.  They are big and white concrete posts and I couldn't help but see the miles tick by.  I tried to ignore them but could not.  Oh well.   I finally popped out in the parking lot at the end of the trail and whooped.  Got my picture taken and headed off route to Lewisburg.  It turned out to be about 6 miles to the hotel, 3 of which was up hill.  In hindsight,  especially after seeing the campground the next day, a mere 6 miles up the road on route,  I would have camped.  But,  the hotel was nice and the BBQ bacon cheese burger was pretty darned good.  And so was the biscuit and sausage gravy buffet in the morning! 
I got to the hotel and got the last available single room,  perfect timing, woot!  Someone is looking out for me.  I peeled off the wet layers, took a shower, ate some food and it was lights out by 10pm.  Interestingly, my body was really hot, and still energized.  I didn't sleep great but was glad to be dry and have dry clothes to get into the next morning. 
When alone in a hotel room I can spread out and no one can say anything!  
I was glad to have pushed through and gotten within striking distance of the finish.  After 3 100+ mile days in a row, the last day should be around 92.  That's a lot of miles for a lot to go wrong, but I was optimistic.  The bike was great, and my gear was holding up just fine.  And my body,  I would have to make that judgement call in the morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your adventure. Hope to do it sometime myself.
The Commuter, Ohio