Activity: road cycling
Location: Monterey, VA > hills of eastern West Virginia
Distance: 103.2 miles (extremely hilly)
Duration: 6:27
Weather: sunny and warm, 82 degrees
Avg HR: 164 (max 187)
Type: aerobic

This was the Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge, a hilly-as-all-getup ride with the following features:

  • 103.2 mile course
  • scenic route through the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • temperatures around 10 degrees cooler than in DC
  • spectacular country scenery
  • on-site camping at Monterey Public School
  • free food and drink along the course at multiple available rest stops
  • a free pasta feast afterward
  • nine major climbs encompassing 13,400 feet of climbing

Yup – that’s right. The course had 13,400 feet of climbing over 103.2 miles. That’s a lot of vertical for one day.

And what a blast it was! The ride started with a good grind from the start, and each climb featured adrenaline-filled descents – a perfect reward for all of the elevation gained on the ascent (I hit 48 mph on one of the early descents). The fourth climb (up Allegheny Mountain the first time) was the longest climb of the day, but not the hardest. Some climbs had stretches that were over 10 percent grade, which is damn tough – especially after covering 60, 70 or 80 miles and thousands of vertical feet.

I have to give a big tip ‘o the hat to the ride organizers, who really did a fine job. Around 210 riders showed up for the various rides offered, and I didn’t see many frowns in the crowd – or amongst the myriad volunteers who manned the rest stops, many of whom offered to fill your bottles while you grabbed fig bars, GORP, watermelon, PB&J sandwiches, bananas, salt potatoes, grapes, peaches, and other yummy things. Better yet: they were a great cheering section along the last 10 miles, when two major climbs wreaked havoc on lactate-burdened legs.

I also had friends along for the ride – or, more properly, I joined them for the ride. I only committed to attend this ride on Tuesday, when my PPTC pal, Jonathan, mentioned that he and some of our other club buddies were going. So I went, driving the 180-something miles from DC to the border between Virginia and West Virginia – hence the “Mountain Mama” name, a nod to John Denver and his country roads. It was most fitting, and I even hummed a few bars (and then some) on the longer climbs.

So I have an official PR for a century: 6:21. Granted, that’s over a hilly course, and my 99.9 mile ride in July took me 5:37 to finish on a much, much flatter course. So is that the PR? Hard to say, as this was an official century ride.

Any way you look at it, though, it rocked. I’m definitely doing it again next year.

And as a treat to myself for completing the ride, I bought a new lid.