One of the hardest rides I have ever done. 40mph gust headwinds, 10000+ feet of climbing, below freezing temps and finished in the dark on a 5 mile dirt climb.
I knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle so I ate as much as I could in the morning. The predicted profile said there would be around 7000 feet of climbing so it was also going to be hard.
When Jay got to the Raw Talent Ranch in Unison we immediately decided to scrap the original route and find some scenic back country roads (instantly adding another 15+ miles to the ride). What was funny is Jay describes roads by there numbers like route 629 and such, where I describe roads by there names - so we were having a language barrier problem. I realize now his method makes way more sense because roads change names and continuing roads, despite dog legs and stuff keep the same number. The map Jay was using showed some roads that I did not know existed on the other side of the Shenandoah river. I can't wait to show other people these great rolling roads. Seriously we were passed by 1 car over about a 15 mile stretch and you could see the Blue ridge Mt's the whole time.
I am glad Jay came along because I would have probably stuck to the same ol roads, but he has a great sense of adventure that really livened the ride up. The other constants were a continuous headwind and an unending elevation gain.
There was a moment I thought we weren't going to make it and the phone call of shame may be in order "Hi, Audry? Yeah, um...we need a ride..." You know that phone call that ends all sense of accomplishment. That brief moment of fear happened after we went the wrong direction exploring some brutal dirt rollers, after Jay's first flat when I thought my bottom bracket had frozen with what turned out to be a pebble logged between it and my crank arm. With the flat fixed and the rock out the call of shame was avoided.
The last moment of worry was as we were climbing the 3rd to last pass I realized we had two more climbs to go and limited sun. Jay said we would be fine as long as we got to the final climb out of Lost River/259 by dark because there would be no traffic up the dirt possibly snow covered road. It was pitch dark when we got to the base and it was comforting knowing I would be warm because we would be climbing the last 5 miles to the Raw Talent Ranch. It was surreal like a dream. I had no ideal where the top was, I just kept pedaling and suffering in the dark. For a few miles some hound dogs with LED lights on there collars trotted along side us. They keep us company and were non threatening.
When the sun dropped the temp drooped from around 30 f to the low teens but because of the climbing I was unaware of the change. The last mile to the Ranch is downhill and I became very aware of the cold but Audry had hot soup, pizza and a fire waiting for us. One of the best rides EVER.
Also, still learning to use the GPS stuff. Mileage, total feet of climbing, ride time and stuff is right. Max speed of 90+ Mph is wrong (I wish!).
Also see Jay's much better write up of the ride: http://www.rawtalentranch.com/2010/12/25/rtrunison-to-rtrlost-river/