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Saturday, August 5, 2000 -- Franklin, WV - Monterey, VA
The Mountian Mama Road Bike Challenge
Story and photos by Brad Yurish

[Details] [Coverage]

Mountain Mama
Starting the day off right in Monterey
The first Annual Mountain Mama Road Challenge could not have had a better setting than the beautiful mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. The weather was absolutely perfect with highs in the 80's, low humidity and the first day without rain in a week. This was all very good since the course of the Mountain Mama is not for the faint of heart. The turnout for this charity event was as good as anyone had hoped.

All of the proceeds for this event went to support the Highland County Medical Center in Monterey, VA, which serves Highland County in VA, and Pendleton and Pocahantas counties in WV. Not only were the participants taking part in a very worthy cause, they were about to challenge their endurance and perseverance to complete this event.

Mountain Mama
Prescott and Brad enjoy the view
About 200 riders set off on the Mountain Mama, with about 75% riding the 100 miler, and the rest taking part in the 50 miler and 30 mile rides. The 50 miler tackled 4 of the 9 mountains the 100-mile course traversed, and the 30 miler went through the valley around Monterey. With any mountainous course in WV, the start of the ride immediately went uphill. The first climb up Jack Mountain separated many riders, with the lead pack of riders/"racers" taking off and the rest hanging back and warming up a bit slower. After finishing the second climb over Bullpasture Mountain, the course went down some of the fastest roads in the entire course. With speeds approaching 55mph, everyone had to come to stop at a gravel-covered corner near the bottom to turn off Rt. 250 and head North towards Franklin, WV. The next 20 miles covered some fast ground in the valleys separating two rather large mountains, and gave the riders time to spin their legs and prepare for the taller and steeper climbs to come.

Mountain Mama
One of the few mandatory stops
At the second SAG station, we were told that the next section was, in the words of one volunteer, "a rather tame section before the big mountains". Well, Snowy Mountain was anything but tame. With 3miles of 8% grade climbing, the climb shot up to 15% for the final 1.75 miles!! Everyone stood up and hammered it out to the top. During this climb I thought I heard many people proclaim their faith to a higher being, but I could have very well been delirious from the steepness of Snowy Mountain. After some more sweet downhill action and awesome climbs, the largest climb of the course came into view. The first of two climbs up Allegheny Mountain was indeed long. With a total of around 10 miles, with 4-5 miles being 8-9% grade, it was a mean climb. Luckily at the top was a well-positioned SAG station.

Mountain Mama
The author with a self portrait
After fueling up, we were off to finish the remaining 30 miles. Another long and wonderful downhill, complete with beautiful vistas of the Monongahela National Forest, we hit the next to last SAG station. After fueling up again, we started the second climb up Allegheny Mountain. While not as long and steep as the first, it was still a difficult climb, especially at this stage in the ride. The final two climbs were all that separated us and the finish, but these would test even the strongest of riders.

Lantz Mountain proved to be a short and steep climb compared to the rest. After the last SAG station at the bottom of Lantz Mountain, the final climb up Monterey Mountain loomed in the distance. While certainly not the steepest climb, it proved to be a very tough climb indeed. This might be because much of the road was visible from the bottom of the climb, and during the climb up the hill. Regardless, the view from the top and the decent into Monterey was rewarding enough for all the pain to disappear.

When all was said and done, a wonderful pasta dinner was waiting for all the riders at the local firehall. This event would not have been possible without all the work from Jan Dray, the brains behind this century ride. Jan, who is also a Monterey local, said this event would not have been as successful as it was without the help from the local businesses and townspeople. This writer believes that this event is one of the best things going in the states of WV and VA. We hope to see this event become at least a yearly event where people can come and see the beauty of riding the mountains in Appalachia.