Riding the Mountains of 3-Gap Part III: Success!

(This is part 3 of 3 blog posts that relate the entire story of me getting the bravery just to give this ride a try (part I), to starting the ride and completing the 1st climb (part II). Now, I finish the story. Wolfpen Gap is the 2nd climb on this epic ride.)

Since we were going to ascend Wolfpen in slightly warmer temps, we found
a safe spot to stop and take off bits of clothing to compensate. Me, I took off my sleeves and top of my jacket. Good move. I was even warmer on this climb.

Wolfpen Gap is steeper but the worst part
for me was the motorcycles traveling up and down this peak’s narrow 2-lane road. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind motorbikes otherwise, but the riders who frequent this mountain are particularly dangerous riders. They would pass me far too close going up, even passing me with another vehicle in the other lane. (So, we’d be 3 across!) Not only that, they’d pass me by illegally coming into my lane from the other lane to pass cars. (Again, we’d be 3 across!) All this made me nervous, and it made my angry that these people would put themselves and others in such jeopardy. No wonder we had heard ambulances so frequently during the overall ride. Alas, I did my best not give these thoughts too much energy and just focus on what I could control, which is myself, my riding and my bike.

I pedaled
up this mountain with an average of 5-7mph on the climb. Thirty-four difficult minutes later, I rolled into the small, dirt parking area at the peak. It was harder than Neel’s Gap. If I had 7 miles of this, I don’t think I could have made it. (…a la Hogpen Gap.) My last peak, Woody’s Gap, would be a walk in the park compared to what I had already accomplished. So, I enjoyed thoroughly the remainder of my ride.

Later
at the peak of Woody’s Gap, I would be rewarded with the best view of the entire ride. At the edge of the parking area is a look-out point that drops immediately and deeply. As you look out upon the valley below, you realize just how far you’ve climbed. Some parts of that valley are nearly 2000 ft lower in elevation, and a sense of awe washed over me. It makes one want to linger. However after riding for 2 1/2 hours (not including breaks), we wanted to get back to your start point b/c our snacks were gone, and we were getting a little hungry. So, onward we sped down the 7 mile descent.

At the bottom, we turned
for the final 4 miles back to our vehicles. After spending all that time climbing the mountains, the hills on the way back seemed like mere bumps. I happily sped up them, giddy that I accomplished far more that day than I had dared to dream, and I still had energy to boot!

Back
at our starting point, I was grinning from ear to ear!!! I could have floated home just on the joy of my brazen and brave endeavor. I had been calling my hubby after reaching the 1st and 2nd peak. I called him one more time to announce my complete victory. He was elated for me and ecstatic that he could now have me as a riding buddy for the mountains!

For days, my feet never touched the ground; I was floating that much. I couldn’t believe that, I…me…I I I (!),
a non-remarkable cyclist could climb not one…but three mountains! Furthermore, I wanted to and did share the experience with my local buddies to encourage them to get their tails up to the mountains and pronto! Climbing a mountain does not require some great feat of physical prowess, nor does it require a new, expensive, light bike. All you need is a working bike with a decent crank and cassette. While you don’t need thousands of miles in overall experience, some riding experience is helpful. Most of all, your best friend while riding in the mountains (at least from my humble perspective and experience) is patience. If you have that…both with yourself and for the ride, you can climb these mountains, too. Feel free to don a super-hero cape when you climb one (or more) for the first time, . You will have deserved it. ;)

Ride length: 35.6 miles (started from Turner’s Corner, not the high school)
Overall ride average: 11.7mph (never have I been so proud of such a slow pace!)
Overall ride time: 3:03:03
Total ascent: nearly 3800 ft

Here are the mountain specs:
http://www.mountainmapper.com/NeelsGap.htm
http://www.mountainmapper.com/wolfpen-n-woody.htm

Maybe
these aren’t stellar mountains to some of you, but to me, these are wicked peaks. I’m quite happy with my accomplishment. I learned so much about myself on this ride and more about riding itself.

Furthermore,
I am encouraging uninitiated local and non-local riding friends to give an experience like this a shot, even if you don’t have a single peak nearby upon which to train, and your area is flat-as-a-board. (It’s quite likely that you deal with heavy-duty headwinds as a result. That experience is a plus for riding the mountains successfully, too!)

I say to you as I’ve said in person to my friends, you can do this! So, find your mountain and climb it, both in your mind and in real life.

Then…post like I did. I want to read about your experience, too!

  • tedmeisky

    Congrats Elizabeth! I think you hit it on the head that being patient is sometimes the hardest part. On those long, steady climbs your body gets into a rhythm and settles into the pace you set. But, keeping your head in the game is what gets you to the top. We are almost always capable of more than we think we are and it sure is fun when you prove that to yourself. Way to go.

  • plochman

    Big Sigh……. this story is dreamy, makes me want to cast off and go for an epic adventure for sure. Thanks Lou.