OMG-No Shepardstown w/Coxy

The Boys and I 
The Route

I've done this ride once a year for the last four years or so. This year, I was doing the ride with a smaller group and it was a little more relaxed. We started off, and at Hamburg, we all went our own pace. It was very interesting because having done the climbs out in Boulder recently, I was able to compare and contrast them with the Frederick climbs.

I do quite well on a climb like Hamburg, which is pretty steep--being 3 miles and 1168ft of elevation. The difference between this ride and the ones I'd done in Colorado was that even though there is a good amount of elevation gain, there are spots of flats or a lesser gradient where you can catch your breath. I finished the climb a little bit before Chris and Jonathan, and then we worked our way down Highland School, getting to some high speeds. My bike wasn't feeling quite right, and I realized once we got to the bottom that my tires were a little overinflated. Right before we got to Harp Hill, Jonathan had a flat that we had to change. This took a little bit longer than usual, but while we were there, I used the stop to deflate my tires a bit and get more grip on the downhills. I was the last to leave, and a lady in a minivan said to me, "You can't delay the inevitable," before I started up the next climb. 
 Going up Harp Hill, I caught up to Jonathan and Chris, who had gotten pretty far up the road already. I did the climb at a pretty good clip, using my technique of attacking at the super steep parts to keep my cadance high. We worked our way down to the first rest stop and bought some extra water.
On the way to the Gapland Climb, the scenery was nice, but we were a little exposed to the heat and sun with the 90 degree temperature.

At the top of the Gapland Climb, which is very steep at the beginning but mellows out after the initial push, there is a park that is a great rest stop with bathrooms and water. After a discussion with the group and a look at our watches, we decided that we didn't really need to go all of the way to Shepherdstown. I came up with an idea for a route that would add a climb and allow us to get the same elevation as going the extra 20 miles to Shepherdstown and back. I decided that we would take a little northern detour and then hook up with Dogstreet Rd. to then hit the Reno Climb that we would normally hit on the route from Shepherdstown.
We did the Reno Climb, which is always an interesting one because of the super sharp kicker in the beginning--after which you lose all of that elevation and have to go up again to go over the real ridge. We didn't get to enjoy the full downhill of the Reno Climb because we needed to take the left-hand turn to Foxgap Road that would lead us to an extra climb. We went back over the ridge that we just came down on Alt. 40, which was a little crowded but had a shoulder.
What is nice about the Alt. 40 climb is that it is graded for trucks and so it's a gradual ascent and you just need to keep a good rhythm to get up it. Once we got to the saddle of the climb, we went further north up the ridge on Monument Road. At the top, we waited for Jonathan, who was kinda cramping by that point.

We then did another road called Michael that I'd never done before that is a super fast downhill and has two or three tight corners. I was leading, and I had two little surprising moments. I yelled out to warning to the guys about the turns, and I believe Jonathan actually ended up having a two-wheel drift skid. We made it down the descent and then continued on Monument to the prior rest stop, where we had stashed our extra water. Jonathan had put too much mix into his drinks and wasn't at his best, but he still said he would make it through and do Coxy Brown, which he had not done in two previous attempts.
We left the rest stop and worked our way to the Mother Coxy Brown. Coxy Brown is a very interesting climb. It seems no matter how many times I've done it, I still have my "come-to-Jesus" or "am-I-going-to-get-off-this-bike-and-walk" moment on it. I have done the climb enough to know that it's gonna hurt, but I know I can do it. I realized I'd gone out a little too fast on the first part when after the flat middle part, the second seemed even harder this time despite my past experience with it. All three of us made it up the climb, and what goes up must come down. The downhill back to the cars on Gambrill/Shookstown Rd. is a blast, and you can coast all the way back to the cars.
So we ended up with 68 miles and about 300 ft. less of elevation game than if we had done the full 83 miles of the original route. In some ways, I like this route better, but I do like that bakery in Shepherdstown.


Anonymous said...

This looks like a great ride! Are the turns easy enough or would a first-time get lost (assuming normal directional skills)?

Darren said...

Use the Bikely cue should be fine, Waverly is not marked it is the road you start the ride so just remember it when you leave the school. Also print out a map, to take with you. that is how this ride came to be, I added the Alt 40 climb as we were going back.