Starting in Grafton on Tuesday, I headed across to Keyser and back. The thing about WV is that it seems that every hill is at 9%. 9% is pretty steep. 9% on a switchback downhill 5 miles long does make it worth it though. Mind you, Tuesday morning was also at -6, and like many times before in WV, this means you boil going up, freeze going down, that’s just how it is. So on the way towards Cheat Mtn, right near the base of the mountain there’s a small cluster of “houses”, at these houses lives the fittest bloodhound on the continent, clearly a hunting / still-protecting dog. On this first pass I had the jump and easily got away without much of a chase. With this monster in the back of my head coming back down the mountain a few hours later, I maintained speed as I rounded the corner, only to see him already in full flight angling across his property, I kept it at 30mph until the slope inclined and was down to 20-22, I had about 200 feet on him, but unlike most that tire or get bored, this guy was fit, and he musta been hungry, ‘cause it was over a mile before he finally gave in. The spot has been marked in the race route book… He's out there right now though, planning and training for his chase, I know it.
Things warmed up the next day as I carried on from Keyser through Cumberland and over to Hancock, the Cumberland to Hancock section being the time station with the most climbing in terms of feet per mile, even more than any section in the Rockies. There’s four one-thousand foot climbs in the 37 miles, the last two at 9-10% and several miles long, having done it both directions and driving it once, it’s no slouch.
Thursday and Friday continued on from Hancock through Rouzerville, Hanover and finally to Mount Airy, only 56 miles from the finish. With just a couple tough climbs in there, the terrain settles down to consistent large “rollers”, mind you, rollers in those parts are still hills bigger than most anything one can find in Ontario.
So, now I’ve seen the first 500+ km of the course, and the final 500km, so going on the assumption that the middle 4000km aren’t all that bad...should be in good shape!