Mileage: 70 miles
Today was a long day. And a bit rough, but we all made it to Bedford,PA!
This morning, our rooster woke us up with "The Circle of Life" at 5 am. I woke up a few minutes early, but it was still a bit painful to get out of my warm sleeping bag. We try to get up early for an earlier start. I hear that on particularly hot days, we wake up even earlier.
Everyone had chores, including cleaning up the place, loading vans, filling water jugs, and helping with breakfast. We got our bikes ready, tidied up, and were ready to roll out at about 7:15.
Not 5 miles in, we had a flat in the group. This will be the theme of the day.
Day 2 of the Portland route is supposed to be one of the hardest. We had 70 miles to ride and over 5000 feet to climb. The scenery through the valleys and mountains were gorgeous. At around mile 20, we started our first big climb of the day. Getting to the top took quite a while, since we had to stop a few times. Took a selfie in the middle :)
After going up the mountain at a crawl, we finally reached the summit and was treated to this view (as well as a very rotten deer carcass). The descent was fast and fun, and the lunch stop was waiting for us at the bottom. Perfect. Except a teammate got another flat on the descent.
After our lunch break, we had another climb, though it wasn't as tough as the first one. It was just hard to get started after sitting for so long and eating a bunch of fried chicken for lunch.
This is where the day took a turn for the worse. We were directed onto gravel roads, which is NOT fun on a road bike. Some parts of the road were steep downhills, which is actually terrifying on gravel. There's no traction with our skinny 23mm tires.
The purpose of traveling miles on gravel road was to get to an abandoned tunnel. It's technically a closed trail and it sounds kind of creepy, but it's also pretty cool. The road through the tunnel was very rough and not maintained, so we could only ride at a very slow speed. It kind of took forever to get through.
The tunnels were pitch black, so we had to pair up with people who had headlights. I had a small one that lit up a small circle in front of me. It was a bit scary at first, but once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, it wasn't that bad. The tunnels were also pretty cold. Oh yea, someone also broke a spoke on the rough roads, and had to walk through one of the shorter tunnels.
Although going through the tunnels wasn't an entirely pleasant experience, it was interesting. Not sure it was worth the miles of gravel roads though. I think I would've preferred to climb another mountain. After the tunnels, we had about 18 miles to go.
We made it to the host, Bedford Presbyterian Church. I took a glorious hot shower at the middle school, and then had a delicous home cooked meal of pasta with meatballs, bread, tabouli, and salad. There was also an impressive dessert spread.
I am so grateful for the generosity I have been shown so far by our hosts! They were so kind to open their doors to us and feed us so much good food, give us hot showers, and even let us use their laundry machines.
I hope that I will be able to write more detailed posts when we finish the days ride earlier and on rest days. It's past 11 and I am so exhausted. Waking up at 5am, so I really need to sleep.