MG has written up the inaugural ride of Crista Borras The Devil’s Daughter 206K Permanent, undertaken by a small group of foolhardy randonneurs on a wet Sunday three weeks ago.
We were treated to a terrific route with one really, really steep climb and many scenic vistas.
The Devil’s Daughter 206K RUSA Permanent
by Mary Gersema
Oct. 20, 2008
As many of you know, ride router Crista Borras likes to put together some “epic” rides. Often these rides are titled such that the rider has a sense of the terrain that awaits him or her (although not always, see “A Big Flat Ride, ha ha!”). Rides that contain the word “mountain,” “hilly,” or “orchard” will quickly clue you in to the fact that you are going to climb your brains out. When Crista mentioned that she had cued a “lovely” new permanent called the “Devil’s Daughter,” my thoughts were that anyone who attempted this ride might want to make a reservation at the local hospital to assure adequate recovery. “I’m not doing that ride,” I told Crista.
I’m not sure how it happened, but September 28, 2008 found Ed and me in the company of Crista Borras, Chuck Wood, Maile Neel, and Paul Donaldson riding the “Devil’s Daughter.” The group was all smiles. We rolled out of the Middletown, Virginia 7-11, and I quickly dropped my cue sheet in the parking lot. After retrieving it, Ed and I caught up with the group and rode along with Maile until the raindrops started falling and Ed pulled over IMMEDIATELY to cover up the Brooks saddles. He was taking no chances today. It ended up being a good move because as we rode on the rain fell more steadily; Ed stopped to put on his new GoreTex Pac-Lite jacket. I remained jacket free, as the stoker position has the advantage of the captain’s draft (unless you are stoking with Chuck Wood, in which case you do not have such a good draft).
The rain started making me a little apprehensive. Was this going to keep up all day? Should we really do this ride? We still have time to turn back. While these thoughts shuffled around in my mind I kept my mouth shut. It surprises me how dreary weather can have such an effect on my psyche. As we rolled by the old farmhouses, I envied the families who were sleeping in, all cozy in their beds, listening to the rain patter on their roofs. On the other hand, the rain kept the roads quiet for much of the day, and that made me feel like I was one of the lucky ones to be out and about.
We came upon Wardensville, W.V., and Ed used all his power to keep from stopping for a Gatorade and coffee. We had received explicit instructions (which were repeated several times, both verbally and written) from Crista to NOT STOP there, no matter how great the temptation.
We pedaled on up the climbs offered up by Route 55 and plummeted into Moorefield, W.V., at mile 49. As we climbed higher, we escalated into the fog. On the descents we dropped out of the clouds into the mist and rain. Ed and Maile said that Route 55 was our warm-up climbing for the next segment.
Crista had also previewed the next segment for us. All I remember her saying it was HARD. Chuck also mentioned that he was really looking forward to seeing Maile climb this segment. Paul thought maybe the sun would come up to roast us just as we began to climb. All this previewing made me incredibly nervous. This seems to be my instinctive reaction to challenges… fear and nerves! I mustered up my courage and we turned our wheels toward CR12, which would take us over to Lost River State Park. The climb started nicely enough and then pitched a bit. We dropped into the granny. Good job, Ed! The road had several switchbacks, which gave excellent visuals of what was to come for us. I don’t remember ever having climbed such a steep road with so many switchbacks. Visually, it was beautiful, yet intimidating. At some points, as we stood in our granny and climbed away at 3.5 miles per hour we could feel the pedals halt on the downstroke. This was proving to be quite a workout.
Somehow we had left the first control ahead of Chuck and Crista. I told Ed that Chuck delayed on purpose so that he could pass all of us on the way up, especially Maile! Soon enough, the C&C Climbing Factory made their way by and ahead of us. They were loving this climb, I could tell. The steeper the climb, the more they love it! The sky remained overcast and, as on the previous climbs, we all rolled on up into the fog.
Crista told us the view at the top of CR12, aka South Branch Mountain, was incredible. As we summited, we saw the foggy outlines of Crista, Chuck, and Maile, who were waiting for us. “See? Isn’t this a great view?” Crista said ironically. Fog was everywhere, and I guess I’ll have to wait until the next time I do this permanent in order to agree or disagree with Crista on that.
Everybody except me threw on their red GoreTex Pac Lite jackets for the descent. (I guess Paul and I had not received the memo about the team attire.) The terrain had some rather big rollers, and didn’t manifest into the bombing descent I hoped for. Oh well. Some lady drove by and told us “Great job!” A gentleman in a pickup then passed us and let us know that Maile had flatted. People are so nice here!
Ed and I pulled over to take a break and wait for Maile. I thought about going back, but since we had just come up this big grinding hill, I figured we would just wait where we were. Soon enough, Maile came along and we rode through the beginning of the changing leaves in Lost River State Park. This part of the ride was AWESOME! Although the road in this part was a bit bumpy, the foliage was beautiful and the terrain forgiving. Then the sun came out. Yes! As we emerged from the park onto Dove Hollow Road we could see the mountains all around us. Incredible! AND we were three miles from lunch at mile 77.4. YES!
I chowed down on a turkey club sandwich (yes, turkey), and then the group left Lost River, West Virginia to climb up Mill Gap. Ed remarked that whenever we stopped it seemed to get sunny, but as soon as we started moving again, the rain would start. Sure enough, it began to drizzle as we climbed up Mill Gap road. However, by Trout Run the sun was making another appearance and the day was again spectacular. While we climbed Wolf Gap, a lovely tailwind kicked up to help us along, and I reveled in the great descent on the other side to Larkin’s store in Edinburg, Virginia, mile 103.7.
Everybody was feeling buoyant at this point. The temperature was in the 60’s, the sun was out, and all the mountains were behind us. We took off into the sun for the last 25 miles. We rode down Back Road and then over to the Great Fleche Highway of Route 11. As we pedaled toward Strasburg, Ed and I noticed the beginnings of a rainbow. As we continued riding the rainbow grew and grew, until its arc extended all around us — magical.
Then we began to notice that behind the rainbow was a blackening sky. What? This is not so magical. Well, maybe it is just rain moving away from us. Ha ha!!! As we approached Strasburg the rain began to pelt us. AHHHH!!!! With only six miles left, Ed and I put our heads down and started cranking our way to the Middletown, 7-11 finish line. The group arrived a few minutes later. We were all wet and full of smiles. We had successfully completed the “Devil’s Daughter.” Yahoo!!! Maile kept commenting on how sated she felt. I felt sated too… and saturated. We took a few finishing photos and wandered off to begin the drive back to DC… and our j-o-b’s. Ah well. We need the week at the office to rest up and recover from and for the weekends’ epic Crista rides!