Diabolical Double

Words: | Photography: Daniel Wakefield Pasley | Date:

In the Appalachian Mountains along the Upper Potomac, the roads boil and roll like a winter storm on the high seas. The surfaces of Garrett County in Western Maryland rise in peaks and crests. These pavement waves are several hundred feet high and covered in trees, making up a vast network of rural roads.

And so here we are for 128 miles in the midst of a uniquely turbulent landscape to be led by a man compelled to deliver pain — possibly at all costs.

In addition to lengthy and often challenging gravel roads, this past summer has consistently thrown elevation and climbing at our cleated feet. Word on the street is that the route to epic is found down the path called pain. And as far as we can tell the best way to take this route is uphill.

Climbing comes in myriad forms but there are two major categories— sustained and cumulative. In the West and where the mountains are serious, it’s typically a sustained tempo climb. Whereas the profiles on the East Coast look more like an EKG line and the pain comes from this constant battle with up and down.

Deep in the Allegheny Mountain Range with Pennsylvania directly to the north, and West Virginia to the South and West, this area of Maryland is nothing short of gorgeous.

We ride past farms and through deep-green fields on narrow two-lane bands of black. We plummet into historic villages and old mining towns. We roll through forests on worn dirt-connector roads. We cross stone and metal bridges. And all along the way we climb and climb and climb and climb. To the top of one ridge then down to the valley below, then, hit the bottom and start your ride back to the top.

With so much scenery and so many incredible roads and climbs to choose from, the average cyclist might find it difficult to design a perfect and exemplary route. The apparent and, at times, questionable solution then is to try and do them all. All 16,000 feet of them. That’s when epic attacks, when too much of a good thing may simply become too much.

When the vista is eschewed for a contorted visage of pain you know that you are on the right path. And this Continental Ride, the Diabolical Double, could very nearly be one of the most demanding and stunning rides of the summer.

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