Day 8: To Monterey, Virginia - Steel City to Cow Town 2014 - CycleBlaze

September 16, 2014

Day 8: To Monterey, Virginia

The morning was dark and gray, threatening to rain. I left the motel at 8 and had breakfast at the Sheetz convenience store. They have a good sandwich counter.

My original plan was to go on highway 28 high into the Allegheny mountains. But that route has no lodging. Instead I will take the next road to the east, US 220. Navigation will be easy today-I stay on US 220 all day.

60F and 100% humidity when I finally got on the road. Downhill through Petersburg, then mostly uphill. After a few miles the road starts following the South Fork Potomac river upstream. Today I follow the river upstream from 1600 feet elevation to 2900 feet elevation.

Not sure if the old bridge was used for a road or railroad. South Fork Potomac river.
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I saw several Church of the Brethren in West Virginia. I had never heard of that church before. Wikipedia informed me that the Brethren have "no creed but the New Testament" and are one of the 3 "peace churches" in the U.S. The church originated in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Germany and spread to the colonial U.S. in 1723.

Church of the Brethren (German Baptist Brethren). Mennonite, Quaker, and Church of the Brethren are the 3 "Peace Churches" in the U.S. They believe in pacifism as Christian doctrine, citing Biblical evidence that Jesus practiced and preached non-violence.
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I detoured 1.5 miles on the road to Smoke Hole falls to get a better view of the river. I climbed a big hill, but never saw the falls where the Potomac river makes a big drop and the wind sometimes blows the spray up like smoke.

Road to Smoke Hole falls along the South Fork Potomac river.
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Even the most remote valleys are settled with several houses per mile. Most houses appeared to be at least 100 years old. Abandoned houses were rare.

Nice old house.
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Not so nice old house.
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Today I'm on a US highway, but traffic is very low because it's a road to nowhere in between mountain ridges. Outstanding scenery, good pavement, low traffic. My favorite kind of route.

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Today I had the usual rolling hills but with a pronounced uphill trend following the South Fork Potomac river upstream.

Usually there's a farm between me and the river. The best river views are obtained from a bridge. It's a rare treat when the road is alongside the river.

South Fork Potomac river.
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US 220 and South Fork Potomac river.
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I had lunch at the Fireside Cafe in Franklin, the only town between Petersburg and Monterey. It's a county seat, with a traffic light. Many historic buildings. This region was settled in 1800-1820.

One of the first Victorian homes I saw. Most historic houses had been Colonial.
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County courthouse in Franklin, WV.
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Sometimes the road goes for a few miles along a nearly flat valley. But inevitably it must climb 100-200 feet over an ancient landslide to get to the next valley upstream. The topography is similar to the Coast Range in Oregon, except here the trees are all deciduous.

The valleys are seldom flat. The sky is nearly always cloudy.
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Today's scenery was quintessential Allegheny mountain valleys. The Allegheny mountains consist of multiple ridges that go northeast-southwest. The valleys between the ridges are isolated, with mountain views all around. I'm on the eastern edge of the Allegheny mountains. Most of the Allegheny mountains are to my west, but the Appalachian mountains are to my east.

Typical Allegheny mountain valley view.
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South Fork Potomac river near its headwaters.
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The final 7 miles of today's ride are in the state of Virginia. The tour's 4th state. Virginia is the only U.S. state to split in two, when West Virginia was created in 1863. The peculiar boundary occurred because each county was free to decide which state to be in.

I only spent 2 days and 1 night in West Virginia. My original plan was to spend about 5 days in West Virginia, but that route didn't have enough lodging.

Crossing from West Virginia into Virginia. State #4 on this tour.
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Today's destination is the little village of Monterey, Virginia. Population 200. I got a $79 room at the Montvallee motel. Maybe I should have paid a few dollars more to stay in the historic hotel.

Monterey, Virginia. I registered here but stayed in an ordinary looking motel.
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Monterey is at 2900 feet elevation on a saddle between the Potomac river watershed and the James river watershed. Most of Virginia is in the James river watershed.

Today was a great day in terms of scenery. But the terrain was challenging. Mostly uphill with occasional short 8-10% grades. The weather was cool and cloudy, high in the upper 60's.

Distance: 57.4 mi. (92 km)
Climbing: 3630 ft. (1100 m)
Average Speed: 8.8 mph (14 km/h)

Today's ride: 57 miles (92 km)
Total: 365 miles (587 km)

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