LEWISBURG (WVDN) – WHOOSH! What was that blur that just passed me? The bicycle has what looks like solid wheels and the rider is laid over the handlebars like a rocket rider.
That rider is Kathy Shelton.
Shelton works at The Greenbrier in the Main Dining Room, but after work she just loves to get an adrenaline and endorphin rush riding her two wheeled rocket.
Shelton started as a runner. She loved the workout, and even trained and participated in two marathons before she discovered cycling.
In 2008 there were “spinning classes” at the local YMCA, where you ride stationary bikes that have drag and gears and you ride as a group, pretending to climb mountains and other landscapes .
Members of the local bike club taught the class and encouraged her to buy herself a geared racing bike so she could join them on treks along Greenbrier County trails and roads.
Shelton got a road bike and came to love it. Then she bought a mountain bike to ride the gravel covered trails. Today she has her favorites and there actually is a diverse selection of experiences for a rider in the Greenbrier Valley area.
Favorites for Shelton are “up Anthony and out Rt.92, up Raiders Valley Rd from Rt.60 to Williamsburg, up to Peach Orchard from Anthony to the Fire Tower and the climb from Blue Bend up to the summit on Rocky Run.”
She loves the physical workout of the climbing portions of these roads and trails.
Shelton says, “the Best non-vehicular route (no car traffic) is up Kates Mountain from Caldwell and over to The Greenbrier property.”
She says the flat course on the Greenbrier River Trail is more suited for a speed ride.
The average speed of her workouts and competitions is about 18.1 mph. However, if the course she is riding is long and straight and there is “plenty of visibility of possible hazards” she has reached 50 mph.
Peach Orchard is another route with limited vehicular traffic. Uphill for a mile to a fork, then choices of continuing the trek including one which leads to a fire tower which is her favorite.
These are often fire access roads, but also are roads that receive some amount of maintenance.
Safety is a consideration.
“I wear a helmet,” says Shelton. She has seen bear and deer but usually off the side, and if a squirrel is actually in the road, “some people will try to avoid, and crash as a result, I always just keep going because those squirrels can turn on a dime and will always avoid a collision,” she says.
On the paved roads she uses an on-board computer and rear facing detector which tells her if a vehicle is coming up from behind, or more than one vehicle is behind her. This is her rear view.
“The computer will beep and also will predict sharp turns ahead,” she says.
There are competitions even for a solitary rider like Shelton. STRAVA segments are on record worldwide and is a mobile app to connect runners and cyclists. She can research the reported time of a particular ride and time herself to see if she can better that.
“I have achieved Queen of the Mountain on several segments,” she says
There is a King/Queen of the Mountain record and the KOM/QOM or CR (course record) on STRAVA gives a Crown symbol to the athlete holding the record on the overall leaderboard online.
“Some segments I am doing in Greenbrier Valley area had a record set over 10 years ago by another woman, so I am challenged to pass her time,” she explains.
There are also Century Rides, 100-mile competitions, that she has done.
Walker Mountain Century is one, “my favorite is Mount Mitchell Century. First part is 80 miles from Spartanburg, S.C., to Marion, then 20 miles up to the top of Mt. Mitchell.”
She says the climb part does slow the average speed of the competitors, so it does not look as impressive on the final record, but the speeds of that first 80 miles are really quite something.
If you are out walking the Greenbrier River Trail in the future, you can expect some cyclists to pass during your foot hike.
Please be alert and if you have a companion dog on leash, just pull them tight to the side of the trail so the cyclists can pass safely.
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