Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Iron Forge | Virginia Endurance Series and RIMBA Local Destination Ride

Two 19th Century Blast Furnaces, Two Mythic Backcountry Rides, Two Historic Counties, One Epic Day: Sunday, October 19th, 2014.

Stage One | 9AM | Roaring Run Furnace.
Start Location:
Distance: 12 miles

Stage Two | 1:30PM | Longdale Furnace
Start Location:
Distance: 16 miles
Roaring Run Furnace
Longdale Furnace
Stage One: Roaring Run Furnace.
Location: Roaring Run Furnace Recreation area parking lot. Note that parking is limited. Overflow along the roadside. Take 615 off 220 (Eagle Rock) for 6 miles, then right on 621. Go 1 mile to sign and recreation area on left.
Ride Starts: 9AM.
Distance: 12 miles.
Description: The ride leaves the rec area parking lot for a 1 mile prologue that takes us to the Roaring Run blast furnace that produced pig iron in the 1800’s, some of which was used for Civil War munitions. It stands like a stone pyramid, and it gorged itself on trees, stripping the area barren in those days. Thank goodness for Mother Nature’s superior healing abilities. Then, the singletrack winds its way to then namesake Roaring Run Falls, gorgeous and most impressive following a stout rain. A quick return past the parking area leads us to the Iron Ore Trail, a solid 3 mile ore grade climb up the flank of Rich Patch mountain. Once up, we take the lower Hoop Hole Trail for an astonishing and beautiful decent, with wild rarely used Allegheny trail lined with rhododendron and and laurel, with several creek crossings. After the eventful decent, we emerge at the Hoop Hole trailhead before descending by road on 615 to 621 and a return to the start.
Transfer: 30 Minute Drive
It’s 24 miles between stages. Lunch and supplies can be found at Kelley’s Market on 220.

Take a right out of Roaring Run Recreation area onto 621. Go one mile, then left on 615 back to US 220. take a left (north) on 220. Go just over 10 miles, then right just prior to the bridge leading before the town of Iron Gate, on McKinney Hollow Rd. Follow McKinney Hollow (it has some twists and turns, just stay on McKinney Hollow and you’re good) winding your way to Longdale Furnace road. Take a right (east) going almost 4 miles to Longdale Furnace Recreation Area on right. The dirt road has a right fork a short ways in, take the right. If the gate is open, parking is ahead through gate. If not, pick any spot you like.

The way through Pete's Cave

Stage Two: Longdale Furnace.
Location: Longdale Furnace Recreation area parking lot. Note that parking is limited. Overflow along the roadside.
Ride Starts: 1:30PM.
Distance: 16 miles (more available). Ride varies slightly from this outline.
Downloadable, high quality map of the loop. Ideally, 11X17 printed: Longdale 16 Loop Map
Description: The Longdale/North Mountain loop packs tremendous variety and excellence in a compact package. From the site of an 1800’s blast furnace named Lucy Selina, you’ll encounter: forest road, long dirt climb, sweet Allegheny ridgetrail, amazing views, unusual rock formations, challenging sidehill descent, and a long closed National Forest swimming lake. The ride rises through the rec area to a rolling 3 mile forest road climb. At a junction of the North Mountain trail, bear left across creek continuing on the forest road, arriving at a National Forest parking area with kiosk. Out of the parking lot, take a right up Collierstown Road for a dirt climb of 3 miles, rising over 1000,’ to the North Mountain ridge. At the intersection near a radio tower, take a right dropping down road slightly to reveal a trail, up sharply on the right. The next half mile of the North Mountain trail reveals stunning views across Rockbridge County to the east, and beyond. Stop and enjoy several viewpoints before the trail hits the hardwoods. In just over 3 miles of generally climbing singletrack, a steep hike and narrow crevasse called Pete’s Cave provides a one-of-a-kind experience. Once through, right at the top, walk right onto the boulder overlook. To the northwest is a canvas of massive views of I-64 and the Alleghenies off in the far distance towards West Virginia. Continue on trail until we drop off the ridge at a trail sign (right). The drop is classic, through a deep V hollow with several swaps from side-to-side. The trail ends at the forest road junction passed earlier, exiting the way we approached.

There are options here to extend the adventure, or, duck downhill on the dirt road to a cold refreshment waiting.

Driving Directions: Roaring Run Furnace, Kelley's Market, Longdale Furnace

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

*NEW* VES Event "Everesting" of Mill Mountain

VES Mill Mountain Everesting Attempt

What is Everesting?

The elevation of Mt. Everest is 29,029 ft. Each lap up Mill Mountain's Old Road is 807 ft. Do this 36 times and you've just rode up Mt. Everest!

This Strava Segment shows the route we plan to take.

Each lap is 3.88 miles round trip so 36 laps will come to about 140 miles…but hey half of that you'll be coasting!

Attempt Date: Saturday September 27th 12:01am. Start time can vary for whatever makes the most sense for you and your goals for the day. Anticipate each lap will take 25-35 minutes plus breaks.

No one from Virginia has ever Everested a climb. Only 5 riders in the entire US have Everested. 149 worldwide. If you feel you can pull off 36 laps and want to be included in the Hall of Fame, be sure to read their rules.

36 laps is crazy you say?! Don't despair only a select few elite athletes will be able to accomplish this amazing feat. But how many can you do? Just as mountaineers test their abilities and find the highest mountain to match their skills, you can do the same. That's why we are also setting several attainable mountains you can set your sights on.

The Frump Frump - 1 Lap
The Alpe d'Huez (climb equivalent)- 5 Laps
Mt. Rogers - 8 Laps
Machu Picchu - 10 Laps
The Alto de Letras (climb equivalent) - 13 Laps
Half Everesting - 18 Laps
Mont Blonc - 20 Laps
Denali - 26 Laps
Death Zone - 33 Laps
Everesting - 36 Laps

Set your goals and then exceed them!

This event is FREE! However, RSVP if possible so we can plan accordingly. Each rider will have their own paper pull tabs at the summit with information about each lap and to help celebrate each amazing accomplishment attained.

If you plan on Everesting you must use a barometric GPS to track your ride and it must be uploaded to Strava. You must also come down the same route you are going up and no changing the route as soon as you begin. I cannot stress the importance of reading the rules set by the Hells 500 group.  If you do not plan on Everesting, then you may descend the New Road if you like because we honestly don't care.

As you enter your 12th lap there will be a mountaineering role play which will help you feel as if you too are climbing Everest. Each lap you will learn about the struggles and milestones of a real climber hiking towards base camp, camps I through IV and entering the Death Zone. By the end of the day you will have a greater sense of how big this mountain, and other mountains, really are because you will have rode them all!

Food and drinks may be stored at Underdog Bike (aka Base Camp) during their operating hours. Hopefully we can keep a cooler for food and drinks at the summit as well if someone is willing to watch over it. You are responsible for bringing your own food. If you bring extra food and decide to share it, we will have a table for 'pot luck' food.

There will be a group photo at the Star at 9 am. Anyone taking pictures with Instagram is encouraged to use the hashtag #Everesting to help the Hells 500 organizers follow our progress.

The picture below provides proof directly from the City Engineering Department that the elevation at Underdog is 930 ft. and the elevation at the Star viewing platform is 1737 ft.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Star City Vicious Randonnee is 100% definitely happening!!!

For anyone unfamiliar with the Virginia Endurance Series - yes, we are 100% definitely riding tomorrow 8/10 9am.

Some will ride the complete Suiride route (all 115+ miles and 15,000+ feet of climbing), yes regardless of the weather conditions ... and yes it will absolutely be a good time.

Of all the hundreds or thousands of rides you've done in your life, if you participate in the Star City Vicious Randonnee you will very distinctly remember it. Guaranteed.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

8.10.14 Star City Vicious Randonnee "Any road cycling." 6 mettle testing routes from 12 up to 115 miles!

8.10.2014 - Any road cycling.

Once a year cyclists have a chance to get their name added to the short list riders who've completed "The toughest group road ride in the history of Virginia" ... the Suiride route of the Star City Vicious Randonnée.

Climbing, adventure, dirt road climbing, astonishingly beautiful terrain ... and it's FREE!

There are 6 route options, and whether you're making history by attempting the Suiride, or enjoying the Vicious, Gran, Medio, Challenge or Prologue routes ... you are in for an incredibly beautiful and physically challenging experience. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILED ROUTE INFORMATION

Arrive at 8:30am, all rides start promptly 9am from the East Coasters Bike Shop, 3224 Brambleton Ave, Roanoke, VA 24018. 540.774.7933


Cue sheets will be provided.

*FREE* To enter simply "Join" the facebook event:

Ride at your own risk.

Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. A randonnée is an organized group ride, with some emphasis on speed, but it is not a race, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie is the hallmark of randonneuring.


The 15 rated climbs of the Suiride route:

SUIRIDE Route - 115.0 miles / 15233 feet - CLICK HERE FOR CUE SHEET

Refuel Points at miles 28.8, 44.8, 65.1, 84.5, 90.7, 99.9.

VICIOUS Route - 95.9miles / 12389 feet - CLICK HERE FOR CUE SHEET

Refuel Points at miles 28.8, 44.8, 65.1, 84.5.

GRAN Route - 68.9 miles / 8858 feet - CLICK HERE FOR CUE SHEET

Refuel Points at miles 28.8, 44.8, 65.1.

MEDIO Route - 38.0 miles / 5292 feet - CLICK HERE FOR CUE SHEET

Refuel Point at mile 29.1.

CHALLENGE Route - 24.8 miles / 3251 feet - CLICK HERE FOR CUE SHEET


PROLOGUE Route - 12.4 miles / 1372 feet - CLICK HERE FOR CUE SHEET

Monday, July 28, 2014

From a brutal slugfest a new elite cyclist emerges ...

Luckily, I was right place at the right time to witness an incredible athletic performance yesterday.

He didn't realize he was in over his head, much less how far in over his head he was ... but that didn't matter. In his mind he had distilled this situation down to a simple conviction "no matter what lie ahead, he would not deviate from the course and he would not give up". Period.

Viscerally, this was more like a 15 round boxing match than an epic mountain bike challenge ride. By round 7 Ricci had already been hurtled to the ground by the Gamut a couple of times, though there wasn't even a hint of submission. Time and again Ricci picked himself and his bike up and the battle would wage on.

Back pain and enormous fatigue were factors for Ricci by round 11 when the Gamut relentlessly pounded Ricci with the Kerncliff climb. Still, I was not surprised when Ricci, steadily walking beside his Rumblefish, crested the summit. Round 11 - Ricci.

Round 14 was Hemlock Tunnel end to end. I didn't realize it but rocks hidden beneath leaves had thrown Ricci to the unforgiving trail. I waited and waited for him at the bottom of the descent. I called out to him, but no response. Then, just as I was about to head back up, the distant sound of tire disturbing rocks could be heard. Moments later Ricci rolled up to my rear wheel with a few new scrapes. Clearly battered, Ricci somehow made it to the end of Hemlock Tunnel, but he had nothing left. His bike fell to the ground, Ricci dropped to his knees and elbows, he was now out of water too ... and the bell sounded. Round 14 - the Gamut.

Anyone watching this would have bet against Ricci even emerging from his corner to contest the final round, but rise he did.

Ricci, for the first times, spoke aloud about not being able to continue, but uttering those words seemed to free him of them. As Ricci battled along 4 Gorges it was now the Gamut who was beginning to submit to the impossible resolve of Ricci.

With a final acceleration, Ricci ascended the rocky entrance to the Bennett Springs Parking area. There were no reporters, no fans, not even a visible finish line, though the challenge and challenger both knew what had just gone down.

Everyone that showed up to this year's annual challenge of "The Gamut" (riding every trail at Carvins Cove in a single day) likely loaded their cars in the rain to drive to the start. 23 began their Gamut attempt at the designated 9am start time and a number of others started later. Of these very hearty souls, only 6 would complete the entire Gamut route 43.1 miles, 7,231 feet of climbing.
  • Jeff Cheng
  • Sean Mallahan
  • Ryan Fedak
  • Matt Childers
  • Shawn Ricci
  • Rob Issem
Personally, it took me 7 attempts before I completed my first full VES route in November of 2013. There are shorter options for every VES event, but the full (longest) route is intended to be challenging even for Virginia's top endurance athletes.

Welcome to the endurance cycling elite Shawn Ricci.
... and the winner is ...
Studies have conclusively determined that excruciating leg cramp pain
always subsides after a picture has been taken and posted to Facebook.

Friday, July 25, 2014

7.27.14 "The Gamut" (Ride Every Trail at Carvins Cove) | FREE Event #8 in Virginia's MTB Endurance Series

When: 9am Sunday July 27th
Where: Carvins Cove - Bennet Springs Parking Area

PDF Map & Route Guide 
v2013 GPX FILE
v2014 Additions GPX FILE
How to Navigate with GPX Files
What is the Virginia Endurance Series? LINK

Roanoke is the "2013 Best Trail Town" for one reason ... the singletrack at Carvin's Cove.

Download & Print: PDF Map & Route Guide (11"x17" recommended)

With the sweet trail offerings continuing to expand, riding "The Gamut" at Carvins Cove (every trail in the extensive singletrack system in a single day) has become quite a challenge: 43+ miles with LOTS of climbing.

The absolutely incredible trails, and the corresponding high most mountain bikers experience while riding them, keeps the accomplishment of riding "The Gamut" seemingly within reach (though very few have people have actually done it).

The Gamut consists of 2 stages (see above map). Both stages start and end at the Bennett Springs parking area, which is perfect for refueling and restocking mid-point in the Gamut attempt. Both stages contain numerous bail out options too.

On Sunday July 27th we will meet at the Bennett Springs Parking Area for the 9am start of VES #8 an attempt at riding "The Gamut".

Gamut v2014 adds the BRG Gauntlet Jump Line, Lakeside Trail, lower Hemlock Tunnel and the section of Kerncliff between Comet and Jacob's Drop. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Endurance Gear Review: Trek Remedy 9 29er - Fun and safety maximized.

I'm regularly asked why I've chosen the Trek Remedy 9 29 for VES events and as my daily whip and the simple answer is that it's a mountain biking fun maximizer. Pinkbike concurs:

"I was a pretty big fan of Trek's aluminum Remedy 29er when I reviewed it back in September of last year, with the bike surprising me with just how capable it is. Such was the chrome machine's adeptness that I didn't hesitate to put in 70km death marches with 9,000ft of climbing on a Saturday before heading to Whistler on Sunday. Sure, it wasn't the best at either task, and it isn't intended to be, but I can honestly say that it might have been the most fun for both jobs. You can't say that about many bikes, can you?"

The other very important aspect for me is that I do *not* like crashes & injuries. I'm closing in on 45, so I
don't recover from injuries as quickly as I used to, but I still enjoy riding technical backcountry gnar. The more slack angles of the Remedy (67.5° head angle) combined with it's 140mm of dialed-in travel result in a bike that helps keeps me out of trouble ... and the Remedy often saves me when I inadvertently ride myself into a situation beyond my skill set.

While the Remedy 29 is not a climbing KOM killer it is a very capable and comfortable ascender. Leave the rear suspension in Trail mode and climbing traction and stability are incredible. You'll find yourself riding technical trail climbs that you've never cleaned before and you can comfortably climb and climb and climb ... staying on your bike more, pushing your bike less.

A truly unexpected and fantastic surprise for me was how well the Remedy 29 rides tight switchbacks - especially uphill. The bike turns back on itself with stability and control like no 29er I've ridden. 

The only subtle handling mod I made to my 21" Remedy 9 29 was swapping out the stock 750mm handlebar for a Spank Spike EVO 777 and in my opinion the slightly wider bar nicely compliments the Remedy's layout and handling. I opted for a white and black 777 but Spank makes a chrome and black version that would be a crazy perfect match for the bike's oem aesthetics (if you're into that).

Tire clearance is absolutely outstanding on the Remedy 29. When Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.35s are mounted
to American Classic Wide Lightning rims (look for a full review of these wheels in the coming weeks) the casing width measures a massive 2.407 inches and the Remedy 29 easily accommodates these large aggressive tires with gobs of room to spare!

Since Trek's Remedy 29 introduction earlier this year, the rave reviews and its popularity speak volumes for the bike, but I highly recommend taking one for a test ride at your local dealer or during a Trek Factory Demo Day near you. 

Bottom Line: The Trek Remedy 29 enables people to ride longer with more comfort and ride technical terrain with more confidence and safety ... which conflates into very high levels of mountain biking fun!

For 2015 Trek is adding lighter carbon framed models to the Remedy 29 lineup. Click here for a preview from Pinkbike.