Thursday, October 16, 2014


Every year, for the past 18 years, the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) has been putting on their fall festival at the Stokesville Campground just outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The festival has something for everyone including group rides for all skill levels including kids and families, a dance party, trail work, pit bike dual slalom, and a slide show. This year, a few volunteers got together to put on a grass roots style Enduro on Sunday with two shuttles to the top of Reddish Knob, which stands just shy of 4400', second highest in the George Washington National Forest only to Elliot's Knob, with the day's total elevation loss estimated at 5400' in 20ish miles, transfers not included.

Two vehicles bursting at the seems with bikes and bodies departed the campground on the foggy morning and wound their way up into the clouds. Usually one can look off either side of the saddle into Virginia or West Virginia but on this ride there was only grey. At the summit the vehicles unloaded and I dropped into the steep stone stairs to get ahead of the riders and capture some of the action on the trail.

Seen here, Chris Scott hemorrhaging Stan's juice, high on Timber Ridge, from what would later be revealed as catastrophic tire failure. He would not complete Stage 1.

Timber Ridge tunneling. 

In the clouds and on the coals, local ripper, Sam Skidmore makes short work of Wolf Ridge.

"Get high, be high, stay high," describes the line of choice in the steeps on Wolf Ridge.

Despite soggy conditions, a couple of guys made the trip down from Redding, Pa to play in the rain.

State- of- the- art timing consisted of a series of stop watches and notebooks; a system that has been perfected over the past 19 years of Six-Pack downhills, a local friday night race series in the valley.

Chase Lyne had a good day with a crushing time on Narrowback. Here he prepares to get balled up in the carnage on Timber.

Chris Scott up on Narrowback.

Transfer stage troubles. 

Drew DeVier- Scott carving turns on Narrowback.

The festival draws riders of all sizes.

Saturday's joy ride was a great way to make new friends and bond with old ones.

Kurt is notorious for getting loose on the little bikes on Saturday night.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tour de Burg

Pardon the fact the this years Tour photos are heavy on roadie content. Friday was the only day I designated as a day behind the camera. A day spent with torso hanging out the window, or perched precariously atop coolers and plastic bins full of refreshments in the back of a pick up truck carrening down dirt roads in pursuit of the action, occasionally cooling a GC member off via water balloons. The carnage was plentiful as I witnessed more than a couple single day participants licking their wounds from the Sally Hiner gravel. The rest of the story will surface in texture and form; something the old timers refer to as "print."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Week in the Hills

Its dusk as we roll into town looking to whet our whistles and get some dinner. Of the three businesses we find, only one is open at 7pm on this particular Sunday in February. The door creaks open and I step through the threshold into a large, smoke filled room with a long bar on my right, a few arcade games on the left, a pool table in the back corner and a cigarette machine on the back wall by the head. I take a seat near the center of the bar and am joined a short time later by my two traveling companions. A dumpy woman of about 30 with curly blonde hair makes her way down the bar to take our order. From her gruff manner and appearance, I conclude that, she, as well as the other 15 or so patrons in the bar, probably have lived a less than charmed life. We order three Moosehead drafts which are served in clear plastic cups, and begin perusing the menu of fried food. A fellow sitting two stools to my left lets out a deep, gurgling grunt .At first I suspect it is exaggerated, but then I get a good look at the fellow and think again. This monster of a man has a face the size of a cinder block, and sports a long ragged beard that is tucked inside a hard plastic neck brace. Despite the rest of his appearance, his hair is surprisingly well kept.

We order food and the bartender shouts down the bar at a flat topped woman who is throwing back a few to fire up the fryer. As Kurt gets some change for the coin-op pool table, I notice the “banned for life” list over the cash register which fills one sheet of notebook paper and the better part of a second. A dirty bird sitting at the bar shouts at me in a think drawl, “Dude! What’s with the hair?” I pay her no mind. We make our way over to the pool table and play a game before being approached by a fellow of 50 or so with brown, chipped teeth named Timmy. He welcomes us and then makes some cracks about our pool playing and tells us to keep practicing. The three of us being fairly mild mannered let it slide and carry on. A few minutes pass, and Timmy is back, chatting us up and making homosexual remarks about the massive man with the neck brace whose handle is Sasquatch. Timmy continues on in a sketchy manner and I go buy a round of shots for the lot of us letting the locals know we come in peace. Sasquatch turns slowly, his upper body completely rigid and summons me over to the bar. He lets out a grunt of gratitude and is foaming at the mouth. I can see the better part of his shot has been distributed between his shirt and the brown tile floor around his stool.

I return to the pool table where the beau of the flat topped fry cook has joined the gathering. He is already hoarse from drunken loud speak, has a mangled claw for a right hand and sports a fedora. His name is Scotty and is quite personable. At this point, I am still unable to tell if Timmy wants to fight or friend us. He tells us of the 2 rules of the bar: “No drugs and no fighting, unless its one of us doing the fighting.” I grow more and more uneasy as the trash talk and homosexual references thicken, and I begin to understand how that list of banned patrons grew to the size it is. I believe he genuinely likes us, but I also think he would love to mix it up with us; especially since he has made several references to the .45 on his ankle. I also suspect he might be interested in pushing our stools in if you dig what I’m shoveling. We decide its best to get up the trail a bit a make camp. Half the bar wants to pose with us for a group photo as they try and convince us to stay. I hear the monotone voice of the flat topped woman break through the white noise of bar chatter and sports on the TV. “We love the trail people,” she says, and the movie Misery comes to mind. Timmy tells us to camp by the cemetery down the trail a bit. We disregard and hike down a steep embankment to the river, as I am having visions of an angry mob driving down the trail in a lifted ‘80s chevy pick-up truck, old glory flying high on a pole in the bed as they hunt for those bike riding faggots with torch and rifle in hand. We knew from the very first night that we were in for an adventure.

Light rain peppered our tents during the night and I awaken to the sun rising over the far side of the river, slightly soggy and cold footed. We pack up and make our way up a steep muddy slope and head out on the trail as the sun burns off the morning fog, putting in a few miles before stopping at a little store for coffee and food stuffs for the day. Things warm up nicely as morning turns to aft and we find ourselves plodding along the soft kitty litter like surface in short sleeves as we make our way up toward the Laurel Highlands. Deeper and deeper into the rust belt we climb. Coal country, with acid mine run-off like micturation, perhaps the result of a hydration program largely composed of coffee and tallboys. Paul shows me a photo he took of me and I have become what city folk fear of coming across in the mountains: wild eyed, shaggy haired and covered in a few days filth. A madman of the hills. Towns come and go, some friendly others pretty much run us off saying there is nothing they can for us there. We just move along and put a comfortable buffer between our camp and the town. The distant grumble of freight trains, the rivers flow, the sound of electric sharks nipping at our heels; its good to be sleeping under the stars once again. I peer out of the odd portal of a cocoon made of down, nylon and a space blanket to catch a glimpse of a passing freight train across the river on the CSX mainline. Thoughts curl and swirl, into the night, the Knurled fingers of branches above reach inward from a rough perimeter for distant stars. Messages sent to the outside world requesting pizzas and beer go largely unanswered. Daylight comes and more travels, the days bleeding from one to the next. There is no distinction anymore, just events that happen, sights seen. Things come grinding to a halt several times and we just kick up our feet in the middle of the trail and hang out as a brief moment of mania takes over. We eat homemade bread from a dog shit bag, nibble on a frosty one and feel safe here. Paul climbs a tressel, Kurt learns to juggle, I meander down to the river’s edge. Bands of rock fold and form jagged mouths of stone in the hillsides. Several days of beautiful weather finally give way to the cold, greyness that is February and we just munch down the miles. Not a whole lot to stop and see now, other than the falls and a couple of dams. Back into the suburbs. Civilization, where our trail greetings are met with looks of shock or just ignored as they are plugged in and logged on as they pass. Perhaps its just me but civilization feels a bit less civil than do the hills. Time to start planning the next journey deep into the back country.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On the Prowel

This weekend was a series of solo misions around the valley and the hills around it that make it a valley. Some of the images contained here are from other places and times but were either forgotten and burried in the bowels of my hard drive and sights I saw brought them back to mind and inspired a journey to find them.