This was my first trip to check out the Tour, but there were many familiar faces from SDS and other trips to Harrisonburg. I missed out on the Hoo Ha earlier this year, so I wasnt familiar with the riding on Massenutten's western slope. Much work has been done creating a base by moving large rocks as well as laying rock to form large berms. I checked it all out during a practice lap. Climbing was out of the saddle on the single speed 90% of the time until you reached the ridge where I got to spin along the access road for a few before dipping back into the woods and riding along the rocky ridge for 5 minutes or so. Then you drop into the sweetest descent I have ridden on the east coast. It starts off with tight berms that you can really jam into, which then leads into really fast, buff single track, which twists through trees and over rollers and compressions for around 10 minutes; with the occasional rocky compression to keep you on your toes; before you dump out on an old double track and then a gravel straight away which leads you back to the start. Somewhere along the way, I lost my multi tool, which got me to thinking about the next stage: 50 some odd miles along the SMT.
I chose to bury the saddle in preparation for the downhill. This would give a disadvantage during some of the easier climbing, but I figured I would make it up on the descent. I got off to a good start, and reeled in a rider early on, but as the climb got steeper, I heard a "ping" come from my rear wheel and then "rub, rub, rub." I was being reeled in as well and I checked my rear wheel and found a spoke had broken, making my wheel out of true and rub the stay. Aggravating. I decided to push on. I came to a tough section of the climb riddled with rocks and roots where it was tempting to get off and run, but there was a cheering section there so I kept it together a rode on through. I stepped off on each of the uphill berms to conserve a bit of energy and arm strength. I reeled in another rider here. Rain began to fall and my grips were getting wet and slippery so during one of my dismounts, i reached down and got a handful of dirt and sand to rub in to give me some grip once again. I flowed the rocky ridge pretty well, dabbing once at one of the tight notches toward the end of the technical stuff, then it was on. The lower seat allowed me to really move around on the bike and let it move freely and independently below. About halfway through this section, I passed two riders who looked to be fixing a flat. I was in the groove and kept it moving pumping and wheelieing through the compressions. Another cheering section was at the gravel road, just before the final run out of the woods so I got my sprint on to the finish. At the bottom I was chatting with some guys who asked if I had seen someone stopped. Come to find out, a rider had crashed somewhere along the descent, breaking both bones in his arm and removing all of the skin below his nose and mouth. Word is you could see the muscles moving as he tried to talk. How'd I do? Who cares. It was another funday of riding down in the 'Burg.
Dinner and bevs were on Carp' at the Little Grill Collective, a cool little hippie joint, with cute hippie chicks, where everyone fellowshipped and the jerseys were handed out for the leaders. Carp' also announced that there would be a 1 minute bonus for best haircut so everyone headed over to Carps house for the insuing haircut party. Ill let the pictures do the talking... (photos coming soon...)
I decided it best to pack it in, as the next day would be around 6 hours on the bike, and I had some stuff to do for work, not to mention I would be riding without a tool. If you get a chance, check it out next year. For the price, it definbately is cheeper than living. My best to Rueben on a speedy recovery.