Lindsey and I headed out a few Sundays ago to complete the newly popular Rough Roubaix course, put on by Shenandoah Mountain Touring. The actual race had been completed mid-April. Lindsey set out on the 96 mile course that day; I was unable to participate because I was out of town. So when Lindsey sent me a text the next week asking if I wanted to do the 114mile course, I agreed immediately.
The ride is full of the BEST gravel (and dirt, as we would soon find) roads. Time flew while we sped through the tree-canopied roads, taking the climbs as they came, and smashing the down hills. I’ve never ridden in West Virginia before that day. There’s a reason John Denver calls it “home”. After crossing over the state line, the change is immediately noticed. You’re actually in the mountains here; a nice change from being in a valley with mountains always on the horizon. With spring green mountains reaching high towards the cobalt blue sky, a river raging from the recent storms, and all breeds of birds sweeping through the air, we couldn’t help but smile for the entirety of the next 20-something miles to our next mountain climb.
Rough Run Rd. Oh what a road it is. I’ve never been on any other road like it. It begins with smooth dirt and trees so packed around and above you it feels like an enchanted forest. Absolutely beautiful. As we passed through each little creek crossing, the road became more technical; more rocky; steeper climbs and switchbacks. We climbed 2000ft in the span of 10 miles. It was SO sweet! And we were doing this on road bikes no less.
Reaching the spring for the North fork of the Shenandoah River (I think that’s what it feeds into) meant we were almost to the intersection for us to head back to Hopkins Gap Rd. It was here we misunderstood the direction of the Rough Roubaix Course. Instead of heading down Little Dry River, we continued up Long Run Rd, on our road bikes. It was messed up! But I wouldn’t trade that mistake for the world. Lindsey and I knew all we could NOT do was flat. Otherwise, we were fine to have whatever fun we wanted while climbing and descending rollers filled with more chundery rock than I will ever want to put my road bike through again. It got tough. I forgot how long that section of Long Run is before we hit the 6 mile descent to paved road. But we just kept going.
When we finally did reach the descent to Hopkins Rd, we let it loose. It’s a much smoother portion of Long Run with swooping switchbacks. Relief was definitely felt (especially for our hands) when we were finished with Long Run Road. Our hands had been rubbed raw from braking through those rocky descents.
It was here we made the call to skip the extra miles to go up the backside of Mole Hill. We were tired, knew we were going over 100miles no matter what way we took back into town, and we were so ready to eat REAL food.
As tough as that ride got (mostly on Long Run Rd), Lindsey and I were always in good spirits; laughing about whatever sparked up in conversation, or from some crazy thing we had to ride through. It’s important to find friends that will go through crazy things with you – that’s when the best stuff always happens. Better to share in it with a good friend than all alone.