The Alpine Loop Gran Fondo is a must do ride for any person who loves to ride a bike. I can't say it any more precise. It's just a perfect event.
This year, Bluestone was able to help with registration on both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. We love volunteering at registration because we get to be some of the first people to greet the out-of-towners to our beautiful area, plus we can help set the stage for how awesome of a ride everyone is going to have.
All the routes that Jeremiah and Erin Bishop dreamed up for the event are fun and challenging. Because of the route variety we meet people of all skill levels and get to cheer them on as they prepare for a ride they'll never forget. Every route from the casual Valley View to the extreme Alpine Loop offers riders beautiful roads, views, and excellent riding companions.
After a busy morning handing out numbers, shirts, and smiles it was time to get ready to ride. Erik escaped registration early to get dressed and warm-up. He was going to be at the front of the pack, so he needed to be ready early or risk the chance of getting lost in the sea of riders. Dave was feeling under the weather, so he ran our last minute repair station at the start and helped riders who forgot tubes, Garmin mounts, or needed minor bike adjustments. Once the riders rolled out, Dave headed off to Bryce Bike Park with Connor to make some runs, since that would be "easier" on his body than a 107 mile road adventure.
For me I waited until the last riders where gone and then passed the registration table off to Deidrah to manage closing up. My dad was up for the event to help volunteer and ride, so we both got ready and jumped on our bikes to tackle the 62 mile metric century route.
Our route headed out the same way as everyone else, through Court Square and out 33 West and onto Switchboad Rd. Eventually we crossed back over 33 and headed south towards Mt. Solon. The roads and weather were perfect.
On our route we rode about 10 miles of gravel, which was my dad's first experience with gravel. He handled it like a champ. We actually skipped the first aid station because we were feeling so strong, which I'm not sure was a good idea or not, but in the end we didn't regret it (but we wouldn't have minded it either).
Turning around right at the Stokesville Campground and heading north again we cruised on back towards Briery Branch. The route had lots of rolling hills and saved the bigger climbs for the very end. As we reached the aid station this time we stopped and enjoyed the banana, Nutella, and stawberry treats along with some salty sandwiches and nuts. Here we also ran into a bunch of the local NICA mountain bike riders. We had fun catching up with them and meeting other new friends from in and out-of-town. Everyone was having a great time.
We were on the final stretch now and all that really stood between us and the finish was Mole Hill. On a trip earlier this summer I took my dad over Mole Hill, so he was prepared for the short steep climb. However, what I forgot was that on this route there was a short steep climb just before Mole HIll too!
Despite the tough final miles Dad and I cruised across the finish line with smiles on our faces. We were welcomed by the Bridgewater College Cheerleading Squad, who did their job well, plus a nice cold water and towel. After cooling off and a quick photo we jumped at the food table. The food was amazing, especially the chocolate milk!
We shared some stories with other riders under the pavilion and were thankful for a great community event. Everyone had a blast.
Harrisonburg really is the best place to ride bikes. The community, the roads, the trails, and the weather - together they make for a winning combination.