If you’ve ever been in Harrisonburg during the fall, you’ve likely noticed everything starts to tick back a few notches, and things start shifting gears. With Summer riding coming to a close, life starts to slow down and become less chaotic, but that's when the fall season ramps up and the best riding season begins!
When you spend the summer months racing and competing, it’s easy to lose sight of why it is that you ride your bike in the first place. For many of us, we ride for multiple different reasons, for me though, it’s about the adventure and camaraderie. Like everyone, I have a core group of friends that I enjoy riding with, and over the summer this gets harder and harder to do the further into the season you get. As everyone starts to prepare for specific events, or traveling a ton, everyone starts to fan out and do their own thing. Come fall though, seasons are coming to an end and everyone starts to come together for the fun of the ride! That’s where you’ll see the real mountain bike community at work.
Here at the shop, we’ll jokingly tell people the fall is our busiest time! That’s not to say people are still busting down our doors, but it’s because of all the events! Literally, every weekend there is a bike related event, usually a couple. September hosts the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (SM100) put on by Shenandoah Mountain touring, followed by Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine loop Gran Fondo, in addition to century rides, Red Wing Roots music festival, and the Six Pack Downhill series. All events worth attending!
My personal favorites are the Downhill Six Pack series, the SM100, and most importantly the Shenandoah Mountain Bike Festival! The SM100 is the event that marks the end of my personal race season, it’s a race I’ve done every year since moving to town, it’s as brutally hard, as it is rewarding to roll back into the campsite after an incredible journey from the mountain bike! The downhill six pack series is another that I love, though proving difficult to attend while running a small bike shop. A group of riders will meet in town, with a 6-pack of anything for your entry, it could be soda, water, or beer. You’ll then depart to trail announced in the parking lot, and party pace to the top, where rider’s will be sent down in 30 sec splits, the winner hosts the 6-pack party at their house! Perk’s of being the best I suppose, the winner then gets to defend their title the next week, on a klunker provided to them from one of our local shops. It’s an event that’s sure to get you smiling!
The Mountain bike festival is the icing on the cake though, here you’ll see an entire town come out for 3 full days of camping, trail work, and mountain bike riding. It’s put on by the Shenandoah Bicycle coalition, and hosted at the Stokesville lodge, courtesy of Shenandoah mountain touring. All weekend there’s opportunities to volunteer and do your part, whether it be to help cook and clean, be a ride leader, or lead trail work, there is a way to be involved! It’s a family friendly event, though Saturday night at 10pm the DJ will show up, and the pavilion party starts!
The best part about the festival though, is getting to ride with groups of people you wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity too, some rides this year had groups as large as 40 people heading out for all day rides! Though if big group rides aren’t your thing, your nestled in the heart of the George Washington national forest, with a multitude of trail heads just a 30 min pedal away! With so many riding opportunities laid out in front of you, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t get excited to ride bikes in the fall!