Super Bowl Ride 2016 is in the books!
After spending almost three weeks off my bike I suited up for the Annual Super Bowl ride up to Flagpole Knob. I was excited to get back on my bike again and get away from the stress of moving boxes.
I had full intentions of riding from town with the crew from Mr. J's bagels, but I arrived a few minutes to late after frantically trying to locate the moving box with my winter boots. At the end of the day, showing up late was a good thing. I would have been more than toast if those 20 extra miles were tacked onto what is already a 20 mile ride up and down the mountain.
Since I missed the group from town, I drove on to the Briery Branch Community Center with hopes of finding another group of friends to ride with. The great thing about cycling is that strangers aren't really strangers when you show up to ride bikes in the cold. We're all crazy and connect pretty quickly.
Immediately when I rolled in to the lot I found some friends to ride with. The Richmond, VA crew was in full force, already drinking coffee and tuning bikes in the parking lot.
After some last minute adjustments, I started the ride to the top with my buddy Gordon. As we turned onto Briery Branch road we met another local, Matt H. and started the long climb up. After another two miles we met Brad F. and the four of us made the steady climb to the saddle.
My legs definitely were not happy with my decision to take time off from riding while moving houses. Thankfully my riding buddies didn't mind and we reached the saddle after 12 or so miles from the parking lot. That mile from 4 to 3 is killer. Remind me why we do this again???
After a few minutes at the saddle talking with friends, refueling, stretching, and relayering we were off again. It was another three or so miles to Flagpole. It wasn't until this section of the climb that we ran into some snow and ice. For the most part it wasn't bad, but just before the top, things got a little sketchy. However, as far as I know, everyone made it the top in one piece.
The view from the top is awesome! You could see Massanutten's peak and it looked so small. Some awesome hikers/trail runners beat us to the top and had started a fire and even had some hot chocolate available. Thanks Jon!
As is custom a group photo was taken and we were off. Thankfully we were pointed down hill. We crossed some more snowy sections and the slush made things tough at times, but falling in the slush was much preferred to banging your body on rocks and dirt.
Throughout the day I was continually amazed at the strong riders all around me. Some amazing ladies, strong gentlemen, and even a few kids thrown in the mix. Way to go everybody!
As we started down the trail towards Pond Knob I fought a few cramps and barely won. As Erik says, I didn't have enough "namaste" through the snow. I was slipping out and jerking my tired legs around. Thankfully after a bit of walking, drinking, and snacking I was back to form.
Pointing down Pond Knob I was happy the Bronson had strong breaks, as the slope was pretty steep. I was riding with another cool local, Cory, at this point and it was fun to tackle the steep sections together. Once we were off the trail we pedaled the remaining few miles on the road back to the parking lot.
When it was all said and done, the ride was just around 20 miles. It was fun, but on the ride home I started thinking, are those the best 20 miles in Harrisonburg. Quickly I said no. The caveat is, those are a great 20 miles to spend hanging with friends. The view from the top is remarkable. It's a sweet ride, but it's got me thinking about another ride tradition that needs to start. 20 years of Super Bowl riding is so cool, maybe we can start another ride that lasts this long and that is centered on some other "holiday."
Stay tuned for what I dream up!
Here's to more big rides and many more adventures!