Ride Reports: SERS

SVBC/CAMBC Superbowl Sunday Ride

10947312_10200293962068932_4505352074621157816_nA group of CAMBC members, Josh Wall, Greg Bruen, David Stackhouse and Drew Duke met up with other riders from the greater Shenandoah area on Feb 1st for the annual Superbowl Sunday Ride.  The ride started at the Briery Branch Community Center not far from Stokesville, VA.  We had been watching the weather all week, and the forecast changed from an unpleasant freezing rain to a clear sunny day good for a ride.   The temperature was around 32 degrees when we headed out at 9:45.

10562507_1774015416156831_1958938385222480150_oThe first 11 miles is all SR 257 carving up into the snow covered mountains.  It’s starts off as a slow incline becoming steeper as the road serpentines higher and higher.  After 11 miles of road riding, you finally arrive at the forest service road that leads to Flagpole Knob, the highest point in Rockingham County.  The service road was completely snow covered several inches.  The views here were great and made up for the road riding.   The service road was another 3 miles for a total of 14 miles and 2800 feet of climbing to Flagpole Knob.

Image Credit:

Once on top, there were 42 other riders, two guys trying to build a fire and one properly inflated football.  Everyone mingled, re-evaluated their layers, ate a lunch, snapped some pictures, got a group shot and then everyone got back on their bikes for the descent.  The CAMBC crew returned to the service road and headed to Meadow Knob .  This was a fun section where you could get up speed in the slippery snow, riding right on the threshold of losing control.

At Meadow knob we searched around and found the single track decent that veered off the open plateau into the deep woods.  Not sure of the trail name here; Stackhouse thought it was Pine knob.   Whatever the name,  it was a blast in the snow, so I can’t wait to ride it when it is dry.  It’s a quick steep straight descent,  but lots of fun with plenty of obstacles to launch off.  Other than a couple of large trees across the trail, it’s all fast fast fast, then braking really hard to make a sharp turn once you get to the bottom.  From there we headed back on a service road, making our way to the  asphalt and then finally  back to the community center for a total of 25 miles and 3000 feet.

Writeup Courtesy of Drew Duke

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Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Hearthstone to Wolf Ridge

“Ride start is a steep and long climb, bring the big boy/girl pants and leave the complaining at home.”

-Hisersaurus Rex

And it did start steep, too. The push up Hearthstone had us mortals in the group on and off the bikes many times during the relentless grind required to the top. Near the ridge line, the trail was choked off with blackberry vines pretty badly. Much blood was drawn from the tough guys in shorts and short sleeves. We also put the handsaws in action, clearing several trees from the trail.

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Fall is in full swing in the George Washington National Forest. Enough leaves were on the ground in spots to hide the singletrack, but most leaves were still on the trees providing spectacular scenery along the ridge. Temps around 70 made for perfect riding weather. It was an absolutely perfect day to be out in the mountains on a bike.


Battle Damage!!!
Battle Damage!!!

Brandon joined us for his first ride on these trails since his Tillman West wreck last year. Early in the decent on Wolf is a set of large drops in rapid succession. Brandon is a superhero and charged at them full steam, getting a clean line off the first, squirrely on the second, poaching a third drop off the side of the trail, and then plowing headfirst into the ground. Scary moment, but he recovered quickly and got back on the bike to finish the ride. We later discovered he had taken a chunk out of the side of his helmet during the ordeal.

The rest of the downhill was a mix of rocky and not so rocky flow along the crest of the ridge. Flow sections were broken up with short, steep, technical climbs. These provided some welcome relief for hands permanently curled around the brake levers during 10-15 minute downhill sections.

At the bottom, the group split up with one half climbing to the top of Tillman West for a second session of downhill. The rest of us rode the gravel back to the cars.

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Archive Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Whetstone

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Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Sherando (Pocahontas rained out)

Virginia weather can be unpredictable.  Mid August, and it’s 78f and overcast outside.  And, it’s raining in Charlottesville and Richmond.  So, our intended ride (Pocahontis State Park) wasn’t going to work.  Time for a new plan.

Of course, everyone wanted to know if we’d be rained out.  Well, the rain in Charlottesville and Richmond came from the north west, and was headed south-east.  It seemed like it would miss Sherando completely.  So, at 7:30am with the rain getting heavier, we take off down the highway.  And it keeps raining, and as we approach Afton the fog and rain set in.  But!  The second we hit the valley, the rain abruptly ends, riding shall happen!

We roll into Sherando’s Turkey Pen
parking area to an almost dry road, but very low skies.  So, we quickly get ready and roll up Mill’s Creek trail and the infamous Sherando switchbacks, heading for Torry Ridge.  The first mile of torry’s moist rocks reminds us that it’s not a great day for such shenanigans.  To drive the point home, a lonely thorn decides to claim one of Rob’s tubes, so we take a quick food, and water break, and fix the issue before heading down Slacks trail.  Enjoying the flow is short lived as a downed tree halts our progress.  The saws come out, and the tree is gone, while I “supervise” by drinking a bit more water.

Since the day is turning out to be stellar, we decided some more climbing is in order and head up White Rock trail to the parkway, up the parkway, and back to the switchbacks and Mills Creek.  Unfortunately, mother nature wasn’t going to be thwarted quite so easily, and decided to up the fog level to “ultra heavy”, decided rain was still in order.  Luckily, the rain was short lived and we were already moist from riding in the heavy fog anyhow, and it was plenty warm enough, so no one really seemed to care.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, and we ripped our way downhill to the cars, got cleaned up, and decided beer and burgers were in order at Blue Mountain Brewery.  Not bad for a rainy day in town. 🙂


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Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Douthat

Middle Mountain Summit (Douthat)Rain…Lots of rain. As we climbed into the clouds, the rain got worse. To everyone on the ride, it was well worth it, though. The rain served to knock the dust down on the trail a bit, and made climbs tacky with very little wheel spin. Downhills were tricky over slick roots, but the smooth trails of Douthat kept us mostly on course.

If you have not visited Douthat State Park yet, you should. 20+ miles of big mountain riding. For this ride, we followed the course of the Middle Mountain Mama, an annual race held in the park. The trail takes you up a relentless climb on middle mountain, followed by a ridge ride and downhill run back to the valley. The ride then continues up a series of steeper climbs on the other side of the valley. These climbs are broken up with stretches of ridge riding. On a clear day, the views are spectacular. Downhill on either side of the valley is fast, smooth, off camber, and narrow. You can quickly get yourself into trouble if you allow yourself too much speed. There are a lot of switchbacks that seem to appear out of nowhere.

The crew in attendance, Jay, Josh, Greg, and myself had a great time. Stay tuned for a possible fall camping trip at Douthat.



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Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Southern Traverse


This SERS ride took place at the IMBA EPIC Southern Traverse with Jason Hiser, Ted Gayle, David Stackhouse, Josh Wall leading a group of 10. It was truly an EPIC ride. There were multiple flats and a not so good mechanical that required a little work just to make it a single speed but we all worked together and made it happen. A great ride….even with all the stinging nettles, briars, locust tree thorns, occasional tricky rock gardens, and the rain shower that lasted for the last half of the ride (not in the forecast) everyone still (for the most part) had a nice smile at the finish. I liked the comment from Dave “Don’t scratch the nettle marks as they will stop itching in 8 minutes”. That would work except we hit nettle patches about every 7 minutes and 45 seconds! . I was reminded of each scratch when I hopped in the tub when I got home..YEEEEEOOOOUCH!!

Thanks David Wood for the pictures and recap.

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Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Carvins Cove

 Ride recap from Josh Wall:

Photgrapher: Josh Wall
We need these in ACPR parks. Very cool

On June 1st the third SERS ride of the season took place at Virginia’s other mountain bike Disneyland, Carvins Cove (the other one being Douthat).   The ride was almost derailed by a trail running marathon but luckily we only ended up seeing one competitor at the back of the pack.  We got in three big climbs and descents and everyone liked the Buck downhill so much we ended up doing it twice.  

Two new surprises at the Cove were an extremely cool bike repair station at the trail head that had a rack, pump and tools.  This would be a great addition to Walnut Creek or Preddy!  The other surprise was a brand new section of trail that runs parallel to the Gauntlet trail.   As awesome as the Gauntlet downhill is we couldn’t resist the huge berms and tabletops of the new section – it was freeride heaven.  

Hopefully this won’t be the last pilgrimage to the Cove by the CAMBC crew this summer.  On July 27th, the Virginia Endurance Series is doing an event there called “The Gamut” which involves riding every trail in Carvins Cove.   Check out the details here:

Photgrapher: Josh Wall

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Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Sherando


SERS rides are keeping tire companies in business. We have one tire deflate on top of the car on the way to the trailhead, and another flat at a stream crossing during the descent to the car. Hiser had a ride ending sidewall split during the first 2 miles.
SERS rides are keeping tire companies in business. We had one tire deflate on top of the car on the way to the trailhead, and another flat at a stream crossing, and Hiser had a ride ending sidewall split during the first 2 miles.

Jason Hiser set up a great ride from Sherando Lake, up White Rock Gap to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and descending through Torry Ridge and Slacks. This ride required some solid climbing legs, but allowed 4 miles of relaxed and scenic climbing on the Parkway to break up the the rocky climbs.

Descents were fast and rocky. Jay cleaned the big hike-a-bike section on Torrey. Everyone took the ride at their own pace, and there were plenty of exhausted smiles at the end of the day. It was a perfect day to be up in the mountains.

Hiser ended up missing the ride and went for a hike instead. A tire sidewall gave out as we began the White Gap Rock Trail. The tear was far too big to ride on, so he called it a day. (ProTip: sabotage a friend’s tire and send them back to the car. They will get bored and thirsty waiting around. There will be beer waiting for you at the end of the ride.)


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Ride Reports: SERS

SERS: Narrowback

Jason Hiser lead a group of ten up Narrowback. The ride began with a long gradual climb to the ridgeline. The return route off the ridge follows the same route, giving a preview of the series of drainage features (read: jumps) that need to be negotiated (read: launched) on the way back down. Once on the ridge, the trail continues through technical, rocky downhill sections down to a fireroad. The fire road continues along the western side of the ridge to a trail junction leading back to the top of the ridge. The ride included two good climbs, and tested downhill riding skills of the group. The only casualties of the ride were a couple flat tires from the sharp rocks on the ridge.

Total distance: 13.7 miles
Total time moving: 1hr 40min
Total elevation gain: 1882ft.

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