I ran into James from RideLugged.com last week on the booze cruz and over beers he started pitching this idea about a dirt road database. The weird thing is, I had been dreaming up the same thing, a collaborative space that people could contribute their knowledge without the burden being on one person to filter and maintain this stuff. But I've been lazy in asking around if anyone knew of a tool that we could use to do this. James on the other hand already got the ball rolling and had found something based around Google maps (of course!) and has now started the project. You can find it at DirtData.wordpress.com, which seems a fine name for this project. Anyone who has been reading this site probably has an idea how stoked I am to see something like this happen since my idea of a road ride means something that is unpaved. There already seems to be a good bit of interest in this, so if you've got dirt that is suited for skinny tires (gravel, cinder, dirt, old logging roads) head over and contribute. Edit: Credit where credit is due - Jay got the Google thing working with open collaboration after James threw the idea out there in public, so credit goes to both for getting this thing rolling.
With sunny skies and cool breezy temps to start 50 riders rolled out and into unknown waters as this year's course was nearly all new. The prologue saw a face scraper digger to get things started off right. Follow that by the stage 1 freight train chasing down a pack of downhillers like rabid dogs before I had to call them off. Things got warmed up nicely but the no dab section has a dumbed down line these days that will have to be dealt with in the future. There was too much success on that one - it's supposed to be hard! From there the stage 3 lung burner uphill was next with plenty of rocks to insure it wasn't too easy. Crest the knob and into endo territory, that section was a good photo op and Todd was on hand to catch a lot of that action. The finish of this section saw the riders grinding it in, no sprint finish for that one. A few more stages, some group riding at party pace, then a nice rocky downhill section followed by twisty singletrack before rolling as a group to the carbo loading station. Riding is hard work, got to replace those calories.
Photos by Todd B.
The sun hid behind clouds and the wind kicked up just enough to put the chill on after lounging around so it was time to get moving again. Roll downhill with the group for a bit, then stage everyone for the next climb. Long grinder with a false flat in the middle. Chris and Buck need to pull the plug early and take off to head back, except in the wrong direction, headed due north. When I get word of this I give chase, bombing the hill we just climbed, snapping a seat rail on the way down and luckily, at the very bottom catch them before they are well on their way to the PA line. With dudes retrieved we all suck it up to do the climb once again. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is surely wondering what the hold up is, unaware of what is going on. In the end I'm sure they just assumed all of that extra time was my conspirators hiding their bikes and hanging them in trees.
Photo by Butch R.
Can you say Deja Vu? Another rider takes the same wrong route and this time Camp gives chase and redirects him to regroup with us down the trail. In the meantime Chris takes a swim in the pond and is soaked to his chest. As the sun drops in the sky a few more riders bail, a few more flat tires occur and a few more wrecks take place before, ultimately we get to the finish and crown the winners. In this case, a first in the history of the SSPBE, husband and wife take the top slots.
Long day but a lot of fun, got to ride with some old friends, make a few new ones, heckle riders on bikes, inflict a little pain and suffering with the course route and in the end get a big reminder of why I ride my bike. Because it's so freakin' fun.
Photos by Steve S.
A huge thanks goes out to Spearmint who did this year's artwork (and the last few years too) as well as helping out. Big thanks to all of the other volunteers as well and props to Donald and Victor at Avalon Cycles who brought some unsolicited prizes for distro. Chris C. won a pair of Planet Bike fenders for his swim in the pond (try to stay dry dude), Chris H. won a Surly K. Monkey fork for the ride's greatest save (I heard you pulled that out of your ass) and Kathy got a co2 patch kit package since she had more than one puncture for the day. And a plug for Clipper City for the fine energy recovery drink as well as Shenandoah Brewing Company for their brew.
Fifty riders total, 10 stages with riding in between. I counted at least 8 fixed gear bikes, that's a pretty solid showing. Especially this one:
Photo by Steve S.
Here's how it added up. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so after the standings dig through links below for the hundreds of photos already finding their way online. I dinged my camera early in the ride so you'll just have to check out photographers more talented than myself.