Photo Courtesy of Ben Bailey

I think I speak for everyone when I say “I’m glad spring is finally here”. Winter really wore out its welcome this year, so the recent 70 degree temperatures and blossoming flowers in Virginia have been much appreciated.

With these warmer temperatures, I’ve dusted off the bikes and started gearing up for the season.

If you follow road cycling, one of the historic Spring Classics went down this past weekend. No silly, not the Paris-Roubaix, the Harris-Roubaix. This incredible event put on by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition takes place every year on the same day as the French classic, and rings in the cycling season.

Pros, weekend warriors, families, and friends all gather to celebrate the gravel roads of Rockingham County and enjoy getting out on two wheels.

After gathering in Court Square in the middle of downtown Harrisonburg, everyone has a gentle party pace ride of about six miles out to the farm. From here, riders embark on a 16.5 mile loop of about half gravel and half pavement. The race is three laps total, but you can do as many or as few loops as you like, the main goal is to have fun.

I feel like each year this event gets harder and harder, especially this year with the likes of Jeremiah Bishop, Ben Frederick, Nick Waite, Andy Rhodes, and other immortals drilling it at the front. Couple that with super technical gravel roads, and things can get dicey. I managed to keep touch with the front group for about 3/4’s of the first lap, but then started sliding back and linked up with my buddy Kyle to work together.

Unfortunately, bad luck struck. My left contact blew out of my eye, which is problematic considering I am blind as a bat. I stuck on Kyle’s wheel trying to regain my depth perception and was just trying to make it back to the start where I could throw in a new contact.

Pffffffff…..

Due to my impaired vision I took the most amateur hour line through some gnarly gravel and flatted my rear tire. Peace Kyle. I quickly threw in a new tube and tried to get going again, knowing at this point results were out the window.

Pfffffff…..

GAH! In my haste I didn’t pump my rear tire up enough and got another flat tire. After another quick repair, I limped my way back into the race start. Fortunately there were a few other riders who had similar luck, and four of us headed out for another lap.

Knowing at this point we all were just riding for fun, we focused on enjoying the amazing weather and dirt roads. In reality, this is what it’s all about anyways. Sure, being at the front and mixing it up is always a blast, but it’s not like my day was ruined with a few flats. We passed other cyclists out on the course enjoying their ride and saw so many different bikes, such as custom steel rides, fat bikes, mountain bikes
with trail-behinds for the kids, and more.

At the heart of every sport are the people, and cycling is no different. After my second lap I called it quits and relaxed enjoying some craft brews and food from the potluck with my friends. People were trading stories on their ride, laughing about flat tires, sharing race tactics; the excitement over the start of the cycling season was truly palpable.

The front riders came in after their third lap, with Jeremiah Bishop taking the win, followed by Adam Williams, Ben Frederick, Andy Rhodes, Danny Gibney, and Collin Vento for the top six. Solid riders who put it all out there!

Roubaix 2016!