Spring Training in the Back Country

Shenandoah Rocks

Spring is the time for base miles and getting yourself fit for the coming races and challenges that spring and summer bring. I have been doing that in abundance and feel peppy like I’m ahead of schedule. I just got back from a 3 day all out assault on the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) and it was fantastic.

Stealth Mode

My friend, David Welty, and I rode in the true back country. Back country riding is always an adventure and a treat. You never know what the conditions will be and it is a commitment once you enter.

Entry Way

These trails are not like your locally groomed single-track trails. They are remote, ungroomed, trees down, leaves piled up, off cambered, slick rock, steep pitched, gnarly descents and thorn grabbing beasts. There is no turning around or real bail out points. So, why do this you might ask? Adventure folks thats what! Life needs risk and danger. Without it we become complacent and growth stalls.


That being said, these trails also provide some of the most amazing views and unbelievable descents in the land. I don’t recommend backcountry riding unless you know what you are doing and can ride for endless hours as nothing is what it appears in the backcountry. We didn’t see anyone out on the trails for the entire 3 days. That is a treat if you ask me, just you and a friend riding. You must commit and that is what we did. The GWNF is known for some epic riding, so I put together 3 routes that would push us and have us gasping by the end. I would have to say that the GWNF has the best riding in Virginia, hands down. Miles and miles of splendid challenge. It is always up, up and more up.


Take for instance the classic route known as the Southern Traverse, it has everything and requires attentiveness and respect. It will throw you off if you get lazy. The reward is the best back country riding this side of the Mississippi. In all we covered 118 miles and 17,000 ft of elevation. We had a couple of river crossings and did have some snow patches to slide through.

Orange String

For some reason this orange string was laced like a spider web all up and down the Shenandoah Mountain Trail. This stuff was all over the place and got caught up in every rotating part of the bike. It also was a constant pain in the you know what. We were dodging this stuff as the wind had blown in it up in the limbs, across the trail and such. I almost got decapitated a couple of times. I would like to know what purpose this string serves. I mean does this really need to be out there. If you know what the purpose of this string is, let me know. I thought that it might be for measuring distance or marking boundaries, but we do have electronic equipment these days that can do that. Come on people. It took me several hours and tearing my bike down to get this stuff cleared out.

Like I said at the beginning, my training is coming along great. I feel fit and ready to tackle the upcoming races. My next challenge is the Allegheny Loop, which is an Individual Time Trial comprising 400 miles of dirt through Virginia and West Virginia in a loop format. After that it will be time to saddle up for the endurance races.

Super Dave

David was a trooper and I officially knight him into the order of Team Crank for his courageous endeavor into my world of pain and joy.

I have a video that will be up soon from our trip, stay tuned.


P.S. We ate well!

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