The 2014 Devils Backbone Mountain Cross promised to be a 2 day epic ride in the Blue Ridge mountains – and EPIC it was – 121 miles of beautiful roads, very little traffic, and about 12,000 ft of climbing. Seven RVR team members headed out Saturday, with DBB first-timer Michelle Adams finishing the one-day by crushing the infamous Cub Creek climb.
Day one started out, as usual, at Devils Backbone Brewery, and after a short neutral rollout, took the left up the paved side of Cub Creek (brutal as usual), following the normal DBB route. We were warned about the condition of the dirt roads after the such a harsh winter, but the roads were actually in great shape, with barely any washboard and very few potholes, which made a for a quick descent – though most riders kept it pretty conservative. The next section took us a different way than normal, climbing North Fork, up the back side of Mt. Vesuvius, which was a great climb up a mixture of dirt and paved roads, about 10 miles, with a few short sections in the 20% range, but mostly only mildly tortuous, ending at the rest stop at what is normally the top of the Vesuvius climb.
After a few sips of Coke, refills of Heed, a few pickles, and some pretzels with Nutella and raspberry (yummy), we headed down Vesuvius. What a fantastic descent! It looks scarier than it actually is when you’re climbing it, but it was smooth like butter on the way down. The only difficult part was avoiding the dogs at the bottom – jury is still out whether it’s better to have them chase you up the mountain, or play chicken with them at 30 mph.
From there, we detoured towards Lexington, doing several loops across the river, climbing up, up, up, followed by nice descents down back across the river. Finally, we made it back to the DBB Outpost in Lexington, to collect our beer and munchies. DBB had a great band playing, and we hung out a little while before heading back to our hotel, just down the road. Oh yeah, and Brad Gresham came in 2nd, and would have probably been first except for the fact that he put his head down, went to his special place (where pain does not exist), missed a turn and had to backtrack.
Day 2 – the Bro’ Tour
Day 1 was hard, so we decided to go easy for day 2. After a few short climbs out of Lexington, we did a nice 10 mile flat section, which was perfect for us Chesapeake, VA locals, where 15 ft of climbing over 40 miles is not unusual. Of course, there was a slight cross-wind, so Brad temporarily threw the Bro’ tour out the window and dropped nearly everyone else with our Belgian-style pace line mastery (it was Paris-Roubaix day after all), but then we dialed it back and got caught by the Rare Disease Cycling team’s smooth double paceline.
Once we turned into the National Forest, the roads became dirt once more and the climbing began again in earnest. We managed to stay with Nikki and (what’s her friend’s name? with the mt bike?) for a good portion of the climb, learned a lot about cycling for a cause (check out their website – our cause is supporting local breweries ), and then got dropped before reaching the summit and rest stop, where we fueled up and headed down for a 10 mile descent along the Piney River. Fast, hard, at times sketchy, but a total blast! Definitely worth the climb.
From there, it was smooth sailing (but not flat) to the back side of Cub Creek, for the last brutality of the day, then a 50mph descent back to DBB for some great food and a few nice craft beers. Special thanks to the promoters, who put on a great event – well supported, great roads, nice people, and did we mention beer? A nice cold 6 pack and free growler awaited us at the finish – Nice! We’ll be back for sure next year.