Twice a year I head out to the mountains with friends to get some good mountain riding in. Typically, that comes in the form of riding our patented Skyline 100 route, that affords gorgeous views, long climbs and quiet roads. This spring, it was time to shake things up a bit and try a new course. Charged with the scouting, I looked a bit closer than Front Royal, VA, for something challenging. What I came up with was tough, but really produced a memorable ride.
12 of us met up in Frederick, Maryland, and set out for Gambrills Park. We began climbing immediately and within the first 14 miles we had climbed 2,600 feet. Steep, and rough pavement made for a quick wake up call on the day: it would be a long one! With the group back together we began hitting a few rollers here and there, with things stretching out on some longer climbs as we made our way north towards Thurmont.
Somewhere in the first hour the rain began, but the group remained positive as we descended steep sections like Hells Delight Road. We made it down to the bottom and start of Ritchey Road (a hallmark of the annual Civil War Century) and regrouped briefly before heading up.
I knew in the back of my mind I wanted to hit this climb hard, and see what kind of VAM I could lay down. On top of that, I was hoping to snap a few photos of guys cresting the climb. I pushed it just about as hard as I could and got some great photos in the process.
Soon we were flying back down the mountains towards Thurmont. This may have been one of the best parts of the whole ride. The road was a nice -3% grade on fresh pavement. We all got together and just crushed it for 7 miles averaging well over 26mph. Great fun!
Resting in Thurmont for a bit, we took in some food and chatted about the ride. The weather was clearing and we were drying out as the wind kicked up and brought some sun! Soon we were rolling again and started our 5 mile, 1,200' climb up to Camp David. It was a tough climb but good to shake the legs out after the rest.
From there we descended down to Smithsburg and began our southbound trek back to Frederick. A few climbs met us between there and the queen climb of the day, but nothing unmanageable. Now, I had heard about a certain climb called Coxey Brown, and I had been told it was an aboslute beast of a climb. So, I thought, "what better way to finish a day of climbing than with a hard, steep climb?" After 70 miles and 8,600' of climbing, it was a big ask for all the guys to do it. But they all put their heads down and churned up it!
Coxey Brown: 2 miles, 1,000' of gain!
At the top, with sighs of relief, we regrouped, happy to be going mostly downhill from that point on. With only 7 miles to ride the motivation was high and the pace lifted. 80 miles and 10,500' of climbing on the day made for a successful spring ride!