Friday, September 28, 2007

Rocktown Dynamo "A Very Scary Ride"

Rocktown Dynamo
118 miles
10PM leave Court Square Harrisonburg, VA
Loop over Reddish Knob; Sugar Grove, WV; a long pull down the hollow to Williamsville; over Scotchtown Draft; Deerfield; West Augusta; Elkhorn Lake; back to the burg in time to eat breakfast at the Little Grill Sunday morning.

Sat. Oct 6th- Sun Oct 7th
Maps provided, maybe some sag, maybe not, probably, need GOOD lights or a very nice friend.
Contact Matt Styer or Marshall Hammond or go to

Meeting of interested persons this coming week. Date and time to be announced.

If you have a mailing list feel free to pass this on.

The Ride Called Dynamo

It's time to suit up and head out in the night.
I've brought my arm warmers and red, blinky light.
They're all that I have now to keep safe and warm,
to help me to manage to weather the storm.

Flash go the headlamps and now I can see
a few dozen others as crazy as me.
A few dozen others who haven't a clue
of what this thing is that they're going to do.

Once out in the silence we slip through the night
and fall into paceline and fall out of sight.
Of civilization, of safety and and more
and into the realm of the deadly unsure.

But what if I freeze in the blistering cold
or what if my chain is just simply too old
and it snaps and then what if i run out of food
or go through the last of my extra spare tubes?

What if my dérailleur decides to break off
or what if a spoke just flies off with a pop
and leaves me here stranded all freezing and stark,
and leaves me to die the chill of the dark?

Or what if it's me that just simply can't take
all the hills and the climbs and I'm just not in shape.
And I cramp and I fall on the black of the road
and there's no one there watching to pick up my load?

Oh why would I ride here, ride out in the cold
knowing my gear or my body might fold?
And who in their right mind would ride out this far
in the dead of the night on the steel on the tar?

Maybe its pride or its envy or vane
or maybe, just maybe I just like the pain.
But when it comes down to the truth its just fear,
fear of the small little voice that I hear.

The voice that just lingers inside of my head
and says if I try that I'll surely be dead.
The voice that just tells me how I'm always wrong,
and that I will fail and I've failed all along

And tells me that I'd never come home alive
if I were to go on this bicycle ride.
So I've got to, I'm off and I'm going to go.
I'm going to ride and I'm going to show

that voice who's the boss of this life that I live.
I'll show who takes orders and I'll show who gives.
And, maybe, you know that the voice could be right,
And maybe I'll never return home tonight.

Yes maybe I'll shiver or suffer or die,
but I'll never wonder what could have been mine.
But if I don't return then at least you'll all know
that I road the ride,
the ride.. called Dynamo.

poem by Pat Kennel

Friday, September 14, 2007

name route change

This year we have become the

rocktown dynamo

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

photo gallery

the photos are finally up. click on the photo to access the gallery. i think all of these photos are from david troyer and myself.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Blessed by the Moon

Organized chaos in front of SBC. Sign in, stash the bag, boggle at the numbers--how we gonna get all these bikes home? "Wow, you're riding that bike?" "Hey, that's a clever way to rig that!" "Ouch, a fixie?" "Hey, don't you have any lights?"

"Hey, who turned on the lights?" Our own nuclear powered night light, 367k miles away, right on schedule. We never lost sight of it until it went down after dawn.

Astonishment and applause at the courage resurgent of the Euro-wannabee, who found the last-minute mojo to stoke a tandem.

Four undergrads emerging from Dave's: "Oh, you guys are so cool...can we take your picture? I mean, can we be in it with you? This is so cool, you guys are awesome, we love cyclists." And probably anything else that moved, drunk as they were...

A ceremonial lap and head count around Court Square--25 souls in motion.

(photo Michael Wiebe-Johnson)

HIDS off the front, trailing streams of luminescent blinkies, stretched out along damp roads. It's real!

"Hey, look back there--that tandem is flying!" Moments later--"Yeah, looks like they flew right past the turn. Well, there's no catching 'em now!" But we would see them again shortly, so many are the alternate highways and byways and backways of Rockingham.

Riding through a crowd of Mennonite girls walking down Mole Hill, one with a boom box balanced on her shoulder. Children silhoutted in a doorway, watching us pass in the night. Over the top, and down to our first gravel road. More to come.

Where are all the cars, anyway?

Roads drying up. Miles ticking by. It's already 1:30? We've already ridden 45 miles? We're flying! Regrouping periodically, in Briery Branch then Stokesville. Interrupting a bear-hunting convention--fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth vehicles of the night, in the space of two minutes.

It's one thing to climb a gravel road in the dark; it's another to descend with dodgy lights. "Hey, Matthew, is there anything dangerous out there?" No, take it off the front, brother--but watch out for those four deer standing right there who would cheerfully put you in the ditch!

West Augusta sees David and the van for the first time, a welcome sight. Headcounts--all present. Will Team Welch get their rattletrap tandem functional in time? Deerfield Valley Road beckons, rest stop ahead--all restraint is abandoned, it's only 20 miles to the rest stop, at this rate we'll be there in 45 minutes.

Did I mention the fog? Moon high in the sky, torches on helmets, all light mocked the invisibility of the road under blankets of vapor. But it wasn't enough to discourage a canny finger of brightness picking out the Deerfield city limit sign in time to light it up (so to speak). Not the time to be sleeping!

Rest stop, finally. People everywhere. No one wet, everyone damp--"what are you wearing? I can't decide what to put on..." Gonna use the backdoor route? Five do, wisely choosing challenge in proportion.

Up the Draft, down to the the climbing starts. Williamsville, Bullpasture Gorge, Flood--just trying to keep the lights of the next person in sight, so as to avoid having to pull out the map and think, a painful thought at this hour of the morning. Will be light in two hours...will this climb ever end?

Seven false summits, then it seems to be backing off...if it's mile 88, and it's 13 miles from Rt 39 to Douthat, and it's 110 miles total, then does the road have time to go up anymore before we start descending? How did it get so cold all the sudden, and where is everyone? How did a gravel road get to be so smooth?

Dawn arrives, warmth restores a smidgen of energy, the road into Douthat goes on forever. But there's breakfast at the end...roll up, roll down, now we're in the Park, there's the lake, where's the restaurant?

I see BIG RED!!! How many bikes can that thing hold, anyway?

If you can wait long enough for the slowest kitchen in the world, you can have anything you want to eat, and three beers as well.

But nothin's gonna ease that sleepy ride home. Rumor has it someone in one vehicle changed drivers while driving. Would like to have seen that, but we were in the Candlepower and David piloted with the discipline of Kirk. Solid work, narry a nod (at least while I was awake)!

25 souls, 110 miles, moon the whole time, no accidents, three flats and a broken spoke. If you didn't have fun, you didn't drink enough Sparks. Thanks to all who organized, supported, and attended--a spontaneous manifestation of life, spoken in the language of the bike. Keep an ear out, we'll do it again next year!


What more needs to be said. A magical night of moon, mist, gravel, pavement, cold, Sparks, and friends. More to come.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rider's Meeting, Dave's Taverna, T minus 30 minutes!!!

Rider's meeting, Dave's Taverna, 9:30 PM Friday night.

First item of business is beer. Or Scotch, if it's cold out.

Second item of business will be to make sure that everyone knows how we're getting where we're going. We'll have maps for each rider, covering the route from Briery Branch to the road into Douthat (if you get lost before or after those points, respectively, nothing can help you!). No cue sheets, since no one had time to check the course at that level of detail and we didn't want to write up slightly flawed cue sheets that might lead you astray if you followed them too literally!

Third item of business will be to drop off your sag bag(s) into our vehicle(s). More info on that coming soon. But we will do our best to have, if possible, some way you can drop a bag with some mid-ride resupplies and end-of-ride change of clothes. Stay tuned.

Fourth item of business will be to collect some gas money to pay for fuel for the Starship Candlepower and her companion vessel, Big Red. Bring $20 each and we'll refund anything left over. This is not pre-payable to the organizers in beer.

FYI, we're looking at ~108 miles, with 5k feet of climbing and almost as much descending, for a total gain of 245 feet.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Secure your spot on the Starship Candlepower

Anyone's welcome, but do yourself a favor and let us know you're coming.

As of 22:22, 7 September, we've had a few cancellations, but also some additions, and so the following people, having promised to boldly go where no man has gone before, have thereby secured a reservation on the Starship Candlepower for instantaneous, guaranteed non-mutating, return passage through the Great Shenandoah Valley Wormhole:

1) David Troyer (volunteer spaceship jockey)
2) Ben Wideman (volunteer spaceship jockey)
3) Matthew Wikswo
4) Matt Styer
5) Kurt Rosenberg
6) Marshall Hammond
7) Grant Patterson (replacing Andy McChickan)
8) Nathan Maust
9) Sue George
10) Bain Routhier
11) Kyle Lawrence
12) Connie Peterson
13) Jonathan Spicher
14) Jennifer Hartwig
15) Jason Crist
16) Michael Wiebe-Johnson
17) Blake Walker
18) Tim Richardson
19) Sue Haywood
20) Colin V.

And the following people are joining us for the intergalactic voyage before getting transportation back to their own solar systems in their own private spacemobiles:

--) Mark Russell (has own return transportation)

If we beat the bushes and enough startrucks, deep-space trailers, and intergalactic people-movers fall out, we'll do this grassroots for free, or maybe just pass the hat to pay for luminite fuel rods for the old Candlepower. If we have to rent anything, we'll split the costs and return any remainder.

We'll do our best to get seating for as many people as want it and have reserved by Friday, September 1. So RSVP ASAP to or 434-242-3693. Remember: the real final frontier is a gravel road in the dark.

Update as of 5 September:

It appears that a large number of you space cowboys couldn't resist the lure of a night out in the country, so it looks like we're going to need TWO vans to get all you bronco busters home. So it's going to cost some spacebucks. $20/person should more than cover it (van for your bum, truck for your bike, gas included), and if there's any change, we'll return it to you at the end of the ride (no one's making any money off this space gig, I promise).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The die is cast, the route is real.

The die is cast, the route is real:

-H’burg Court Square to Briery Branch via Mole Hill.
-Briery Branch to Stokesville via the usual.
-Stokesville to West Augusta via GWNF.
-West Augusta to Scotchtown Draft via Deerfield Valley Road.
-Scotchtown Draft to Rt. 39 via Williamsville, Flood, and Rt. 609.
-Rt. 39 to Douthat State Park via Rt. 629.

About 108 miles. Some gravel, some moderate climbing; otherwise, a fairly mellow route, lots of quiet country roads, no ugliness anticipated. Don’t ride too fast or you’ll have to sit around in the damp waiting for the sun to come up.

We'll provide cue sheets and rough maps at the departure. Leaving at 22:00, estimate 7.5 hours riding at 15 mph plus 1.5 hours stoppage and you’re at Douthat at sunrise. Adjust to taste, results may vary.

Light my fire.

Plan to burn lights the whole way, even if you don’t end up needing them. Moonlight should help a lot, but it’s no fun playing redneck roulette with potholes if it clouds over and you find yourself alone on Scotchtown Draft. Last time I saw someone cheat on this calculation, he ended up in the hospital after hitting a moonbathing bear at 20+ mph. A separate little headlight is handy for repairs and map checks when your bike isn’t moving and your dynamo isn’t cranking (or, more likely in this fallen age, to save main batteries).

Burn a steady red taillight so we’ll be legal, in case anyone should take a policial interest in our lark to the Park in the dark, and so everyone behind you won’t have a seizure watching your blinky blink blink blink. But bring the blinky, too, for when you take your turn at the back of the pack and need to scare off the four (six? eight?)-wheeled coffins with people inside.

LED bike lights are great for battery life, but not very powerful when it’s just you and the dark. HIDs and big halogens put out the watts, but don’t usually come with 9 hours of battery life. Dynamos are great for longevity, but nothing is free and they don’t put out much if you’re not moving. Camping headlights are too small for riding, but do the job for repairs and map-checks. A combination of some/all of the above is ideal. If you need lights, geek out at, then check the local bike shops or write We can arrange short-term loans at good rates and provide free CIC (confidential illumination counseling).

Reflective gear lets the cars do the work for you. Those little ankle-biters are the bomb—reflections revolving at 80 RPM = highly visible, plus they keep your socks up above your shoes and your ankles warm. Bring ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, otherwise we’re trying to get some freebies from VDOT as party favors. Maybe we’ll have a competition for the MORD (Most Offensively Reflective Dynameur) and publish some pics.

Stay tuned for more. RSVP to 434-242-3693 or if you want to reserve return transportation or volunteer your spouse or best friend to drive.