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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Southern Traverse
4/16/05
Deerfield, VA

http://www.imba.com/epics/harrisonburg_va.html

Shiva Steve and I set out not too early from Front Royal at 8:15am,
headed for Deerfield, VA, Southwest of Harrisonburg, our plan to ride
"The Southern Traverse", 1 of 32 rides in the US given the "epic"
designation status by IMBA. To each of us epic means something
different, so no explanation of terms here. I will just say it is a
"must do" ride for the big mountain off road biking fanatic.

A quick stop for some carbo-loading at The Cracker Barrel in H'burg and
we were off to find the trailhead. Found it, parked with the cow pies
and were saddled up and ready go by 11:30am - YEE HAW.

The ride starts out with about 1/2 mile of flat gravel road, before you
reach 2 gates and 2 FS roads and you have to make a choice as to which
to take to get to the ridge....nope, wasn't that one, turn around, hop
other gate, aaah, better, this looks right. 4 not too painful miles
later we had climbed over 1500' to a saddle along the ridgeline. From
there you head due South along The Shenandoah Mountain trail....signpost
ahead says your one and only bailout is 10.5 miles down the ridge - LETS GO!

Incredible big mountain riding, the trail serpentines down the spine of
Shenandoah Mountain, droping you from East side to West side of the
ridge, over and over and over again. Lots of exposure and soft edges,
all narrow singletrack. A bit tough because there were still a lot of
last Falls leaves on the trail, but we persevered. About 2 hour later
we found the meadow and pond we had read about in the trail description,
we had made it to Jerkemtight Rd....we however were not bailing out,
there was another 6.5 miles of singletrack ahead, and from what we had
also read it was the best part....they were right! More incredible big
mountain riding. Climbs all along the 17 miles of the ridgeline were
not that bad, and the whole thing was uncharacteristically void of
rocks....a few rock gardens but not too many, no endless hike-a-bikes to
be found here, just riding - aaaahhhhh. We dropped off the ridgeline
and back to civilization onto a gravel road, trying hard to wipe the
smiles from our faces. We then headed out on a beautiful but very long
10 mile pavement ride back to the car. 6 hours since we started, we
were back at the car (watch your step).

A wonderful time, only one accident (no major injuries) but a
whole slew of mechanical problems.....I only had one expletive-deleted
speed that worked and my suspension locked up tight like I was riding
rigid. Oddly enough the same thing happened to Steve! But he also lost
his back brake....so actually it was a good thing that his freewheel
also locked up on him, as he was able to slow the rear wheel by using
his legs, like a fixed gear bicycle. Crazy turn of events, but I guess
it showed you don't need all of those high-tech mechanical advantage
widgets to go big.

THANKS SHIVA - great idea!

 

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paintbucket
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2,825 Posts
Great minds....

think alike. I've been thinking of meeting a friend for that ride. Every year he drives from NH and I from SC and we meet somewhere in the middle. The Southern Traverse sounds like it would work well. Thanks for the write-up.
 

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zeebot
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1,125 Posts
wooglin said:
think alike. I've been thinking of meeting a friend for that ride. Every year he drives from NH and I from SC and we meet somewhere in the middle. The Southern Traverse sounds like it would work well. Thanks for the write-up.
Besides the trail mentioned above, which is awesome, there are numerous other trails in the area that are really really good as well. I highly recommend the h-burg area! The primitive camping about 20 minutes from the SMT is a bonus. Some of the sites are very beautiful and isolated but on nice weekends the area can get filled up and finding a site may be difficult. Be wary of confederate flags in abundance @ the campites...seem to be harmless but nevertheless my yankee blood was a bit nervous the first time down there.

Shenandoah Mtn Trail is one of the best pieces of single track I've ever ridden. I suggest, instead of doing the road ride back which is really boring on a single speed, just turning around and riding right back on the trail to the car.
 

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Do It Yourself
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Ditto...

Lots of good back country riding out there. You can do it as a point-to-point starting from 251 at Georga Camp instead of riding up Benson Run. It definitely adds some (steep) climbing so I wouldn't try this on a rigid single speed. And don't thank your lucky stars when you see fireroad because it's MUCH steeper than the singletrack in places. And if you're feeling really froggy, the trail continues past where the IMBA epic ended, although I can't say it's worth the effort as there is some hike-a-bike and not much payout.
 

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paintbucket
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Spookykinkajou said:
Besides the trail mentioned above, which is awesome, there are numerous other trails in the area that are really really good as well. I highly recommend the h-burg area! The primitive camping about 20 minutes from the SMT is a bonus. Some of the sites are very beautiful and isolated but on nice weekends the area can get filled up and finding a site may be difficult. Be wary of confederate flags in abundance @ the campites...seem to be harmless but nevertheless my yankee blood was a bit nervous the first time down there.

Shenandoah Mtn Trail is one of the best pieces of single track I've ever ridden. I suggest, instead of doing the road ride back which is really boring on a single speed, just turning around and riding right back on the trail to the car.
Another great mind. That's pretty much the plan in detail. As for the Confederate flag, I've been down here 10 years. I'll never be mistaken for a southerner, but we get along fine for the most part.

Anybody got pics of this trail/area? I've got the bait out there for my buddy but I need to set the hook.
 

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Registered
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watch yer step!

LOL! Next time we gotta find somewhere else to park!

Nice write up of a great ride! Between the leaves, and the steep dropoffs to the right constantly reminding you how narrow a ribbon of trail this was, that was exhausting but well worth it. CLASSIC downhill, up there with the best SM100 descents to the north. I want to come back and do this in the Autumn and save a lot of time for leaf peeping......

Oh, and definitely a SS/fixed gear friendly ride!
 

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try driving your car less
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thanks for the write up!

I have always wanted to do that ride.

Did you find the IMBA directions to be accurate? THere are a few IMBA epics within day tripping of my house. I have considered hitting them, but it would only be possible if the trail descriptions were really accurate. I wouldnt want to drive really far (well, a few hours) and then just get lost on hike-a-bike or pavement.

You have provided inspiration!
 

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zeebot
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jh_on_the_cape said:
thanks for the write up!

I have always wanted to do that ride.

Did you find the IMBA directions to be accurate? THere are a few IMBA epics within day tripping of my house. I have considered hitting them, but it would only be possible if the trail descriptions were really accurate. I wouldnt want to drive really far (well, a few hours) and then just get lost on hike-a-bike or pavement.

You have provided inspiration!
I didn't even realize it was an IMBA epic. I found it through the Shenandoah bicycle shop in downtown harrisonburg(a really nice shop, btw) It's a bit tricky to find the acutal parking spot when not familiar with the area but the trail itself is really easy to follow since it's only one trail with no other trails leading from it. Apparently there are a few bailouts along the way but I've never managed to find them.

I'll be going there a couple times this year so perhaps you could ride with me some time.
 

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Registered
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pretty accurate

Like Spooky said, once you find the trail you are golden. I thought the beginning was a bit confusing because there are two fire road entrances, but we had a good map and figured it out. You just take the left gate and stay on the road uphill, after that its all straightforward with the exception of the Jerkemtight Junction, but the IMBA description IS accurate at that point.

Again, my view is this is best saved for late summer/early fall. This trail doesn't see a lot of action so you want to wait for the leaves to blow away, etc. Great ride anytime though.
 

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try driving your car less
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Spookykinkajou said:
I didn't even realize it was an IMBA epic. I found it through the Shenandoah bicycle shop in downtown harrisonburg(a really nice shop, btw) It's a bit tricky to find the acutal parking spot when not familiar with the area but the trail itself is really easy to follow since it's only one trail with no other trails leading from it. Apparently there are a few bailouts along the way but I've never managed to find them.

I'll be going there a couple times this year so perhaps you could ride with me some time.
I wasnt really talking about going to that imba epic. It's an 11 hour drive!

I am interested in the following 2, which are 3-4 hours away each, a tough day trip or a nice weekend. Most likely borden mountain first, because it's an easier drive and I grew up out there:
http://www.imba.com/epics/borden_mountain.html
http://www.imba.com/epics/nan.html
 
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