This weekend a special annual event will happen on the local cycling calendar, the Massanutten Hoo-Ha. The 2018 running of the event will be the 30th time in as many years that this cross country mountain bike race has taken place on the Western Slopes of Massanutten, just outside the sleepy town of Keezletown. The Hoo-Ha event is one of the main reasons I first came to Harrisonburg and then later decided to make “The Friendly City” my home. In the late 80’s & early 90’s most mountain bike races were taking place in our neighbor State of West Virginia, the Hoo-Ha helped bring mountain bike racing to the Commonwealth.
It was 1989 mountain bike races were more then a race, these events were a tool to provide new riders like myself with a place to ride, a place to meet new riders and a chance to explore this new sport of mountain biking. In the late 80’s there was not much info on mountain biking, there no apps or websites to rate mountain bike trails; races were the faucet for mountain mountain beta.
Driving though Keezletown for the first time and looking for Happy Valley Road made this suburban boy feel like a fish out of water. After several wrong turns our confidence was low and our fears were high as we looked up at the looming mountain top of Lairds Knob, fortunately then and now we do not top out on the highest peak of the Massanutten Ridge.
The early races of the Hoo-Ha and Yee-Ha (the spring cross country race) the course was much shorter, usually 4-7 miles per lap. The single track we are all use to riding now did not exist in the 90’s, so most “trails” were the gravel roads, old logging roads and paths through the heat packed fields that we now avoid. The race venue which was based out of the Pond hosted some the finest post race hang outs that happened at any mid-Atlantic race. The pond jump was always a crowd favorite, too bad the old ramp/dock does not exist anymore, we will just have to think of new way to celebrate a great day of racing and riding.
Come out this weekend and join the fun while celebrating 30 years of goods time on the Western Slope.