Step 1: Grab your calendar and turn to February 12th, 2023
Step 2: Put the pencil down and grab a large Sharpie
Step 3: Write “Super Bowl Sunday Ride … I will be there”
What was just a mountain bike ride for a small group of enthusiast in the 80’s has now turned into so much more. On the first Sunday in February you will find more than just fat tire riders ascending the eastern slopes of Shenandoah Mountain, you will also find thin tire lovers going up the steep slopes of pavement and sneaker wearing folks making their trail flank on Flagpole Knob. Instead of just a group of 20 or 30 year olds you will see multi-generations of riders, from the young to the old. The diversity of participants seems to continue to grow which shows just how contagious this football token event has become. More and more folks seem to find themselves attracted to this winter leaderless event known as the Super Bowl Sunday Ride.
So what brings folks from the warmth of their home to the unpredictable conditions of Shenandoah Mountain during the middle of winter? From some it is the challenge of conquering Flagpole Knob (highest point in Rockingham County), for others it is another chance to experience mother nature’s beauty in the middle of winter, and for many it is to live one of the oldest cycling traditions the Burg has to offer!
For those who have participated in past Super Bowl Sunday rides you know first hand what I am talking about. The experience is always heavily determined by what mother nature has in store that year. You might get spoiled by a 60 degree sunny muddy Sunday or get scared from a snow/rain mixture that will test one’s survival skills. Every year mother nature brings something different which is partially why folks continually return each year, to experience the unexpected. Regardless of what the weather might bring, you will be greeted by a lot of smiles and folks who are willing to help you complete this group fiasco.
There is no real leadership to this ride but there are some general similarities from year to year that will help guide you during this adventure.
Here are a few highlights
Early departure option
There is always a group that rides from town at a chill pace. The group rolls from Mr. J’s South 42 at 8:45 am.
Meet up and parking
The meeting/parking place at the base of the mountain is the Briery Branch Community Center. The bulk of folks getting on their bikes at 10 am with slower riders getting an earlier roll out and the speedsters playing catch up with a later departure.
There always seems to be a handful of folks who park in Hone Quarry Recreation Area, with hopes of shortening this ride a little. They seem to mix right in with the group as it rolls by the Hone Quarry entrance.
Kids abbreviated version
More and more youngsters want to participate. An easy way to include someone in the experience without a major commitment is to park at the Briery Branch saddle (the split between Reddish and Flagpole Knob) and do an out and back to Flagpole Knob.
Group photos on Flagpole Knob!
Always a crowd favorite, this seems to happen by 1 pm with the early birds probably already on the descent.
Getting off the mountain
The weather conditions will determine most participants’ decision at this point, always know that you can escape the way you came up but this is the coldest option!
See you February 13th for the finest Harrisonburg bike tradition!
Additional important info about the ride
What to expect
A cold, fun, mellow ride. Make sure to pack more clothes and food than you might normally bring on a ride. Plan on spending anywhere from 4-6 hours on the bike.
All participants will ride up 257 (paved) past the dam and reservoir, to the saddle, and then continue north on a dirt Forest Service Road to Flagpole Knob (Highest point in Rockingham County).
After a group picture, riders have several options to descend off the mountain. If you are not familiar with the area bring a map (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map #791) and or ASK SOMEONE! Most riders will descend down “Red Diamond” (Slate Spring Trail) located less than a 1/4 of a mile north of Flagpole. Others will come back down the paved road while the more adventurous and ambitions will continue to Meadow Knob and then choose from the Pond Knob trail or continue to Oak Knob. If you don’t know where you are going ASK someone for direction or better yet find someone to ride with. Just be sure not to end up in West Virginia!
This is NOT an SVBC sanctioned group ride. This ride does not have ride leaders nor sweep riders. You are responsible for your own actions. This is an event with very real risks to your well-being.
The SVBC does not provide medical care for cyclists at this event. Riders are responsible for their own health, safety, and well-being at this event. No doctors, nurses, or emergency medical technicians, or anyone with any medical training are available along the ride. Physical, medical, and emergency care is the riders’ responsibility. In case of an emergency, we will endeavor to get local emergency personnel to an injured rider as soon as possible. This is an event with very real risks.