We've partnered with the director of the Amy D Foundation, an nonprofit that promotes participation, opportunity, and equity for women in cycling, to create ten bi-annual scholarships for FTWNB riders. Scholarships grant access to a three day camp, where the cost of food and stay is covered, we provide gravel riding skill share, nutrition coaching, ride hydration and nutrition products, and apparel.
We headed to the mountains of Harrisonburg, VA for this iteration of camp, in prime leaf-peeping season. In addition to the Amy D Director and I riding with camp attendees, we lean on a network of current and former pro racers to provide mentorship during our rides, starting with a Friday "all together" route (30 miles, 3k feet) and culminating Sunday with a call to our Community to ride with us (30 miles, 3k feet.) Over fifty riders joined us Sunday for a classic H'burg "Harris Roubaix" route, it was wonderful to see! Many of our supportive riders were from the Shenandoah Valley Bike Coalition, some were strong local riders that we know from rides and races up and down the east coast, and we even had a great showing from Melanin Base Miles out of the VA/MD/DC corridor! What a dreamy crew to ride with.
Our Saturday ride was the BIG DEAL for campees, route options of a 60 miler with 5k feet or an 80 mile loop with 7k and a climb up the famed "death climb" gravel pass, up to the top of Reddish Knob. The routes stayed together for the first 30 miles, then parted ways at a well traveled store stop just outside of the famous Stokesville Campground. Our riders were amazing and while they had challenges on the ride, our nutrition coaching and open conversation kept things rubber side down. Our riders hailed from states across the country and all kinds of different cycling background...two folks from Texas were NOT feeling the cool Virginia temps! Thankfully we had plenty of warm apparel to spare, and they packed well...lots of ride layering chatter during our rides! The views were endless...big mountains mottled with colorful trees, rolling hills with cows scattered across them, old farms and abandoned barns...the sunny glow was so warm and the wind kept the temps back a bit - just a gorgeous weekend.
Erin, the ASM at our Short Pump location, came with us to run mechanical support and drive the team car to meet folks for smart snack and water refill stops. Very glad they were about to lend their skills, with a bent chain halfway though Saturday's ride and derailleur drama at the top of Reddish! They also helped our riders that flew assemble and pack bikes, a huge help to those folks. It was so nice having a mechanics area set up in the camp and Erin behind a stand, boosted everyone's confidence so much!
We host this camp twice a year and it is a huge effort for us, with so many moving parts and schedules to coordinate, but the plan has become pretty streamlined and we're efficient workers, so it goes off without too big of a production! Our aim for future rides is to host a intermediate level camp in the Spring in Roanoke, and a more beginner friendly camp in Fall closer to central Virginia. Can't wait to see where it takes us and our campers!