“If you’re racing, line up in the front! If you’re doing this for fun, line up in back!”
We took a spot towards the back...
Bikes loaded, tools and cycling kit all packed, the Firefly Adventure team caravan departed Boston on a frigid, icy morning and headed south. We heard the call of fifty miles of dry, sunshine-dappled trails at Monster Cross echoing louder and louder as our six-person crew edged ever closer to Richmond, VA.
After spending a fun evening in Richmond, we arrived at Pocahontas State Park the next morning ready to ride. “If you’re racing, line up in the front! If you’re doing this for fun, line up in back!” We took a spot towards the back of the mass of racers, some on cyclocross bikes, some on mountain bikes, with a few tandems and even unicycles in the mix. We were definitely there to have fun.
The mass start meant the going was slow as we wound through the parking lot and onto the trails. Milica, Leah, Carolyn and I wanted to be sure this adventure was shared, so the team stuck together for the entirety of the ride. This was increasingly easy to do as we spun through the miles and the crowd on the trails thinned. After the first lap, only those tackling the full fifty miles were left. Soon, it was just us, sometimes surrounded by small groups of friendly riders enjoying the amazing riding on a lovely day.
Obviously, we were a little nervous that our first so-called test rides would be riding twice around a twenty-five-mile loop of trails nine hours from home; however, we had plenty of help during our bike build night the previous week: Matt Bracken of Pedro’s, Matt Roy of MM Racing, Charlie Schubert of Bikes Not Bombs, and the guys from Firefly all helped make sure everything was fine-tuned to precision. Our bliss was only punctuated by two flats, both on the same sharp rock hidden at the bottom of a running creek.
"Winding through the fire roads and double-track trails, the team was easy to spot: matching Firefly bikes set up for adventure."
Winding through the fire roads and double-track trails, the team was easy to spot: matching Firefly bikes set up for adventure, orange Chris King headsets shining brilliantly in the sun - but our excited exclamations resounding through the forest made us especially easy to hear. Our first chance to hit the woods on our new bikes showed how dialed these machines are for ripping through trails, and we were thrilled! The course seemed engineered to suit our versatile bikes. After a long, bitterly cold winter in New England, we - and our new bikes - were itching for short sleeves, warm sun, and forest. Monster CX was a perfect first adventure for the team.
We headed to a rural corner of Northern VA that evening, where we stayed at a picturesque farmhouse brimming with an amazing collection of rare road frames (and a barn with a special pony showering area that was perfect for bike-washing?). The next day, the team spent time with the ponies and horses living at the farm before embarking on a ride through the dirt roads of dreams just out the farmhouse’s door. We were so smitten with the rough climbs and swooping descents we discovered on our brief wanderings through these untraveled roads that we swore to return for a longer ride someday.
Looking forward to warmer weather and more adventure this spring!