Bath offers Challenge Rides to Cyclists of varying abilities

On the weekend of the 13th and 14th of June, about 40 athletic and able cyclists were visiting Bath County to enjoy the surroundings, and challenge themselves to rides of their choosing. Best of Virginia Bike Tours joined forces with the Office of Tourism to offer the Warm Springs Mountain Challenge. Three different routes to choose from both Saturday, and Sunday, varied from a nineteen mile one, to a “Metric Century” which is around sixty miles, to a Century, which is close to 100 miles. Any one taking the 100-mile ride both days had the distinction of being a Mad Ann rider. When asked how he designed the routes, which cover ground on both sides of Warm Springs Mountain, Dave Walsh, owner and manager of Best of Virginia Bike Tours explained:
“It was a team; it wasn’t me. It was me and a real, dedicated group. Really everybody brought their own strengths. Steve Curtain and Cliff Gilchrest know these roads and they ride them all the time so luckily, I didn’t have to really decide. It was just saying to Steve and Cliff, ‘Where should we send people?’ And it was a combination of the scenery, and it is hilly, but sometimes that’s exactly what you are looking for.”
Challenge seems an understatement for what riding these mountains must be, but these riders, and more who will come, embrace the chance.
Dave Walsh knows why.
“If you think about some of the iconic races, they look for mountains. It’s just part of that personal challenge. On the other hand, when you get to the top there’s a view. And you’ve made it. And then there’s the downhill, and that’s usually a lot of fun.
So, it breaks it up. When you’re just riding flat all the time, it’s just always the same.”

A few of the participants visiting for the bike tour talked about what brought them here.
“My name is Adam Pisento. My wife Jeanie is here, and my seven-year old daughter Addison is here with me today. This is my fiftieth Birthday ride. We’ve never been down here. It’s gorgeous country. I’m looking forward to the ride.”
Adam, who usually rides thirteen miles a day to work in Northern Virginia, rode sixty miles on Saturday, and then Sunday he and Jeanie and Addison all did the family ride together taking them out of Millboro, up Ridge Road to the end of Mill Creek, and back into Millboro. Both adults used their own bikes, and Addison rode along on a trailer bike attached to her dad’s.
“So Addison, when you go on the trailer bike, do you actually have to pedal at all?”
Uhh, yes, and once you get started up a hill and umm, you’re pedaling really, really hard, um the person in front of you can actually feel you pedaling.”
“So in a way you’re kind of actually helping push him up the hill a little bit?”
“Uh huh.”
The other rides included long loops on both sides of Warm Springs Mountain, as far north as Mill Gap where Mountain Laurel is still in bloom. The Double Century, that is the two hundred miles in two days, took its name from Mad Ann Baily, a frontierswoman and army courier.

“Mad Ann Bailey, widow and equestrian was always clad in buckskin and petticoats wore a floppy hat over her wild mane of hair and carried a rifle as well as any man. She lived in the caves near Falling Springs and earned her name “Mad Ann” when local Indians marveled at her ability to ride through hostile territory on horseback unharmed. They thought she must be possessed by evil spirits or be insane—hence the name. The name stuck and “Mad Ann” rode through the countryside on horseback unharmed.
In 1791 Mad Ann Bailey became legend when she single handedly saved Ft. Lee near Charleston by riding 100 miles alone through the hostile wilderness to reach Ft. Savannah in Lewisburg. She made the three-day trip in less than two obtaining the gunpowder needed by soldiers at Ft. Lee. To this day no one knows how she managed to make the trip in two days nor the route she took. She saved the day and earned the title of both heroine and legend.”

Sources: Website of Best of Virginia Bike tours
Historically Speaking, True Tales of Bath County Virginia, Hugh S. Gwin

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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