by Matt Birnbaum
Shepherdstown rocks—and welcomes us again! It’s a funky little college town with a vibrant artisan culture. It’s breathtakingly scenic, overlooking the Potomac at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s steeped in Civil War history with Antietam and Harper’s Ferry a stone’s throw away. And it’s a bicycling mecca. It’s a perfect setting for the Back Roads Century on September 18, 2016. It is our home this year and for the next four years thanks to our partnership with leaders in this community.
As I pen this column in early May, I can easily say, this is the most organized I have ever seen this event in over the past four years. We have a strong group of volunteers collectively leading, developing and improving routes, signage, and rest stops. Our new event planners, Marianne Davis and Kathy Lusby of Shepherdstown, are creative, fun and energetic, and are linking us up with town resources to make this a true shared event. They are both civic leaders in Shepherdstown and have shown a commitment to making OUR club ride THEIR big event as well. Success looks the same to all of us!
And success means offering a fun-filled and active weekend in addition to a great single-day century tour. And having 2000 people do it with us!! The day before the main event, the Back Roads Century on Sunday, all riders and their companions will have a chance to participate in a full menu on Saturday September 17, with activities day and night. We will provide more details of these optional Saturday offerings on the website, but for now, I want to give all a general sense of what’s in store. Saturday morning will feature free group bike rides (catering to cyclists of different abilities) that traverse along local Civil War battle sites in commemorating the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. (Yes, we fixed the glitches from last year!)
And on Saturday through the evening, you and your non-cycling companions may choose to sample special tours, activities and artists that highlight the ecological diversity of the landscape, bluegrass music, along with the rich cultural history of the region, and tap into the gastronomic delights presented by the local chefs and bartenders.
Of course, the weekend’s real draw remains with the actual Back Roads Century on Sunday. This year, we will be offering five routes for cycling at all levels, ranging from 27 to 101 miles. Riders on all routes will, for the first time, get to experience the magic of Audubon’s Yankauer Nature Preserve, one of this year’s featured rest stops. As in past years, we again will have hummus and tomato sandwiches and baked potatoes, live music, and fruits from local growers at the rest stops. We also will be doing something new and special in each rest stop to celebrate the cyclists’ journeys.
Enjoy a post-ride party at a national historic landmark, the Bellevue House. This colonial era estate sits on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River where we will be providing a catered meal, live entertainment, masseuses, and much more.
To accommodate the approximately 2,000 plus bicyclists, we have already secured places for 400 riders at area hotels, inns, hostels and campsites. We will be doing our best to expand lodging offerings to meet the high demand. Secure your lodging now! All is on the website.
For now, I want to end by asking all of you to go to the Club’s website and register early for this year’s Back Roads Century. Despite this year’s expanded offerings on both days for this year’s event, we have still kept prices reasonable and very competitive for both members at $50 ($55 if you wait until August) and non-members $75 (rising to $80 for those waiting to August). Please register now for this event. It’s our club’s major source of revenue for supporting our operations. But more important, please do register for the event so you can join all of us on a great weekend adventure. Get ready to bike and party!