Disclaimer: This 27-Mile Bull Run Mountain Brutal Gravel Grinder recap contains affiliate links…


Climbing a Mountain on Loose Gravel

The thought of climbing a mountain on my gravel bike was just intriguing enough for me to agree to join Bill on the 27-mile route he offered up for our Saturday riding adventure. Short, sweet, and with a lifetime of bragging rights after climbing a mountain on my bike was enough to sell me on the ride.

With overnight temps getting down into the 20’s, Bill and I didn’t leave for our ride until late morning after it started to warm up. Even with the air temperature at 46° (felt like 42°) at our 12:30 PM start in Middleburg, the wind cut right through us and we stayed cold for much of the ride even though the temperature had climbed to 54° by the time we finished.

Spring was in the air with tight buds starting to form on the trees, tiny green leaves popping from the brush lining the roads, and daffodils showing off their yellows and whites. Meadows had turned from brown to green causing the scenery looked very different than just two weeks earlier.

Yes, we had a 5-mile climb up Bull Run Mountain on gravel, but that wasn’t the hard part, we had an even steeper 1-mile climb about 2 miles later and on even looser gravel. We climbed a total of 2,600 feet over a mere 27 miles. The scenery was beautiful, though, and like most rides in western Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, history was all around us.


Ride Overview
  • • Ride Name: 27-GravMercerPkMidBurgBullRunMtn
  • • Location: Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, Virginia
  • • Start/Finish: Mercer Park, Middleburg, VA
  • • Course Type: loop
  • • Course Surface: gravel
  • • Bike: Salsa Journeyman
  • • Distance: 27 miles
  • • Time: 2:35:31
  • • Average Speed: 10.4 MPH
  • • Maximum Speed: 27.4 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 2,598 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 343 to 1,123 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 46° to 54°
  • • Ride with GPS: Link to turn-by-turn navigation cue sheet
  • • Course Map:


Fun Pictures From Along the Way

The following pictures were taken with either my iPhone (affiliate link) while stopped along the course; or by my husband Bill who captured pictures while riding with his GoPro (affiliate link) attached to the front of his shirt.


Historic site that was once the home of a Revolutionary War hero and later the location of  battles of the Civil War…


Bull Run Mountain Road…


Descending Bust Head Road which during the 1-mile ascent I renamed Butt Head Road…


Climbing Rock Hill Mill Road…


Blue painted birdhouses are scattered all along Sullivans Mill Road. They look like bluebird houses, but I need to do a little more research because it’s usually not recommended to place bluebird houses on fenceposts since it makes it easy for predators to invade the house. Also, bluebirds prefer weathered over painted houses (I know from experience). I’ve found bluebirds really like this style house (affiliate link).


Garmin Stats

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…


Garmin map and graphs…


Final Thoughts on the Ride

One of the advantages of writing recaps of our rides is that I can refer back and by looking at the pictures and reading my short commentary remember the event much better. As with all other rides, I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget this particular course, but for a totally different reason than usual. This time, I want to make sure that I never do this ride again

But alas, the scenery was beautiful and the challenge to ride it stronger is all it will take for this cardio junkie to want to do it again, and better. As a result, and much like childbirth, I’ll forget the pain and soon be raring to do it again.


  • • Have you completed a ride, run, or hike and declared that you never wanted to repeat that route?
  • • Do you have bluebirds near you? ~ We have bluebird houses in our back yard and love watching and caring for them.
  • • Has spring hit fully where you live?


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.