Disclaimer: This Loudoun 1725 Gravel Grinder recap contains affiliate links…

 

This Is Not a Race

The 1725 Gravel Grinder ended up being one of the most fun events in which I’ve participated in a very long time. Even though we had no intention to race the 40-mile event (60 and 80 milers were also options at registration), I was disappointed when we received emails saying, “This is not a race.” I’m pretty sure when we registered that it was listed as a race, because at the time, I was pumped that I’d be able to say that I had raced on my bike. LOL

 

The Ride in a Nutshell

It was 75° and sunny by the time we rolled out of the starting chute at 9:45 AM. Our group of 7 started together, but one of our friends pulled away early and finished way ahead of us. The rest of us finished within a 10 minute range of each other (I was in the middle of the pack finishing 3rd out of the 6 of us). I finished my ride with an average speed of 13.3 MPH, not bad considering the course was mostly gravel.

The weather mostly cooperated with rain not expected until 6 PM; however, at mile 38 we heard the first rumbles of thunder, followed by spitting rain as we made the final long climb to the finish line. While waiting in line for our swag, the sky opened and we got drenched.

 

About the Course

The course started next to the beautiful Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia and wound its way along portions of western Loudoun County’s 265 miles of gravel roads, some of which date back to the 1700’s. For the most part, the gravel roads were packed and in good condition as we made our way past well-manicured farmland framed by rock and rail fences, beautiful barns and silos, and an assortment of livestock. Wineries and breweries dotted the course as we rode through St. Louis, Unison, Willsville, Trapp, and Bloomfield on our way back to Middleburg.

Luckily, the 40-mile course did not require us to ford a creek; although, the photos of some of the 60-milers and 80-milers were quite humorous. The long climb the last 2.5 miles to the finish arch was challenging, but the distraction of the impending storm and excitement of being close to the finish line helped pull me up the hill more quickly.

 

Ride Overview
  • • Ride With GPS Name: 41.3-1725GravelGrinder2Loop
  • • Ride with GPS: Link to turn-by-turn navigation cue sheet
  • • Location: Loudoun County, Virginia
  • • Start/Finish: Salamander Resort, Middleburg, Virginia
  • • Course Type: Two Connecting Loops
  • • Course Surface: Mostly gravel with some paved
  • • Distance: 41.3 miles
  • • Time: 3:03:19
  • • Average Speed: 13.3 MPH
  • • Maximum Speed: 33 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 2,753 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 341 to 740 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 75° to 84°
  • • Course Map:

 

Fun Pictures From Along the Way

The following pictures were taken with my iPhone (affiliate link) before the event and while stopped along the course. A few were taken by Bill who had his GoPro Hero 7 (affiliate link) attached both to the front of his bike and on a selfie stick. Photo credit is given on individual pictures taken by Bruce Buckley Photography and EX2 Adventures.

We pulled into the grassy field parking area an hour before roll time in hopes of having the Bikenetic crew take a look at my Salsa. I’d purchased it from them in 2018 and wanted them to look at my left shifter. Ends up they were sponsoring the second rest stop and were set up out along the course, not at the start/finish area.

 

Bill checked the tire pressure in our tires and we were off…

 

There was a quarter-mile path that connected the parking area to the check-in/starting area next to the Salamander Resort.

 

With staggered start times, check-in was easy peasy and with a very short wait.

 

The beautiful Salamander Resort in the background…

 

Always happy when neither my friends nor I need to visit the medical support team…

 

Race number attached to my gravel bike and ready to roll!

 

Waiting for our friends to arrive…

 

Views from the starting area…

 

Gathered with our friends in the starting chute…

 

Final instructions from Andy of EX2 Adventures…

 

When paved turns to gravel…

 

And just as we topped a hill, a professional photographer was there to capture our agony…

 

The first rest stop was a welcome sight!

 

The mini egg and cheese burrito hit the spot, but I should have supplemented it with a gel or some chews…

 

Soon after the rest stop I had trouble keeping up with my friends and watched them pull ahead. I played around with my gears trying to determine the problem, but it wasn’t until I pulled alongside my waiting friends and took a gel and a few chews that I realized I was near bonking. Within 10 minutes of refueling my energy level had returned and I had no problem keeping up.

 

Feeling strong, we pulled into the second rest stop and there we found the Bikenetic crew. I grabbed a bag of barbecue potato chips, ate half, and shoved the rest in my back pocket. I finished my first bag of chews, and refilled both my water and sports drink bottles.

 

The Bikenetic mechanic was busily working on someone else’s bike so I skipped having him look at my bike…

 

It wasn’t until we stopped for a group selfie along this beautiful stretch of road that we turned and saw the ominous sky behind us…

 

Concerned because we weren’t expecting rain until 6 PM, Alan pulled up his weather app and saw this storm bearing down on us…

Photo credit: Alan

By the time we rode past the third rest stop it was practically empty. The volunteers said that as soon as the sky darkened, everyone scattered. While walking toward the porta potties I overheard a call coming in on a walkie talkie that a cyclist was down and being transported to the nearest hospital and that his bike would be returned to the finish area.

 

We saw another professional photographer about 15 minutes after our final rest stop. By now, our friend Ed was way ahead of us.

Hurrying to finish with the storm chasing us…

 

We made it to mile 38 before we heard the first rumbles of thunder and felt the first few rain drops as we were making the long climb up Foxcroft Road. Perhaps fight or flight kicked in or I just didn’t want to get soaked, but I was able to push pretty hard up the final 2.5’ish-mile hill considering it was at the end of the 40-mile ride.

Right after I rolled under the finish line arch, it gave out and collapsed, but the EX2 Adventures crew were able to bring it back to life and it was welcoming finishers once again.

Photo credit: Lauren

Happy to be finished and completely unaware that I’d get soaked in about two minutes…

Photo credit: EX2 Adventures

Swag included truckers hats…

Photo credit: EX2 Adventures

And pint glassess…

Photo credit: EX2 Adventures

By the time we rode back at the parking area, the rain had stopped. We were soaked, but the good news is that cycling kits dry quickly!

 

Garmin Stats

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…

 

Garmin map and graphs…

 

Final Thoughts on the Ride

Bill, our friends, and I had a wonderful time at the Loudoun 1725 Gravel Grinder and plan to do it again next year. We’re considering riding the 60-mile route because who doesn’t want to ford a creek on their bike. I mean, is it really a gravel ride if you don’t?

EX2 Adventures did a wonderful job with the event. The communication leading up to the day of the ride was great, the course was beautiful and well marked, volunteers were friendly, and aid stations were well appointed. We had everything we needed from start to finish, and free photos were just icing on the cake!

 

Questions:
  • • Do you prefer organized rides/tours or just heading out and seeing where your bike takes you?
  • • What’s the lowest temperature you’ll ride in? The highest?
  • • Do you stop and relax occasionally to fuel or take pictures, or barrel on through when on a long run or ride?

 

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.