If you look up the word adventure in Webster’s Dictionary the definition reads an undertaking usually involving danger or unknown risk, or an exciting or remarkable experience. Adventure can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, adventure has to be remote, pushing the limits of the human capacity to endure the elements of physical exhaustion and for others, it means discovering a swimming hole down a road or trail they had never been on before.
This year we descended upon the Stokesville Lodge and Campground for the 2017 edition of Adventure Fest. The venue is tucked away in the hills of the Shenandoah Valley bordering the George Washington National Forest, where there is access to over 500 miles of singletrack. The area is also home to some of the most scenic and challenging road and gravel routes on the east coast.
Friday’s cool rain began the weekend as campers and riders prepared for the afternoon of events. With the campground housing a network of trails that branched off in all directions, many took to the woods on their mountain bikes to explore the new terrain. Multiple groups set out daily for the rocky and challenging trails that ascended out of the campground to the top of Lookout Mountain, while others took to the roads on mapped out rides.
Saturday brought sun and longer days on the bike, with shuttles to the top of Reddish Knob and extended mixed surfaced rides. Participants came back happy and hungry. Local mountain bikers and cyclists volunteered to show riders around the trails and roads as well as help them feel more comfortable on the challenging terrain. Others they pushed off alone or with a few close friends to see if they could find their own adventure.
What is Adventure, really? I believe it was Yvon Chouinard who said, “The word ‘adventure’ has just gotten overused. For me, ‘adventure’ is when everything goes wrong. That’s when the adventure starts.” If Chouinard is correct in his assessment of what adventure truly is then our adventure in Stokesville didn’t really get started until Sunday morning when the water supply to the campground toilets and showers stopped running just as 250 plus campers were waking to their morning coffee and breakfast. The Bicycle Times and Dirt Rag crew hustled to find a solution, sending campers in need of relief down to the Lodge and it’s 3 working facilities. As the crew began to do the math on how many visitors to expect at the lodge, it was clear that these were campers, and in many cases adventurers. Sure, we were not in the remote mountains of the Himalayas, but outdoors people are a resourceful bunch, ones that can improvise in, let’s just say shitty, situations just as these. I mean let’s face it, walking 400 yards when you need to use the restroom is most definitely risky and involving danger.
If there is something to be taken away from this first weekend in the Shenandoah Valley it is that the potential for true adventure is there and people are willing to travel far and wide to experience it. Whether it’s all day mountain bike rides, overnight bike camping experiences or the lack of modern day plumbing, Adventure Fest has the ability to earn its name.
good times by the fire.