Jersey Shore, PA
Rider meetings are rider meetings, right? This was one different though, Keystone Gravel had emotion as fellow FM, Donnie Breon (@chainsawdon) proclaimed, "Welcome to my world!" and closed the speech with heartfelt tears as the dream he's been conjuring up in his head was about to become a reality. This inaugural ride had all of the tell-tale sings of somebody plotting, crafting and ironing out every small detail in the long hours of the night and vetting it through going out the next day and putting two wheels the dirt, and not just the course itself, but the rider experience and the cadence of the emotions felt along the way. We were about to enter the architect's playground and soon realize whats makes Keystone Gravel so different from other events and a date that is already blacked out on the calendar for 2017.
Designed as a tour of his home turf, Keystone Gravel, ranges over 60 miles and up 6,000 feet over 4 mountain passes in the spectacular Pine Creek Gorge, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Don’t be fooled by the scenery. It’s a totally legit competition with racers battling for speed on 7 timed climbs, descents and flats over 90% gravel roads, including some singletrack, doubletrack, a dam, a visit to the Shire, the tall pines Callahan descent aka the Ewok Village, and a pool noodle, Fireball shot wielding maniac at the end of sketchy creek crossing.
The entire “Gravelduro” course, especially the first 4 1/2 mile timed gravel descent, is super rad in and of itself. But riders also get treated to 3 aid stations with local coffee, waffles with strawberry jam and peanut butter spread, cauliflower tacos, and venison jerky—all homemade. A few taverns and country stores. most notewrothy was the Mountaintop Inn, were marked along the course map for additional midride "refreshment".
Best of all, Keystone Gravel starts and ends at Mud Run Farm, a scenic event space on Donnie’s personal property. Riders camp out for the weekend around a pond, in the trees, and up on a mountain ridge. Two local bands played the afterparty and well into the night at the bonfire. Donnie’s wife, Andrea, provided all the food, which was included in the reg fee, as was unlimited pulls from kegs of Rubber Soul Brewing.
A grueling, gorgeous ride that you could race or just ride? Handmade prizes? Great people, food, music, and beer? A beautiful event space with camping, a finished barn, a pond, and a rowboat? That’s a rare combo of awesome.
Check out additional shots on the day from the master himself, Abe Landes of Firespire Photography. http://www.firespirephotography.com/2016-keystone-gravel/
-= FM JOACHIM =- LWC JASON LWC TIM
-= FM CZAJKA =- -= FM PRYOR =- -= FM JOACHIM =- LWC JASON Mark Weaver