The land of the Wild & Wonderful
"Raw Talent Ranch is a place for cyclists to connect with the pure and expansive idylic roads of Hardy County, West Virginia."
"Whether you’re just discovering the rich rewards the bike brings or you are a racer looking to fine tune form and test your limits RTR offers a challenge set against a backdrop to remember and inspire." http://www.rawtalentranch.com/about/
It is absolutely amazing up there. Words and pictures truly cannot do justice to the experiences had, but I shall try.
Raw Talent Ranch is the brain child of Jay Moglia. He's a bike courier in DC by week, and ride leader extraordinaire by weekend. He's been a part of the cycling and race scene for quite some time, and enjoys sharing the wonderful riding he has discovered out here with fellow cyclists and bike teams/groups. Rapha Prestige held an "Appalachia" event through Raw Talent Ranch this past August. I'm pretty sure their minds were blown just as much as mine was. You can read about their ride HERE (I recommend it!).
The day we headed out there, as we were winding our way up Howards Lick Rd in the van, we passed through Lost River State Park. I remember saying to Chris in excitement, "This is so beautiful!" His response was, "This isn't even close to all of it."
That's pretty much how the entire weekend went. My mind was just continually blown by the beauty, adventure, challenging terrain, and all around good vibes that occurred both on and off of the bike. And to be able to return to a beautifully restored barn and hang out in cozy spots after wrecking yourself on the bike all day was the cherry on top.
The Barn exists about 5 miles off of Shenandoah Mountain Rd, which was our gateway to dirt road paradise on our first ride of the weekend. It was also how we got back to the barn on all 3 of our rides, with a different way to climb up to it each time.
I believe, for all of our rides, that 70-85% of the roads were gravel or dirt. And traffic? Let's just say I think I saw maybe 10-15 cars while we were out riding for the whole weekend.
It's challenging to pick a favorite ride of the weekend, but I would say it was the route we did on the 2nd day. It was just about 58miles with almost 7,000ft of climbing. There were 3 decently placed climbs, each with its own personality. Dumpling Run Rd was packed smooth gravel with only a few steeper pitches. The climb up Hinkle Mtn was brutal. Over 5 miles of steep, technical dirt road left me feeling hangry. Thankfully, there is a newly opened general store (open on weekends) in Peru, WV that was only a few miles away from the Hinkle descent. The South Fork General store has a very cool history and great food to refuel for the last climb and miles of the ride. You should check it out and chat with the couple that own it if you're ever out there.
We had stopped to take so many pictures and talk with so many locals on this ride that we got back to the Barn with just the last colors of twilight in the sky. We had lights and weren't worried about cars (everyone is so chill out there), so it was serene riding along watching the mountains get darker and spotting deer in the meadows next to us.
The first and last rides of the weekend were also awesome had some extra special moments. We finished our first ride with watching part of the sunset on one of Jay's friend's pieces of land (360* view), and in the last bit of the final ride we got to check out an old abandoned school house on top of a part of the mountain.
We definitely lucked out with the weather. 50-60 degrees in the middle of January, and the rain held off until we were leaving to head back to Harrisonburg.
Raw Talent Ranch is a very special place. There's nothing else like it. The barn itself is cozy and more than accommodating.
I am looking forward to the many future adventures we are sure to have out there.
You can book time at the Barn by contacting Jay through his website, http://www.lostriverbarn.com/
Gallery featuring all 3 of our rides: