Dragon Run always delivers a good day. Not truly a gravel ride, definitely not a road ride, the route is about a third gravel and two-thirds paved.
Winding through parts of the Dragon Run State Forest and King and Queen County, the entire route is frequented by very few motorists. With lots of shade on much of the route, it makes for a calm and cooler-than-expected ride regardless of the weather.
This Saturday’s ride benefited from an early taste of fall temperatures for much of the time. A couple of dozen riders rolled out a little after 9 a.m. and split into small groups early on. I ended up spending most of the time with Denelle and her partner Mark while Sam P, Mark N, Patrick, and Jamal led the front group. Denelle was a total diesel and with her and Mark’s help we kept up a solid pace and as is often the case, she absolutely crushed many of the local Strava leaderboards.
The gravel sectors themselves are driven by cars but most of the surface is not nearly as compact as the ones in Bear Creek / Cumberland State Forest. Loose gravel abounds but with over 60% also paved, tire selection is key if you are trying to go fast. I stuck with my current favorite, the Challenge Getaway. 40mm wide and with a very low-profile tread it provided just enough grip in the gravel without too much of a penalty on the pavement. I’m not getting any younger so I’m spending more effort chasing those “marginal gains” to be as efficient as possible with my equipment and after geeking out over efficiency tests and trying things for myself, I’ve found that the handmade versions of the Challenge tires absolutely deliver the goods on this front. Don’t tell Denelle this, of course, if it wasn’t for her choice of slower-rolling tires, she might have dropped me! Haha.
The fast group only finished about 15 minutes ahead of us, and any time I can be that close to a group with that level of power, this middle-aged dad would call it a win.
But anyway, the ride was great. We ticked off the 75-mile loop in about 4 hours and I managed to set a personal best on every single Strava segment along the way. The fast group only finished about 15 minutes ahead of us, and any time I can be that close to a group with that level of power, this middle-aged dad would call it a win. I managed to nail my nutrition on the day with a combination of Maurten drink mix and gels along with some gas station streusel cakes. All in 1160 calories went into the engine and about 65oz of water.
This route is public and can be ridden at any time. There’s zero trespassing but also zero store stops. There are lots of churches along the way that usually have a water spigot turned on, but plan accordingly and bring big bottles and/or a hydration pack along with all the necessary snacks.
Get the Route Here.