Ride Report: unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley 2021

Ride Report: unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley 2021 – by Guitar Ted with information provided by unPAved

Fall colors seen in front of a rider on a wet, misty rural road at unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley event
Image credit- Firespire Photography

The unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley happened again on October 10th and by all accounts, it was a rousing success, with a big turnout and lots of happy faces. You may recall last year how this event had tweaked its format to accommodate social distancing mandates and protocols due to the pandemic. Well, those efforts informed a lot of how the 2021 version of the unPAved was run. Athletes who came to ride seemed to agree that the tweaks were good and that they have made the unPAved a unique event in gravel grinding.

This year unPAved welcomed back a field of 825 participants for its events, which now include a two-day, “Overnight Category” where riders rode out to the halfway point of the 120 mile course. There the riders camped overnight at Poe Paddy State Park, camping using all their own gear, and the next day they rode back along the course to Lewisburg.

Men dressed in cycling kits with mud splattered all over them discuss their experiences after the unPAved ride.
Riders share tales of the day at the at the mid-point of unPAved. (Image courtesy of Firespire Photography)

The rest of the unPAved riders took to the courses for the day on Sunday. Riders had a two hour window in which to start. No need to skip that cup of coffee! Weather was also a bit of a factor this year with some rain making for wet, muddy conditions which the race report said made some call the event the “PAroubaix”. Riders challenged themselves in timed segments. These were sprinkled between sections where riders could relax, regroup, and enjoy the scenery.

Many compliments came in from riders on how the unPAved event was run and on its format. Riders found the event well organized with well stocked aid stations which doled out upwards of 960 pierogies, 35lbs of bacon, 30lbs of potatoes, and 10lbs of smoked cheese. They also gave out 40lbs of bananas, 720 half hot dogs, and three gallons of pickles. Riders then cruised down the final down hill to finish up in Lewisburg where they started earlier. The end was marked by the DONEpaved party where riders had the chance to eat the traditional Whoopie Pie finishing awards and quaff a can of a special “Leaf Tunnel Brown Ale” brewed for the event by the local brewery, The Rusty Rail Brewing Company.

Three riders climb a road in a colorful Fall scene in a forest.
Image courtesy of Firespire Photography

While unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley is a competition, it also is an inclusive event which was exemplified by the following tale shared in the extensive press release Riding Gravel received on the event. Here is that story as it was written:

One trio who not only didn’t mind the mud and the muck, but actually embraced it as others
watched them whiz by in slack jawed awe were three-time Olympian Bobby Lea, his wife
Shelby, and their two-year old son Sy, who Bobby pulled in a trailer for the full 95-mile “Plenty”
course, which included nearly 7,000 feet of climbing.

“I’ve never been so continuously happy for so many hours on a bike. The course was awesome,
just beautiful and the rain and mud just added to the atmosphere and adventure. Every aid
station was like a mini-celebration and that beautiful, downhill run to the finish makes you feel
like a million dollars, no matter how hard your day might have been,” said Bobby.

Shelby echoed those sentiments over a plate of food at the DONEPaved party at the Miller
Center courtyard. “One of the best rides I’ve ever done, start to finish. I never even looked at
my watch. The miles just flew by.”

If that isn’t a ringing endorsement of unPAved I don’t know what is. Once again, the crew of the unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley have pulled off an experience for riders which is unmatched anywhere in the world concerning gravel events.

For more on next year’s running of the unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley on October 9th, 2022, see their website here: https://www.unpavedpennsylvania.com/

NOTE: Images used were all courtesy of Firespire Photography/unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley. Information used in this post was provided to Riding Gravel in a press release sent to Riding Gravel by unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley.

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Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004, he has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and backroad events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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