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It’s 8 a.m. on a balmy, thick-aired, yet floral-sweet late-June morning in the Shenandoah Valley as a record 75 riders leave the Red Wing Roots Music Festival campground at Natural Chimneys and begin their 40-mile ride and 8-mile windy climb to the summit of Shenandoah Mountain’s highest point – Reddish Knob.

What is usually a crisp respite on these beating days, the riders found relief not in the coolness at over 4,000 feet but by drawing notes of the fiddle as they crested the corner up to the overlook.

The Debutanes welcome the riders to a spread of nourishment and breath-giving views at the summit of Reddish Knob.

With 360-degree views – to the east, you see Massanutten Mountain, and to the west, the West Virginia Alleghenies. For the 11th year, our Coalition has organized group rides, one of them up to Reddish Knob. Joined by Trent Wagner of the Steel Wheels (and Coalition Board Member), you find orange slices, soda, PB&J, and sweet treats – what any rider dreams about on a steep and scorching climb.

Biking Reddish Knob isn’t the only way we celebrated the great outdoors and being in the community – there were two other group rides from the campground: a 10-15 mile easy spin on the neighboring rural roads and a 35-mile ride catching more of the Valley’s greatest treasures. These rides continue to be made possible with the help of our passionate volunteers.

After 11 years of leading groups and growing capacity, we added something new to the mix: bike repairs.

Red Wing is a family-friendly weekend sprawled across the grasses under large chimney-resembling rocky formations. Music, yes, but it’s also abundant in children’s games, camping, vendors, food, and activities to savor nature – the bike being the method of choice for most to transport across the festival. Outside of the music grounds, at any given time, you are bound to find a few dozen bikes laid across the grassy (sometimes muddy) fields.

Ben Wyse greeting visitors at the Coalition non-profit vendor table at Red Wing.
Ben Wyse greeting visitors at the Coalition non-profit vendor table at Red Wing.

Ben Wyse, our new Bikes for Neighbors Coordinator, set up tent as a non-profit vendor for three full days to support the hundreds of folks who could need bike repairs. As riders of all types came to us with broken spokes or flat tires, it generated conversations around our programs such as Bikes for Neighbors, Connect Our Schools, the Shenandoah Rail Trail, and the Western Slope.

As our sore voices from singing and talking recover, we are renewed with ideas for next year and the lasting joy this community-centric festival always sparks. Two of our board members, Michael Weaver and Trent Wagner, have created a one-of-a-kind experience that leaves us all appreciating the nature and music we have in the Shenandoah Valley, but most importantly and the people we share it with.

As we wrap up June, Great Outdoors Month in Virginia and across the United States, we invite your family and friends to go outside and experience the amazing outdoor places Virginia offers. Whether going to a picnic, listening to music, or finding a local swimming hole, the bike can be a tool to transport and appreciate these outdoor spaces.

Amanda Presgraves,

Director of Community Enchantment

Swimming hole at Stokesville campgroud, bikes lining the Red Wing music grounds, and a setting sun over the Hill Stage.
Swimming hole at Stokesville Campgroud, bikes lining the Red Wing music grounds, and a setting sun over the Hill Stage.

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