Mountain bikers are often seeking the ultimate thrill ride. They want to find that perfect trail that is technical and challenging, yet fast and exhilarating. When this 52 year old decided to go looking for the biggest, baddest of the mountain bike trails, he found The Dragon's Back near Roanoke, Virginia. It was rumored to be one of the steepest and toughest mountain trails in the entire state, possibly even all of North America. The trails run along the ridge of a tall mountain that is part of the Appalachians in northern Virginia. This area is famous for winding, steeply sloping roads that challenge motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts. But another famous aspect of this area is a mountain ridge known as "The Dragon's Back". There is ample folklore in this area surrounding the origins of this ridge. Legend tells of a mighty dragon that terrorized the valley, spreading its giant wings, sweeping down to grab cattle, deer and townsfolk in its iron claws. For years, villagers lived in fear until a young man named Merlin forged an axe with magical powers. Made of materials that left it half as light and twice as sharp as an ordinary axe, he set forth on a two wheeled vehicle that he had invented and also made from the magical metals. He powered his vehicle up the mountain to the summit where he met the terrible dragon. It blasted a shot of fiery breath at Merlin, which he dodged on his agile machine. He dealt a fatal blow to the serpent's neck and it fled and died, creating the scaly ridge that is now called the Dragon's Back. A single towering fragment of limestone nearby is known as Dragon's Tooth.
While this is obviously a legend born from imagination and fantasy, the ridge is strikingly similar to the back of giant, sleeping beast, and the fragments of loose limestone that litter the trail do resemble the scales of a monster. The trail is fast and terrifying when ridden on a mountain bike and anyone can see that it is very aptly named.
Dave has had a dream to take his bike to these challenging mountain trails for many years. As he started to research the local trails, he came across the descriptions and stories of this mountain ridge and he knew this was the challenge he was seeking. He loaded his bike in the car and drove from Northern Ontario to Roanoke Virginia. It took an hour and a half to ride and push his bike to the peak. After a short ride along the ride, enjoying spectacular scenery, Dave turned and headed back down.
Recording the adventure on his helmet mounted camera and another posted on the trail, he set out for what was truly the ride of his life. With the front wheel bouncing off rocks and chattering on loose shale, Dave hung on tight to stay on the trail. At times it was so steep that his back wheel was locked and skidding, and he struggled to maintain control.
This descent is the ultimate adrenaline filled thrill ride, lasting over 7 minutes at high speed.