The annual bike ride began 13 years ago as a way for friends and cycling enthusiasts Harry Wilson and Ricky Adkins to showcase a challenging local route that ventured to the tops of Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock and Sauratown Mountain. In 2000, the start of the ride was moved from Hanging Rock State Park to the Armfield Center with the ride also serving as an important fundraiser for the center.
Through the years, variations have been added to the routes, making the event accessible to virtually any rider. A 41-mile loop omits mountain climbs, providing a scenic ride for cyclists of all abilities. A 75-mile loop reflects the ride’s original challenge, drawing seasoned riders to test their abilities against the three mountains. A third and most recent addition is a 95-mile loop, combining scenic miles with a climb up the three mountains to provide a challenge to top level riders from throughout the region and beyond. Riders may also omit any or all mountain climbs from the two longer rides, or, if necessary, may choose to simply go back down any mountain at any time.
“This ride has the reputation of being a challenge,” Wilson noted, “and that along with the tremendous support brings riders back. We’ve been able to attract top notch, high level riders who can average over 20 mph for the entire route. Some are almost semi-pro.
“But we’ve also had riders from 13 to 72 years old take part,” he continued. “Recreational riders can come to learn to do mountains or to test themselves. Because of the loop, riders have a safety net where they can always turn around and come back down.”
The challenge of the three mountains has proven to be such an attraction that organizers now limit the number of participating riders to the first 600 to register. Registration for up to 600 riders may be done online at www.threemountainmadness.com or on the morning of the event. Riders registering online before midnight will receive an early registration discount. As of last Friday, more than 300 riders had registered.
Registration will begin at the Armfield Center on Saturday at 7 a.m. with the ride scheduled to start promptly at 8. If a maximum number of riders is reached, morning-of-ride registration will not be done. Lunch is provided for all riders after the ride.
“That’s ahead of schedule for us,” Wilson noted. “But some crazy weather patterns are being called for this week and that may slow us down.”
According to Wilson, who also serves as an Armfield board member, the ride is the center’s single biggest fundraiser and in recent years has annually raised some $20,000. Since 2000, the ride has raised over $100,000 with some $90,000 having been donated to the Armfield Center.