Back for its second year, the Gravel Race Up Spruce Knob, GRUSK, drew in 166 cyclists from 9 states to tackle the highest peak in West Virginia, Spruce Knob. For the July 8th event, racers chose between 73, 53, or 36 mile routes that led them through some of the most remote sections of the Monongahela National Forest. Racers bombed down exhilarating descents, attacked climbs that were miles long, pedaled up and over the eastern continental divide several times, to finally ride to the highest peak in the Mountain State.
Experience Learning, Inc.’s Spruce Knob Mountain Center, high on the flank of Spruce Knob, serves as the venue for GRUSK. The expansive property offers a unique high-mountain setting that perfectly complements the event, offering racers dorm rooms, meal options, and one of the most scenic camping areas in the state.
Along with racers from across the country, GRUSK drew in a gamut of sponsors, notably, title sponsor, Pike Street Bikes, from Shinnston, WV, which provided support at one of the food and water stations on the course for racers, as well as incredible prizes. Other sponsors included Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, Lauf Forks, Stan’s NoTubes, Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, Highland Outdoors, and so many others.
The race started at 10am in the mist of heavy clouds and cool temperatures, which chilled the racers until the starting gun fired. After that, the heat of racing and clearing skies fired up the race. The top racers set a blistering pace, with the winning time over 20 minutes faster than the inaugural year. GRUSK also offered a non-competitive option which allowed participants the ability to ride at a slower pace, to further enjoy the magnificent scenery along the course, and take time to stop and admire the views from the top of Spruce Knob.
After the racers finished, they were treated to a pasta dinner, a great selection of Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company beer, and closed out the post-race activities with the incredible music of the Chaga Tea Project. All in all, the 2nd edition of GRUSK was a huge success, and has established itself as an event every cyclist should add to their calendar.
Travis Olson is the organizer and promoter of the Gravel Race Up Spruce Knob.