Washington DC area Race/Event Recommendations?

Hi, everyone!

Does anyone have any recommendations for races/events (road or gravel) that are competitive, fun, challenging, etc in the Washington DC area for 2022?

If I do any races/events this year, it will be my first time. I have researched a bit, but I wanted to get everyone’s take on what to look into.

Thanks,
James

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I’m moving yo DC this year. Intetested in any responses.

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Awesome! When are you moving in? Do you know in which area you will be living? I’ve been in this area for about a decade (but new to cycling racing). Have you been racing for a while? Which area are you moving from? Haha, sorry for all the questions. Just a curious bud.

There is the weekly race in Greenbelt (just outside DC near the metro and easy biking distance

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I did the Armed Forces Classic last year, which was fun! It’s not a race but there were several groups on the road pushing the pace. The course is closed and enjoyable. My only complaint was the race organizers sent out registration packages through the mail and several didn’t arrive on time (mine arrived two days after the event) causing a long back up at the registration table race morning. They delayed the ride so no one missed the start and handled it as best they could, but I’d encourage you to register early to hopefully avoid that happening.

If you want to race there’s amateur and pro crits associated with the event.

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Hi mate, my work is bringing me to the Pentagon in the next come of months (orders should drop any day) and I’m planning on living in Alexandria. I don’t race, never say never, but am certainly interested in other events. I’m currently in Las Vegas which has some epic riding conditions almost year round; I’m not looking forward to dealing with humidity having been accustomed to single digit humidity here!

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Thanks for the advice! I didn’t do the event but I heard it was a good time - know a bunch of people who did it. It looks like they don’t have cat5 for the crits. I heard you can declare cat4 from the very beginning if you want (with no race experience). Is this true?

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There is a gran fondo in Frederick MD (1hr north from DC)

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No it’s not true. You need a USAC license that would state your category

Awesome! The humidity is definitely going to be different! It’s like biking in a swimming pool sometimes :joy:.
I think you’ll enjoy the riding that this area offers though. There is some of everything (depending on how far you travel).

  • If you ride gravel, Loudoun county has about 300miles of awesome gravel/country roads. Also tons of nice road riding in Loudoun.
  • There is a very flat (race type) ride at Hains Point (edge of DC on the VA side) I think at Noon on weekdays (I know, weird hour).
  • If you want some awesome sustained climbing type riding, Skyline Drive is a little over an hour drive (I did a 100mi/10k ft gain ride recently: Cycling 100 miles + 10k ft gain at Skyline Drive in Shenandoah! "Hall Pass" Day for dads! - YouTube). Blue Mountain is also nearby there. West of that is awesome riding too, but it’s a longer drive.
  • Great Falls and Clifton, VA both offer more peaceful, scenic riding with lots of rollers.
  • Also check out W&OD trail (gives easy/direct access to areas west of Alexandria).
  • Lastly, if you go north to places like Catoctin Mt., Sugarloaf Mt., Frederick, MD, you’ll find a lot of good riding too! Sorry that was a lot. Like I said, a great variety here.
    Feel free to follow me on Strava if you want to scope out some of the riding here (I live a little farther outside of DC): “James Kim [Nightcrawler]”
    Hope you have a good move with as little stress as possible!
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Thanks for all this. I’m building a Ti groad bike for the east coast as my Pinarello Pavement Princess will be staying here in Vegas. I should have a fair amount of free time at the weekends as I’ll be commuting back here every two weeks or so - looking forward to exploring the wider area on pavement and gravel.

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Under the new USAC rules you can directly jump to Cat 4. Also Cat 5 no longer exists, it is now “novice”. It seems like last year they had a 3/4 race, which would probably not be a great race for a first timer.
see here:

Also if you are looking to do USAC RR’s and crits check out https://Mabra.org

There is also a ton of racing in Southern PA in the Lancaster area.

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The site cyclingva.com has a great list of events for the area and is my go to for finding them. The AFCC was one of my A events last year.

Re Skyline drive ride. There’s a supported event at the end of September that rides Skyline south on Friday, hotel overnight, and then returns northbound on Saturday. I have not done it but definitely have my eye on it.

There are great farm country roads just west of Manassas towards Nokesville. For climbs, Mt Weather is decent and you can stay on the ridge or dip down into Shenandoah Valley. You can pick up the W&OD trail from the Curtis Trail at the Pentagon and get 90-100 miles round trip.

I live in Manassas and work at the Navy Yard. This is my eighth year here across two sets of orders. Previously I lived in West Springfield. Feel free to PM me with any questions on the area or moving here on orders.

Also, Conte’s downtown and Green Lizard in Herndon are good LBS’s.

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Thanks for sharing that. Glad to see it gone TBH. Given that the requirement to become 4 from 5 was participation, 4 and 5 seem to be one in the same

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These are great recommendations.

There are several gran fondo events worth driving to, if you like climbing. Typically these offer an opportunity to compete on timed uphill segments. I like the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Harrisonburg (a bit swanky, with some fun gravel sections and a fantastic host who recruits fellow pros to ride it), Maryland Gran Fondo in Frederick (large, well-supported event mentioned above by @KWcycling), Triple Peak Fondo in Winchester (low key and beautiful), and the Mountain Mama Century in Highland County West Va (very informal, fun event).

Another competitive and somewhat unique event is a hill climb TT on the road leading up to Wintergreen ski resort. There are many other TTs and crits in the area of course. Also DCCX (which attracts top-caliber cx racers but is also very fun for beginners like me) and several other cyclocross events.

Not an event per se, but the C&O Canal Towpath is a real gem. It is a gravel trail that goes from Georgetown all the way to Pittsburgh. You’d think it’s boring, but there’s a lot of variety.

There are lots of shop rides during the warmer months, and some team rides that are open to non-team members, such as the Squadra Coppi training ride leaving nearly every Sunday morning at 8:35 from Sweet Science coffee in Arlington.

And Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park) is fantastic for hilly riding, particularly in spring and summer (the road can be busy during the fall when the leaves turn colors). I’ve seen several black bears on my early morning jaunts there.

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Armed forces and GF Maryland are good options. Here is a good Loudon County Gravel option.

If you are looking to do cyclocross in the fall I believe there are two local series - Super Series and Sportif Series

Side note: figure out your hydration strategy early!

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Awesome, thanks for the info!

Do you race in the DC area, @jamiek ?

CX races look fun! And I’m guessing it’s full send the entire race? Thanks for the suggestions and tips. What races have you done in the past, @joshuam?

I’ve seen a lot of those GF events in my research. Alpine Loop GF is one I have had my eye on and Jeremiah Bishop seems like a cool dude haha.

They have a hill climb TT at wintergreen?! Does it include Devil’s Knob?? That sounds like a SUPER painful (hence fun) TT event :joy:

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I lived in Baltimore and raced there 2008-2012. I now am on the other side of the country. I miss the racing (and cycling scene in general) out there, lots of good races, group rides etc. things have likely changed a bit since then but I expect you will have no shortage of opportunities to ride/race.

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