The Tour de Valley Century started in 1989. That was the year Ann and Harry
Colman decided they were ready to ride their FIRST 100-mile ride. Harry
even bought a TREK 1100 to replace the 40lb. HUFFY LEGRANDE 12 speed that
he had been riding up to that point. Rather than doing this informally with
just a couple of friends, it seemed like a good idea to involve a bigger
group and make it a "special occasion". WOW, it sure was. By the morning
of Labor Day Sunday, there were 40 people riding, we had sponsorship from
Matt and Dorothy McCall of Rockfish Gap Outfitters, T-shirts, and more.
Brent Heizer had helped lay out a 100 mile course that started and finished
at the Colman house on Tiffany Drive. A friend with a motorhome was
recruited as a "sag" along with several other volunteers. At the last
minute, some nice folks with CB Radios joined in to help.
That first year, 38 of the 40 riders finished and 30 of those 38 had just
done their first ever 100 mile ride. The group all stopped and picnicked at
each of the 3 food stops (we were calling it a "TOUR" remember), and we
thought the few individuals that did the ride in the 7-hour range were
ANIMALS! Ann and Harry finished in the 8-1/2 hr. range and were comfortably
in the top third of finishers. We all sat in the front yard and cheered as
other riders came in and it was immediately decided that we needed to do
this again the following year.
By 1990, 57 riders showed up, and we got a taste of what REAL animals were
like. Tom Harbeck of Harrisonburg WOWED us with a time of 5:28 (which was
the record for the original course we rode until we did it again in 1998
for the 10th anniversary). Of course Tom and 3 other riders all got nasty
letters from Harry for leaving the party afterwards before most riders even
got to the finish line. OOPS, never having ridden a Century anywhere else,
Harry just ASSUMED that at all rides, people would stick around for the
togetherness afterwards! To his credit, Tom accepted the letter of apology
that went out in 1991, and is the only one of the 4 who has ridden several
more of our centuries since then. And he partied till the last rider was
The PARTY and the folks sitting in the front yard cheering others in IS the
thing that makes Tour de Valley Century different from most other rides.
Riders come back in, jump in the pool, grab some pizza and suds (soft
drinks or your favorite-malted beverage), and then get in the spirit of
supporting other bikers. That is the thing that has NOT changed about this
ride since the first year: the camaraderie afterwards. For sure, if you
plan to ride in 2004, plan on staying through the 3:30pm awards ceremony,
no matter how early you actually finish your ride.
In 1991 we were ready to ride the same course as the first 2 years, but the
Va. Dept. of Transportation had a different idea. At least 25 of our
steepest miles were freshly graveled just a week or so before the ride,
plus GOSHEN PASS was closed. Working with the VDOT, we came up with an
alternate course that most of us preferred over the original. 1991 was also
the first year of the TURBO TOILET (a porta-john pulled on a trailer behind
a 300ZX Turbo). Everyone laughed until they saw the lines at the rest-stops
and realized how necessary this was. We have since grown to a 4 porta-john
event, but alas, the TURBO hauler passed away in 1993.
We rode that same 1991 course with just a few changes in 1992, 1993, & 1994
(1994 was the year of HARRY's awesome double crashes, a story in
itself.....don't ask unless you REALLY wanna know!). We also added a Metric
Century to our ride by about 1993 since the average Century time was
dropping so much and we wanted to continue encouraging NEW RIDERS to join
In 1995 and 1996 we changed to a course that took us towards Staunton
first vs. down through Vesuvious. This did get us back into beautiful
Goshen Pass again for the first time since 1991.
In 1997 we tried yet another course, more of Goshen Pass, no downhill swoop into Vesuvious, and the fastest Century to that point. We still SWEAR we are not a RACE, even though 15 or so riders finished in under 5 hours in 1997.
By 1998 we made a big decision for the club. We were now OFFICIALLY going to be a fund-raising event. The club has decided that besides trying to at least
"break even" from year to year and make a little bit of profit for the club
treasury, that we would ACTIVELY recruit more sponsors and provide
FINANCIAL SUPPORT to the lovely (and famous) June Curry, better known as
the COOKIE LADY of AFTON, VA. We thank our expanded list of sponsors AND
all of our Century Participants for helping the club support both our club
efforts (Bicycling Advocacy, Rider Safety, etc.) and for helping us assist
June financially to some degree.
It would take several BOOKS to tell all the fun stories and tell about all
of the interesting people who have ridden our Century (or our Metric
Century) in the last 13 years. In 1996 & again in 1997 our rider count was
at 140 total riders. In 1998, our 10th riding, we had a total of 170 riders
with well over a 100 of them completing the full Century, in spite of an
INCREDIBLY hot day. Even with a slow paced city loop of about 5 miles at
the start, and in spite of returning to that incredibly tough first century
route, we had 5 to 6 riders finish in under 5 hours with a fastest time of
about 4:45. In 1998, we gave free entries and special recognition to the
"FOUR HORSEMEN", our nickname for the four people who had COMPLETED our
Century all of the first ten years. Those four riders were Ann Colman,
Ron Head, Brent Heizer, and Dick Johnson.
In 1999, we had well over 100 pre-registered riders. DISASTER! Hurricane
Floyd hit and we had to cancel the ride for the safety of participants.
Flood warnings, driving rain storm, Tornado warnings, trees down, etc. We
scheduled a make-up ride and club social about a month later and had more
riders ride that day than actually rode in the first century back in 1989,
but officially there was NO TOUR de VALLEY CENTURY in 1999!
Thanks to the diligent efforts of club member Andy Ringgold, our tour went
to the NORTH and WEST vs. to the SOUTH. This beautiful tour was EXTREMELY
fast (some riders in at 4:45!), and took us through Mole Hill, Bridgewater, and a
bunch of beautiful small towns. Due to threatening weather (we had SOME
rain during the ride) our "day of" sign-up was down a bit, but we still had
over 100 riders total. In 2000, one of our "FOUR HORSEMEN", Dick Johnson,
unfortunately crashed and received a serious head injury. Dickie is STILL
recovering over a year later, but the support of his fellow bike club
members has been incredible. [Note: in 2004, I'm sad to report that Dick Johnson will never fully recover from this brain injury. He has no short-term memory and has nursing help to allow him to still live at home. He was in a nursing home for a while in 2004.] Our application should say helmets required and TIGHTEN THE STRAPS! Dickie might still be riding with us if we had that rule!]. In 2001, yet another "HORSEMAN" had to bow out due to back problems. (We decided to STOP officially keeping trackafter 10 years in 1998, but UNOFFICIALLY, Ann Colman and Brent Heizer are now the only ones to have COMPLETED all 12 Centuries. Brent was under 5 hours for the 2nd year in a row, and Ann Colman cruised in at 6hrs. 15 minutes).
From Harry's perspective this was the BEST Century so far. WHY? Because for the first time ever, Harry was NOT the director.Ann and Harry Colman hosted the event, but David Ledbetter (along with a fabulous committee of Milepost Zero Club members) conducted an INCREDIBLE tour. For the first time, our course went all the way THROUGH Goshen Pass into Goshen, Va. We had the best police support ever (full escort all the way through Stuarts Draft, Va.). In 2001, the promise of great weather (a change from the 2 previous years) brought out 53 additional people to
register on the day of the ride. That brought our total registration to 124 Riders.
This was another great year, and once more, the Century was under the able direction of David Ledbetter. This course again took us into Goshen Pass and Goshen, Va. Many thought host Harry Colman would bow out of the Century this year. Wife Ann decided to ride the Metric Century and give up her string of 12 Centuries and ride the Metric. Harry had skipped the Spring bicycling season completely to ride his Harley to Alaska and back in May. Then in July, he had a heart procedure to correct a little problem with an irregular heartbeat. With just the month of August training, and still on blood thinner, your Century Host showed how little sense he had and rode the full Century instead of the Metric. A time of 6:21 wasn't too bad on a total lack of training. Our start in 2002 had to be young Ryan Elliott completing his first century at a 6 hour clip. Watch for more from this young man!
Wow, What luck! Hard-working club president Pam Bennett had already completely reworked the club bylaws (something our organization had missed). She then organized volunteers for Tour of Shenandoah, plus hosted a special bicycle ride in support of BIG BROTHERS/BIG SISTERS (her employer at the time). Who would have guessed that Pam would also accept the role of Tour de Valley Century director. (i.e. nobody else accepted!). 2003 saw another excellent and well organized ride for both Century and Metric Riders. The 2003 course was very similar to the course laid out for 1999 when a hurricane cancelled the event. For the first time ever, Harry Colman, original founder of the event and the host was the first rider in on the Century. This was especially amazing when you consider that Harry had wrecked on April 12th and completely shattered his right hip. Still, he was the first rider in, just ahead of Roger Friend of Blue Wheel Bicycles, one of our sponsors. Now some of you of course may want to spoil a great story by pointing out that Harry was riding a Harley, and not pedalling, but why bother with trivial details like that! Actually, what the whole lead pack decided was that having a motorcycle in the lead with flashing lights greatly contributed to the safety of all the riders in that lead pack. Watch for more Harleys both leading the ride and also spaced among the pack in 2004 for alerting traffic. Harry is hoping to pedal this year, so he won't be able to claim the first finisher spot, but Gee, that sure was fun last September!
Yes it's OVER! Thankfully our 180 riders experienced great weather and all finished safely. We were LUCKY! This year we did NOT do a good enough job of recruiting more volunteers to man our course. We were short on sag wagons, directions, gatorade, and toilet facilities. (We need to go back to the mobile porta-johns on trailers on trucks!) . A great Century/Metric Ride covers ALL the details for the riders. 2004 missed out on to many of these details. As Tour Director AND as a member of MILEPOSTZERO Bicycle Club, I promise this won't happen again. hlc
Wow, I was PROUD of this century! The course was beautiful, and we went over 200 finishers for the first time ever (still with no complaints from the neighbors!). We had a motorcycle escort again for the third year in a row. We had one volunteer (3rd rest stop in Middlebrook) who had to leave early (like before any riders even got there!) and so we overloaded other volunteers who shouldn’t have even had to cover that stop. Two things went wrong: We briefly ran out of water at that third stop until folks from stop 2 could bring more. We also ran out of Pizza during the awards ceremony but quickly ordered more and ended up with almost 10 pizza’s left over. A great ride, but still not perfect! We understand it is covering ALL the details that gives our participants the best possible experience.
After 17 years starting and finishing at the Colman house, things had to change! We had outgrown the available parking in the neighborhood. In addition, Ann & Harry were remodeling and the garage was tied up. And one other thing also happened. Dick Johnson, who received the head injury in 2000 passed away in the summer of 2006. It is kind of a sobering thought to think that one of my best friends, who had been helping us with this century from the very start of this event passed away. Dick actually marked that first course by tying yellow ribbons around trees or signs at all the turns……..we hadn’t thought about painting the roads back in ’89! Kind of scary to think someone was injured and eventually died riding in an event that we had started and that starts from our house. Club president Russell Culver stepped forward and decided we needed to “change the venue”. We convinced him that we needed to say we “moved the start/finish” vs. that venue stuff! For the first time ever, our ride started and finished in Downtown Waynesboro. Parking was a snap, and the ride was terrific. We got some bad tasting water in Goshen, but at least didn’t run out. We learned some good lessons and expect to make our 2007 century SPECTACULAR!
A Terrific year. We were down below 200 on total riders, but we had the most volunteer help better and things went GREAT! We had our motorcycle escort, we had surprise riders (Harry & Ann's son Matt came all the way from Texas to surprise his dad and ride the metric with him), we had nobody hurt, very few lost, and a great time. The group start up Main St. Hill is one of the prettiest sites on Main St. (of course that same street hosts an annual art show, a muscle car show, and soap box derby racing so the competition is pretty stiff. Come join us in 2008. We're gonna be bigger and better than ever (Director's prediction).
Great Ride, Great Weather, 182 finishers, plenty of Pizza, what can we say? Yes this is still worth doing according to the riders who keep coming! Harry announced he hoped to chair the 25th Tour de Valley in 2013, but did not want the job for 2009.
The club stepped up when the challenge was issued. Harry agreed to chair only if at least 15 members showed up at a planning meeting ready to help. the net result was 29 members showed up and took parts of the task. 2009 was a very successful century with a whole new level of support from our local riders and club menbers. 160 Riders finished our course.