Rows of Corn, Rows of Bikes


Rob Leonard is the organizer of Roll Over Cancer

I had forgotten how amazing Franklin County’s (Virginia) roads are for cycling, but the second annual Roll Over Cancer ride offered a great reminder. Rider Porter Peery waves from the paceline on Dillon's Mill Road.
The brainchild of cancer survivor and avid cyclist Rob Leonard and a crew of dedicated volunteers, the event essentially takes a group ride and turns it into a fund-raiser.

“You are here for whatever reason you are here,” Leonard told our group during a pre-ride meeting, “but I am here to beat cancer.”
It made me feel a bit guilty about being more into the ride than the cause, but glad that Rob and the group were holding the event.
corn rowsFor the second year in a row the event started and finished at the Chaos Mountain Brewery. There’s nothing better than a cold craft brew and food truck food after a challenging ride. Rob tells me that between rider donations, and proceeds from beer sales, the event raised about $2,000 – nearly double last year’s totals.

The Roll Over Cancer Ride


Tim Bussey led our group.

Riders had a choice of 25 or 50 mile options give or take a mile. The 50 had a fast group and a medium group, each led by a member of the Roll Over Cancer team sporting ROC jerseys. Our group, for the second year in a row, was led by Tim Bussey, a Franklin County based rider I’ve known for about 20 years. Tim had pre-ridden and/or driven the course and seemed to know the location of every pothole.


A rest stop near one of the many corn fields.

A nice downhill in the final 10 miles

A nice downhill in the final 10 miles

Kudos to Tim for keeping our “medium group” ride on the social side. The pace was moderate and we stopped at major intersections to re-group. The roads were not marked, but the ROC team had handed out cue sheets. However, with the occasional stops, neither was necessary.
If you haven’t ridden in Franklin County you are missing out. The topography is rolling, with long climbs if you are looking for them. This ride featured mostly rolling terrain that took us from the foot of Cahas Mountain to Callaway and onto Ferrum. We rode through Ferrum College and up the easy side of Ferrum Mountain, and back to Callaway for our second re-fueling stop at the A & A Market which is bicycle friendly. From Callaway we took a left on Bethany road and returned on a different route than the one on which we had arrived.
Throughout the ride there were comments about the beauty of the countryside. We cycled past lots of cornfields, some of which had the tallest corn I have ever seen. The traffic was light and the drivers were courteous. We were warned that there are lots of dogs on the route, and although I did not have or see any issues, some of the members of our group reported that they were chased one time by three small dogs – without incident.

The ride was the coming out party for my new Guerciotti. Pronounced ger-chee-OH-tee

The ride was the coming out party for my new Guerciotti. Pronounced ger-chee-OH-tee


Mary and I with Dick Bradshaw


Mary Carlin and Katharine Wells near the finish.

My bike computer showed an average speed of 14.5 miles an hour. Perfect for a social ride, if a bit slow for some people’s taste. Some of the climbs were longer than rollers, but shorter than mountains, and it began to wear on some of the riders  toward the end. It’s hard when the uphills are so long you can’t carry your momentum from the downhill right before. All told, we climbed 3,726 feet according to my Garmin GPS. It was just over 51 miles and we rode for about four and a half hours.  I would classify the ride as moderate in difficulty.   (If you are interested in another Roll Over Cancer event, there is a ride beginning at Starlight Bicycles in Roanoke on August 22nd. (2015))

Click Here to see actual data and the course from John’s GPS
Once back at the brewery, the Fork in the Road food truck had arrived and a band was setting up to entertain us. We settled in for a craft beer and a burger and some discussion of who climbed which hill the best. A great way to enjoy a Saturday, take in some scenery and help in the fight against Cancer.

roll over cancer screen shot

Screen shot from John’s Garmin shows the course profile.

Scroll down for more photos.  Click here to find more photos and the organization’s Facebook page.

dick daniels bike

Dick Daniels takes five.


The store in Callaway has friendly service.


The Roll over Cancer team was well represented