We all feel the need to escape and explore. Add to that a desire to build community, and you can begin to understand the essence of the Raw Talent Ranch at the Lost River Barn. The Barn was the perfect place for the Cutaway Fall Retreat; Cutaway has always had roots in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Raw Talent Ranch is situated in one of the most scenic cycling areas in the Mid-Atlantic -- Mathias, West Virginia.
As you step in from the crisp fall air, the warmth of the old barn wood and the smell of incense rush over you. Raw Talent Ranch is an Appalachian cycling getaway which belongs to Jay Moglia, backwoods explorer extraordinaire. Jay didn’t start riding until well into adulthood when his wandering path of bartending, carpentry, and other jobs led its way into becoming a bicycle courier in the nation’s capital. His courier work turned into racing and training. As the racing faded, the love for riding never ended, leading to his purchase of the barn in 2007 as a place to share his love of exploring with others. Jay worked hard to remodel this barn from a 2-family home with pigs in the entryway, to a warm cycling centric retreat where he could share his enthusiasm for community, riding, and history that surrounds the area with others. It soon became a popular destination as an escape for the many cyclists that make Washington, D.C. their home.
Many of the best cyclists from the Mid-Atlantic, including Ben King, Jeremiah Bishop, and Joe Dombrowski, return to the Barn in November, at the start of their upcoming seasons, to get together and train but to also remember what they love most about being professional cyclists. Their yearly “Guns Grits Gravel” weekend is not just about riding bikes, but connecting with one another before the battles of the year begin.
On any given day, Raw Talent Ranch can provide any ride that a cyclist could desire: the surrounding landscape, with its twisting gravel roads through deep hollows and through fields, along with Jay’s encyclopedic knowledge of the terrain and the cordiality of the Barn’s neighbors, make any ride a possibility. At the Barn, you can find whatever it is that you are after: whether you seek clean pavement free of cars and distractions, a quiet focus for your next big road race, or the adventure of gravel roads that carry you across the countryside, here you will find what you seek. For those looking for a fat tire experience, Lost River State Park, North Mountain Trail, and Carr Mountain Trails lay well within your reach.
The riding here can hardly be explained to those who have not experienced the charm of backwoods east coast riding. Up roads where you may wonder if a cyclist has ever ventured before you, up roads with names like “Smoke Hole” or “Crooked Run,” you will find that the roads call you forth to explore longer and farther, free of the burden of everyday life.
Post-ride, the barn invites you back, where you will often find a warm cup of soup waiting in a crockpot. Many a weary rider would explain that the it’s when you are all back at the barn that the magic happens. Nothing connects rider like time spent recapping the day’s adventures.
The upstairs loft area of the Barn is equipped with guitars and a drum set atop a wooden stage, which has led to more post-ride musical riffing and songwriting on more than several occasions in the Barn’s history. In addition to the music, of course there is also great food. As dinner is served, riders gather around the large dinner table to recount stories and share laughs.
After dinner, the bonfire draws riders outside to feel at peace in the cool mountain evening.