Cycling Virginia – Part 2

Home Base: Buchanan, VA

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Buchanan, VA  is a very small town about 30 miles north of Roanoke, VA.  It’s also only five miles from my campground.  So, I figured this would be a great area to start riding!

I decided to make a solo jaunt into town, then figure out how to get to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Highway 43 from Buchanan is very low traffic, and offers a very steep, rewarding climb.  At the top  you’ll find the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 5 miles south of the Peaks of Otter.

fullsizeoutput_f13It felt great to hammer out a more serious climb, and considered a few miles of rolling hills to the visitor center.  Instead, I enjoyed a few minutes on the parkway, had a snack, snapped some photos, and made my fast decent!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an animal of it’s own.  It’s long, 400+ miles acting as the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Cyclist flock here for a reason!  In next months chapter, I will go into more depth on my experiences cycling the BRP.  This ride was only my first taste!

 

Mill Mountain & Mighty Megan

The Roanoke Star stands 100″ tall and sits on the north summit of Mill Mountain.  It overlooks the entire Roanoke metropolis and locals like to call it the “Hollywood of the East”.  Megan and I have already driven up to the star (at night) and decided it’d be a perfect route for biking.  At the time, we didn’t know how right we were!

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Mill Mountain Star – Roanoke, VA

Megan and I parked at Underdog Bikes, unloaded our gear, then introduced ourselves to the staff at the shop.  Shortly after, I was looking at my Garmin display telling me I’m at 11% gradient.  Ouch!  Our goal is a residential road that leads to a short trail, reaching the summit of Mill Mountain.  We could see the star from the bike shop and it was obvious it’s a bit of a climb.  The guy at the shop told us it was steep, Strava later told me that our first 1.2 miles would cover 600 feet at a 9.2% grade.

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Although steep, the road up Mill Mountain was very enjoyable.  Not included in our pictures were some beautiful properties alone the way, and views overlooking the city.   We didn’t get any pictures of the singletrack riding back down because it was a bit more serious than we thought.  Some of the trails were pretty hairy!

 

Fall Riding Begins

Rural southwest Virginia is a place of it’s own.  Beautiful?  Of course!  But every now and then you come across a property that is undeniably terrifying. One minute you’re cruising a rural  road and the next your flanked by rusty barbed wire fence containing property that doesn’t look habitable, but clearly someone resides there.  Especially going into the Halloween season, I’ll go ahead and obey the “no trespassing” signs.

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Megan on backcountry dirt roads
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Yeah!

Megan and I have adventured many of the back roads near our campground.  Some of these dirt roads must only see a handful of cars a day, making it very safe for easy riding.  We’ve also managed to find a dirt road which leads us to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a great 1,000ft climb from our home.  Honestly, it’s been nice being able to hop on the bike and not worry about the cars.  I’m really looking forward to October as the leaves begin to change!

Coming up next!

Megan and I are saving the best for last in this 3 part series.  Megan has agreed to support me for an epic 85 mile solo ride from Peaks of Otter to Shenandoah National Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Also, we plan to hit Carvins Cove, which is a main attraction for mountain bikers of all skills, will be featured in our next episode.  Roanoke has an amazing scene for cycling!

 

Thanks for reading!

Bobby & Megan

 

Cycling Virginia – Part 1

Of course I’d have a post about cycling!  To be honest, when we left, I had no clue what things would look like in terms of riding my bike.  Megan more or less forced me to bring my road bike (stored in the under storage of the RV) plus we both brought our mountain bikes.  Considering the space all this bike stuff takes up, we have to get out regularly!

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Riding my bike around a campground

First of all, the mountain bikes are perfect for getting around campgrounds.  I’ve toured almost every campground on my bike so far.  It’s just a great way to get some fresh air and spin out my legs especially after traveling.

Our first major ride was in the Poverty Creek trail system, outside of Blacksburg, VA.  Neither Megan or I consider ourselves expert mountain bikers, so we kept it to the “easy” trails.  Easy!?  I think NOT.  We rode an out and back, single track trail for 10 miles, climbing 900ft.  We encountered plenty of obstacles, including large tree roots, rocks, mud, and water.  We had so much fun!  Each of us dumped our bikes one time, reminding us to stay humble even outside of our home state.   This trail system spurred out from Poverty Creek, into more challenging sections.  We decided the easy stuff was enough for us, this time around.  Maybe when we get some more mountain bike experience, or increase our level of “guts”, we’ll give the other trails a go.  Seriously though, very fun trail and definitely recommended!

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Megan making a splash at Poverty Creek Trail

Megan and I continued to visit this trail system a few times.  We even decided to ride our bikes to the trail (5 miles of gravel road from our campground) and then explore the singletrack.  The mountain bikes are such a great way to not only get a work out, but also put a smile on your face!

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SELFIE!

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Road biking in Virginia had me anxious before we left Colorado.  It is no secret that many motorists loathe road bikes, and I wasn’t sure what that picture would look like here.  For certain, I have much more to learn in terms of safe, well traveled routes in this region.  However, I couldn’t have been any luckier with a location just outside of Blacksburg.  The roads here are seldom used, often accessing farm land or other rural homes.  On one occasion, cycling northbound on Spruce Run Rd, I wasn’t overtaken by a car through 5 miles or riding.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that the road was absolutely stunning!  Pictures can’t describe the fresh air, the smell of the roadside vegetation,  and the sounds of a nearby creek.  I can honestly say this was some of the nicest riding I’ve done!  The only downside is the post ride review on strava, listing all the Virginia Tech cyclists records on the same route.  Basically, I’m a snail compared to them!

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Spruce Run Rd – Giles County VA

As indicated in the title of this post, I intend on posting more about cycling in this region.  If anyone has suggestions on routes, or how to find them, please let us know!

With Love,

– The Wrights