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

 

On the Cusp – Hurricane Florence

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Hurricane Evacuation Route

A hurricane is a nightmare for those who are in its path.  The media tells us a story, which includes video footage of a newscaster attempting to report while being battered by the fierceness of mother nature.  Then, images pour in of large amounts of flooding, wind tearing off roofs, and the obligatory, albeit very saddening, casualty count and those affected by its devastating aftermath.  So when Florence started moving in, panic sunk in fast.

In our area, Roanoke, VA, initial reports started claiming forecasts of up to 20″ of rain causing severe flooding, as well as severe wind gusts which could potentially knock down trees and power lines.  The instant presumption was, we need to leave.  We have a house on wheels, so let’s get out of dodge!  Of course, this is much easier said than done.  Where are we going to go?  Will Megan have to take up lodging near work? If so, where will we park our RV, and will we have to separate for a few days?  We decided the best thing to do was to start an evacuation plan, while also keeping our eye on the National Weather Service (NWS) for Roanoke.

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Screenshot from Weatherbug when the hurricane hit.  Our location on top left.

For three  days, we remained on the cusp of Florence’s predicted path. Our campground host, as well as local community were all mixed in their advice towards us.  This was incredibly stressful!  DO WE STAY OR DO WE GO!  Of course, nobody is going to answer that question for us.

When Florence made landfall in New Bern, NC, it was eerily quiet here.   Also, by this time our friends and family back home were reaching out regularly, insuring our safety.  We couldn’t help but pray for those in this monster’s path.  Being from Colorado, we’ve never been anywhere near a hurricane.  All of our experiences came from what we’ve seen in the media. But now we’re waiting for it and only a few hours drive inland, it’s a very different story!

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The storm didn’t hit us too hard.  We experienced significant rain, and some areas with minor flooding.  The access roads near our campground had a fallen tree in the road, and the local creek ran significantly higher, but that was the worst of it for us.

We cannot express enough how terrifying hurricanes are.  After this experience, we’re left feeling hurt for those who’ve been impacted.  Business as usual resumes for most, rebuilding starts for many.

In the end, we wish to give thanks to those who reached out in concern.  Also, we want to send our best to anyone reading who’s been impacted by the storm.  It has not left our minds.

All the best,

Megan and Bobby