Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Great Virginia Rail Trail Blitz 2014

Intro:   I'm not sure why I conceived this route.  A hodpodge of pavement, gravel, single track with the main goal of hitting the two longest rail trails in Virginia.  It could either be a great route through some of the most scenic places in VA or it could be just that, a hodpodge route with no real flow.  I had a great time,  I was challenged and pushed a little beyond my reserves, and don't recommend trying this at home, again, or ever..... 

Day 1: Virginia Mountain Bike Route.

 After spending time with the in-laws, for and early thanksgiving dinner ( the wife gets to work Wed-Friday nights over Thanksgiving),  I saddled up and headed out the newly established Tinker Creek Greenway into Carvins Cove.  A fun little 2-3 miles of single track, leading up and over the ridge down to the reservoir on the other side.  It was cold and overcast.  I was  a little under dressed for riding around the cold lake, but knew that once I got away from the water, I would be ok.  I stopped at the main office to pay my $2 use fee and was on my way. 

I stayed on the main gravel road,  passing by miles of single track for the sake of time.  Today's goal was 80 miles with impending rain this afternoon. 

 I have heard rumors and tales of the Virginia Mountain Bike Route.  The word is that Chris Scott from Shenandoah Mountain Touring is working with several of his close friends to develop and map the route.  I wait semi-patiently for that map and details.  But in the meantime,  I came across Pedaling Nowhere and was able to find some key details to keep my route interesting.   

I joined the route in Catawba and followed very scenic backroads through the hills of VA.   I reached 460 near Blacksburg, and headed west, I missed the first left and dropped over the ridge into the valley.  I was hoping that I would find the FS road at the bottom, because I didn't want to make that big climb back up the ridge.  

At the bottom, I not only found the FS road I wanted, but also the Poverty Creek Trail which is part of the VAMTB route.  Holy cow, that was fun.  I forgot where I was and what I was doing.  Riding smooth buffed out single track, while the clouds threatened to let loose the rain, with a full bike packing load=  fun times. 

After the single track and then some gravel road,  the pavement started.  Nothing exciting, but just means to get to another section of off road.  

I stopped in the town of Dublin,  after riding through the historic town of Newbern.  Hotel for me tonight, which was a great choice to get out of the rain that I had been riding in for the past 4 hrs.

Day 2: New River Trail. 

The day started bright and warm and the sun would shine on me all day.  The smooth crushed gravel rail trail would provide enough of a challenge though, so I was glad it was warm.  After the previous day's rain,  the gravel bed was saturated making the trail soft.  Soft enough that it took me 2.5 hours longer than when I road it previously in the dry spring.  

Today was an energy sapping grind.  I had planned on the short 60 mile day to provide some respite, in order to recover from yesterday's 80 miles and to rest for tomorrow's 80 mile day.  

But the weather was great, and the trail scenic as usual, so I ground away, mile after mile.  Enjoying the scenery and the solitude,  I realize how much I enjoy being out here, and am thankful for a wife who gets it.  We discuss these trips often and I always make sure that I am balancing family time with ride time.  

Water at Foster Falls

12 to go,  I could take a nap.
Great Views

Sorry Rich D.  I didn't save any to share.
 I finally ground my way to the end of the trail, moved into my hotel room and got some food at Macado's. 
Day 3: Virginia Creeper Trail (plus 50 miles of crappy pavement)

I couldn't sleep.  I tossed and turned.  I could not figure out why.  So I watched some news,  Ferguson, good grief.  I finally fall asleep around 3am.  So much for getting rested. 

I have to be on the road by 7:15 in order to meet the wife and kid in Abingdon 80 miles later.  I start pedaling.  I had asked several locals if the 58 west route that I had chosen was a trucking route.  They all assured me that I would be fine.  I spent the next 40 miles dodging trucks on the narrow 2 lane road.  I kept a sharp lookout and whenever one of the fire breathing behemoths approached from behind, I would quickly dive into a driveway or pull off waving them through.  They had a job to do, and I wanted to be overly courteous.  Those drivers have a tight community and lookout for each other,  I was hoping that with a kind gesture, word would travel through CB land and they would return the favor.   I guess it worked because I didn't get crushed. 
 I rode the 1/2 of greenway in Independence VA.  A small town.  I bought a 6 inch Subway for later, and stopped at Aunt B's for a biscuit.   The ladies thought I was amazing (what else is new) and were all interested in my trip.  They were worried that I didn't have enough clothes though.  I lingered a few minutes enjoying the small country town vibe, and relishing the fact that there was nothing "gourmet", "craft", "hip" or "lumbersexual"  about this place.   I love small towns and can even add a little twang to my speech to fit in a little better.  Although with this face, there is no way to fit in.  ( as evidenced in Galax by the cop in the unmarked car follow me around town....). 
 The rest of the day was a grind.  I wanted to enjoy it more, but was spent from the day before.  I ground away at the pedals, dug too deep and made it to the creeper trail, barely.  I ate my Sub and drank my Coke, enjoying the warmth of the sun for a bit.  I pedaled on and realized that the food had not made a dent in my hunger.  With 25 miles of Creeper trail to go, I kept nibbling on food.  I finally stopped and dug out a Pro Bar Meal bar and chewed on that.  It gave me what I needed to make it,  finally to the end.  Another 80 mile day.  I arrived right on time. 

The wife and kid picked me up and hauled my spent carcass home.  We spent some time 30 minutes from home at a cold dark rest area, while my body tried to regulate itself....Oops.
 It was great to be able to light a fire and rest in my own bed. 
I'm glad that route is done, and I don't feel the need to ever connect these two rail trails again!  And I don't recommend trying this route at all.  Next time, I'll be taking the VAMTB route!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Big Ride.