Monday, April 19, 2010

Despite All, a Great Ride

To begin, a few shots from Roanoke, the town that grew up as a train depot, which it still is, but it no longer has any passenger service. Isn't that the way? The town does, however, have a hippy community bike shop, some big park roads that are closed to motor vehicles, and, on the hill overlooking town, a big star (blocking out another, bigger star in the picture).

Since then, I wandered--er, I guess I drove pretty directly down I-81, not so much wandered--down to Abingdon to visit Shane, his wife Nicole, and their brood of three. Shane, a New Englander at heart, has been living down here for around a decade, and while there is a lot to like down here, there is much that he misses about the purportedly unfriendly north. That said, the road riding (I haven't sampled the mountain biking) down here is phenomenal.

Virgina Creeper Trail

After a prior short tour on Friday with Shane, I headed out Sunday to the east, riding the length of the Creeper trail, roughly 33 miles of packed cinders, and something of a tourist attraction. Except for the last few miles, the westbound trail (opposite direction I rode it) is all a gentle downhill, so multiple businesses offer shuttle services and bike rentals to run the down slope in one direction, and there in lies the problem of what is otherwise a great ride: lots of people who don't ride bikes unless it is all downhill, i.e., rarely.

More Creepy

These infrequent cyclists don't necessarily know how to ride a bike, per say. Luckily, I left early in the morning, so I didn't hit the shuttle crowds until about 10 miles from the end, but unfortunately, when I say "hit," I really mean it. In this case, it was a deer-the-headlights tweener gal who managed nothing but an awed stare, not even a pull of the brakes, as she ran headlong into me on a high bridge that didn't offer much in the way of bailouts. Luckily, I stopped my bike and am trained in deflecting other riders in a pack, even though those situations usually involve a more benign angle of impact. So, by outweighing her by a wee bit and deflecting her mass with my hand, I escaped with little more that some tire burns on my shin, and if it had been a wrestling match, I'd have scored some serious take-down points. She said she was very sorry, and I calmly agreed that she should be.

Creepier still: my memento

But enough will the not-so-good (I flatted later in the day too), it was a phenomenal ride. If you like, gravel (I do), streams (check), and old bridges (yes on that too), the Creeper trail is a must do, but avoid a sunny Sunday in April if you must. But even better than the trail, there were the roads I took for my return trip to Abingdon, which, while not a continuous downhill like the trail, were a marked study in elevation loss. For the record, you want 726 then left of 725. At Rt 91, head right up to Damascus then look for 757 on the left heading out of town (which turns into forest road 32--and start looking for the empty quarts of motor oil with thankfully enough residual to lube a chain!). What you will find is one of the best rides I have even done, period (.) Just do it, so to speak.

How to tell you've reached the end of the improved Creeper trail.

Part way down the phenomenal gravel descent of 726 (yes, the rocks overhang the road)

A typical part of the 10 miles on forest road 32

Yet another Virgina country road

No comments:

Post a Comment