Ridge and Valley: Bikepacking Virginia

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Six riders set off to bikepack a portion of the VMBT through Virginia’s Ridge and Valley region. Along the way they met some incredible fall foliage and crazy weather… and brought back photos and a short film to tell the tale.

Film and words by Hunter Davis; photography by Colt Fetters

The trip was pretty simple — ride bikes using the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail to the 2017 annual AORE (Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education) National Conference in Roanoke, VA. where outdoor professionals from across the county assemble “to exchange information, promote the preservation and conservation of the natural environment, and address issues common to college, university, community, military, and other not-for-profit outdoor recreation and education programs.”

  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail

Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail

Conveniently surrounded by an abundance of world class outdoor adventures, Roanoke is within striking distance of the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail on North Mountain. Joey Parent, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Outdoor Adventure Program and AORE attendee, seized the opportunity and brought together a group of colleagues/administrators from the University of Arkansas, Auburn, and Middle Tennessee State to go for a multi-day bike ride in preparation for the event.

Along the ride, the group was greeted with peak fall foliage and amazing single track in Virginia’s Ridge & Valley region. Highlights of the ride included of the Southern Traverse on Shenandoah Mountain and the Dragon’s Back of North Mountain. However, the stunning beauty of fall in Central Appalachia was hard to surpass. It wasn’t all campfires and rainbows on this trip though. The crew was dealt a variety of weather conditions as they attempted to follow the official VMTB Trail. A monster rainstorm dropped five inches of precipitation the first night as they camped along the Cowpasture River. With the following daytime temperatures only reaching a high of 34 F, they decided to re-route off a few ridge tops and settle into a grind down valley dirt roads.

  • chumba Stella Ti, bikepacking
  • marin pine mountain, bikepacking

chumba ursa bikepacking

  • Surly Krampus bikepacking

After descending the last section of single track on North Mountain, the hard riding was done. 20 miles of pavement into Roanoke provided a good opportunity to slowly come back to reality. Mountains and farms gave way to suburbs, that eventually transformed into an industrial town center. The bikers were tired but felt accomplished. They traversed the James River Watershed, climbing over 15,000 feet in 160 miles. Colleagues who had only exchanged emails previously, now felt a unique connection and a shared sense of accomplishment.

These are things that cannot be gained in a conference room. It comes from pushing yourself to overcome challenges and finding camaraderie in the natural environment – things that mean so much those who’ve made a career in the outdoors.

  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail

Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail

  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
  • Hunter Davis, Bikepacking Virginia
Southern Highlands TraverseThe Virginia Mountain Bike Trail is an epic bikepacking route that follows a 473 mile off-road route along the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountains from Front Royal to Damascus. It is also stage one of four in the Southern Highlands Traverse, the fist long distance bikepacking route on the east coast ending in Flagg Mountain, Alabama. The SHT traverses a mix of over 1,200 miles of gravel roads, forest doubletrack and plenty of the South’s most challenging singletrack. The Southern Highlands Traverse will also serve as a challenging single track alternate in the forthcoming Eastern Divide Trail. Learn more here.

You can follow Hunter on Instagram @homeonthejames. Also, if you missed it, make sure to watch his recent film ‘Bikepacking Stokesville’. In addition, find Colt’s full photo gallery from the trip here, and read his review of the Chumba Stella Ti here.

  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
  • Bikepacking Virginia, Ridge and Valley, Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
4 Comments
  • Mike Bowen

    great work Colt and Hunter! super fun trip for sure! would love to try that route again!

  • shannon

    sooo jelous

  • Mike Bowen

    Whats cool about this area is: seclusion, scenery and endless ways to combine gravel and pavement to single track. Its rugged dont get me wrong, but its old school national forest single track trail and very fun to ride. If the weather gets rough opt for gravel and pavement like we had to do.

  • OPC

    Of course, Kenny is there.