Bike Virginia started this way for me: I rolled into Roanoke, VA Friday evening, registered, set up camp, caught a shuttle into Roanoke where I found a comfortable barstool and a couple of cold Sierra Nevadas, then fell asleep by 10.
I was up by 6, and found fellow North Carolinians John and Herb at breakfast. We agreed to be on the road by 7:30, and left out of town at a comfortable pace. Good thing – we had a lot of climbing ahead. The first serious climb – a 12%-ish thing – took its toll, with lots of riders bailing out and walking. We honked up it, and found plenty more throughout the day, including a 2.5 mile, switchbacked monster that came immediately after the lunch stop. We rolled over it, and plummeted off The Wall, a steep descent that was unlike anything we have around here. Not having descended it before, I maxed out at a moderate 45 mph.
Miles on Saturday: 54.4.
We enjoyed dinner on Mill Mountain that evening, along with some jazz and a walk up to the Roanoke Star. I had a hard time getting started the next morning, and left a half hour after John and Herb. We finally met up at lunch, in time to hit a 10 mile, 1,500 vertical foot climb. In glaring sunlight. It wasn’t the last, either, as we rolled toward Tent City in Lexington.
Sunday miles: 74.7.
Monday seemed easier in comparison to Sunday, but it was a hot one, measured in gallons of liquid consumed. Other than a couple of short, steep hills, the route was rolling and the miles flew by.
A couple of highlights: A slightly uphill ride to the very pretty Goshen Pass, where we spent a while with our feet in the Maury River, and the Governor’s no-show at lunch, after he crashed while riding a leg of the route.
Monday miles: 54.7.
Tuesday, or day four, started with a breakfast of Chris Cakes, which fly through the air on their way to your plate. Tasty. The day in the saddle that followed was pretty relaxed. After a long grunt out of town we hit a series of flat to rolling roads, broken up by a tour of the Rockbridge Winery and other good rest stops. The weather wasn’t as hot as on Monday, and we enjoyed rolling through a river valley – at one point on the wheels of a couple of recumbents which pulled us along for an hour at 18-20 mph.
We finished off the day with dinner at the Lexington Horse Center, and a party featuring a Buffett cover band. The lack of shade finally drove us back to camp, where we got ready for the final day.
Tuesday miles: 49.4.
Wednesday, the final day of BVA, was reputed to be hilly. Not really. After climbing out of Lexington, we hit a series of flat, rolling and downhill roads that carried us through the fastest metric century I’ve ever done. We were cranking along, and even a couple of harsh climbs after Troutville, on the way back to Roanoke, didn’t seem so bad. Funny though – after traveling 20 miles or so without stopping, we did the stop and go routine through downtown Roanoke. It felt like a half hour of stoplight sprints.
We rolled into the parking area early in the afternoon, collected our bags, and just as I started out for home we got hit by a downpour. Talk about timing.
Wednesday miles: 63.4.
So how was it, overall? Excellent. Great organization, a beautiful and challenging route, and perfect (for June, anyway) weather. In retrospect, the 22,000 vertical feet of climbing made me a lot stronger (though I was cursing the climbs at the time), and I’m looking forward to more rides like those.
Mark Taylor of the Roanoke Times was along for the ride and posted some observations.
Alex Harden blogs his impressions of BVA.
Steve Bolte’s BVA 2005 photo gallery.