Bike Virginia Recap

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.

Addenda:
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.

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