Disclaimer: This post recapping our 26-Mile Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride contains affiliate links…


Visiting Southwest Virginia

On July 18th, the morning after arriving at the farm for a visit, Bill and I headed out early in the delightfully cool and foggy 64° morning air for our 26-Mile Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride on the local twisty and hilly country roads. We were both riding our Salsa gravel bikes and we intentionally added several miles of gravel into our tour.

Riding or running along those country roads always brings back a flood of memories from my childhood, especially since we rode past my grandparents’ old victorian home and my three uncles’ houses. In fact, my Uncle Tommy was sitting on his front porch waiting for us to ride by and to be entertained as I struggled to climb a pretty steep hill.

Our ride took us past family farms, little country stores, and even an Appalachian Trail hostel. The hills of southwest Virginia challenged us to some ridiculous climbs but always rewarded us with a fun ride down the other side.


Ride Overview
  • • Ride Name: 26-Mile Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride
  • • Location: Smyth and Bland Counties, Virginia
  • • Course Type: loop
  • • Distance: 26 miles
  • • Time: 2:36:15
  • • Average Speed: 10.1 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 2,539 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 1,990 to 2,541 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 61° to 82°
  • • Map:


Fun Pictures From Along the Way

A special shoutout goes to my husband Bill for capturing many of the following images with his GoPro (affiliate link) which he had attached in front of his seat prior to moving it to the front of his handlebars.

Our ride started with a comfortable downhill along a gravel road before our first ascent. That particular climb is not that steep, but it’s long.

Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride


Our first stop was at Old Rich Valley Farm, a family run farm whose goal is to produce the healthiest food possible. Follow them on Instagram for a daily dose of farming cuteness with their three kiddos.

Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride


The sun attempted to cut through the morning fog as plastic covered round hay bales snaked along the road…

Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride


Bill repping the VeloPigs in southwest Virginia…


Next, our course took us along a gravel road for about five miles which was quite steep at places. Gravel plus steep hills is a difficult combination especially when you hit a rut and almost fall off your bike. I learned the hard way that starting back up again on loose gravel on an extremely steep hill isn’t easy. Seriously, it took me several attempts to start up again.

Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride


Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride

Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride


I decided to stop to fuel after I turned off the gravel road and before I started the long climb to the church where Bill and I were married. I’d been watching for the perfect fence to lean my bike against for a picture and had found it.


The little white church where Bill and I were married…


Remaining shell of an old country store…


We rode past Bear Garden Hiker Hostel which provides hikers with a place to sleep, eat, do laundry, and even pray before continuing along on the Appalachian Trail…

Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride


After passing the Appalachian Trail hostel we turned onto a road crossing a ridge that I hadn’t been across in a number of years. It was the longest and most difficult hill of our ride. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, we were rewarded with a fun ride down the other side.

We had one more stretch of very familiar territory as we climbed our last big hill approaching my grandparents’ now empty house. Another uncle just happened to drive by and stopped to chat. With one more relaxing downhill and less than a mile on gravel to our stopping point, we enjoyed the breeze in our faces as the temperature creeped into the 80’s.


Garmin Stats

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…


Garmin map and graphs…


Final Thoughts on the Ride

I alway enjoy riding in familiar places. I like knowing where I am and when the next climb is coming up. Not that I don’t like exploring new places, there’s just comfort in knowing what’s around the next turn. Having grown up in the area, there were no surprises along the ride, but not having lived in the area for many years, things had changed enough to keep the scenery interesting. And of course, the views of the mountains never get old.

I like riding on gravel, but I don’t love it. Often gravel roads become washed out leaving them with ruts or they take on the appearance of washboards after the tires of cars driving too fast bounce across them creating a ripple on the road’s surface. Conversely, gravel roads recently repaired may have several inches of loose gravel which can create a whole new set of traction issues. I suppose all of the above are part of the allure of riding on gravel.

Overall it was a great ride and I’m so happy we brought along our bikes!


  • • Do you workout while on vacation or visiting family?
  • • Have you tried riding on gravel? ~ The farm where I grew up was on a gravel road so I’ve ridden gravel all of my life and have the scars to prove it.
  • • Do you live near family or when you go home is your extended family clustered in that area?


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.