Disclaimer: This recap of our 36-Mile Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride contains affiliate links…

 

Designing My Own Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride Course

I usually take a backseat and let Bill plan out the course for our weekly bike rides. He has ridden the back roads in Loudoun County for the last several years and knows them far better than I. When in southwest Virginia, though, I’m more familiar with the area. During my week of riding, running, and driving the neighboring country roads while visiting the farm, I decided that it was time for me to design our upcoming Saturday morning ride and a plan quickly formulated in my mind. When mapped out, our southwest Virginia country roads ride would be a 36-miler.

On Saturday, July 25th, heavy fog blanketed the area as Bill and I headed out for our ride in a delightfully cool 65° (it dropped to as low as 59° and stayed cool for much of the ride). Even though I had planned this route, it was every bit as hilly, if not more so, than the recent routes Bill had planned. I felt much more comfortable on the climbs and suspect that three weeks of riding hills was making me stronger.

Our ride took us past some of the same areas as the previous week, but also took us up a ridiculous climb on a short segment of Back of the Dragon, a popular twisty route which attracts motorcyclists from all over the country. We rode past little country stores, many now closed, past farms, forests, and two Appalachian Trail crossings.

 

Ride Overview
  • • Ride Name: 36-Mile Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride
  • • Location: Smyth and Bland Counties, Virginia
  • • Course Type: Figure Eight with an Out-and-Back
  • • Distance: 36 miles
  • • Time: 2:51:57
  • • Average Speed: 12.6 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 2,372 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 1,964 to 2,575 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 59° to 84°
  • • Course 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).

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. One of my cousins just happened to drive by as I was huffing and puffing while pedaling up the hill, and she rolled down her window and challenged me to a race!

Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride

 

About a quarter of the way up the 1.5-mile stretch of Back of the Dragon where the grade gets as steep as 13.2%…

Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride

 

Farm along Back of the Dragon…

 

I’m no longer on Back of the Dragon, but no doubt these bikers are on their way to tackle those twists and turns…

 

Another climb, this time heading toward the church where Bill and I were married…

 

Pausing at one of the two Appalachian Trail crossings on our route…

Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride

Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride

 

Looping around about six miles to the next stop…

 

Stopping at the second of two Appalachian Trail crossings…

 

AT hiker disappearing into the forest…

 

Trail entrance beyond the parking lot…

 

Picnic shelter next to the trail…

 

Beautiful farm…

Southwest Virginia Country Roads Ride

 

We decided to ride the optional 5.4-mile out-and-back section we’d added to the course and were so glad we did! The road was mostly flat and much of it was shaded as it ran parallel to a creek. I don’t think I’d been on that road since I was a little girl.

 

We added in a little gravel near the end of our ride…

 

Garmin Stats

Post-ride Garmin picture…

 

Garmin map and graphs…

 

Gotta love those southwest Virginia hills!

 

Who can complain about those temperatures in late July?

 

Final Thoughts on the Ride

As I become more comfortable riding on roads, I’m finding it’s a wonderful way to tour an area while getting great exercise. Bill and I both love the mountains and fresh air of southwest Virginia and I’m so glad we took our bikes and used them. Sharing stories from my childhood as we rode past areas that sparked memories brought me great joy and kept Bill entertained.

 

Questions:
  • • When was the last time you visited where you grew up?
  • • Do you workout when you travel?
  • • If you bike while on vacation, do you take your own bikes or rent?

 

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.