The Appalachian Journey was born from a desire to share the quintessential riding experiences that Floyd County offers, from the team at Journey Productions. This county, affectionately dubbed the “Center of the Universe,” is a haven for riders seeking to challenge themselves on dirt, primitive, and gravel roads. It’s here, amidst the special vibe of Floyd, that The Journey unfolds over a weekend of pure cycling bliss.
What sets The Journey apart is its format. It’s a duo event, where you can call it a race or an experience as you wish. Modeled after mountain bike stage races like the Cape Epic, The Journey emphasizes partnership and teamwork. You and your partner will ride side by side, assisting each other in non-mechanical ways to go faster and farther. This isn’t just about the ride; it’s about the shared Journey, the communication, and the bond that forms when two people pedal in unison against the backdrop of Floyd County’s rugged beauty. The Appalachian Journey is considered to be one of the Best Gravel Events in the Mid-Atlantic for 2023, as rated by Strambecco.
The Appalachian Mountain range span from Pennsylvania to the Northern reaches of Alabama. These ancient mountains are some of the oldest in the world, forming a natural border between the Atlantic Ocean and the rolling hills approaching the Mississippi River. “Appalachia” is one of the oldest place names in the United States and its history is as deep as its coves and valleys. The Mountaineers who settled in the Appalachians were rugged, self-reliant, and independent. This is the setting for the equally rugged and unique Appalachian Journey, a spring Virginia classic.
Event & Course Info
The Appalachian Journey presents three distances: 35, 65, and 100, each averaging around 100 feet of elevation gain per mile. This year, fresh ground is covered towards Rocky Knob and Buffalo Mountain, ensuring that even returning participants encounter new challenges and vistas.
The Short Journey: At 36.4 miles with 3,409 feet of climbing, it’s a sweet taste of what Floyd has to offer, including some of the smoothest dirt roads and breathtaking views.
The Middle Journey: Stretching 65 miles and ascending 6,709 feet, it’s an epic ride that takes you to the Eastern Continental Divide and back, packed with memorable climbs and descents.
The Long Doggie: The 110-mile route is a beast with 11,472 feet of climbing, pushing you through the wild Floyd Plateau and the Indian Valley, with sections only locals typically whisper about.
The hub for The Journey is the Floyd Family Campground, offering amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. The weekend kicks off with packet pickup at the Floyd Co Jamboree, treating participants to a special Bluegrass experience. The organizers promise a weekend of Appalachian hospitality, complete with a schedule that ensures you’re well-fed, entertained, and ready for the ride.
Every route is meticulously supported with aid stations and medical support to ensure that a bonk or a bruise doesn’t end your adventure prematurely. And if you find the going too tough, you can opt to complete a shorter distance and still receive a time in the non-competitive category.
The Appalachian Journey is more than a race; it’s a testament to the spirit of the Appalachian Mountains and the rugged independence of its people. It’s a chance to challenge yourself, to bond with a friend, and to immerse in the rich tapestry of Floyd’s cultural and natural beauty. With a bike under you and a partner at your side, The Appalachian Journey awaits.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
The Journey takes place in Floyd County, Virginia, one of the least populated and highest mountain plateaus east of the Mississippi, bordered by the Eastern Continental Divide on the NW side. Floyd is a great location to ride The Appalachian Journey and spend a long weekend. With camping available on-site at Floyd Family Campground or the one of a kind locations in the area, those that enjoy sleeping under the stars have a handful of great options. Alternatively, hotels in town include Hotel Floyd, the Pine Tavern Lodge, and the Stonehaven B&B. For those that prefer a more home-like experience can choose from a variety of vacation rentals from guesthouses to historic apartments.
Floyd, Virginia’s culinary scene is a vibrant tapestry of Appalachian tradition and contemporary flavors, offering a range of dining experiences from down-home country kitchens serving classic Southern fare to eclectic eateries that blend local produce with modern gastronomy. Visitors can expect a warm, community-focused atmosphere where the food is as rich in local heritage as it is in taste. Local favorites include Outer Space, Lush Lounge, and Blue Ridge Diner.
Early April in Floyd, Virginia, is a time when the crispness of winter begins to give way to the gentle warmth of spring, making it an ideal backdrop for outdoor athletes looking to immerse themselves in nature and adventure. For those who find solace in the solitude of the trails, Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve offers a remarkable hiking experience. The preserve features a 1.5-mile, moderately challenging trail that leads to the summit, where hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the Floyd County landscape.
Cycling enthusiasts can take to the Blue Ridge Parkway, known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” which offers a serene and challenging ride through the rolling hills of the Appalachians. In early April, the parkway is less crowded, providing a peaceful ride with breathtaking views of the awakening spring flora. With well-maintained roads and plenty of pull-offs, cyclists can choose their own pace and distance, making it perfect for both training rides and leisurely explorations.
Anglers can experience the thrill of fly fishing on the Little River, which flows through the heart of Floyd. In early spring, the waters are stocked with trout, offering a prime fishing experience. The clear, cold streams are surrounded by a budding forest landscape, providing a tranquil setting for both the novice and experienced fisherman. Local outfitters provide guides and gear for those looking to fine-tune their technique or for newcomers eager to learn the art of fly fishing.
Journey Productions produces a cousin to The Appalachian Journey, called the The Appalachian Mountaineer also taking place in Virginia, but in the Fall. Another top shelf gravel event in the state of Virginia is the Dirty Kitten from Dirty Kitten Productions.
For the multi-sport athletes out there, the Shenandoah Mountain 100 from Shenandoah Mountain Touring is an epic mountain biking event to add to your calendar and is part of the National Ultra Endurance Race Series (NUE) and considered to be one of the Best Mountain Bike Events in the Mid Atlantic.
Also, some of the Best Road Cycling Events in the Mid Atlantic take place in Virginia, including the Storming of Thunder Ridge, and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Gran Fondo a GFNS Partner Event produced by Muddy Squirrel.