Brought to you by Journey Productions, The Appalachian Mountaineer is a ride, not a race, created to get us out, challenge our mental and physical fortitude, and explore the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the Best Gravel Events in the Mid-Atlantic for 2023, as rated by Strambecco.
The Mountaineer is a cousin to The Appalachian Journey in that it is also in Virginia, run on gravel, and built with the same stoke and fire you expect in Floyd in the spring. But that’s where the similarities end. In Floyd, you roll through the soul of Appalachia farmland with punchy climbs and amazing descents. In Craig… things get a little bigger. The courses feature three unique routes, each adding mileage, difficulty, and unique terrain spanning National Forest gravel roads, gradual old rail grades, winding rural farm roads, and an optional river crossing within a half mile from the finish. There are three route options to choose from: (1) 85 miles with 7800 ft of elevation gain; (2) 67 miles with 6600 feet of elevation gain; and (3) 22 miles with 2500 ft of elevation gain. See profiles and maps below.
What’s the ideal bike set-up for this event? The debate between riding a cross/gravel bike or a mountain bike is an honest toss-up. There are a lot of efficiencies to be gained on a gravel-style bike, but a hardtail will make the long descents and climbs a little more bearable. A gravel rig is probably your best bet if you want to go fast and have 38c or bigger tires. If you wanna carry a little extra rocket fuel, or ride along, then a hardtail mountain bike will be a great choice! November weather in the region can be chilly, especially a the top of the biggest climb, which peaks at over 4k feet, so be prepared with layers.
One of the best parts of the event for all riders is the after-party with a hot meal (chili w/cornbread – veg or meat), a cold beer, live music, and a place for the whole family to celebrate together over the weekend on Wilderness Adventure’s 500 acres of creek-front property in Craig County, VA.