Brought to you by Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing, The Appalachian Mountaineer is a ride, not a race, created to get us out, challenge our mental and physical fortitude, and to explore the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Year one of the event saw a covid-conscious version of the event with staggered starts and a proof of concept course. The 2021 year takes all of the best parts, adds in professional timing, start categories and times, and swaps slower chunky course segments for some grade A gravel riding.
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 along through the soul of Appalachia farm land, with punchy climbs and amazing descents. In Craig… things get a little bigger. The courses feature three unique routes, each adding mileage, difficulty, and more 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 cross/gravel bike and mountain style bike is an honest toss up. There’s a lot of efficiency to be gained on a gravel style bike but a hardtail will make the long descents and climbs perhaps a little more bearable. If you’re looking to go fast and have 38c or bigger tires, a gravel rig is probably your best bet. If you wanna carry a little extra rocket fuel, or just 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 part of the event for all riders 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.