The Appalachian Mountaineer

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 took all of the best parts, added professional timing, start categories and times, and swaps slower chunky course segments for some grade A gravel riding.  Look for more improvements in 2022.

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.

This is a great event to make a weekend of.  Wilderness Adventure has 500 acres of field, forest, stream, and mountain to explore. When not riding, take time to hike our trails, rent a canoe, fish in one of our two ponds, take thrilling ride down our zip line, or simply relax with a warm cup of tea along the banks of Craigs Creek.  The venue offers an excellent array of indoor hotel options and Campgrounds.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Gran Fondo

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Gran Fondo is a signature cycling event in the Mid-Atlantic region.  The event is produced by Muddy Squirrel, an organization dedicated to helping individuals and families break free from their “technology-driven” life and connect with the outdoors with meaningful and challenging events.  New for 2021, the event is partnered with the Gran Fondo National Series, a producer of premier one day events including the official USA Cycling Gran Fondo Championship.  What’s unique about GFNS events is that they offer a mix of personal challenge and serious competition on roads with challenging climbs and incredible scenery.  Each rider is assigned an electronic timing-chip to keep track of their progress throughout the course and to allow riders to compete for best time through highlighted sections of the course.  There is not start to finish as in traditional racing formats, but rather timed sections count towards a rider’s competition time.

The Virginia’s Blue Ridge Gran Fondo will feature three different routes — 33, 45, and 75 miles. Each route has been carefully crafted to showcase Botetourt County’s rich scenic beauty and it’s warm & welcoming communities. Riders will enjoy the area’s natural beauty including the rolling terrain, open farmland, forested mountains, and the James River. Each route also features memorable aid stations and charming small towns.