A Happy, Golden & Saddle-sore day spent Biking the Virginia Creeper Trail
One gets nervous thinking about biking 34 miles straight with no previous training to build up the golden calves. What will it be like? Will one be obliged to sit down halfway through and weep? Call in the calvary? Live in ignominy forever?
These are the questions presented to the below-average biker showing up in Damascus VA on a hot summer day. It's an unknown. Who says there are no frontiers left to man? At any rate, we all face personal challenges to overcome, and the VA Creeper Bike Trail was mine.
But I exaggerate. I have a fair fitness level and love of biking, and wasn't really afraid of failing. The trick is my bum knee. The last time I tried biking a good stretch of mileage my knee popped and I sat by the road and blinked back tears until my mom bailed me out with a truck and a motorized ride the rest of the way.
June 30, 2018 - BLUE BLAZE BIKE RENTAL
If you are the average joe without a mountain bike or the vehicle to carry it to the top of the mountain I recommend a shuttle and bike rental. We went with Blue Blaze Bike Rental located in Damascus VA, and had a satisfactory experience. They outfitted us all in good time, and with the exception of one person who got a bike with squeaky brakes, had well-equipped bikes.
While getting our bikes the man we spoke with recommended doing half the trail instead of the whole, and after some conferring with the pros and cons, went with the suggestion. The first half of the trail was 17 miles long and almost all down hill, while biking the second would require a lot more pedaling, and by virtue of being a lower altitude would also be hotter. On a 90 degree day that didn't take much thinking, and so $27 later we were waiting on the bikes and vans to load for the half hour ride up the mountain.
The only complaint I had about the experience was being frozen out in the front bench seat of the van, but even that was ok, because that's better than the folks in the back of the van getting too hot. Anyway, one can endure shivering for about half an hour.
The rental company sent us each off with a bottle of water and the good sense they hoped we all had. Harrumph.
As it turns out, my fears about the physical part of it were groundless. The trail is a nice, steady grade downhill with hardly a turn of the pedal required - I coasted a great deal of the way. Of course, we wanted to go faster at times, and take small detours which took a little more effort.
So much effort requires a sturdy luncheon and we are not ones to shirk our duty. Accordingly we found a flat spot by a stream, parked the bikes, and settled in for the long haul. Everyone had brought their own lunch and we more or less crammed on one picnic blanket. Long was the feast, and merry.
ONWARD, NOBLE STEEDS
We rode through meadows, over trestles, and through tree tunnels, I can only imagine what autumn would be like - for $27, I think it would be worth another trip up in a few months. Meantime, the temperatures here were lower and biking is just airy enough to be extra comfortable.
I was having too much fun to stop for steady shots so I apologize for the blurry shots in some of these, and hope they convey a little of the fun of the trail.
The Swimming Hole
We took our sweet time, stopping when we felt like it, and once when we found a swimming hole decided to take the plunge. It was really a lovely little spot to jump in; a rock jutted into the stream hollowing out a 5' deep place just right for a cannonball. It was one of the best parts of the day.
All in all, the trail ended way before we did, and it was sad to get off our bikes and return them, though it was probably best to stop before we got too saddle sore. I can't even remember exactly how long it took, but even with a stop to eat and swim, it was only around 3-4 hours. The halfway mark is back in Damascus so it worked well to bike back to the rental to drop off the bikes.
I'm pretty sad not to get a proper group shot of everyone, it was really a fantastic group with whom to experience a day on the VA Creeper Bike Trail.
Boone is only about 50 minutes away and there are several excellent coffee shops there to re-caffeinate in style. We went to Espresso News upon recommendation and had a stellar time and coffee in their top floor. With that, and Greek salads, calzones and pizza at Mellow Mushroom (also in Boone), and fireworks back home to celebrate the 4th of July, it will always be a day of golden memories for me.
The day we biked the VA Creeper Trail.