Sunday, January 29, 2006


Sometimes things are more important than we think. Remember when the internet was in it's infancy? Few could imagine the impact that it would have on the entire world and how we communicate, do business with each other, and entertain ourselves.

On a smaller scale, certain things can be introduced into a community that also impact communication, commerce, and recreation. Don't expect everyone to have the foresight to see it, but the network of shared-use trails and Greenways being constructed and updated throughout the Roanoke, Vinton and Salem areas will have a profound effect on the health and vibrancy of these communities.

This past Thursday in the town of Vinton, a big step forward was taken toward connecting Roanoke and Vinton with the Blue Ridge Parkway. A meeting was held where the National Park Service, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Roanoke Valley Greenways Commission presented an overview of the proposed trail usage plan, and get further input from the public. User groups represented at the meeting included hikers and equestrians, and a ton of cyclists.

The meeting didn't really tell us much we didn't already know. It seemed to me that the NPS and BRP were testing the waters before taking the plunge. Since there was zero public disapproval expressed over the shared use of trails connecting to the BRP, it is my opinion that the trail plan will move forward sooner rather than later.

The first change we should see is the approval of mountain bikes on the Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail between Mill Mountain and Roanoke Mountain. This would be a demonstration area to prove to the entities involved that we can all get along on the same trails without having major clashes with each other, or with the locals who live close by. Thanks in large part to area mountain bikers (who worked on the trail despite it being off limits to them), the 5 mile loop trail has been brought up to date to more erosion resistant IMBA trail construction standards. This trail system also connects to Mill Mountain Park's expanding network of mountain bike trails and would give the City of Roanoke something to tout to attract young and active new residents.

Second, the BRP will most likely allow pedestrians and cyclists to legally gain entry to the Parkway through the use of many "social" trails that connect to secondary roads that pass beneath and above it. These trails are largely unmaintained and would require the user communities to step-up and provide volunteers to keep these trails in good shape. The BRP's don't ask don't tell policy in regard to "short-cut" or "social" trails was shattered last summer when cyclists were told they could only access the Parkway where motor vehicles do. This was a shocker since folks had been using these unmarked paths for many, many years. Hopefully that will all be behind us soon.

Third, the Greenways Commision should be moving ahead with connecting several local Greenways to the BRP. This will open up some additional BRP access points and provide more folks with an easy "on" to the Parkway.

In addition, some good thoughts about putting the "Park" back in "Parkway" came from folks who are sick of riding on what some motorists think is a race track. The need for lower speed limits and more enforcement was a topic that surfaced in many discussions. I personally don't care how they do it, but the NPS should do something to discourage using the Parkway as a short-cut from Roanoke to Vinton.

Any way you slice it, things are moving forward in regards to providing Roanokers and visitors an awesome network of cyclist and pedestrian freindly trails to enjoy.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Important Trail Plan Meeting!

Please plan to attend:

Blue Ridge Parkway Trail Plan Meeting
Thursday January 26, 2006
7:00 pm
Vinton Senior Citizen Center
820 E. Washington Avenue, Vinton, VA

Please read the document at the other end of the attached link to review the trail plan. It's a bit of a sluggish read, but worth the effort.

This meeting will discuss trails that provide access to the Parkway from secondary roads, as well as the awesome Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail (see page 36 of the trail plan)that is currently off limits to mountain bikers.

This is an excellent opportunity for us to:
1. Show that we are an organized group and are already moving forward with attracting cyclists to the valley (We put on races, organized rides, build new trails, etc. - think tourism).
2. We are willing to help with trail construction and maintenance.
3. If allowed,we would most likely be the group using these trails the most.

Because of the importance of this meeting to all BRP trail users, the Thursday Explore Park Night Ride will not be held this week!

Just think...soon we may have the chance to do a weekly Chestnut Ridge Loop ride!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dragons Back Ride

When Skip said he wanted to lead a ride up Dragons Back out in Craig County, I was scared. That's one hard friggin climb - even if you ride a geared bike. I don't.

This is an awesome place to ride, but this was really going to hurt.

So, off we went. We got as far as Wildlife Road where we were greeted by a "road closed" sign. OK, that will add about 6 miles of fire road to our adventure. No problem.

The rest of the 18 miles and 3900 feet of climbing was uneventful.

Honestly. No mechanicals. No gruesome crashes. Just lots of the best riding in these parts of beautiful Southwest Virginia. Enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Spin Out Friday Night

Most folks have a life.

I have a bike.

I have an obsession.

I just worked a 12 hour day.

I will still ride. the basement.

On the %$#@&*!! trainer.

It's pouring rain outside.

I have a beer.

I have one more.

It's a recovery ride after all.

I have some tunes.

Coldplay in concert.


The time passes quickly.

13 consecutive days on the bike.

Tomorrow will be 14.

Then 15.

Then 16...

I have a life.

It is my bike.

At least for an hour every day.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Old becomes new - again

Back in 1996, I bought a brand new Nishiki Pinnacle mountain bike for about seven hundred bucks. At the time, it was the shiznit...7000 series aluminum frame, Grip shifters, Rock Shox Quadra 21R elastomer suspension fork, LX components. Oh yea, it was the good stuff - back then.

The bike has had quite a long and storied history.

Over the years as technology improved, components were upgraded and the bike got facelift after facelift. At one point, the original midnight blue paint was buried beneath lots of granny smith apple green. It was handed down to my lovely wife Pookie as she got into mountain biking. She raced her first season as a beginner on what we dubbed the "Flaming Green Booger"when we added some flame decals on the downtube. I inherited the bike back, re-invented as my first singlespeed, when we built Pookie her current Kona Explosif race bike. Then I handed it back to her in singlespeed form when I got my Gary Fisher Rig last year.

The problem with using the bike as a singlespeed is the fact that it has vertical dropouts, and required a chain tensioner to keep the chain tight - which worked poorly. The chain would jump off of the chainring at the absolute worst time...usually when I was just about to mash up a tough climb.

Now, the old once again becomes new. The Flaming Green Booger is now Pookie's commuter machine. A new headset, rigid fork and On-One Mary handlebars keep the Booger heading in the right direction. Some skinny tires and an eight speed drivetrain get things rolling along. Yea, it's a pretty cool ride - again.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Base miles

Well...the holidays are over. The new year has been rung in. All the extra cookies and holiday meals need to be left out on the road somewhere before the seriously intense training can take place later in the spring. Bring on the base miles. Break out the extra layers. Gotta get out there and face the January wind.

Saturday the 7th was all that and a bottle of sports drink. Beautiful sunny skies and temps near 40. A stiff winter breeze greeted us as we rolled out for a nice three hour spin.

I love these rides. I love base miles. I better...there are a whole heck of alot more to come before the season starts. Roll on.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Years Day ride in pictures

They came from far and wide

Over 50 mountain bikers with New Year's hangovers

But excited to go for a nice, fun, long ride none the less

Some bikes were less excited about riding than others

But the gift of a new hanger got Chris hooked up and rolling again

We rode alot, we rested alot, and had a ton of fun. I can't imagine a better way to ring in 2006. Happy New Year!!