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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Connect the dots

The Roanoke Valley is teaming with Greenway activity. New sections are being built regularly, and the overall network is really starting to come together. The Roanoke River Greenway will be the backbone, stretching from Explore Park in Bedford County all the way to Green Hill Park in Salem. Other Greenways will tie into the Roanoke River Greenway providing an awesome network of car-free pavement for many to enjoy.

I serve on the Board of Directors of Pathfinders For Greenways. Our role is to recruit and organize volunteer labor for the construction and maintenance of Greenways and multi-use trails in the valley. Recently the Board has been doing Greenway tours for its members and the members of the Greenways Commission to show them the progress that is being made. As a cyclist I see it first hand quite often. I'm always riding on them. But, I had never ridden all of them in one ride!

I decided to ride every completed section of Greenway this past Good Friday. Pookie had to work, so I wanted to do a ride that wouldn't take me too far from civilization but could give me the training time I was looking for.

So I filled a few bottles, packed my pockets full of snacks and off I went into the 38 degree temperature and 20 mph winds.

Twenty minutes after leaving home I arrived at Roanoke River Greenway in Salem.

At the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem the Greenway takes you right along a sweeping bend in the river.

Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail is always a very peaceful ride. This day was no different.

After a fairly long section of road riding from Salem to ValleyPointe, I arrived at Valley View Mall. Then from the Mall to downtown I rode with zero traffic! Lick Run is awesome in that it connects two busy urban centers with a tranquil ride along a stream.

Some serious curves; The Greenway corkscrews its way down from a bridge over I-581.

I headed toward the Hotel Roanoke on the newest section of Lick Run. Once I reached downtown I headed through Vinton to the bike lanes on Hardy Rd.

There I jumped onto Wolf Creek.

Wolf Creek Greenway meanders through a nice stand of trees. This Greenway feels more remote and "natural" than most others.

The end is near, but it will be moving soon. Wolf Creek will soon extend under this fancy new bridge all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I turned around and back-tracked on the Wolf Creek Greenway and back through Vinton on Wise Ave. Then I rode under a train, on a trail that leads to a bridge over a stream, next to the road.

In my opinion, the coolest little bridge in the valley. Technically it's not on a Greenway, but it is directly across from the end of one. See the sign?

I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. As you can see in the picture, I came to it two and a half hours into the ride.

Tinker Creek Greenway carried me from Vinton into Roanoke and will eventually connect to the Roanoke River Greenway.

I happened upon a crew working hard putting down fresh blacktop on the Roanoke River Greenway...

...near the Vinton water treatment plant.

More and more everyday! This new section of the Roanoke River Greenway will most likely be paved the next time I see it. Just last week it wasn't even there!

Three hours into my ride I arrived at the base of Mill Mountain, so up I went.

Most of the climb up the Mill Mountain Greenway (aka "The Old Road") looks like something you'd see in the Tour De France.

After coming off of the mountain I headed toward the city on the flat section of Mill Mountain Greenway.

The end of Mill Mountain Greenway brings you right into downtown Roanoke at Elmwood Park.

All the way across town I went along Wylie Drive (The Roanoke River Greenway again) and across the city limit to Roanoke County to Garst Mill Park. Although one of the shortest in the valley, the Garst Mill Greenway is especially nice - a fine ribbon of paved bike path next to a scenic stream. The park itself has great amenities as well.

At Fishburn park I entered the Murray Run Greenway which is a nice combination of singletrack dirt trail and crushed-gravel, double-wide pathway.

The end of the Murray Run Greenway right next to Patrick Henry High School was the last bit of trail for the day. The signs is complete, but this section of Greenway isn't - although it's still very easy to connect the to the completed section of Murray Run by using an alley nearby.

Five hours and about 65 miles later, I had successfully ridden every Greenway in the Roanoke Valley. What a great ride this was!

1 comment:

Jen said...

Map it out dude! I have put a couple of rides on www.bikely.com.

Happy Easter!