Trail Riding in Roanoke, Virginia

The company I work for sent me to Roanoke, Virginia for two weeks to work on some new projects.  I met a co-worker of mine there who lent me his Trek Navigator comfort bike for the weekend since he was headed off on some business.  He also suggested a few good areas around Roanoke for trail riding and gave me a few maps and pamphlets.  This business trip wasn’t going to be completely dull for me after all!  Previously, I had packed some cycling shorts and a polyester sports shirt hoping to land an opportunity to rent a bike somewhere for the weekend, so this was a super deal for me.

Cardinal Bicycle shopI got up Saturday morning, flipped through the maps and pamphlets and decided to explore the trails around Cravin’s Cove Reservoir on the northwest end of town.  Water plus thick forest is always a great idea for some scenic riding.  The bicycle, however, needed it’s very-dry chain oiled, brakes adjusted, and its high stem pushed out and down for a more mountain bike riding position.  After a quick check of Google Maps, I set out for Cardinal Bicycle shop since it was closest to my inn and had some good reviews.  When I got there I bought a foldable set of Allen wrenches and a bike mechanic there let me spray the chain and rear dérailleur down with oil.  After about 40 minutes of adjusting and pumping up the tires, the bike was ready for riding.

Getting reading to ride!I took a gallon of Gatorade and some granola bars and took off for Cravin’s Cove with the bike in the back of my rental car.  After a few track-backs and turn-arounds, I found the road leading out to the reservoir.  The Cove requires a $2 dollar day pass for out-of-towners and then you park near the trail-head of the trail system.  I strapped my camera onto my handlebars and put my 32 ounce water bottle in the cage; I didn’t really want to buy a camel-back or backpack since I was only going to be using the bike for one day, so I was stuck with this meager supply of beverage.  However, I soon found out this was just about the right amount for the shady trail I was to be riding on.

Cravin's Cove forestI started pedaling out into the forest and it was like stepping into the realm of a fairy tale.  The trees and ferns were vibrant green, the air was filled with the sound of a hundred different kinds of birds and the fragrance of dampness and sweet smelling plants.  The trail was marked on the map as a “beginners trail” so it was wide with only a few steep parts; then again, the region was only hilly with no really steep or large mountains like I was used to in the Pocatello area.  All the trails here were shady due to the density of the forest trees which was yet another stark difference to the treeless desert paths of the majority of Idaho.  After about 4 miles or so, my water bottle was two-thirds empty so I thought I’d better head back.  Being the foolish adventurer that I am, I decided to try out an intermediate trail that led back in the general direction of where my car was parked, or so I thought.  Navigation in treeless Idaho is much easier than in real forests, just in case you didn’t know ;-)

Cravin's Cove reservoirGoing down the intermediate trail felt a lot like the City Creek trail of Pocatello, except the City Creek trail is tougher.  There was some roots to go over on this single-track trail, twists and turns, a log to hop over (I dismounted and pushed my bike over… I’ve never learned how to bunny hop ;-p), and a stream to splash through, which I relished!  After a mile of this trail, I thought “hmm, ok, I’d better play it safe and head back the way I came.  I know what is behind me, I do not know what lies ahead of me on this trail.”  So I raced back to the car at top speed, which was exhilarating.  Not a bad ride at all.  The next time I come out to Roanoke, I’ll bring a backpack so I can carry more hydration and really give this trail system a good exploring!  Enjoy the photo gallery!

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