Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a region consisting of the City of Roanoke at its heart and includes the surrounding communities of the City of Salem, Botetourt County, Franklin County, and Roanoke County. The region offers a Metro Mountain adventure nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
With over 1,000 miles of trails, and countless miles of pristine road riding, it is a premier destination for outdoor recreation. While it’s established as America's East Coast Mountain Biking Capital, it’s quickly becoming a road and gravel cycling destination. Virginia’s Blue Ridge presents a wide variety of amenities, unique attractions, and a surprising diversity of cultural and culinary experiences.
Professional team Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 recently moved their base of operations to Roanoke, Virginia. Spring training camps in the area quickly identified this route as a team favorite. The route provides a mix of stunning, challenging terrain and a solid 20-minute climb for field testing.
The ride begins in the historic town of Fincastle, Virginia. Incorporated in 1772 and included on the National Register of Historic Places, the entire area is a virtual museum of American architecture from the late 1770s through the 21st century. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark visited Fincastle, then on the edge of the Western frontier, before and after they were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase.
The adventure commences at The Pie Shoppe on Main Street, a family business serving the community with daily freshly made sweet and savory pies and the legendary chicken salad served in a bread bowl. There is plenty of street parking if you drive to the start. The route takes us down Springwood Road, the terrain rolls through the beautiful countryside passing several farms as we make our way steadily downhill to the James River.
The James River begins in the Appalachian Mountains and flows 348 miles (560 km) to Chesapeake Bay. It is the longest river in Virginia. Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia's first colonial capitals, and Richmond, Virginia's current capital, lie on the James River.
We cross the James River twice and then enter the town of Buchanan.
Buchanan Is nestled within the steep slopes of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Rich in history and natural beauty, Buchanan is the quintessential example of “Small Town America''. Where Main Street meets the mountains. Last stop to refuel shops and stores and Twin River Outfitters if you want to come back for a cooling water adventure. Ride out of town past the Buchanan limestone quarry and up the Highway 43-climb notorious for being one of the toughest climbs in an IronMan triathlon competition. Now the real work begins!
Blue Ridge Parkway
The forested canopy up highway 43 offers respite on hot summer days, under the stone bridge onto the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway which in contrast offers panoramic views in every direction. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway, which is America's longest linear park, runs for 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Near perfect pavement, gorgeous vistas will keep you motivated as you ride the Parkway. If you notice hikers popping out of the woods, chances are you have reached the intersection of Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail in the Eastern United States, extending almost 2,200 miles (3,540 km) and passing through 14 states. More than three million people hike segments of the trail each year. If you are lucky as we were this day, you might meet one of the many through hikers. Frack (the trail name given to this through hiker, he was on his way to Maine, his trail mate Frick was a mile or so ahead.
The route descends down the Blue Ridge parkway and for a few meters you will be on the Blue Ridge Boulevard, the busiest part of the route. A quick right turn with a punchy uphill takes you into the Knollwood and Heatherstone neighborhoods to Mountain Pass Road where you will be treated to some short steep pitches that weave through rural neighborhoods as you make your way back to Lee Highway.
Lee Highway – Troutville
The Town of Troutville was established in 1956 and is located in Botetourt County, Virginia. In 1881, this area had no name. The railroad came through and a station was built. There were three houses then which were occupied by John, Jim and George Trout - so the area was called Troutville. It became an important shipping center in the 1890's.
In 1895, Troutville was a thriving town with a very active shipping point, good farming, busy canneries, packing houses and factories. The name of the town was later changed to Troutville.
From Lee Highway we turn right onto the beautiful Nace Road that winds through pretty farmland and parallels the railroad.
Nace Road is part of The TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, also known as US Bicycle Route 76, a cross-country biking trail that passes through Virginia's Blue Ridge. The 4,228-mile trail is one of two original U.S. Bicycle Routes in the nation and it's broken into 12 sections. Section 1 begins in Astoria, Oregon and Section 12 ends in Yorktown, Virginia.A portion of Section 12 winds through Virginia's Blue Ridge, beginning in Christiansburg and making its way north through Botetourt County and on to Lexington before connecting with the Blue Ridge Parkway and heading east toward the Virginia coast. The Virginia section features more elevation gain than any other state on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. Section 12 is 368 miles in length.
The route then turns left and climbs the Blue Ridge Turnpike riding 2 miles through a small community, passing horses, cows and vintage tractors until you reach Lee Highway where you will cross and reconnect Blue Ridge Turnpike. The final miles wind gradually upwards back to the start town of Fincastle.
You will likely complete the route with an appetite! Finish up with a slice of savory or sweet pie or the famous chicken salad served in a warm bread bowl back at the Pie Shoppe or enjoy a meal at Rooftop on Main (in the same building) as the name suggests you can enjoy a meal and a beverage in the quaint space or weather permitting on the roof top deck overlooking Botetourt County. Rooftop dining is open from March through November.
If a cool float on the river is in order while in the area, head to Buchanan and visit the Twin River Outfitters where you can book James River day trips on canoes, kayaks, rafts or tubes. Twin River Outfitters is the oldest and most experienced outfitter on the Upper James River and has been safely running paddle trips since 1978. Their paddling experiences range from floating on a lazy river to thrilling whitewater rafting.
Are you looking for a traditional homestyle southern post ride meal? Head to Greenwood Family Restaurant, a casual cash only American restaurant in Troutville providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is a community hub for locals.
You will find Southern staples like green beans, fried Okra, meatloaf and turkey sandwiches and country fried steak. You can also purchase local jellies and jams.
The Pie Shoppe
1 E. Main Street
Fincastle, VA 24090
1772 Rooftop on Main
18 S. Roanoke St
Fincastle, VA 24090
Greenwood Family Restaurant
8176 Lee Hwy #7538,
Troutville, VA 24175
Twin River Outfitters
640 Lowe Street
Buchanan, VA 24066
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Visitors Center
101 Shenandoah Ave NE
Roanoke, VA 24016
Phone: +1 (540) 342-6025