This is the “No Guts. No Gravel.” weekend so be prepared for two full days! We will be out for 5-7 hrs (including stop time). We will have three ride guides to help lead different groups of different abilities that we will organize before leaving Camp Bethel. This is just for safety. If you feel like you would like to try staying in the “A” group feel free to try it out and if it’s too hard just soft pedal and wait for the “B” or the “C” group. No one will be left behind. The whole point of the weekend is to expose those with a higher level of fitness and experience to riding gravel to the gems we have tucked close, and far from, Downtown Roanoke.
Both days we will meet at Camp Bethel for a 9am departure time. Try to be there at 8:30am, we will go over what to expect for the day, route expectations, field bike setup questions (tire pressure, food/water to bring, etc.), any other questions you may have. RND coffee and some muffins for breakfast.
*Keep in mind there is little to no service at the start area depending on your wireless provider.
These routes are catered towards riders in the moderate to advanced side of the gravel spectrum. Both days boast roughly 60 miles with 8,000ft of gain. It’s not all about suffering though. Some of my absolute favorite roads are tucked into these loops; Thaxton Mtn rd, Sandy Ford, Murrelle Gap, and Sugar Loaf Mtn.
*Be ready for a 5-7 hr day.
After each day we will debrief. We will chat about skills, nutrition, general questions about the route, and what is to come tomorrow (very casual). Most importantly we are going to chow down on burritos, chips, freeze pops, and sit around just hanging out. So bring a camp chair. There will be a cooler w/ cold cokes and bubbly bevys. Showers are in the bathhouse.
*Camp Bethel, is church-owned, and is a no alcohol-tobacco-cannabis-vaping location. Please respect this. The surrounding towns of Fincastle and Roanoke have plenty of watering holes for you all to quench your thirst at.
We start the day with a gradual approach up the north side of Black Horse Gap. This one will surely get you warmed up before we drop down a screaming fast forest service rd into the Day Creek Day Use Area. From there we cross Hwy 460 and climb up Mountain View Church rd, which brings us to the coveted Sandy Ford rd that we will drop down (a must ride gravel road in the Roa area,. At the bottom we touch pavement for a second before we cross Jordantown rd and Saunders rd before turning left, back onto gravel, on Simmons rd. This is a sweet descent through some tucked away farm land. This is the middle part of the ride where we get away from the big climbs and are rolling along, death by a thousand paper cut style. One of my favorite roads lies in this middle section, Thaxton Mtn rd. It is a fun, flowing, super twisty gravel rd that will test your cornering skills for sure (Aid station mile 30). After Thaxton you may get your feet wet at the river crossing on Foster rd but you may just want to lay down in the river anyway. We take pavement back across Hwy 460 over to Murrelle Gap rd. Being later in the ride this one is sure to have your legs burning and your mind wishing it was the last climb, though the descent down the back side is a blast. We cross pavement to Pike rd (gravel) and start the slog up the final climb Bobblets Gap. This one starts out nice and smooth but deteriorates into an unmaintained forest service rd with lots of bumps. With no big steeps it seems easy on the surface but being later in the ride and not having the luxury of smooth terrain be prepared to be frustrated. Once we cross the parkway at the top you can turn that frown upside down as we get to rip the same kind of bumpy, unmaintained, forest service rd down to pavement before ending the day on my favorite section of gravel “The Wiggles”, which brings us right into camp.
We are kicking things off the same way we ended yesterday. The wiggles is a good one to ride in either direction. This way is even easier on the legs, which will be welcomed after yesterday’s tenderizing route. At the end of the wiggles we roll into a bit of single track. This is gnarly for gravel standards (a proper 1 mile of mtb worthy terrain)! But you can pick your way down it or opt for a hike a bike. From there, savor the few miles of flatter pavement as we head through Buchanan and start the climb up towards Sugarloaf Mtn. Greylodge Rd is one of the highlights of the day. It’s a very cool unmaintained, washed out Rd next to a creek bed that is gradual yet technical. At the end of Greylodge is the first of 2 aids on the day (miles 21.7). You will hit this aid twice. You may want to stock up. There isa big climb waiting for you on the other side of the aid but you can relax your grip on the bars some. The technical riding is over. From here on it’s smooth rolling gravel that you could ride 28c road tires on. After 4 miles of climbing up Sugarloaf you get a ripping descent down to Bluegrass Trail, which continues on gravel until just before Springbranch road. It’s rolling farm rd pavement all they way back to aid 2 (45.6 miles) and also pavement from here back to Camp Bethel (Figured y’all may need that). Though if you want to take another lap on the wiggles I wont stop you!
Strava route.- https://www.strava.com/routes/2896393650860723362
Virginia Blue Ridge Adventures has rented an Airbnb space for 4 lucky registrants.
This space is located 15 min drive from Camp Bethel or a 10 mile pedal (if you need some extra training)
$400 per person
2 nights stay (Check in Friday July 29/ Checkout Sunday July 31)
2 nights Dinner
Breakfast supplies will be stocked in the kitchen
Registration for both days is included in this price
Gravel bike, cross bike, or MTB. The “type” is not important but the tire size is. We require a minimum of a 40c tire or a high level of skill and experience. The Maxxis Rambler is a great choice for both days. If you can fit bigger, go for it. Though you don’t need an MTB to ride this loop, you wont regret your decision as you climb up Bobblets Gap or rip down Black Horse Gap. Gearing, a double chain ring up front is preferred. Though if you have a 1x setup we recommend at least a 1:1 gear ratio (40t chain ring:40t cassette). Remember 8,000ft of climbing both days!