Never mind that I hadn’t even sat on a bike in maybe ten years or so.
“Let’s do the Virginia Creeper Trail!” they said. “It’ll be fun!” they said. “It’s super easy!” they said. So I agreed, since I have a hearty dose of fear-of-missing-out, and since occasionally I like to do something I’m bound to be terrible at.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34 mile gravel path that is made from an old railroad track. The first 17 miles are almost entirely downhill, at a gentle slope, perfect for coasting. The last half is rolling and sunny, through fields and farms with stops to open gates. Most people only do the first half, but the group I was with all enthusiastically voted to do the whole trail, (why do I have such energetic friends?) and so I bit my nails in private and decided to do or die.
The day began early, much too early for those of us who don’t believe in popping out of bed at the crack of dawn with shining faces. (Also, why are all my friends morning people? Now taking applications for new friends.) We squeezed the eight of us into a little minivan and trundled two hours west to the bike rental place.
The renter-of-bikes looked at Lyn dubiously when she said we wanted to do the whole trail. “You sure? It’s supposed to be ninety degrees today, and the second half is in the sun, and rolling.” After a quick group huddle, we decided maybe we should take it a little easier and just do the first seventeen miles. I gave fervent thanks in my heart, while trying to not look too thrilled in front of my energetic and athletic friends. So they outfitted us with bikes, packed us into a homeschooler’s-dream-maxivan, and took us half an hour up the mountain so we could start our coast back down to town.
I wasn’t entirely sure I could stay on a bike, but after a few wobbles, we were off, down a gorgeous trail encased in a tunnel of trees. Wooden bridges dotted the trail, and we had to make frequent stops to explore and admire the lovely day. Pedaling was hardly required, as gravity took care of that for us, and we sailed along with the wind in our faces. It was glorious.
We stopped when we found a flat spot beside the creek, and picnicked sumptuously, making the passersby green with jealousy, or so I’d like to think.
Of course, we also had to make time for a quick dip in the creek when we found a spot with a bit of a pool and a rock off which to jump. Is there anything that beats a rocky mountain creek for creating peace of mind? I think not.
We finished the trail much sooner than we would have liked, and a few of us were tempted to turn around and promptly do the first half over again. But instead we turned in our bikes, and finished the day in style with coffee and pizza in Boone, and fireworks back at home.
Trail summary: I can’t speak for the second half, but the first seventeen miles are as easy as they are predicted to be. We stayed pleasantly cool under the trees although it was a scorcher of a day, and scarcely had to pedal at all, even on the last few miles which we were warned was flat and would require some work. The scenery was lovely, including the multitude of wooden bridges we crossed. And now I am already longing to do it again in the fall when the air is crisp and the trees are a blaze of color. Anybody want to come?