Ritchie Vaughan is today’s guest blogger. She’s an avid mountain biker, gives Smokey the Bear a run for his money fighting forest fires, works at Shenandoah Bicycle Company, and is a Realtor at Kline May Realty to boot. You can check out Ritchie’s blog at www.Attic2Crawlspace.com.
Ever tried to mountain bike in the winter?
I’ve lived a lot of places that you can’t bike in the winter. Richmond? Mucky. Blacksburg? Really mucky. Roanoke? So mucky that you’ll break your bike.
But Harrisonburg? A winter mountain biker’s dream. All of those rocks and steep mountains that make flatlanders weep…. they shed water like a tarp. And if you ride high enough, everything stays frozen solid until mid-day.
So here’s to winter riding!
Here’s a short guide to to get you started with some local winter rides:
1. Hillandale Park in Harrisonburg: Rideable when frozen. But only when very frozen. When Hillandale’s trails do melt, they’re muckier than Roanoke, so mucky that you will hurt yourself. Seriously, the clay at Hillandale is really slick and does cause bad accidents in the wrong conditions.
2. Massanutten Resort: Rideable on Sundays. The ‘Nut is closed Monday through Saturday for hunting. But it’s good to go on Sundays! Some of the lower trails hold water & mud, but they’re plenty easy to bypass on the gravel road. Stick to the middle & upper trails, and you’re golden. But only on Sundays.
3. Narrowback/Tillman Trail: This one is hit-or-miss. The ridge is awesome no matter the conditions. But the new project work area and the jeep trail on the far side of the ridge hold water. If I just gotta ride Narrowback, I either do an out-n-back or make sure everything is frozen. Otherwise, the post-ride bike-wash can be a nightmare.
4. Mud Pond: One of my favorite spots in the winter! Unless frozen, don’t attempt the normal downhill section (mud mud mud). But the ridge is a phenomemal out-and-back to Oak Knob or beyond. Added bonus: if you get cold or tired, it’s all downhill back to the car.
5. Dowell’s Draft: This one dries out and melts its snow very quickly. Great ride either up or down any winter day. Monday, I spent a lovely morning riding up Hankey Mountain, down Dowell’s Draft, and back along the road.
6. Reddish Knob, Timber Ridge, and Lynne: Another rocky ridgetop that never gets muddy. But be careful on icy days– some of these sections can get technical.
7. Pick a gravel road: Pretty much any road. They’re good to go. And there’s a ton of ‘em. Just remember to wear warmer clothes because that wind will rip the warmth out of your fingers & toes.
These are just some of my top winter pics after a couple winters here in the area. For more ideas, stop in either one of our local bicycle shops located downtown!