bike virginia, 2019 trip review

by Angela Crow, 2019



Bike Virginia celebrated its 40th anniversity in 2018, and since 2001, they’ve shifted to two overnight camping locations and stopped moving across the state. The ride’s overnight locations are relatively near to one another so that there’s time, on the moving day, to load your gear back in your car, move it to the next camp site, and then head out for a ride. 

Or if you’re staying over in hotels or bringing a camper, you might choose a location between the two camp sites, allowing you to stay in one spot for the week. 

Situated often in the mountains, Bike Virginia routes will challenge riders.The ride coordinators offered at least three different routes allowing someone who enjoys a 70 mile ride or a 100 mile ride to vacation with a partner who prefers a 25 mile ride. If you are new to a multiple day ride, and you want to try out the multiple day part before committing to a seven day ride across a state, Bike Virginia would be a chance to experiment.  

Small ride feel

On the last day of this ride, we encountered more riders on our early start which made sense–more riders bunched up at that time because they were traveling home after the ride. But the other days, I rode out with very few other riders, and quickly was alone on the road. With over 1500 riders, I found this sensation puzzling and tried to figure out why it felt this way. 

 I think three factors contribute to this feeling: first, the day’s route is supported from early morning until five pm which means people can start at their preferred time. On rides across states, people are encouraged to get an early start, and SAG road support moves with the riders and sections of the road will not be supported after a certain hour (with the same approach to rest stops), but on this kind of ride, the route stays open the entire day. In addition, people choose different routes, so riders aren’t moving en masse. Some turn off for the 25 mile route, others for the 50 mile, and still others for the 70 mile option.   


 If you’re planning on staying at the camp site, and you’ve been on a large state ride (over 1000 riders), where a larger portion of riders stay overnight at the camp site, you may experience this sensation of a smaller ride in the overnight experience as well. Showers won’t have lines (or rarely), and camping spaces in the shade won’t be difficult to find.  Still, you’ll find plenty of people camping, and if you’re alone, you may want to opt into the tent raising service, if only because you will have shared space with the same people. 


Motivation: I should confess that sometimes, on day five of a seven day ride, when I wake up and find it’s raining, I sometimes will consider finding a car rental place, but usually after a cup of coffee, I’ll give up that fantasy, and after we start riding, I’m grateful I couldn’t easily opt out. The only thing that might stop me from riding Bike Virginia again might be the fact that I can choose a shorter ride, even after I start in on a route. That option is great if you’re learning how your body responds to a multiple day ride, but if you need a firm challenge, these shorter/easier routes may be too tempting.

Types of Bikes:  I love rides where the diversity of routes feels welcoming to those who would prefer to own one bike that they could ride on rail to trail gravel and on paved roads. On this ride, I saw the high end road bikes, and also plenty of hybrid, mountain, and gravel bikes. I like that the routes afford people the opportunity to enjoy a ride. 

Summary: If you want great scenery, mild temperatures, a welcoming ride that affords the exploration of a multiple day ride on well articulated routes, and the choice of challenge, try Bike Virginia. If you’re committed to slow tourism, to leaving your car somewhere for a week and exploring by active tourism, and if you find it difficult to opt into a more challenging route when an easier one exists, then you’ll need to plan for the realities of ease of access to car transportation, and ease of access to the easier route.    

  • RIDE ORGANIZATION: predictable (in a good way) 85% 85%
  • PRICE: $600 (state rides range between $175 – $1200 50% 50%
  • DISTANCE + ELEVATION: HARD but choices that reduce difficulty 40% 40%
  • WEATHER — WARM 70% 70%

bike VA amenities


A marked route, facilitating three daily routes. (GPS, marked signs on the road).

sag support

Vehicles on the route, providing help for riders in difficulty.

rest stops

Fuel food, shade, and toilets about every 20 miles. Bike mechanic at some stops.

Overnight camping

Outside tent camping for 6 nights.

food & entertainment

Coordinates bands, social activities, and beer trucks. Price includes six tokens — good for a meal at a food truck or specific in town restaurants.

Charging Station

Charging station available until lights out (generators off). 

Bike mechanics

BRAG subcontracts with a bike shop. Repairs at shop prices.


Warm showers from shower truck.

Bike Va Add ons

Tent Service

For around $520 (for 2), a pitched tent, air mattresses, luggage delivery, chair, and towel.

Food facilitation

Food trucks at the camp site and arrangements with specific restaurants in town (for payment in tokens).