85,000 miles on the 34.5-mile Virginia Creeper bike trail

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If all went well, and I'm sure it did, Lawrence Dye (left) chalked up career mile No. 100,000 this weekend.

The 73-year-old cyclist has logged 85,000 of those miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34.5-mile rail-to-trail crushed gravel route in southwestern Virginia, since 1990.

Let me do the math. On average, Dye has knocked out 5,600 miles a year on the Virginia Creeper; or the equivalent of 1,231 round trips between the Virginia-North Carolina border and Abingdon, Virginia.

That's no mean feat, especially considering the Virginia Creeper Trail is not one of those level, straight-as-an-arrow railroad beds cyclists use in many urban areas. 

The trail's low point is at 2,000 foot elevation at South Holston Lake and rises 1,600 feet to the Whitetop Community at the border — in places on a 7% grade. The trail map reveals that it winds back and forth as it passes through the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and private land.

The trail is the former railbed of The Virginia Carolina Railroad, which ran from the early 1900s to 1977. The laborious chugging of the locomotive up and down the Appalachian hollers earned it the nickname Virginia Creeper.

It's the Virginia Creeper Trail Club's job to maintain, promote, and preserve the trail's corridor. The group's website says it's “one of the most beautiful trails on the continent.”  

I remember bicycling through the area in 1984 and would agree that any trail through here would be picturesque, even though at the time I was laboring on a fully loaded touring bike. I can see how Dye could make over a thousand outings here in the past 15 years.

Check the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website for other bike trails in the US.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.bikingbis.com/2005/08/08/85000-miles-on-the-34-5-mile-virginia-creeper-bike-trail/

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