Virginia Wine Tour '97 (comments)

by Jack Powell

I did the first Wine Tour two years ago with Jim and about eight others, we had a blast and no one got out of hand.

Donna and I were up at Charlottesville, VA last weekend to do some bike riding and check out an additional loop Jim Kinn wanted to add for this year trip. We took notes so we could have cue sheets for this year ride.

Jim met with Donna and I last Wednesday night to discuss the tour for this year. He mentioned you said some people had concerns about the difficulty of the rides, so though I would pass on my wheels view of the roads up there.

There are three rides planed for those who stay through Monday .Campers will need to arrive Friday night. Reservation are recommended at the KOA. One ride is planned for each day Sat, Sun, & Mon. Some people may stay only two days.The two longer rides are 56 and 52 miles. The shorter ride to Jefferson Winery near Monticello is about 30 miles and can be done in 1/2 day easy for folks who wish to go to the Wine Festival that afternoon or visit Monticello or just want a shorter ride.

The roads are all paved and free of pot holes. Most are back roads narrow with low traffic or no traffic.The terrain up there is foot hills at the base of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are some hills, but no big mountains to go over. Most of the roads follow valley and creek beds winding through the foot hills with short ups and downs not much different from the terrain west of Chapel Hill to Asheboro. Any experienced rider who is conditioned to do 100k rides in Wake County will be happy up there. The trick is to ride your own pace, be it 12 or 21 mph, just as though you were riding alone. The group will probably break up into small teams of 2 and 4 , hopefully every one will have a buddy to share with. Everyone gets back together at the wineries for the tasting or eating and to make a wheel head count. We will have a camp fire talk after sun goes down and share some stories.

How hard is it? This is foot hill country with peaks of 600-800 ft elevation and our routes go mostly between the hills. The view is beautiful because you can see the Blue Ridge Mountain much of the time while on the bike. The loop to Afton Winery is 56 miles with only two noticeable hills. The first is a one mile climb very similar to the hill on our local Route 42 going from Corinth to Duncan south of Harris Lake (visualize or ride from the Buckhorn Creek bridge eastward to top of the hill). You go over that hill twice, once going to Afton and again on the return. There is a store near the top to get your reward. The second hard hill is short, but steep, like going up Lystra Hill on Lystra Rd west of Farington Rd at north end of Jordan Lake. The loop to White Hall Winery is similar, but 52 miles . There are a couple short but steep sections like the hills on Alston and Green Level-Durham Rd or the Tri County Hill west of Carpenter near the end of Yates Store Rd. Most riders will be happier with a triple chain ring, but not required. You will be happier with a light road bike than a heavy fat tire triple chain ring ATB bike. If your road bike does not have a triple, you can suffer through as I do with a 39 ring x 29 rear cog. If you are not strong, you may need to stop for a couple rest or walk a short distance on the hard hills. That would cause only a 10-15 delay in the ride, there is no rush, this is an unloaded tour, take your time and enjoy the ride and views.

There are two wineries on each loop. If someone is having endurance difficulty they can delete one winery on each loop and cut their trips to about 40-45 miles each day.

In addition to the wineries, there are many horse farms up there which are well kept and much prettier than the cow pastures we have here in tobacco row NC.

For folk who don't camp there are motel 10 miles away north in town, but we hope everyone will stay at campground for the fellowship.

If you have room for an extra bike, there is a county park two miles away from the KOA which has ATB single track trails approx 5 miles long.

For those who may stay at motel, they could leave their cars at the county park and met campers out side the campground ( parking is limited at KOA ).

KOA Charlottesville is approx. 215 miles from center of Raleigh. Go I-40 West, HWY 86 north, HWY 29 north, and exit on SR 708 Red Hill Road east, follow signs to campground four miles.

Those interested in going should contact Jim Kinn for details.


Captain Jack

Page maintained by David L. Cole and last revised on Wednesday, September 17, 1997.
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