What I Learned Bike Touring from Wytheville to Floyd, Virginia

Today Felkerino and I headed off to Floyd, a southern Virginia town that abuts the Blue Ridge Parkway. A scenic and challenging day in many ways, it brought home a few themes about bike touring.


1. If the route isn’t working, change it.

Felkerino and I initially planned an 85-mile ride, but because we wanted a little time to explore Floyd, we shortened it by 10 miles.

However, we chose a trafficky alternative with lots of blind corners. Quickly summing up that this road did not meet our comfort level we took to the much quieter and also hillier back roads.

It was a good move that allowed us to feel safe and immerse ourselves in the terrain.


2. Don’t be afraid to explore.

Our afternoon re-route was full-on exploration. We also took a couple of morning detours, one to check out an old shot tower by the New River and another because the road looked too beautiful to pass up. It was as if it was beckoning us to ride it.


3. Appreciate every kind comment from strangers you meet.

People all along our route have encouraged us in various ways, from complimenting us on our tandem to wishing us well on our ride.

To so many people cyclists are at best, invisible, and at worst, inconvenient road obstacles. The kind remarks from strangers give an extra bit of daily inspiration.


4. Believe that you can.

No matter how arduous the day or how steep the climb, I hold onto the thought that Felkerino and I can and will handle it.

The latter half of today’s 70+ mile ride was rife with granny grinding rollers that challenged my legs and my patience. My blind belief that Felkerino and I have climbed so much together and my trust in our tandem got me over each hill.


5. I love bike touring in Virginia.

Close enough to home that it’s easy to access, far enough away that I feel like I went somewhere, and spectacularly beautiful and rewarding cycling.

Bike touring. It’s a thoroughly invigorating and immersing vacation. More please.


  1. Hey Mary, speaking of the south. I had the pleasure of riding with Cynthia Van Der Wiele, RUSA # 608. She’s from NC, and was in the Naperville area for business this July. Anyway, a hardcore rando, and I mentioned you and Ed, and she apparently knows you and Ed. She has done PBP, and BMB, and many other big rides.

    Just thought I would mention it, all the best. Say hi to Ed.

    Rick Cosaro


  2. dudes!!!
    i laugh when i read your descriptions! i know so many of those roads….so well! ouch…
    see when you get back for your southern virginia ride review!
    — me


    • Yes, we’ll compare notes… and discuss why Blacksburg has no bike infrastructure on its MAIN STREET, but somehow has four bike shops along it.


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