Virginia & Pennsylvania MTB Trip (Day 1)

View from Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

View from Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

Back in mid-May I had the opportunity to spend 7 glorious days on endless miles of singletrack in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania. It was my idea of a vacation and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends new and old to join me. Here is the first post from the trip, Day 1 in Harrisonburg, VA.

Day 1: Hillandale Park – Harrisonburg, VA

The last time I stepped foot in Virginia for an extended period of time was when I took a family trip to Busch Gardens and Virginia Beach back in I believe 1993. This was also before I even knew what mountain biking was all about. This first day of riding in the nation’s tenth state brought together most of our group for a bit of a warm up ride in the small town of Harrisonburg.

Scoping out the Hillandale Map

Scoping out the Hillandale Map

For those that don’t know much about Harrisonburg (myself included until this trip), they have a vibrant mountain bike community. The folks here are dedicated to opening up trails within the confines of the city, but also in the surrounding communities. The local bike club is the Shenandoah Vallely Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) and they are the masterminds behind the trail access operations. While the town is considered a college town with both James Madison University and Eastern Menonite University, the cycling tourism business has taken off in recent years. One of the mountain bike parks that was created by the SVBC is Hillandale park and also my first mountain bike ride in Virginia.

The temps for this first ride were sitting comfortably in the low 70s and slightly overcast with some gusty winds. After about an hour of fiddling with our bikes, which were still resting in their travel cases, we were on our way to this innercity network of trails in Harrisonburg. (Pro tip for traveling with bikes on airplanes: remove your disc brake rotors and store in either your carry-on or checked bag. Lesson learned for all of us.)

East Coast Flow

East Coast Flow

The trails at Hillandale Park range from fast tight singletrack to the giant rock gardens sure to give a full body workout and a slalom course to hone your cornering skills. There are even some quick punchy climbs to get the cardiovasular system moving. Most of this terrain brought me quickly back to my childhood of riding in New England. We clocked 7.5 miles around this network of trails and we were all grinning from ear to ear. To think this was only our first of seven days on east coast trails!

Ride Stats: 7.5 Miles


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