VA conditions, travel, tires, bugs?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    VA conditions, travel, tires, bugs?

    Potentially looking to relocate to VA... even just for a short time (<2 years). Been looking at Springfield, VA and Blacksburg, VA. Ive lived in both areas and am aware of schools / homes / jobs, but never really mountain biked when i was there. Currently live in Colorado front range.

    In CO, its eather dusty, snow, or mud (from snow melt). Are there extended weeks with no riding because of rain in VA? Or does it drain well?

    I get along fine with XR2/XR3 type tires in CO without the need for minions, but all the leaves and roots leave me feeling slippery. Suggestions.

    Mainly a 29er rider (current 120mm 29er) seems like a 27.5 140 bike would be better suited with all the tight trees and rocky terrain. Are all trails like pandapas? Watched some videos pretty rocky.

    Bugs... never see em. Lots trail spider webs? Ticks? Bad good or standard?

    just kicking around the riding differences. Would be accotink/wakefield/lorton as my go tos in nova. And probably pandapas and mountain lake in blacksburg with the trip to carvins occasionally.

  2. #2
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    Two totally different areas and sides of the coin:

    NOVA (Northern VA aka Springfield is part of it) - Lots of traffic Suburbia with Local Park Singletrack meaning groomed. Yes certain times of year there will be bugs but in general wont hurt you but bug spray and tick check post ride highly recommended

    SW VA - Little of everyuthing but bigger climbs, descens, more rocks, very backcounty in the nature of its riding, some it can be very time consuming with hike a bike and slow going climbs, some descents are slow some are straight ripping, Roanoke is veryu much recognized as a ride destination

    For me the SW area far exceeds the NOVA area on quality of biking, if you want purpose built flow well groomed stuff than NOVA. Also more jobs, better pay, but higher cost of living in NOVA of course. I personally would stay away from NOVA because of traffic and cost of living but that might not be a factor for you. Many people live farther out South or West mainly and commute to DC NOVA areas but that commute can be bear (and not the kind you will find in the mountains of VA

    For both areas IMO 120mm 29er great bike choice. I wouldn't change until you get to a specific place a ride it awhile than see what you want.
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  3. #3
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    Western Virginia - typical 11 month riding season a year. A couple weeks of snow and ice usually and a couple of weeks of 95-100. Lots of rocks and everything drains well. Monsoon - you just go higher in elevation and there is always something to ride. Bugs, bees, spiders, ticks and snakes - yes. Quite a few bear also.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the response guys

    I need the flow. My back can put up with the chunk occasionally and I enjoy it those times, but on the daily... I need the flowy benchcut type trails. I feel like the riding out the from the door in springfield works better for me vs the riding out the front door in bburg (essentially pandapas), I can make the drive to carvins or 66west, but the majority of my rides will be within 10-15 or front door, and springfields accotink/wakefield/meadowood/lorton would be real easy after work riding.

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    Don't forget to hit up Fountainhead.
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  6. #6
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    Northern Virginia is a shit hole.

    There is plenty of non-chunky riding at Pandapas, just stay on the trail leaving the parking lot at far left. It is 2 seaparate types of riding that are divided by main double track trail.

    Blacksburg closer to Carvi s Cove and Douthat State Park, neither is chunk dominated. Riding there far exceeds shit hole Northern VA.

    Don't settle for Wakefield, Accotink, Meadowood, Laurel Hill, if you don't have to--that's insane!

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsb View Post
    Northern Virginia is a shit hole.

    There is plenty of non-chunky riding at Pandapas, just stay on the trail leaving the parking lot at far left. It is 2 seaparate types of riding that are divided by main double track trail.

    Blacksburg closer to Carvi s Cove and Douthat State Park, neither is chunk dominated. Riding there far exceeds shit hole Northern VA.

    Don't settle for Wakefield, Accotink, Meadowood, Laurel Hill, if you don't have to--that's insane!

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    Thats a pretty reasonable take IMO, but I have to be realistic. And while I like the access to places like Carvins, i know I wont get up there often. I have a fairly busy life and its hard to find the extra 2 hours to drive somewhere for an hour of riding. Iíve lived in the CO front range for 6 years and make it to the high country places like CB/WP/SS a few times a year and then we do our annual/semi-annual fruita trips, but otherwise its out thr door riding. So can pandapas keep me entertained over those options? Hard to say on a messageboard.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    Thats a pretty reasonable take IMO, but I have to be realistic. And while I like the access to places like Carvins, i know I wont get up there often. I have a fairly busy life and its hard to find the extra 2 hours to drive somewhere for an hour of riding. Iíve lived in the CO front range for 6 years and make it to the high country places like CB/WP/SS a few times a year and then we do our annual/semi-annual fruita trips, but otherwise its out thr door riding. So can pandapas keep me entertained over those options? Hard to say on a messageboard.
    The option for you in Springfield VA will be Fountainhead. Once you ride it, you will laugh at jokes like Accostink, and Woefield. The local MTB group did a phenomenal job raising funds and building FH into a great system. I even work their on trail days and I hate this sorry area.

    So youíll ride FH all the time in Springfield and any time you go anywhere you will be stuck in ****ing insane shit hole traffic.

    Pandapas has more variety than FH, in my opinion and you get to ride in a national forest with wonderful pines and whatnot. One side of the hollow at Pandapas you do the long climbs with fast fun deecsents. the other side of the hollow the trails are more rocky and punchy steep but they are NOT trials skill rocky, itís all stuff you can ride if you have been riding in CO.

    If you want flow trails with some jumps and drops, then FH has that. About 14 mile system. Pandapas probably has more miles than that and you can decide how much of either side of the hollow that you like. Itís a decent place for hiking, too. In a little farther down the road from pandapas is a very nice trail to scenic waterfall, donít recall the name, but there is a lot of stuff like that in that area, and the New River is short drive for water recreation.

    If you can put up with the insane traffic and shithead excuse for planning, and the ****ing incompetent Metro rail system, then perhaps you can tolerate Springfield and enjoy riding FH. But believe me, the traffic and the lack of roads, and the shit storm that is Metro rail, has to be experienced to be believed.

    If you are going to be part of VA Tech, Technology center and Amazon, and you want to live NOVA, there is an old prison in Laurel Hill area of Lorton, VA, that has been turned into rentalsóno shit. But from Laurel Hill Prison you can ride your bike to FH or ride Laurel Hill trails right out your door. You can also walk to the Lorton VRE station and take the VRE to Crystal City, where the tech center and Amazon are to be located. The Metro line you would take will be closed the entire summer from Memorial day to past Labor day due to their ****ing neglect and mismanagement. if you have to drive in that shit-storm you will wish you had never left CO. Donít say you werenít warned....


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsb View Post
    The option for you in Springfield VA will be Fountainhead. Once you ride it, you will laugh at jokes like Accostink, and Woefield. The local MTB group did a phenomenal job raising funds and building FH into a great system. I even work their on trail days and I hate this sorry area.

    So youíll ride FH all the time in Springfield and any time you go anywhere you will be stuck in ****ing insane shit hole traffic.

    Pandapas has more variety than FH, in my opinion and you get to ride in a national forest with wonderful pines and whatnot. One side of the hollow at Pandapas you do the long climbs with fast fun deecsents. the other side of the hollow the trails are more rocky and punchy steep but they are NOT trials skill rocky, itís all stuff you can ride if you have been riding in CO.

    If you want flow trails with some jumps and drops, then FH has that. About 14 mile system. Pandapas probably has more miles than that and you can decide how much of either side of the hollow that you like. Itís a decent place for hiking, too. In a little farther down the road from pandapas is a very nice trail to scenic waterfall, donít recall the name, but there is a lot of stuff like that in that area, and the New River is short drive for water recreation.

    If you can put up with the insane traffic and shithead excuse for planning, and the ****ing incompetent Metro rail system, then perhaps you can tolerate Springfield and enjoy riding FH. But believe me, the traffic and the lack of roads, and the shit storm that is Metro rail, has to be experienced to be believed.

    If you are going to be part of VA Tech, Technology center and Amazon, and you want to live NOVA, there is an old prison in Laurel Hill area of Lorton, VA, that has been turned into rentalsóno shit. But from Laurel Hill Prison you can ride your bike to FH or ride Laurel Hill trails right out your door. You can also walk to the Lorton VRE station and take the VRE to Crystal City, where the tech center and Amazon are to be located. The Metro line you would take will be closed the entire summer from Memorial day to past Labor day due to their ****ing neglect and mismanagement. if you have to drive in that shit-storm you will wish you had never left CO. Donít say you werenít warned....


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    May have to make a trip this summer to the burg and check out pandapas for myself. Also, I see mountain lake on MTBProject, know anything about those trails?

    Thanks for the nova trail beta. But since I got your ear, the rain has been quite relentless the last few years there, whats the best go to on during the rain periods? I read laurel hill drains well and that FH is closed regularly from moisture. Hows that bull run trail? Also, Lake Fairfax from the FFX CCT over in Oakton, worth the ride?

    Thanks for the local area resource info as well. Fully aware of the nightmare that is NOVA traffic, CoL. That has all been considered and fortunately or unforunately, doesnt factor into the decision to move back.

  10. #10
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    pOrk,

    My wife and I are pretty familiar with your situation. When I was still on active duty, she was applying to PhD programs. While a program that best fit her needs was the number one priority, finding a place that offered us things outside of her, and later our, studies. We got married in Estes Park, and have about 20 family members in FoCo/Loveland. Live down in CoS now; my wife is a professor at UCCS and I'm a military contractor.

    Ended up choosing VT, in Blacksburg. Lived 10min from campus in a little house on Craig Creek Road, which was a bit more than a mile from Pandapas. I moved down there a year and a half after she did and started my MS program.

    In terms of riding, well, it's hard to beat the area, as far are college towns go. You can ride from town and hit some pretty good trails. Nothing spectacular, and none of the trails are terribly long, but you can string together some really fun loops. And, if you can ride Pandapas well, you can ride just about anywhere; Pisgah or Harrisonburg won't be a challenge.

    Different than CO in a lot of ways. Generally speaking, I'd say the trails are steeper. Probably easier to maintain them there. Good/great traction most of the time, because there is actual soil. None of the decomposed granite like we have in CoS or up in FoCo. Roots and rocks are usually more rounded, not so much in the way of the sharp, broken rocks we have here. Due to the amount of water vapor in the air, you won't have the kind of views you'd have in CO. Mountain laurel is great.

    Additionally, you're close enough to Pisgah to get out there pretty regularly. We went down there once a month or so during the fall and spring. Bigger climbs and descents. Also, looking at MTBProject, it looks like the trail mileage along the I-81 corridor SW of Blacksburg (Wytheville, Mt. Rogers area) has exploded recently, in terms of mapping. I don't remember 75% of that stuff being there.
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  11. #11
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    If you are in northern VA, you are an hour or so from Maryland and the areas of Frederick Watershed, Patapsco, and some Montgomery County trails. The Watershed and Patapsco are very different than anything NVA has.

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    May have to make a trip this summer to the burg and check out pandapas for myself. Also, I see mountain lake on MTBProject, know anything about those trails?

    Thanks for the nova trail beta. But since I got your ear, the rain has been quite relentless the last few years there, whats the best go to on during the rain periods? I read laurel hill drains well and that FH is closed regularly from moisture. Hows that bull run trail? Also, Lake Fairfax from the FFX CCT over in Oakton, worth the ride?

    Thanks for the local area resource info as well. Fully aware of the nightmare that is NOVA traffic, CoL. That has all been considered and fortunately or unforunately, doesnt factor into the decision to move back.
    I rode atMountain Lake 8-9 years ago with my brother in law who lives in Blacksburg. The trails were very short and nothing to get excited over, but I have heard that they have been trying to promote it more for MTB so maybe they have added more trails? Still, Iíd much rather drive to Carvins Cove than Mountain lake.

    I agree with le Duke on the riding in SW VA, and proximity to NC. There is also proximity to WV. Overall, itís a much better area for riding than NOVA.

    The weather in NOVA has been above normal wet since the Fall. But that says nothing about the future. I have ridden one weekend since October 2018, and that was Quantico Epic ride event, 35 miles, a couple of weekends ago.

    Fountainhead is very protective of the trails. You need to call the information line before heading over if there has been any recent rain. I called yesterday and it was open at 3;30pm. I got everything in car this morning and before pulling out the driveway I decided to call because I noticed that the street looked wet. As of 6:30 am trails are closed. It is like that ALL The time, you just need to check.

    The bull run trail that is now open at FH is just okay. It is 9 miles one way. It is an out and back and full of hikers. I find it to be a snoozer, and if i want more miles Iíd rather ride the FH trail twice. When the FH trails is closed so is the bull run trail, for biking

    Laurel Hill trails are only place to ride in the area when it is wet. They were designed to be nearly impervious to rain. Itís a very easy trail system, great place for beginners or a single speed, or when other trails are closed due to rain and you feel you need to ride. If you lived right next to the park it would be a nice trail for convenience in order to ride regularly before or after work without being stuck in 45 minutes of traffic.

    It doesnít sound like your schedule allows for it, but if it did, consider living in Roanoke over NOVA, and commuting on the interstate to Blacksburg. Still, my preferences, just me, would be to live close to Pandapas. My brother in law lives 3 minutes from the trail head, i always bring my bike when we visit, get up early, ride for 3 hours and back at their house while people are still getting up or eating breakfast. But I love riding in a National Forest any day over urban trails.

    When I lived in SD I lived 4 blocks from Mission Trails regional Park, and rode that many times per week for convenience, it got old once in a while, but it was hard to beat the convenience. MTRP has very little single track, but has such steep fire roads that it is a good place to get in your climbing. Pandapas is a much better trail system, if I lived as close to that as I did to MTRP, i would be in heaven. On weekends Iíd rotate between Douthat, Roanoke, NC, and WV.




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    Thanks for the thorough break down le duke! I love the area also for AT access and as cjsb has mentioned, the new river. Used to spend every day I could fishin for smallmouth down there by mccoy.

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    Thanks again for the trail breakdown cjsb. To either le duke or cjsb or anyone else, how are the crowds? CO front range has been a bit of a circus the last few years. Pandapas cant get too much traffic at least not in comparison, but I imagine the NoVA trails could get fairly busy.

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    Have you thought about anything more "central" in va? I'm in Charlottesville and we have pretty good access to a decent variety of riding from about 60ish miles of trails in town to multiple park trail systems of varying characters. Then within an hour we have Sherando (all the rocks you could ever want). It's about 1:15 from C'ville to Stokesville and all of the GWNF riding.

    Also, if you're addicted to flow trails, Richmond shouldn't be overlooked. Pocahontas St park has all the flow trails you could ever want, but geographically, they don't have a lot of elevation to work with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by notso View Post
    Have you thought about anything more "central" in va? I'm in Charlottesville and we have pretty good access to a decent variety of riding from about 60ish miles of trails in town to multiple park trail systems of varying characters. Then within an hour we have Sherando (all the rocks you could ever want). It's about 1:15 from C'ville to Stokesville and all of the GWNF riding.

    Also, if you're addicted to flow trails, Richmond shouldn't be overlooked. Pocahontas St park has all the flow trails you could ever want, but geographically, they don't have a lot of elevation to work with.
    Id considered cville, but its just not in the cards for a number of reasons.

  17. #17
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    Once you get a mile down Poverty Creek at Pandapas you will rarely see people. I rode there most days of the week, year round, and rarely saw anyone. A couple per hour.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Once you get a mile down Poverty Creek at Pandapas you will rarely see people. I rode there most days of the week, year round, and rarely saw anyone. A couple per hour.




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    This could be the difference maker. I dont know how big the mtb community is in nova. But if the crowds are anything like jeffco... bburg here we come.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    This could be the difference maker. I dont know how big the mtb community is in nova. But if the crowds are anything like jeffco... bburg here we come.
    Let me know if/when you go there to visit.

    I can hook you up with some guys from VT to ride with.


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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    Thanks again for the trail breakdown cjsb. To either le duke or cjsb or anyone else, how are the crowds? CO front range has been a bit of a circus the last few years. Pandapas cant get too much traffic at least not in comparison, but I imagine the NoVA trails could get fairly busy.
    Crowds in NOVA at Fountainhead are there but manageable for the MTB only trail. Once in a while there are runners or hikers poaching the trail, but not a big deal. The bull run trail is filled with hikers and runners on weekends.

    You run into a few people at Laurel Hill but not a big issue., But it is a convenience trail not a destination.

    Riding I do in GWNF OR JNF, experience is sane as Le Duke, wonderful solitude.






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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by notso View Post
    Have you thought about anything more "central" in va? I'm in Charlottesville and we have pretty good access to a decent variety of riding from about 60ish miles of trails in town to multiple park trail systems of varying characters. Then within an hour we have Sherando (all the rocks you could ever want). It's about 1:15 from C'ville to Stokesville and all of the GWNF riding.

    Also, if you're addicted to flow trails, Richmond shouldn't be overlooked. Pocahontas St park has all the flow trails you could ever want, but geographically, they don't have a lot of elevation to work with.
    I assume Richmond (VCU is the principal uni) is out, as well? We have all-weather riding and big biking culture. Downtown has 20+ miles of single track alone (used to host the XTerra East Coast Championship) and Pocahontas St Park about 20 minutes away. There are other options within 30 minutes (Leake, Poor Farm, Powhite Park) to keep it interesting. Within about an hour is the Quarry in Fburg, Freedom Park in Wburg, and Charlottesville. And a couple hours out and you're at Sherando or heading toward the SW VA or WV trails.

    Overall there is a blend of "ride park" and more natural single track. But as notso mentioned, you're not going to get long climbs or descents in central VA (but don't mistake it for flat!).

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    Don't settle for Wakefield, Accotink, Meadowood, Laurel Hill, if you don't have to--that's insane!
    Eh, as mentioned above, you don't have to settle. Plenty of tough technical riding close by in Frederick plus Harrisonburg isn't too far of a drive from NoVA either. Plenty of other good options on the MD side. There's also miles and miles of single track in the area if you know where to look that aren't necessarily part of the trail centers. Sure it's not all gopro worthy hero trails and traffic blows, but you really aren't ever too far from some kind of single track or system in the DC area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanshananigan View Post
    I assume Richmond (VCU is the principal uni) is out, as well? We have all-weather riding and big biking culture. Downtown has 20+ miles of single track alone (used to host the XTerra East Coast Championship) and Pocahontas St Park about 20 minutes away. There are other options within 30 minutes (Leake, Poor Farm, Powhite Park) to keep it interesting. Within about an hour is the Quarry in Fburg, Freedom Park in Wburg, and Charlottesville. And a couple hours out and you're at Sherando or heading toward the SW VA or WV trails.

    Overall there is a blend of "ride park" and more natural single track. But as notso mentioned, you're not going to get long climbs or descents in central VA (but don't mistake it for flat!).

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