Do you remember the last time that you rode a bicycle? The sport of biking is one that has grown in popularity in recent years. More and more people are biking for fitness and fun and it is an activity that most anyone can do. Whether you are new to the sport or just looking for ways to get back into riding, here are a few resources to check out.
The Smith River Trail System (SRTS) in Martinsville-Henry County offers more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. Scattered throughout the community in various locations along or near the Smith River, you’ll find trails for every skill level and style. Paved trails, crush-run gravel paths, and natural surface trails are all available. Each trail section is unique, offering a variety of interest points ranging from boardwalks and public art to scenic river vistas and interpretive signs of historic and cultural interest. The trail system is maintained by Henry County Parks & Recreation and members of the Adopt-a-Trail program.
The longest section of the SRTS is the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail. This 4.5 mile long paved rail trail follows the historic Danville & Western Railroad line. A train nicknamed the Dick & Willie once frequented the route. The trail and several connecting spurs along the way lead cyclists to B&Bs, restaurants, museums, shopping, murals and performing arts. Details on this and other trails are found at VisitMartinsville.com/trails.
Along the Dick & Willie Passage, at the Doyle Street Trailhead, is a great resource for those that are just getting started in cycling. The Bike Barn, a program of the Martinsville-Henry County YMCA, offers free use of bicycles and helmets to the public. Simply stop by the colorful barn and show your photo ID to check out equipment for the day. The friendly staff there is happy to help give instruction and advice to make your cycling experience more enjoyable.
Once you are ready to invest in your own equipment, you can pay a visit to Chain of Fools Bicycle Repairon Fayette Street in Uptown Martinsville. The shop is owned and operated by Matthew Huckfeldt, a young entrepreneur and avid cyclist. Chain of Fools is the area’s first dedicated cycling shop. In addition to servicing bikes of all types, Matthew stocks a variety of new and gently used bikes for sale, in addition to a great selection of helmets and accessories. Across the street from Chain of Fools is a new pocket park operated by the City of Martinsville that features a mural about cycling. The vintage postcard inspired scene called “Uptown Connection Trail” is a perfect nod to the growth of cycling sports in the region. Artists Aleen Wilson and Amanda Donnelly painted the mural and fine art prints of it are available for sale at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Centerat 191 Fayette Street.
Cyclists of all skill levels will enjoy riding at Mountain Laurel Trailslocated in Ridgeway. Since 2013, landowner Bob Norris has been collaborating with other trail builders and mountain biking enthusiasts in Southwest and Southern Virginia to develop the trail system. It is located on over 150 acres of private land with facilities available for camping and rustic cabin stays. More than eight miles of single-track trails have been constructed in a stacked-loop design around the land. A four mile central “core” loop is the base where other optional trails connect. All guests to the trail complex will pass the “Tree of Shame” as they enter. The tree, decorated with the mangled remains of bikes that wiped-out, is a good reminder to ride responsibly and always wear a helmet. Riders at Mountain Laurel will encounter scenic, shaded paths lined with moss. Along the terrain, switchbacks with berms enable the bikes to lean over sharply in curves. Numerous wooden bridges cross meandering creeks and wooden ramps give riders a thrilling ride. Other optional technical features are offered throughout the trails like skinnys and rock gardens. Skinnys is the term for tight places along the trail where riders must use great skill and balance to maneuver through and rock gardens are sections of trail where stones have not been removed. The bumps along the path in a rock garden add to the difficulty of the ride. Information on Mountain Laurel Trails and volunteer opportunities to help construct new trail sections there can be found at www.MountainLaurelTrails.com
For riders that prefer road cycling, the Henry County Bike Club offers several group rides each week. Led and supported by club members, the no-drop rides mean that no one is left behind. All skill levels are encouraged to attend and beginner riders can feel confident that they will not be left along the roadside as they build up their endurance. Details on the weekly rides can be found at HenryCountyBikeClub.com.
From biking alone or with a group, on trails or the road, there’s a cycling option available for every skill level. We hope that you’ll check out these resources and either get started biking or get back on a roll soon!
For female cyclists looking for carry all of their essentials while riding, a new product is available that is locally made. Rae’s Wear shorts, capris, skorts and pants feature a 360° pocket built into the waistband for safety, convenience and comfort. Phones, ID, credit cards, medication and other necessities securely slide in to the pouch for easy access. A style of clothing called athleisure, these bottoms are comfortable for a day out on the trail while also staying flattering so that that you can enjoy your favorite restaurant or bar after the ride. Rae’s Wear products are available for sale at Village of Dreams in Uptown Martinsville and also online at RaesWear.com