Cycling in Asheville, NC
PHOTO CREDIT: Wes Aldridge
Two wheels are better than four. That's the motto in Asheville‚ a town where bartenders commute by bike‚ lawyers strap mountain bikes to their BMWs‚ and the person bagging your groceries might be a nationally ranked cyclist.
Many competitive bikers call Asheville home‚ and an even greater number of amateur cyclists enjoy the city's dedication to two-wheel culture. And that's just in town. Head to the outskirts and you'll find avid cyclists cruising country roads and mountain bikers tackling endless miles of forested singletrack.
“Most people that live here are physically active‚” says Claudia Nix‚ founder of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and co-owner of Liberty Bicycles. “Biking is definitely our sport of preference‚ and the city has developed a true cycling atmosphere.”
Asheville's outdoorsy‚ health-conscious atmosphere has garnered the city top honors from national health magazines that have dubbed the town a beacon of health in the South. Think of Los Angeles‚ only without all the elective surgery.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Road cyclists looking to put miles under their tires should hit the Blue Ridge Parkway. The 469-mile‚ two-lane highway traverses the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Great Smokies in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
The scenery along the parkway is unparalleled - cyclists are frequently rewarded with valley and ridgeline panoramas. While the road is known for its grueling climbs‚ the portion of the parkway closest to Asheville is one of the flattest a cyclist can ride, Fat-tire fanatics congregate in Asheville for one reason: options.
“There aren't many cities that are surrounded by a national forest‚” Nix says. “And the bike clubs here have fostered a healthy relationship with the forest service‚ so the trail systems are mountain-bike friendly.”
Popular Bike Destinations
The most popular destination for mountain bikers is Bent Creek Experimental Forest‚ a tract of the Pisgah National Forest just south of town with more than 20 miles of trails catering to riders of all abilities.
Beginners enjoy the forest roads while experienced riders head deeper into the woods to tackle technical singletrack. In addition to Bent Creek‚ mountain bikers gush over the trails in Dupont State Forest and the Alexander Mountain Bike Park.
Mills River and Davidson River have cherished trail systems‚ and the truly ambitious have begun exploring the Coleman Boundary and Panthertown‚ both of which lie in rarely traveled portions of the Pisgah National Forest.
Whatever your preference or skill level‚ Asheville has numerous opportunities for cyclists‚ and the two-wheel lifestyle is only getting better. The city recently won a state grant to establish a comprehensive bicycle plan‚ which is sure to build on the cycling culture in this health-conscious hub.
Read about more outdoor activities in Asheville, NC.