BIKE VIRGINIA: The Highly Addictive Annual Summer Cycling Holiday

Bike Virginia: The Highly Addictive & Ever-Changing Annual Summer Cycling Holiday

Mark your calendar now: The annual week-long Bike Virginia tour takes place every June in a different part of the state, during which more than 1,600 people from all across the United States (and around the world) gather together to conduct a series of memorable bike rides in some of Virginia’s most scenic destinations.

Bike Virginia

This event is addicting! There’s something about the Bike Virginia tour that makes this unique cycling event an annual draw for so many of its tour participants.

It’s true! – A large percentage of the people who chose to participate in the Bike Virginia tour come back to participate in the event year after year.

I had an incredible time at the 2019 Bike Virginia tour and I can see now why so many people choose to come back to this event year after year. Yes, the cycling routes are well designed; yes, the food is good; and yes, the camping spots are close to ideal. But the thing that makes Bike Virginia so special, in my opinion, is the people!

Watch the video on this page and read my complete review of the Bike Virginia tour below and I think you’ll see why this family-friendly cycling event has continued to gather a growing number of tour participants for more than 33 years.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I attended the 2019 Bike Virginia tour and I will be attending the Bike Virginia tour again in June of 2020. The great news is…  you are invited to join the tour with me! Full details can be found on the Bicycle Touring Pro events calendar as well as on the official Bike Virginia website. Tour registration begins on December 1, 2019. I hope to see you at the Bike Virginia tour in June of 2020!

What exactly is Bike Virginia?

Bike Virginia is a 6-day cycling event that takes place every year in the US state of Virginia (and sometimes overlaps into its neighboring states of North Carolina and West Virginia).

Bike Virginia is a “choose your own adventure” cycling event, where you can pick how many days you wish to join the tour (you can come for 1 day, 3 days or the entire 6 days) and the difficulty of the ride you do each day (as there are beginner, intermediate and advanced cycling routes for each day of the tour).

Bike Virginia is kind of like a big, week-long cycling party, with 1,600+ people coming together to ride their bikes, socialize and make new friends in the US state of Virginia.

What does a typical day at Bike Virginia look like?

After eating breakfast (either on the Bike Virginia grounds or own your own, simply jump on your bicycle and make your way to the start of the Bike Virginia course. It’s here that you’ll see several multi-colored arrows leading you down the road). Green arrows are for beginners; Pink arrows are for intermediate riders; and red arrows are for more advanced cyclists. At the start of each day, simply determine which type of bike ride you want to do, and then follow the arrows for that particular route.

As you cycle, you’ll come across at least one or more rest stops along the way, which are usually covered patio areas where water, snacks and other items are made available for consumption. Bathrooms are available at these rest stops, as well as entertainment and attractions, in some instances. After you’ve had a short break, hop back on your bicycle and continue down the road, following the colored signs back to the Bike Virginia base camp.

After you’ve arrived back at base camp, you have two options: 1) You can either camp (for free – the price is included in the cost of your Bike Virginia registration) in the provided camping areas, or 2) you can return to your own hotel, motel, house/apartment or AirBNB. If you choose to camp, showers are provided for you at no additional cost. Simply lock up your bike and belongings near your tent or car and then walk over to the mobile shower units for a refreshingly hot shower.

When evening rolls around, make your way across the Bike Virginia base camp to the food-truck area, where an assortment of meals will be available for you to choose from. Use one of the meal tokens you received at the start of the tour to get a meal from the food truck of your choosing. Then, sit down under the canopy and enjoy some live music with your friends, family members or loved one(s) while you eat your dinner.

Finally, in the evening, make your way back to your campsite (or other accommodation) and enjoy a well-deserved rest. When you wake up in the morning, the Bike Virginia tour schedule starts all over again, and there is going to be a new and interesting bicycle route for you to enjoy!

Bike Virginia

Who runs/organizes the Bike Virginia tour each year?

The annual Bike Virginia cycling tour is organized by Bike Virginia – a non-profit organization in the US state of Virginia that works to promote bicycle advocacy throughout the state, but whose main purpose is to promote and organize the annual Bike Virginia tour each year.

Where does the Bike Virginia tour take place?

The location for the Bike Virginia tour changes each and every year. One year the bike tour will be held in the flatter eastern part of the state, while the next year the tour will take place in the mountains of a scenic valley. The fact that the tour changes locations each year means that you won’t get bored if you choose to participate in the Bike Virginia tour year after year. Each and every year is different, with new destinations, new cycling routes and a new tour theme.

How many people will be at Bike Virginia this year?

There are usually more than 1,600+ people at Bike Virginia, but numbers vary depending on the time and location of the tour each year.

While 1,600+ people may sound like a lot, Bike Virginia doesn’t feel like a crowded festival environment. Because the Bike Virginia rides are spread out and there is no single start time each day, the tour feels much more intimate than you might think. Yes, there are a lot of people at Bike Virginia. But no, there are no giant crowds or long lines.

What are the dates for the Bike Virginia tour?

The dates for the upcoming Bike Virginia tour are June 19-24, 2020. Dates for future Bike Virginia events will be posted on the official website at www.bikevirginia.org.

What is the Bike Virginia theme this year?

Every year, Bike Virginia changes the theme of the tour. In 2019, the theme was 1950’s, whereas the theme for the 2020 Bike Virginia tour has yet to be announced. The theme of future Bike Virginia tours will be announced on the official website at www.bikevirginia.org.

How old are most of the Bike Virginia tour participants?

Most of the people who participate in the Bike Virginia tour are 40 years old and up, with the oldest tour participants being in their early 80s. While children, teenagers and young adults are usually in attendance at Bike Virginia each year, the average age of most Bike Virginia tour participants in 58.

Bike Virginia male and female cyclists

How experienced of a cyclist do I need to be to participate in the Bike Virginia tour?

The Bike Virginia tour has been designed for cyclists of all ages and abilities. This means that no matter what your level of cycling experience, there will be something on the Bike Virginia tour for you to enjoy.

How many men/women will there be at Bike Virginia?

While many cycling events are dominated by males, the Bike Virginia tour is unique in that 40% of the tour’s participants are women. 60% men. 40% women!

How long are the bike rides on the Bike Virginia tour?

Each day there are three different routes to choose from: a beginner route (which is usually pretty flat and covers no more than 20 miles), an intermediate route (which may contain many small to medium sized hills and usually covers a distance of 40-60 miles), and an advanced route (which may be mountainous and long, with distances usually ranging from 80-100+ miles in a single day).

The great thing about Bike Virginia is that you can decide on any given day which of the three bike route options you want to ride. On the first day of the tour you might choose to ride the intermediate route, then cycle the advanced route the following day, and then take it easy on the third day of the ride and cycle the shorter beginner route.

The Bike Virginia tour is not a race or competitive cycling event, so you are free to choose your own route, depending on how you feel and your level of comfort and ability on the bike.

How do I navigate on the Bike Virginia tour? Do I need a GPS?

While Bike Virginia does provide GPS coordinates and KML tracking files for all of its registered tour participants in advance of the tour each year, you don’t really need any maps, a smartphone or a GPS of any kind in order to navigate any of the tour routes. Instead, you simply show up at the Bike Virginia base camp each morning and then follow the colored signs that have been strategically placed on the roads. Green signs mark the beginner route, pink signs are for the intermediate route and red signs are for those following the advanced route. Simply follow the arrows on the signs of the route you wish to ride that day and you’ll safely make your way back to base camp. It’s very easy to navigate the routes on the Bike Virginia tour. Just look for those colored road signs and follow their directions.

Can I bring my car to Bike Virginia?

Yes, you can bring your car, truck or camper to Bike Virginia. In fact, parking is included as a part of your registration fee. Once you arrive at the Bike Virginia base camp on the first day of your tour, you will be directed to the parking area, where you will be able to unload your bicycle from your car and immediately begin cycling. Or, if you are camping overnight at Bike Virginia, you will be able to drop your gear off near the camping area, then park in the nearby parking spots. Once you’ve parked your car, you can walk back to the gear drop location, retrieve your camping gear and bicycles, and go about setting up your camp.

Bringing your car with you is a super easy way to enjoy the Bike Virginia experience. And because your car will be parked so close to your camping spot, you can go back to your car at any point throughout the tour, in the event that you need to retrieve something from your car or use your car to run an errand around town, etc.

Bringing a camper-van or RV to Bike Virginia is another great way to enjoy the tour. There is an additional charge for camper-vans and RVs, however, so be sure to register your vehicle when you sign up for the tour on the Bike Virginia website.

What exactly should I pack or bring with me to Bike Virginia?

When you register for Bike Virginia, you will be provided with a recommended packing list from the tour organizers. The essential list of items for success at Bike Virginia includes: your bicycle, pump, patch kit, front and rear bike lights, helmet, sunglasses, shoes and matching pedals, sunscreen, camping equipment (if you choose to camp – such as a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad), clothes to cycle in, clothes to wear around camp, a warm jacket, a rain jacket, a towel, toiletries, your phone and charger, food, water and any other personal items you can think of.

Bike Virginia types of bicycles allowed

What kind of bicycle should I use for Bike Virginia?

Almost any type of bicycle will do for the Bike Virginia tour. During the course of the tour you will see people riding almost every type of bicycle – road bikes, touring bikes, hybrids, mountain bikes, recumbents, eBikes and everything in between.

That being said, most of the people who participate in the Bike Virginia tour are riding some kind of road bike, as most of the cycling on the Bike Virginia tour takes place on paved surfaces.

While Bike Virginia has been slowly adding some gravel road options to their routes over the last several years (due to the recent increased interest in gravel cycling), a road bike or a bicycle with smooth road tires is going to work best for most of the routes on the Bike Virginia tour.

Are eBikes allowed at Bike Virginia?

Yes, eBikes are allowed at Bike Virginia. Each year, more and more eBikes are used on the Bike Virginia tour and these electronically assisted bicycles are a great way to enjoy the Bike Virginia landscapes – especially if you need a little extra assistance when pedaling down the road or climbing up and over any hills you might encounter along the way.

Can I come to Bike Virginia on my own?

Yes, you are more than welcome to come to Bike Virginia on your own. In fact, many people come to Bike Virginia alone each year. The great thing about a big cycling event like Bike Virginia is that even if you come alone, it’s easy to meet people, make friends and find people to cycle with each day, socialize with each night and share your campsite with in the evening. If you want to go cycling in Virginia, but don’t have anyone who wants to join you on the tour, it’s encouraged that you come alone. You’ll meet other people with similar interests and make new friends in no time!

Can I come to Bike Virginia if I don’t want to cycle?

Yes, if you want to come to Bike Virginia and just hang around camp, eat the food and watch others participate in the festivities, you are more than welcome to do so.

This is a great option if you or your spouse, for example, plans to cycle, but one of you just wants to sit back and relax. This is also a great option for young children who may not want to participate in the cycling, but want to take part in all of the other Bike Virginia activities.

Non-rider registration is available at a discounted rate and can be purchased on the official Bike Virginia website at www.bikevirginia.org.

Do I have to commit to the entire week of cycling on the Bike Virginia tour?

No, you don’t have to participate in all 6 days of the Bike Virginia tour. In fact, many of the people who join the Bike Virginia tour each year come for only a small part of the trip (with the 3-day weekend option being the most popular). When you register for Bike Virginia, you can sign up for 1-day, 3 days (the 3-day weekend or the 3-day weekday option) or the entire 6-day tour. The choice is up to you!

If you can only come for a day or two, that’s fine! Bike Virginia is not a race or a competition. It’s a fun cycling event where you choose you own level of participation, so you are more than welcome to choose the dates that work best for you and your schedule.

Where can I find drinking water on the Bike Virginia tour?

While you may opt to bring a bunch of drinking water with you, there are several drinking water stations scattered throughout the Bike Virginia tour. There is a water station in each and every campground, as well as a water station at each and every rest stop along the routes each day. These water stations not only provide you with access to clean drinking water, but also to electrolyte replacement fluids (similar to Gatorade). There is no need, therefore, to bring a bunch of drinking water with you. But if you want to bring some other drinks with you, you are more than welcome to do so. Many people come with coolers filled with cold drinks to enjoy either before or after their bike rides each day.

Bike Virginia rest stops

What do the rest stops/comfort stations look like on the Bike Virginia tour?

There are multiple rest stops/comfort stations located on the Bike Virginia routes each day. One rest stop/comfort station is usually located about half-way through the intermediate route, with one or two more rest stops/comfort stations positioned near the tail end of the advanced route. These rest stops/comfort stations provide you with a shaded area in which to fill up your water bottles, eat a free snack (usually some kind of fruit, granola bar, cookie or other such item), go to the restroom and sit down to rest your weary legs before getting back on your bike and finishing your ride. Some of the rest stops/comfort stations are located in city parks, while others are located outside churches or community unions, etc.

Where do I sleep during the Bike Virginia tour?

When you register for the Bike Virginia tour, you automatically receive a FREE camping spot for the nights that you registered. That being said, only about 50% of the people who sign up for Bike Virginia each year choose to camp. The remaining 50% choose to stay in hotels, apartments or AirBNBs in the immediate area surrounding the Bike Virginia base camp. So, the choice is really up to you!

If you want to camp, you can do so at no additional cost. Just be sure to bring a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat/pad with you. Or you can choose to find your own accommodation (at an additional cost) in the area surrounding the tour and sleep in a comfortable bed each night while retaining your privacy.

Camping at Bike Virginia

Can I rent camping equipment for the Bike Virginia tour?

Yes, if you come to Bike Virginia and you want to camp, but you don’t have your own (or don’t want to bring your own) camping equipment, you can rent a tent and all the necessary camping gear from one of Bike Virginia‘s partner companies, VeloSante. This company will supply you with a tent, sleeping cot, mattress, sheets, blankets and everything else you need to enjoy your time at Bike Virginia. To learn more about this option, please contact VeloSante directly at 1-828-545-1039.

How do the showers/bathrooms operate at Bike Virginia?

If you choose to camp during the Bike Virginia tour, there will be free toilets and showers available to you throughout the course of your stay. The toilets are usually mobile outhouses, which are supplied alongside mobile hand hashing stations, where water and soap is available to you at any time throughout the tour.

The showers are located inside two large, mobile shower stations and consist of 24 men’s and 24 women’s showers. Hot water is available in the showers at all hours and even though there are 1,600+ people in attendance at every Bike Virginia event, it is very rare that the showers are ever full. Because riders are coming and going throughout camp all day, the showers rarely ever fill up – even at popular times (such as in the early morning or in the afternoon when everyone is finishing their ride). The hot showers are one of the things people like most about participating in the Bike Virginia tour each year.

What kind of food will there be at Bike Virginia?

When you register for Bike Virginia, you will receive a single food token for each day that you register. So, if you sign up for 1 day of the tour, you will receive one food token. Or if you sign up for all 6 days of the tour, you will receive 6 food tokens.

The food token(s) you receive will get you a meal at any of the food trucks located within the Bike Virginia base camp. Each year, there is a small assortment of food trucks, with each truck serving a different type of food (i.e. American food, Greek food, Italian food, etc.). You can then use your token to receive one meal from any of these trucks. Each meal includes a drink of your choosing (either a bottled water, tea or soda).

Breakfast is available at Bike Virginia for a fee and usually consists of bacon, eggs, coffee and other American buffet-style foods. Otherwise, the food tokens can be used for lunch or dinner. And food that your bring from home can be used for snacks or to supplement any other desired meals. However, cooking food on a camp stove or over a campfire, is not allowed at Bike Virginia (for health and safety reasons). And because the Bike Virginia base camp is usually located within short distance of a town or city, you always have the option of going out to eat at one of the local restaurants (for an additional fee, of course).

Food at Bike Virginia

Does Bike Virginia have vegan or vegetarian food options?

Yes. Each and every one of the food trucks at Bike Virginia will have at least one vegan or vegetarian meal option. That being said, if you are a picky eater or have specific dietary needs, you can always bring your own food from home (although cooking on a camp stove or barbecue is not allowed within the Bike Virginia base camp/camping area).

What other activities (besides cycling) are there at Bike Virginia?

Besides the various cycling routes that are available to ride each day, there are also a number of other activities you might choose to participate in. There is live music each evening, daily yoga and meditation events, paid massages are available, as well as vendors selling handicrafts and other goodies. There are sometimes other fun activities available as well, such as hot air balloon rides and more!

Is the Bike Virginia tour a SAG supported event?

Yes, there are multiple SAG wagons driving the Bike Virginia routes each day. These vehicles are clearly marked and will be driving up and back on the routes each day looking for cyclists in need of assistance. If your bike breaks down while on the route, a SAG vehicle can be called to assist you. If you fall or injure yourself while on the ride, a SAG vehicle will come to your aid. And if you simply get out on the route and then, for whatever reason, feel like you can’t make it back to the base camp, you can call one of the SAG vehicles to come and bring you back to camp. SAG vehicles are also useful points of assistance if you run out of water or feel like you need a mid-day snack, as food and water is available within each of the SAG vehicles.

Bike Virginia Sag Support

What happens if I get sick or am injured while participating in the Bike Virginia tour?

If you happen to fall ill during the course of the Bike Virginia tour, you are welcome to simply skip a day or two of cycling and then continue with the tour once you are feeling better. If, however, you become ill or injured during the course of the tour, Bike Virginia staff members will be on hand to assist you, transport you back to the Bike Virginia base camp or get you to a doctor or hospital (if necessary) and perform any other tasks to make sure you receive the care and treatment that you need.

What happens if my bicycle needs maintenance or repair during the Bike Virginia tour?

If, during the course of the Bike Virginia tour, you discover that your bicycle isn’t working properly, you may be able to receive mechanical assistance from one of the Bike Virginia SAG vehicles. If they are unable to easily repair your bicycle, there is always an experienced bike mechanic located in the Bike Virginia base camp. This individual will be able to fix your bicycle (for a fee) and get you back on the road in no time.

How can I keep my phone, camera, bike lights and other electronics charged during the Bike Virginia tour?

Almost everyone has a phone (or some kind of electronic device) on them these days … and keeping these devices charged while staying in a campground isn’t easy. That’s why Bike Virginia always has at least one electronic charging station located within its base camp, where you can safely plug in your electronic device and charge it up. These electronic charging stations are free to use and are included as a part of your Bike Virginia registration fee.

How do I get a free Bike Virginia T-shirt/jersey?

If you register for Bike Virginia before the T-Shirt cut off date (usually around March 1st), you will receive a free Bike Virginia T-shirt when you arrive on the first day of the tour. This $30 USD bonus is only available to individuals who register for the 6-day tour and sign up before the T-Shirt cut off date.

Bike Virginia hats, shorts, jerseys, souvineers

Where can I purchase Bike Virginia T-shirts, souvenirs and merchandise?

If you want to get a Bike Virginia T-shirt, jersey, hat, handbag or other souvenir, you can purchase those items on the official Bike Virginia website at www.bikevirginia.org/shop. All of these items may also be purchased in person during the Bike Virginia tour at the store tent, which is located near the registration booth in the Bike Virginia base camp.

Can I sign up as a Bike Virginia volunteer?

Yes, if you would like to sign up as a volunteer and help with parking, SAG support, registration, and/or the Bike Virginia rest stops/comfort stations, you may do so by simply visiting the website at www.bikevirginia.org/volunteer. More than 100 volunteers make Bike Virginia possible each year, so your support is greatly needed and appreciated.

What is the best way to experience the Bike Virginia tour?

The best way to experience the Bike Virginia tour (in my opinion) is to sign up for at least one of the 3-day packages (either the weekday or weekend package). Then, come to the event with either a friend, a loved one, a family member or (better yet) a group of friends.

Plan to camp, if you can, as this will put you in the heart of the Bike Virginia base camp, and will give you the true Bike Virginia experience.

Then, plan to cycle at least the pink route each and every day of the tour. The shorter green routes are nice, and the red routes can be long and challenging (especially if it’s hot outside), but the pink (intermediate) routes (in my opinion) are the ideal distance for almost any cyclist of any skill level to complete.

While you are cycling each day, make sure you take the opportunity to meet new people along the way. Talk to people as you are cycling, when you are in the rest areas or whenever you are in the Bike Virginia base camp. Meeting new people and socializing with other cyclists from all across the country (and around the world) is a big part of what makes Bike Virginia so much fun!

How much does the Bike Virginia tour cost?

Bike Virginia is one of the most affordable bike tours you can choose to participate in. The current cost is $365 and $630 USD depending on whether you sign up for the 3-day or 6 day tour option. This low-cost registration fee goes to cover the cost of city permits, camping, toilets, showers, road crew, support vehicles, event staff, food, entertainment and a whole lot more.

You will receive 1 meal token for each day of the tour that you register, which will get you 1 meal from the food trucks that are stationed at the event. You will also receive a FREE Bike Virginia T-Shirt when you register before the early bird registration date (which varies from year to year, but is usually sometime around March 1st).

How do I register/sign-up for Bike Virginia?

To register for Bike Virginia, simply visit the online registration page at www.bikevirginia.org to sign up for the 1-day, 3-day weekday, 3-day weekend or 6-day tour.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I attended the 2019 Bike Virginia tour and I will be attending the Bike Virginia tour again in June of 2020. The great news is…  you’re invited to join the bike tour with me! Full details can be found on the Bicycle Touring Pro events calendar as well as on the official Bike Virginia website. Tour registration begins on December 1, 2019. I hope to see you, meet you and ride bikes with you at the Bike Virginia tour in June of 2020!

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