There will be lots of Sunday bicycle riders pedaling around Botetourt during the first VBR Gran Fondo.
The “big ride” (gran fondo is Italian for big ride) will put more than 200 bicyclists on a variety of primary and secondary roads as they take three routes around the county between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., organizer Tim Miller explained.
The rides start and end at Ballast Point Brewery in Botetourt Center at Greenfield. The three routes cover 30 miles, 50 miles and 80 miles— and the riders can choose which one they want to travel.
All three head south on US 220 when riders leave Ballast Point and International Parkway heading to Glebe Road in Daleville. The right lane of US 220 will be closed between Greenfield and Glebe Road from 8:45-9:30 a.m.
All the riders will take the same route from Glebe Road, head northwest on Catawba Road to Blacksburg Road then east to Fincastle. Motorists should be on the lookout for groups of cyclists and individual cyclists along those roads until 10 a.m.
Routes diverge at Fincastle and cyclists will be more spread out, but there will still be groups of multiple riders, Miller explained. Cyclists will be on Blue Ridge Turnpike, Springwood Road, Narrow Passage Road, Lithia Road, Nace Road, Stoney Battery Road, and Trinity Road throughout the day.
Additionally, cyclists doing the 80-mile ride will be on Grove Hill Road, Craig Creek Road and Salt Petre Cave Road before joining the other routes on Narrow Passage Road.
The first riders— those taking the shorter Gran Fondo route— will start returning to Ballast Point about 11 a.m. Those on the other routes will arrive back at Ballast Point about 5 p.m.
The public is welcome to come to the finish line at Ballast Point, Miller said.
Aid stations will be set up at the Courthouse Square in Fincastle. It will be staffed by Barkett Allen Capital volunteers. The Eagle Rock aid station will be staffed by Eagle Rock Ruritans; Town of Buchanan volunteers will staff the aid station at Buchanan Town Park; the aid station at New Bethel Church will be staffed by Troutville Church of the Brethren and Daleville Church of the Brethren volunteers.
The Bank of Botetourt and Virginia Mountain Mortgage are route sponsors and Lawrence Companies is the aid station sponsor. Hammer Nutrition is the energy drink sponsor.
Muddy Squirrel, Ballast Point Brewery and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Sports (VBRS) teamed up for the first VBR Gran Fondo that was announced in the spring.
The event offers the three bike rides through the Botetourt countryside on the same weekend as the popular and growing Roanoke Go Outside Festival and the Salem Half-Marathon that’s on October 12-14.
Gran Fondo provides riders with the chance to pedal through the communities of Fincastle, Buchanan, Troutville and Eagle Rock.
Miller calls the rides “recreational,” and entry will include a meal at the end at Ballast Point.
According to VBRS, each route was created “to showcase Botetourt County’s rich scenic beauty and its warm and welcoming communities. Riders will enjoy the area’s natural beauty including the rolling terrain, open farmland, forested mountains, and the James River.”
The VBR Gran Fondo is a non-competitive event, although each rider’s finishing time will be recorded.
Portions of the routes will include the U.S. Bicycle Route 76.
Registration for the Gran Fondo is still open on the Muddy Squirrel website.
The 30-mile Valley Ride goes through Fincastle and Troutville. The fee is $70.
The 50-mile Bank of Botetourt River Ride also goes to Fincastle then heads to Springwood and the James River, goes through Buchanan and then to Troutville along the Bike 76 Route and back to Ballast Point. Registration for this ride is $70 until the day of the ride when it’s $80.
For those who want more of a challenge in elevation and distance, the 80-mile Mountain Ride leaves Ballast Point and goes over Caldwell Mountain to Craig Creek Road, through Oriskany, Eagle Rock and on Rt. 43 to Buchanan, then on the Bike 76 Route to Troutville and back to Ballast Point.
Registration for the Mountain Ride us $90 until the day of the even when it is $100.
Registration for all three routes includes a post-ride meal and beverage catered by Ballast Point, and fully stocked aid stations along the routes.
To register or for more information, go to www.muddysquirrel.com.