Woodstock to co-host next Bike Virginia

Next summer, the town of Woodstock will be one of two localities in the Shenandoah Valley to host the 2016 Bike Virginia Tour.

Jenna French, director of marketing and tourism for Shenandoah County, said this will be the first time that Woodstock and Shenandoah County have served as a host site.

Richmond-based Bike Virginia is a nonprofit group that promotes cycling events through the state. Its annual Bike Virginia Tour is a six-day cycling festival that has been hosted in different regions of the state throughout its 28-year history.

The 2016 tour will take place June 24-29, with Woodstock and Harrisonburg serving as the host towns.

“Both of our localities have a great deal of strength in agritourism right now, and it’s a growing area of interest. It’s something that appeals to a lot of these riders,” French said.

Dr. Kim Perry, executive director of Bike Virginia, said, “It was just really an ideal partnership to combine Woodstock with Harrisonburg to create this event experience.”

The chosen host towns, Perry said, fit in nicely with Bike Virginia’s 2016 theme of agriculture and agritourism.

“It’s something that makes us a bit more unique than other localities,” she added. “Most of Virginia is rich in history, but not everybody has the agriculture.”

French noted that Massanutten Military Academy will serve as a “tent city” or the host location for the festival on the Woodstock end of things.

She said she expects the tour to have a significant impact on the area’s hotels. “I know the hotels here in Woodstock have all agreed to set aside blocks (of time) for the riders.”

French added, “With as many as 1,600 riders — about half of those will stay in hotels — we’ll see rooms probably filled … up through Strasburg, New Market and Mount Jackson as well.”

Perry estimated that the tours can generate added revenue of $2.8 million for hosting localities — depending on how many riders participate.

Woodstock felt a little bit of this financial boon when Harrisonburg served as the host city back in 2010. French said that many businesses, such as wineries and vineyards, saw a major boost in sales – just from the riders passing through.

Emma Randel, owner and operator of Shenandoah Vineyards in Edinburg, said she saw the financial benefits as a rest stop during the 2010 Bike Virginia Tour.

During a four-hour period, Randel said the vineyard saw “the best hours of sales” in the company’s history. She estimated that they took in roughly $8,000 during that four-hour window, which she said is 3 percent higher than average.

“We had to be open at 7 a.m. … normally, we don’t open until 10 a.m.,” Randel said, noting that they had to bring extra staff to accommodate the morning rush.

With Woodstock hosting the event, Randel said she thinks it will help sales as well as branding and marketing for the valley as a whole.

“It helps us be known to other people from other areas of the country,” she added.

Perry said they are formulating and exploring options for the festival’s cycling routes, noting that certain routes or loops could range between 60 and 120 miles.

French said she will be coordinating with the Virginia Department of Transportation and local town and county authorities to ensure that the event does not hinder local traffic.

“The way they structure their rides, we’re not anticipating any type of road closures being necessary,” French said. “We really don’t think it’ll impact much of the driving traffic here.”

French added that she will be reaching out to local businesses and agritourism partners in the coming months to gauge their interest in serving as rest stops or hosting tour-related events.

“When we talk about rest stops for an event like this … it’s a place for somebody to get off their bike for a little bit, relax, have a glass of wine and enjoy the scenery,” French said.

Registration for the 2016 Bike Virginia Tour will open up Nov. 15.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com