Cyclists to pedal through the valley next month

Vacationers to see sites from bikes during six-day tour

Bike Virginia, a nonprofit cycling advocacy group, will hold its annual six-day-long cycling tour through the Northern Shenandoah Valley next month.

The event, named the Shenandoah Valley Pilgrimage, will bring as many as 1,400 cyclists passing through Strasburg between 8 a.m. and noon June 25, said Bike Virginia Ambassador Kevin Watson. Strasburg is the first rest stop on Saturday’s routes.

This is the organization’s 29th “bike-cation,” which is held annually at different Virginia destinations.  This year’s event’s theme is a Shenandoah Valley Pilgrimage and will take vacationing cyclists along multiple routes from Strasburg to Harrisonburg from June 24-29.

Dr. Kim Perry, Bike Virginia executive director, said there will be about 20 rest stops for the event.

“They’ll stop and enjoy snacks and we usually try to place those at interesting locations,” said Perry. “We work with community partners such as Scouts and other organizations to host those sites.”

Those who volunteer to host rest stops are compensated for their time and are reimbursed for any materials they may use, for example baked goods and various other amenities, which is one way the local economy will benefit from the tour, said Perry. She noted that hosts at each stop will compete to be the riders’ favorite stop.

The event’s Woodstock nerve center will be at Massanutten Military Academy. That will serve as base camp for the first three days of the event. The Harrisonburg base camp will be at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds and will serve as headquarters for the event’s final three days. Many cyclists will use these areas to camp, but others will be taking advantage of lodging in the area, said Watson.

The effects of the event will be felt by many area businesses after the riders have finished riding for the day, said Watson.

“When they finish their ride, they’re going to go shopping,” he said. “It’s an effective tourism event because people are on their bikes, looking at things. You’re not going 80 miles an hour down 81.”

Perry reiterated the economic impact explained by Watson.

“Historically we’ve generated about $2 million in six days with up to 1,600 riders or so,” said Perry. “That would be money spent on lodging, food, entertainment, souvenirs and services. Some of that spending also comes from our organization as we work with businesses to offer services associated with the event.”

Perry said that the organization will be using hotels in both Strasburg and Woodstock for the first three days of the event.

Shuttle services will be facilitating participant travel throughout the valley, offering transportation to things like river tours and outfitters, horseback riding and winery tours.

The event cost is $599 per person and includes things like camping and all the services offered at the base camps. There will be extra fees for those who choose to visit other attractions for activities like spelunking or winery tours. Perry said that these peripheral attractions often sell out their tickets when the tour comes to town.

The fondness held by the bicycle community for the Shenandoah Valley was a factor in the organization’s location choice for the tour.

“It’s a beautiful community,” said Perry. “Their hospitality is very warm. We know the community will work with us to help with the event. There are a lot of planning processes that have to go into the event. From a logistical perspective, it’s a good place to host an event and from a scenery and view perspective it’s one of the gems of the state of Virginia.”

IF YOU GO:

• Registration: Ends May 31.

Information: www.bikevirginia.org/2016-tour or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BikeVirginiaTour/?fref=nf.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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