For a cyclist, West Virginia is paradise. This state is not completely full of toothless hicks that bootleg alcohol like a certain ham shammy commercials would like you to believe. There are genuine people who really appreciate this beautiful, engaging land and make sure it’s majesty is preserved for future generations.
The abundance of state and national parks make it an easy ride to get to one, even just on bicycle. I don’t think BikeSnobNYC would be as grumpy, grizzled, or sarcastic if he didn’t have to encounter so many hipsters and was able to freely ride around all over the place.
The West Virginia Department of Highways claims to be in charge of 34,000 miles of road in this state. With an operating budget of $400,000,000 (Four-Hundred Million Dollars) in 2009, this means they spend an average of $2.22 per foot-length of road in the state. That is a fair amount, I think.
While cycling data and reviews of the road quality were not as empirically defined as I like, Motorcycleroads.com had a very clear and well defined system for reviewing their road-trip areas. Take a look at their site, and you can see (I averaged all of the reviews together) that they review West Virginia’s road systems by three points of interest.
They ranked WV as having a 91.4/100 (avg) for scenery, with anything over 80% being above average. I would say that WV is successful in this category. Road Quality was ranked 78.6/100 (avg), slightly below acceptable or average conditions… Amenities, or places to stop and lolligag around while on a motorcycle trip only ranked 57.1/100 (avg). I don’t see this as being a negative thing for cyclists, as we are never TOO FAR from home or a town to be able to get what we need. All in all, I think these numbers show that road riding in West Virginia is very fair, and actually pleasant. On MapMyRide.com, I was able to find 21 road routes that start within five miles from my door. While these are well established routes (and many in my county have watch out for cyclist signs all over the place), there are obviously an exponential amount of ways to deviate from these.
West Virginia is also famous for it’s trail systems, Rails-to-Trails, Ski-Resort-Turned-Downhill-Track and just neighborhood area trails that range from a few jumps, to some gnarly singletrack. MTBR.com has a trail review page that I use frequently, and post on a good bit. The trail review page has 100 listings and only 23 states have more. For a total combined average of all trail reviews, (only 75/100 had reviews) each came out with four reviews, with a 82.5 average. That’s like a B+ in my book! Within five miles of my front door, I found eleven trails which I could get to by bike alone.
Surprisingly in this state, there are a fair amount of bike shops all over (Not Including REI, Sporting Goods Stores, etc). I have counted at least 45. That is almost one bike shop for every county! I know there are some rural areas without one (Weston/Lewis County, what???), but that still gives you a good opportunity to grab a water bottle or tube if need be! (I hope to have more info on this later) The amount of bike clubs and collegiate groups is also pretty amazing. WVU cycling alone has 111 events/riding days planned for 2010 alone. That means they have at least two rides/events a week to go to!
All in all, there are tons of things to do with two wheels and yourself in this state. This is just a sample of what there is and where to start. We have a fair share of road ride, mountain bike scene, and cyclo-financial-tourism. Just get out there and see what there is and you will find something!