Bike-Glamping in Wild & Wonderful WV
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
The four of us arrived in Lewisburg, WV on a Thursday evening, the night before our 3 day bike adventure through West Virginia. I'd been looking forward to a multi-day bike trip all summer and this was the one weekend that worked for all of us -- and what a great time of year to do it! The logistics of this bikepacking trip were on the more cushy side, allowing us to bike to our destinations with our gear and stay in AirBnBs.
The 190 mile route was absolutely perfect for my first bike trip. On Friday morning, we began pedaling at the start in Caldwell along the Greenbrier River Trail, loaded down with our toiletries, jammies, preferred spirits, pounds of snacks and our "town outfits". The morning was a chilly 38 degrees as we spun along the trail. The Greenbrier River Trail is a 78 mile trail that goes from Caldwell all the way to Cass, WV. Our destination was Marlinton, just a mere 55 mile bike ride on barely a 1% grade rails to trail that meanders through West Virginia alongside the Greenbrier River.
We arrived to Marlinton by afternoon and quickly realized that none of us had cell phone service since AT&T is the only provider there. Good thing our AirBnB, Rhonda's Retreat, was easy to find. Rhonda's was the perfect place for our two day base camp, despite the lack of WIFI. It was cozy, with amazing decorating style, and conveniently located next to the Dirt Bean coffee shop and our 2nd home, the Greenbrier Grill and Lodge. Also, how did I get so lucky to get the "bear room!"
After a greasy, but delicious dinner of burgers and an assortment of fried food at the Greenbrier Grill, we retired back to Rhonda's. We turned in early, with nervous excitement for the unknown 80 mile ride the next day.
We arose at 6:00 a.m., packed up our bikes full of snacks, maintenance gear, and other essentials. We arrived promptly at the Greenbrier Grill for our 7:00 a.m. breakfast and ate all the things since we were about to burn thousands of calories and needed our energy.
We followed our Garmin cues and biked our way out of town, encountering our first climb, a big mountain that left us all sweaty in 38-degree weather. What ensued next was a teeth-chattering 20 mile ride along the Williams River. It was so unbelievably gorgeous, yet the shadows made us quickly spin our pedals until we reached a tiny sunshine patch to thaw out. We finally made our way out of the Williams Creek drainage and rode to the community of Dyer, thinking to ourselves, wow, the first 30 miles of this route are all pavement ... where is the gravel?
We stopped on a bridge across the Cranberry River and ate a stout lunch of PB&Js, rice balls, Gina's balls, candy, fig bars and more. Our bike tires finally hit gravel as we began to venture into the Cranberry Wilderness. Several pickup trucks dusted us as we began another climb. Melissa's Garmin told us we only had 7 big climbs total all day, which was nothing compared to some of the other gravel rides we'd done closer to home.
The scenes in front of us were right out of a calendar … beautiful yellow and red leaf lined double track through the Cranberry backcountry. We were running low on water, so we unpacked our filters and did some rock scrambling to refill our bottles.
Around mile 60ish, we finally arrived at a very busy trailhead, sad that our gravel time was over. We climbed another hill and navigated a busy highway descent back to Mill Point. We finally popped back onto the Greenbrier River Trail in Seebert and rode the last 10 miles into town. I was starting to bonk at mile 75, only thinking about all the "real" food I preferred in town vs. the granola bars in my bags.
As our clocks hit 80 miles, we rode straight for the Dirt Bean for pumpkin-spiced lattes and food. We ate all the things and then retired back to Rhonda's for an interesting evening of attempting to get the VCR to work and the rotary phone (to no avail) so we could order a 2nd dinner of pizza.
The next morning, we made our way over to Greenbrier Grill again for breakfast, only to find the door locked. Luckily, a local named Doug told us to follow him since he knew how to get in. "Are you sure this is ok?" we tentatively asked. "Hell yea!" he exclaimed as he led us through the kitchen. The waitstaff scolded Doug for letting in customers and we quietly slunk into our same front booth. After we ate enough for an army of lumberjacks, we packed up our bikes for the last time to prepare for our 55 mile trip back to Caldwell. We were really going to miss Rhonda's Retreat and the charming town of Marlinton.
Nothing is better than a weekend away with some badass ladies who are strong, down for challenging adventures, and know how to have fun. I love how biking, trail running and the outdoors have brought us all together. Get outside and fill your soul.