This is an article that I wrote for Velocity Asheville magazine a few months ago. As the wonderful spring weather approaches, I hope this encourages you to dust off your bicycle and explore your neighborhood.
In this month's column, I take you to Asheville’s Southside. South Asheville may be best known for the Biltmore House but what it offers the cycling community is number of equally stunning road rides, easy access to trails and a number of great cycling centered businesses. While it lacks the friendly commuting opportunities of North and West Asheville, it does offer access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, country roads and a short drive to some of my favorite trailheads.
If living close to downtown and commuting is important, there are neighborhoods around Biltmore Village that offer affordable homes and provide relatively easy access to the River Arts district and downtown. The direct route is a short but exhilarating ride via Biltmore Avenue into downtown. However, if rubbing elbows with cars isn’t the excitement you are looking for, you can wind your way through the hills of Kenilworth. Another and more relaxing alternative is to ride Meadow Road to the access the bike lane on Lyman into the River Arts District or hang a left on Amboy and cruise the greenway along the French Broad River in Carrier Park to access West Asheville.
For road cyclist there are a number of neighborhoods that provide easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and several popular rides that offer stunning scenery and quaint back roads through the towns of Fairview, Mills River, and Bat Cave. If you are unsure of where to find a good road ride, check out BlueRidgeBicycleClub.org for cue sheets and a calendar of group rides in the area. For mountain biking, Bent Creek and North Mills Recreation Area are less than 25 minutes from most neighborhoods in South Asheville. North Mills offers several of my favorite trails in all of Pisgah, along with postride swimming holes that will bring you back to life after a hot summer ride. For those like myself that have four legged riding partners, North Mills also offers a creek crossing or two on most trials for your pup to enjoy as temperatures rise. If you are looking to work on your bike skills, drive a little further south and check out the new Hendersonville Bike Park. The bike park will offer a skills section and pumptrack to have some fun and improve your performance on the trails.
The mountain road and trails around South Asheville will certainly keep your body in shape. And if you live in South Asheville, there are a number of business and manufactures that will ensure your equipment is performing at its best. Liberty Bikes has been serving and supporting the Asheville cycling scene since 1980. In addition to running a great bike shop, Mike and Claudia Nix are major advocates for cycling in Asheville and beyond. Personally, I have seen Mike or Claudia and every advocacy event and committee meeting that I have ever attended in Asheville and in 2007 they received the National Bicycle Advocate Award for their efforts. Liberty Bikes also organizes weekly groups from the shop for different skill levels, so give them a call if you are interested in getting to know some new riders and new routes.
Pedal east from the River Arts District (or RAD) to Thompson Street to the Bicycle Arts District (or BAD). Located in an unassuming row of buildings, you will find talented individuals who practice the fine art of tuning and repairing mountain bike suspension. You will also find great deals at the Bicycle Thrift Shop. Kevin and Shelly Booth and the staff at Suspension Experts work on MTB suspension exclusively. Whether you’re a local trying to shave a few seconds off your Green’s Lick run or a National Downhill Champion, Suspension Experts can rebuild, replace and dial in your suspension so you get the most out of your equipment. On the other end of the bicycle spectrum, if your needs are simply a good used bike for “A to B” rides or an older replacement part, stop by and see Steven Janes at the Bicycle Thrift Shop. You will find a wide assortment of inexpensive used kids / adult bikes, clothing and accessories and if you need to get rid of some bicycle clutter, the Thrift Shop takes donations too! The money raised from sales at the shop supports the WNC Trips for Kids Program to ensure the next generation of cyclists start off on the right pedal.
South Asheville / Fletcher is also the home of Cane Creek Cycling Components. Cane Creek manufactures some of the finest bicycle components made and they can be found on high end bicycles worldwide. In an additional to their quality standards, it is likely that their innovations have helped enhance the performance of the bike you are currently riding. The Cane Creek Aheadset innovation quickly set a new standard in the bicycle industry and continue continues to raise the bar today, pun intended. Mention the word Double Barrel in a crowd of a downhill racers and watch the drooling begin. The coveted Double Barrel is the rear shock of choice for riders that take using gravity seriously. Appropriately located on Cane Creek Road, the employees manufacture and assemble the cutting edge components by day, then put them to the test on the backroads of Fletcher and wet, rocky trails of Pisgah when the workday is done.
South Asheville certainly plays a role in the Asheville Bikestyle. If you’re looking to call South Asheville home there is a wide assortment of neighborhoods and price ranges. Most areas offer convenience to everything you may need in your daily life as well as access to the amazing road rides and trails I mentioned above. As with most of areas of Asheville, housing prices can vary considerably. If you happen to own one of the top three bike companies in the US and are looking for a mini Biltmore Estate, check out 79 Mirehouse Run (mls# 538699). The homes sits on an acre and a half lot that borders the Parkway and offers every luxury amenity you would expect for $2 million. Since many of us cyclist would rather ride more and work less, you can still have the Mountains to Sea Traill / BRP in your backyard and a hot tub to relax in after that long cold ride to Mount Pisgah for about 400k. The home at 78 Charlyn Drive (mls# 531566) is priced at $397,000 and has 3 beds and 2.5 baths, a double garage for all your toys and a 2.4 acre lot so you can create your own mini trail system. For those who would prefer to spend their money on bikes versus a mortgage South Asheville offers affordability at 5 Bostic Street (mls# 538428). It’s a cute 3 bed / 2 bath house very close to Biltmore Village and an easy jump onto the interstate to hit the trailhead. Modestly priced at $139,000, so you can still afford that Cane Creek Double Barrel and a weekend lift ticket at Beech Mountain Bike Park.