For the past few months, I have been a regular contributor to Asheville Velocity Magazine. As a cyclist, sociology major and Realtor I enjoy reflecting on the bicycle scene in Asheville, the different areas / neighborhoods in our city and what each contribute to the cycling community. Below is the first of a six column series, make sure to stop by a local shop and pick up a hard copy of our local cycling magazine. The online version of each issue can be found here. Enjoy.
Living the Asheville Bikestyle
Spend a few minutes on a Sunday morning at a busy intersection downtown and you will see a collection of bicycles as diverse as the people and neighborhoods that make up our city. Mountain bikes on roof racks heading to the trails, still covered in dirt from the last epic adventure. Road bikes resembling works of art moving gracefully towards higher elevation. BMX bikes strapped to the back of the family SUV heading north. And of course, a vast collection of cruisers, vintage ten speeds and bikes with kids in tow heading to their next destination. Where are all these bikes going and what is the common thread that connects them all. I like to think of it as the Asheville Bikestyle.
So what is the Asheville Bikestyle? In part, it’s the hundreds of miles of challenging single track in the mountains that surround us and the lung busting climbs to the highest peak on the East Coast. It’s the seemingly endless gravel roads, cyclocross under the lights and fix gear racing at the Mellowdrome. There’s the fun factor of alleycat races and scavenger hunts, nuns on tall bikes or a rolling costume party with 300 people taking over the streets. But most of the time it is as simple as Sunday ride to meet up with friends. We are very lucky to have a cycling scene as rich and diverse as the flora and fauna that exist in the mountains surrounding Asheville.
Over the past few years I have watched the number of business that cater to cyclist and level of cycling infrastructure grow considerably. And for good reason, we have some of the country's most scenic roadways and trails to challenge every level of rider. But the Parkway and trails are only a catalyst of the Asheville Bikestyle. Our flourishing bike scene is driven by an astonishing group of business owners, manufactures, event promoters, advocacy groups, world class athletes and YOU!
While the surrounding trails and Blue Ridge Parkway have experienced little change since my move to the mountains several years ago, the city of Asheville has come a long way! Asheville is now a League of American Cyclist Bronze Level Bike City in thanks to the bicycle infrastructure improvements made in the past few years. With the City of Asheville’s adoption of a Comprehensive Bike Plan, and groups such as Asheville on Bikes, Connect Buncombe, Trips for Kids, Healthy Buncombe and the hiring of a full time bike / pedestrian planner we are transforming our city into a bicycle paradise for all cyclist.
With an abundance of Ashevillians on bikes and a city that has attracted national recognition for our trails and roadways we have witnessed the growth of a cycling economy in Asheville. The area is now home to over fifteen bike shops and there is rarely a bike part, style or brand of bicycle that is difficult to find. When parts do break Asheville has you covered. Numerous world class bike mechanics call Asheville home and a there is a thriving business that solely services mountain bike suspension forks and shocks sent in from all over the country. Asheville is also home to several manufactures whose coveted components grace bicycles all over the world. The knowledge and ideas of local cyclist / engineers are transformed into high performance components that are then tested by the very riders who play a direct role in their creation. In addition to the brick and mortar companies there are now several guiding, coaching and support services in Asheville that cater directly to cyclist. These individuals will enhance your experience in the woods, train you to ride faster in your next competitive event or bring your body back to a state of harmony after a long weekend in the mountains. We are also fortunate to have numerous event promoters that encourage us to push our limits, social organizations that remind us the biking is fun and advocacy groups that keep trails open and our greenways expanding. These fine people ensure there is a world class race, a trail work day or a party on two wheels almost every weekend of the year.
So as you see, Asheville has a lot going on for a town of 85,000 people. As someone who has been passionate about riding bikes for most of my life, the robust cycling scene is a major reason I chose to live in Asheville. And in my career as a Realtor, I am asked weekly about the different areas of our city. To answer these questions, I share my knowledge of price ranges, school districts, and proximity to this or that. These are all important factors in determining your ideal location of course! However, I feel that it is just as important to find a home that suits not only your needs but your lifestyle as well. And in the next few issues of Asheville VELOCITY I will focus on the different areas of Asheville and highlight what each has to offer a cyclist so you can find a place that suits your bikestyle. It is my hope this column will serve to enhance YOUR experience in Asheville. With the depth of our scene there is a lot to know and new experiences to be had. And by checking out this column you might just learn a better route, ride a new trail, or visit a new cycling related business. And if you’re new to the area or been here since birth you may find a new group to get involved and learn a few things about the cost of living and the Real Estate market in these different areas. So stay tuned and in next months issue I will discuss the North Asheville area from the perspective of a cyclist and Realtor living the Asheville Bikestyle.
Feel free to send me any questions about biking or Real Estate in Asheville. And provide me comments about your experience, secret routes, or updates on cycling related happenings in your area and I will add them to the column.