As children, many of us learned to ride a bike. The excitement and feeling of freedom that first day the training wheels came off and the experience of really (or so we thought!) flying up and down hills with the wind whipping around our faces is a memory that provides reminders of pure childhood joy. Bicycling is considered one of the most effective forms of exercise – and many of us as adults continue to enjoy its benefits on a regular basis. Here in Rutherford county, we appreciate the fun and adventure of cycling in the great outdoors. No matter whether you cycle for enjoyment, to get some exercise with the family, or for the exhilaration of pushing your own limits, we’ve got the trails and events to make this fantastic sport even more interesting.
Family Friendly Fun
If an easy breezy ride along wide tree-lined pathways that wander through charming small towns sounds like cycling bliss, look no further than the Thermal Belt Rail Trail. This 13.5 mile route follows the old railway line from Spindale to Ruth and is perfect for even the littlest cycling enthusiasts. OpenBox Bikes & Fitness in Spindale even offers bike and equipment rentals for the Rail Trail so there's no excuse for not taking advantage. The Purple Martin Greenway in Rutherfordton is a great option if you prefer your nature with easy access to civilization. The 1.4 mile Greenway trail connects to both Crestview Park and Kiwanis Park at multiple access points, which gives it plenty of options for picnicking and activities along the way.
Lake Lure’s Morse Park is lovely if you enjoy your bicycling journeys short and sweet with a side of watery landscape. This 23-acre community park on the west end of Lake Lure includes just over a mile of paths, children's play areas, and connects to the famed Lake Lure Flowering Bridge via the town center walkway. Prefer your water wonderland trails a bit longer? Dittmer-Watts Nature Trail offers 3.5 miles of a cyclist-friendly trail that winds along the lake through forested areas and past the Mountain Laurel Trail Overlook. It's perfect for those who want to exert a little more effort while enjoying a spectacular view!
Pushing the Boundaries of Endurance
For some, cycling isn't just about getting fresh air while enjoying the sights. It's a chance to push themselves with a test of endurance. Buffalo Creek Park in Lake Lure offers a variety of terrain changes, banked turns, and moderate climbs on its 12+ miles of trails along the head of Hickory Nut Gorge, and it includes an access point to the rugged 8.6 mile out-and-back Weed Patch Mountain Trail for mountain bikers who really want to test their skills. Those who prefer to take their cycling experience deep into nature will love South Mountains Game Lands and State Park in Golden Valley. Its 40 miles of mountainous, adrenaline-filled trails are perfect for seasoned mountain bikers who want to challenge themselves on every level.
If a little competition is required for your cycling journey, then Cycle NC has you covered. Their 2021 Mountain Loop Ride takes place in Forest City August 6th through the 8th. This 3-day cycling festival begins on Friday afternoon with a 17-mile warm up ride, and it features multiple route options ranging from 13 to 63 miles each day of the event. Registration is required and includes indoor and outdoor campsites, route maps and SAG assistance, local entertainment and activities, and more. Volunteer opportunities are also available for those who want to be a part of the event without the bicycling exertion. It’s a family-friendly weekend-long option for anyone who enjoys exploring the great outdoors cycling-style!
Looking to switch things up while testing your endurance with some friendly competition? The 2021 Lake Lure Olympiad takes place August 13th and 14th. An event long renowned for its multiple race events and scenic locations, the Olympiad offers participants of almost every age and ability level a chance to test their triathlon prowess. The combination of a 750-meter lake swim, 14-mile single loop bike course, and 5K out-and-back run route has thrilled and challenged participants and spectators annually for 16 years, and the money raised goes to the area’s local charities and service organizations. It’s the ultimate way to push yourself physically while helping others in the process! Registration is required and USAT rules apply. Find more information and register for this year’s event.
The North Carolina foothills aren't just for hiking – they’re the ideal location for cycling too! Come on out to Rutherford county and experience the thrills of bicycling through nature that only Western North Carolina can offer. It’s a chance to make memories like no other – and it’s only a short car ride away!