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Five area bicycle rides to get you spinning

Story by Roger Watson

Bicycling is an activity that has picked up in popularity during the pandemic. With gyms closed, lots of people pulled the old bicycle out of the garage or tried to find new ones at area bike shops.

The exercise is the ultimate in social distancing, and the Farmville area has some of the best places to ride.

The High Bridge Trail is the ultimate in places to ride a bike in Farmville. The 31-mile-long former railroad bed is wide, level and generally flat with a crushed limestone surface. The park information suggests cyclists park at the Rice parking lot at 642 Depot Road. The bridge is 3.2 miles away from that area. Farmville is 8.2 miles away. Cyclists may also choose to begin in Farmville at the Main Street Plaza parking lot. The bridge is 4.5 miles away from that point.

Farmville also gives the opportunity for a quick bite at Walker’s Diner, Pino’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria or the Uptown Coffee Café before or after the ride.

Of course, for the locals, there are plenty of other trails in the Farmville area to make a quick Saturday morning ride or take a quick spin before sunset. Local cyclist Brian Vandegrift shared some of his favorite places to ride.

The airport loop is a nice flat ride that goes from downtown, around the airport and back. The route goes from Old Plank/Plank Road to Pleasant Valley Road and then onto North Airport Road and South Airport Road. The ride is a total of 11.6 miles with only a 4.3% incline.

For the cyclist looking for a longer ride, there is a ride to the north of Farmville in Cumberland County that is a total of 18.2 miles. The route begins at the intersection of Main Street and River Road. Take a right on River Road and then go to Cooks Road where you take a left and continue on Cooks Road until taking a left onto John Randolph Road, a right on Raines Tavern and then a sharp left onto Plank Road to come back to the starting point. The ride is fairly flat with an 8.8% incline being the most you will encounter along the way.

Another 11-mile ride goes from Wilck’s Lake in Farmville to Hampden-Sydney College and back. From Wilck’s Lake make your way to High Street. Take a left on Germantown Road after a mile or so follow Germantown to the right. Then you will make a left onto Back Hampden Sydney Road. Next turn left onto Five Forks Road. Now you will make a loop through the Hampden-Sydney Campus on College Road and Athletic Center Drive. Then turn right back onto Five Forks Road for the trip back into Farmville. The steepest incline on the route is 5.4%, making it another nice ride where you can get in a big gear and stretch it whenever you want.

The final suggestion to get on the bicycle and explore the area is the Sulphur Spring Road – Allen Mill Loop. The circular route is set to begin in the Prospect community starting on High Bridge Trail near the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department. You turn left onto the High Bridge and keep going until intersecting with Sulphur Spring Road where you turn left. This turn comes shortly after passing through the Elam community. The route continues along Sulphur Spring Road through the countryside until the intersection with Prospect Road. Take a left onto Prospect Road and that takes you right back to the fire department. The route is another good ride for beginners with only a 5% incline.

This fall should be a perfect time to try out some new routes in the Farmville area and get some miles in before the weather gets too cold.