Motorcycle Adventures in Southwest Virginia

Sturgis, South Dakota, is what pops into most people’s minds when they think of motorcycle adventures. While this rip roaring party of a motorcycle rally is perhaps the most iconic, it hardly speaks for the lot of ‘em—there are a variety of places and ways to embark on a motorcycle adventure across our grand country.

If you’re on the hunt for a spot steeped in natural beauty with options from serene rides to blood-pumping dirt road adventures, look no further than Southwest Virginia. Housing key sections of the increasingly well-known Dragon Motorcycle Series and offering some of the most customizable motorcycle touring you can get, zooming through Southwest Virginia on two wheels is a trip to remember.

Two Slices of the Dragon Motorcycle Series

A taste of what you can see along the Back of the Dragon.
A taste of what you can see along the Back of the Dragon.

Virginia State Parks

Occupying central Southwest Virginia including Smyth, Tazewell, and Wythe counties is a twisty and turny motorcycle ride that’s unlike any other. The Back of the Dragon begins in Marion and terminates in Tazewell. This middle section is part of the larger Dragon Series that includes the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina and Tennessee, the Head of the Dragon in West Virginia, and the Claw of the Dragon also in Virginia.

The Back of the Dragon is located smack in the middle of the five loops that compose the Claw of the Dragon which means an almost unthinkable amount of ride options couched in the secluded, tree-filled scenery of Southwest Virginia. Ranging from 62 to 224 miles in length, there’s plenty to explore, but the Back of the Dragon is particularly beautiful. The route meanders along a cliff through its entirety, offering stunning and far-reaching views of the land below between eyefuls of luscious trees dotting a barely trafficked road. For the best experience, tackle it at sunrise or sunset—the area really lights up and it feels almost other-worldly.

Once you tackle this part of the Dragon, it’s going to be almost impossible to stop you from wanting to see the rest. You’ve been warned.

Custom Tours for Any Traveler

GearHead will provide visitors guided motorcycle tours of the area. Renee Sklarew
GearHead will provide visitors guided motorcycle tours of the area.
Renee Sklarew

Whether it’s the Dragon that’s got you hooked or something else, GearHead Moto Tours in Pearisburg (which spun out of motorcycle repair shop of the same name) offers all-inclusive motorcycle tours to enthusiasts of all stripes. In talking to Terry Rafferty, the owner of the whole shebang, about his business, his passion for what he does is practically palpable. He explains that when it comes to the kinds of tours people can book, “Nothing is impossible. That’s kind of the motto here. I’m here for the people, to give them the best time possible and show them Giles county. There are so many beautiful areas.”

Rafferty went on to explain that the team, which includes his other guide Derek Snider, is really energetic about what they do because it’s their passion. “I’m so fortunate to be able to do what I do every day,” he adds.

When it comes to what he does, the sky’s the limit. GearHead serves everyone from solo travelers to corporate staff members looking for a fun team building experience. While their tours work best in pods of four or so, soloists can take advantage of the events GearHead advertises on its Facebook page and snag a single spot. The best is that Rafferty totally gets solo travel, explaining that they’ll pair people in a party of one with others on a trip, but that you’ll still get your own room and bathroom accommodations to stay in. “None of that awkward dual occupancy stuff,” he notes.

GearHead can outfit you with a motorcycle as well. Renee Sklarew
GearHead can outfit you with a motorcycle as well.
Renee Sklarew

GearHead tours can be hard to define because they’re so customizable. The company recently took a couple on a romantic retreat tour, putting them up in a nice cabin and bringing in chefs to cook for them. On the other end of the spectrum, another recent tour included camping and the GearHead team cooked for the guests. On other outings, Rafferty will take guests to sample local restaurants. “What we’re trying to do is give the flavor of the place to our customers,” he says. “There’s everything from nice dining spots to mom and pop places. When people come here they’re trying to get away from having Starbucks every morning.”

The terrain you cover and how you cover it is just as much up to you as where you stay and what you eat. They’ve got dirt roads for riders looking for technical challenges, two-lane paved routes for those trying to relax a bit, and access to trails on private property to ensure that you have an experience unlike any other. The key to offering such a variety of adventures are the dual sport motorcycles they use—essentially street-legal dirt bikes that can traverse diverse terrain.

One of Rafferty’s favorite spots to take his guests is Butt Mountain Fire Tower Overlook where visitors can see three states at once. “It’s also where Dirty Dancing was filmed,” Rafferty adds as an aside.

All you need to participate is a motorcycle endorsement on your license and proof of motorcycle insurance if you plan to drive. They provide you with everything else—all the riding and safety gear you could possibly need to have a great time in Southwest Virginia.

Originally written by RootsRated for Southwest Virginia.

Featured image provided by Virginia State Parks

May 12-14 Kairos Motorsport Weekend

Kairos to Host Motorsport Weekend May 12-14

 

Giles County, VA- The newest tourism destination property in Giles County, is hosting their first Motorsport Weekend, May 12-14. Kairos Wilderness Resort, home to the recent New River 500, is a 1,500 acre mountain top property in the western part of Giles County and eastern part of Mercer County, West Virginia. A more than 1,500 acre haven situated adjacent to the beautiful New River, just west of Glyn Lyn, in Giles County, Virginia; the vision of Kairos is to create an atmosphere where people of all ages can experience positive, memorable moments. Kairos provides a picturesque setting where there are numerous breathtaking views, as well as beautifully wooded serene areas. Kairos offers camping in wilderness settings or in the RV campground. There are 40+ miles of trails and roads for hiking, mountain bike riding, horseback riding, or guided motorcycle trips. These services are coming available June 1 when the property opens officially. For now, guests are encouraged to participate in any one of their special events.

 

 

The Kairos Motorsport Weekend happens May 12-14, 2017. Included in registration is exclusive access to the network of trails on the expansive property and camping onsite. Full hookups in the RV and camper campground area or primitive camping sites are available in addition to the bathhouse and Ed’s Place, a gathering indoor area near the campsites for socializing or to utilize for meals. Full hookups camping is $130 per rider and an additional $10 for passengers. Primitive camping sites for the weekend are $50 per rider and also $10 for a passengers. Passengers must be on the same vehicle. This additional item can be added on during registration.

 

Photo credit Sam Dean for Kairos Wilderness Resort

 

All participants for the Motorsport Weekend must pre-register and can do that via Facebook or Eventbrite until May 10th at 5pm. The event kicks off after 6pm on May 12th when guests are welcomed to the property to set camp. Riders and their passengers can then explore the miles of trails on both Saturday and Sunday. For this event no food service is provided but local options and grocery stores have everything you will need. Dual sport, dirt bikes, ATVs, and UTVs are welcome to experience the 40+ miles of trails on this expansive, premier property that will soon feature bookable event space, a wedding venue, cabins, and more.

 

Future events and bookings will be available for all of the Kairos services through their newly launched website, KairosResort.com. With an official opening day of June 1 for the renting of campsites and access to other guided services, this May Motorsport Weekend is the perfect opportunity to get in before the crowd and experience first-hand the heightened experience at Kairos. Stay up-to-date with event announcements by following the event on Facebook, by searching ‘Kairos Open Trail Day’ or visiting GilesCounty.org. Tickets are now available online at https://kairosmotorsportweekend.eventbrite.com.

 

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For more information about planning your visit to Giles County or about activities and events, please visit www.gilescounty.org or contact us at tourism@gilescounty.org.