Shenandoah Bike Tour Virginia, Lizard Head Cycling Guides
101 Bobtail or Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 Phone: 970.728.5891

Shenandoah Bike Tour

The Shenandoah Valley is a cycling nirvana bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains and to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians. Our Shenandoah bike tour delivers small road riding that twists, turns and climbs through what we feel is the best rolling hill cycling topography in eastern North America. Cyclists ride through the verdant Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains of Virginia experiencing the rich history of the land and that of the Civil War Confederacy. The Shenandoah Valley is well suited for upper intermediate to advanced cyclists.

Read Shenandoah Bike Tour Testimonial

The word Shenandoah is of unknown origin, though the most popular and romanticized belief is that it derives from a Native American expression for “Beautiful Daughter of the Stars.”

The riding was a wonderful combination of beautiful scenery and challenging rides. I have never been to this part of America before and was surprised by the beauty. The rivers and forests are primal and I found it energizing to spend time there. All the roads were in good to excellent condition which surprised me! Highly recommend this ride to anyone! – Kevin B.

Shenandoah Bike Tour: Highlights

Shenandoah Bike Tour, The Shenandoah Mountains of Central Virginia

The Shenandoah Mountains of Central Virginia

Shenandoah Bike Tour, Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

Shenandoah Bike Tour, Black bear on Skyline Drive!

Black bear on Skyline Drive!

Among the many highlights this tour enjoys are breathtaking views along Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park, a shady ascent up through Goshen Pass via Maury River Road, the revitalizing natural hot springs of Warm Springs, Virginia, an epic journey to climb West Virginia’s highest peak, Spruce Knob, at 4,863-feet, a twisty ride snaking through Smoke Hole Canyon and finally, a challenging descent through Lost River State Park to Cave Ridge Vineyards.

Virginia and West Virginia provide an entirely different venue to riding in the American West. Lizard Head Cycling’s owner, John Humphries, grew up in southern Pennsylvania and knows this region for its bucolic beauty and twisty climbs. Spring in Virginia offers boundless beauty. September offers summer’s lingering warmth coinciding with the bountiful harvest season that provides fresh foods of every type.

Shenandoah Bike Tour: Dates

Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour Calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891

2018 Spring Tour Dates:

2018 Autumn Tour Dates:

  • September 16 to 21, 2018 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED 3 riders needed to confirm departure

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Shenandoah Bike Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 6-Days Cycling/5-Nights Lodging

Starting & Ending Town: Chantilly, Virginia

Meeting Hotel: Courtyard Dulles Airport Chantilly, Chantilly, Virginia (not included in tour cost)

Total Miles: Up to 340 over 6 days of riding. (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Mileage Range: 41-90 (60-mile average/day)

Ability Level: 3/4 (Upper- Intermediate to Advanced).  The Shenandoah Bike Tour is well suited for upper intermediate to advanced cyclists.

Tour Cost: $2,750 per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

Inclusive Tour Includes: 5-nights of exceptional lodging, 6-days of meals, guide service, entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, massage therapy & bike rental are additional.

Single Room Supplement: Add $475 to the Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (5 nights).

Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week, or $150 for 3 or 4 day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition we also have electric bikes available for rental at $375/week. And finally we have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in our rental fleet. Just let us know what you need and we can probably find it.

Electric Bike Rental: We now have a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is $375/week.

Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.

Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.

Lodging Includes 5-Nights: (subject to change)

Meals On Tour

Lunches: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!

Dinners: Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! :) Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post-ride element.

Overall Route Map

Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?

How Fit do I Have to Be?
If one month prior to the tour, you can ride 2 to 3 times a week equalling a total of 75 or more miles a week, you'll do just fine. We like to jokingly say that "one is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling Tour when they are finished with tour" and this is true! The only way to simulate a week long bike tour is to go on a week long tour.

Our average rider age is 55 years. These are bike tours, not races so we take our time to stop, take pictures and see the sights. We have all day to reach our destination and most riders take "bumps" at some points. We offer reduced mileage options for each day. Of course if someone wants to ride E.F.I. (Every Freaking Inch), we love to show them all the extra climbs, loops and hidden canyons that can be included!

Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a "bump" via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is "off the front" and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They'll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterwards, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.

Seamless Mileage Options
Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour – something we're well known for in our business. This technique is similar to heliskiing in that one does not ski everything, they ski the best. :-)

Slow or Fast?
Many cyclists who sign up for our tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they're surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and Fast only exist relative to other cyclists. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike. As long as one is moving, they are truly going fast enough.

If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office via email or call us at 970.728.5891 - we'll more than happy to guide you!

Please also see this blog post for more information.

Shenandoah Bike Tour: Itinerary*

*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.

Day 1: Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive
42 miles with up to 6,000 feet of climbing

On the morning of the first day of our tour, we shuttle early from the meeting hotel to our starting point on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park to begin our two-day journey along one of the most scenic roads in North America.

Skyline Drive – a National Scenic Byway – traverses the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains through Shenandoah National Park. It is 105 miles of the most gorgeous scenery, awe-inspiring vistas and charming historic sites that can define the perfect “joyride”.

We will enjoy lunch along the way at one of the many overlooks taking in the magnificent views and then make a final climb to end the day at Skylands Resort.

Shenandoah Bike Tour, Glorious vistas abound!

Glorious vistas abound!

Shenandoah Bike Tour, Skyland Resort along Skyline Drive

Skyland Resort along Skyline Drive

Elevation Profile: +5965 ft / -2855 ft

Elevation Profile: +5965 ft / -2855 ft

Day 2: Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive (continued)
Standard: 45-miles with up to 3,500 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 70-miles with up to 5,200 feet of climbing

On the second day of our tour, we will depart from the Skyland Resort on Skyline Drive to begin another day-long journey along one of the most scenic roads in North America. The undulating terrain will offer spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley and there will be plenty of opportunities to stop to take it all in at any of the 75 overlooks along the way.

We will finish the day with a quick 10 mile descent to our accommodations for the evening in Waynesboro, Virginia – The Iris Inn – to check in, freshen up and then head out for a healthy dinner.

Along Skyline Drive

Along Skyline Drive

Shenandoah Bike Tour, There are plenty of winding, low traffic roads

There are plenty of winding, low traffic roads

The Iris Inn - Waynesboro, Virginia

The Iris Inn – Waynesboro, Virginia

Elevation Profile: +5199 ft / -7301 ft

Elevation Profile: +5200 ft / -7300 ft

Day 3: Maury River Road & Goshen Pass
52-miles with up to 3,400 feet of climbing

After breakfast we shuttle a short distance from the Iris Inn across the Shenandoah Valley to the small rural town of Middlebrook, Virginia. In this small hamlet bikes are unloaded and perhaps an espresso is enjoyed before we wind our way along the Brownsburg Turnpike and through Goshen Pass. Along the way we witness lovely views along the Maury River while riding the winding road that runs along its banks.

For most of the day, the group will be cycling across undulating terrain and the climbing will be minimal (except for a challenging climb at the end)! Today’s lunch stop will be along the before at a shady road stop before we eventually make our way to Warm Springs, Virginia to check into the Warm Springs Inn. Across the street from the Inn we’ll take a well deserved post ride dip in the natural hot springs of Jefferson Pools.

The legendary Jefferson Pools are the cream of the crop of Virginia hot springs and have drawn visitors from across the country for centuries. The pools are named for Thomas Jefferson, who sojourned here in 1818 to spend three weeks relaxing within our Virginia mountain spa. Soaking in the Gentlemen’s Pool House three times a day, Jefferson proclaimed the spring waters to be “of the first merit.” Today you can follow in the footsteps of Jefferson and so many other renowned Americans by with an hour-long Jefferson Soak as part of your tour with Shenandoah bike tour with Lizard Hgead Cycling Guides.

Shenandoah Bike Tour, Goshen Pass in autumn

Goshen Pass in autumn

Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs, Virginia

Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs, Virginia

Warm Springs Inn - Warm Springs, Virginia

Warm Springs Inn – Warm Springs, Virginia

Elevation Profile: +3412 ft / -2909 ft

Elevation Profile: +3410 ft / -2910 ft

Day 4: Spruce Knob – The Highest Peak in West Virginia!
Standard: 50 to 60-miles with up to 5,000 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 90-miles with up to 8,400 feet of climbing

With up to a total of nearly 90-miles in distance, over 8,000′ of climbing and the highest elevation of the tour at 4,863 feet, today is certainly the queen stage!

Starting out along remote rural roads, we will cross from Virginia into West Virginia through spectacular valleys. Yes, it will be a long and tough day, but you will be rewarded with a spectacular view from the top of Spruce Knob (and, of course, lunch!), the highest point in the state of West Virginia with a 4,863-foot summit. Following a fast descent down Spruce Knob, we will climb our way up the western slope of the Allegheny Mountains and into the North Fork Mountain Range. We then cross over to Smoke Hole Canyon via remote and nearly car free back country roads to find our lodging – the North Fork Mountain Inn – a quiet luxury oasis in an idyllic location which will be our home for the next two nights.

View from Spruce Knob

View from Spruce Knob

Autumn in Appalacia

Autumn in Appalacia

North Fork Mountain Inn

North Fork Mountain Inn

Elevation Profile: +8370 ft / -8998 ft

Elevation Profile: +8370 ft / -8995 ft

Day 5: Layover Day – Smoke Hole Canyon Loop
41-miles with up to 2,900 feet of climbing

On this layover day, take a scenic and leisurely 41-mile loop ride from the North Fork Mountain Inn through the town of Petersburg, WV and then to Smoke Hole Canyon – a rugged 20-mile long gorge carved by the South Branch of the Potomac River in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia.

The origin of the name “Smoke Hole” is uncertain. Popular (and plausible) explanations include the claim that Native Americans used the caves of the gorge for smoking meat. It has also been noted that a misty fog often lies along the river and ascends, thus evoking a “smoky hole”. Another story is that the fires of moonshiner’s stills gave the gorge its name. What ever the origin, this will be a very scenic route and a perfect way to unwind after yesterdays’ long ride. We will plan to have lunch at the end of the ride back at the inn.

In the afternoon there will be an optional hike from the inn up the North Fork Mountain Trail to the top of the ridge line offering spectacular views of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area and West Virginia.

Smoke Hole

Smoke Hole

Road through Smoke Hole Canyon

Road through Smoke Hole Canyon

Smoke Hole Canyon

Smoke Hole Canyon

Elevation Profile: +2908 ft / -2900 ft

Elevation Profile: +2900 ft / -2900 ft

Day 6: Lost River State Park
45-miles with up to 3,615 feet of climbing

From the North Fork Mountain Inn we shuttle to the tiny hamlet of Needmore, West Virginia, to start our final ride of the tour. Today’s route meanders through Lost River State Park, past lush meadows along quiet roads, through George Washington National Forest, and then back into Virginia finishing along rolling terrain into the heart of the Shenandoah Valley to end at Shenandoah Vineyards. At Shenandoah Vineyards we will enjoy lunch and wine tasting to wrap up our tour. After lunch, we will load the bikes and head back to our meeting hotel near Dulles International Airport to end the tour.

Well done! 😀

Lost River State Park

Lost River State Park

Quiet back country roads

Quiet back country roads

Elevation Profile: +3615 ft / -4165 ft

Shenandoah Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs

Bike Shipping

Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.

Meals on the Tour of the Shenandoah
Most meals (aside from two) from lunch on the tour’s first day (Sunday) through breakfast on departure day are included. The exceptions are that guests are own their own for meals on the layover day in Hot Springs. In total 5 dinners, 6 breakfasts and 6 lunches are included.

Breakfasts and dinners are in restaurants where clients either order off the menu or choose from a buffet. Fresh lunches that include salads, local fruit, vegetables and meats are served in roadside parks by the Lizard Head Cycling Guides. Any dietary preferences or allergies should be noted on the registration form. Each of Lizard Head Cycling’s lunches contains gluten free options.

If on any given night a guest is tired or not feeling particularly social, they can choose to eat early and retire. Lizard Head Cycling enjoys hosting its guests for meals each evening, but understands some of us may just need to lie down after a day in the saddle. A meal should not feel like marathon after a big day on the bike.

Ride Difficulty
Due to the mountainous terrain, the Tour of the Shenandoah is designed for upper intermediate to advanced cyclists. Each day there are additional mileage options for advanced riders.

Tour Support
A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment supports Lizard Head Cycling’s tours. Cyclists keep a day bag that is accessible within the support vehicle.

The vehicle will sag and then pass riders to set up aid stations every 20 to 25 miles. This allows cyclists to linger at the back and then take a ten-mile, fifteen-mile or whatever mile “bump” forward to catch-up or get ahead of the group. Energy food, drink mixes, and fresh fruit are available throughout each stage.

The Daily Schedule
Cyclists ride their own pace. Lizard Head Cycling does its best to support riders in their varying desires and efforts. Cyclists can either use our tours to simply support their tour experience or to engage in a guided experience along the route.

Cue sheets with directions, profiles and locations of aid stations are given out for each stage.

General Tour & Cancellation Policies

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.

Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling Guides highly recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through MH Ross Travel Insurance. A policy can be purchased individually through the sales link below or Lizard Head Cycling Guides can also set-up a policy for its clients.

The estimated cost for a 50-year old buying insurance for a $2,500 tour ranges from $100 (standard plan) to about $200 (cancel for any reason plan).

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Custom Sales Portal Link is:

  • The best options for our clients are either the Asset or Bridge plans.
  • The Asset-Plus & Complete plans both include a Cancel-For-Any-Reason option.
    • As a result these plans cost more.
    • The Cancel-for-Any-Reason option is only available when insurance is purchased within two weeks of initial deposit.