September in Pocahontas County, W.Va., promises to be a brilliant example of why so many people sing: “Almost heaven, West Virginia…”
Given its mountainous terrain, Pocahontas County has world-class venues for mountain biking. Snowshoe Mountain Resort will host the 2019 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Finals, Sept. 6 through 8. With an elevation topping 4,800 feet, the Pocahontas County mountain resort was chosen as the final leg of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) downhill mountain biking world cup.
This prestigious mountain bike race series will bring the world’s best downhill mountain bikers to a U.S. mountain for the first time in nearly a decade. Along with the races, the event festivities will include concerts and mountaintop fireworks on Saturday.
Cycling for non-competitors
Not everyone wants to compete in a world cup race. Some folks just want to enjoy a ride in the woods, and Pocahontas County offers some epic ones. The whole family can enjoy a ride through the Greenbrier River Trail State Park. The Greenbrier River Trail, a 78-mile rail trail operated by the West Virginia State Park system, offers an exciting but accessible venue for bicycling, backpacking, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. A packed, crushed run surface coupled with a gentle 1% grade and double-track width creates an ease of riding that enables cyclists to enjoy the many breathtaking views. The trail closely parallels the Greenbrier River, offering countless opportunities for swimming and fishing.
“It’s firm, flat, even and good for novices and seniors,” said Jody Spencer, the trail’s superintendent. “The trail is well-suited for comfort-style biking, with wider tires.”
Cyclists can also enjoy leisurely rides around the Green Bank Observatory, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, according to “Air & Space” magazine. A network of green trails weaves along and underneath the telescope. After exploring the trails, visitors can take a Telescope Tour and explore the Green Bank Science Center.
For something a bit more challenging, go off-road mountain biking along the Highland Scenic Highway, Route 150. The 28-mile, high-elevation route climbs to 4,545 feet as it crosses Black Mountain and has numerous side trails leading into the Monongahela National Forest wildlands.
More than bicycles on the road
All of that bicycling can build an appetite for good food, and Marlinton is home to one of this nation’s more unique culinary events, the West Virginia Roadkill Cook-off! A highlight of the annual Autumn Harvest Festival, to be held this year on Sept. 28, the cook-off mixes culinary skill and creativity with a strong dash of self-deprecation and a large serving of antic good humor. The cook-off is a good-natured feature of the festival’s celebration of Allegheny mountain culture.
The question most commonly heard at the Cook-off is: “But, do they actually use road killed animals?” The Cook-off’s official rules state: “All entries must have, as their featured ingredient, any animal commonly found dead on the side of the road…Cooks will sign a statement certifying their product is 25 percent wild game.”
Nothing there about “manner of death.” Regardless, many festival-goers queue up for 2-ounce samples of the entries. From kids in carriers to seniors looking for a taste of nostalgia; Carhartt and ball-capped locals and overly outfitted visitors, the crowds may explore “Bear Butt Savory Stew,” “Wild Fowl Menagerie,” or “Drunken Deer Chili with Ramped Up Rice.”
Along with the comedy, many of the dishes are an homage to traditional Appalachian mountain cuisine. “…What we are trying to do is pass down to our children and grandchildren how the women of Appalachia cooked,” said Rachel Dickenson, one of the members of the Ridge Runners, past cook-off champions. “Our mothers and grandmothers passed this down to us … We love to let the public taste the things that we grew up with, and we love that everyone enjoys the foods we cook.”
For more information:
Pocahontas County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 304-799-4636, pocahontascountywv.com
Snowshoe Mountain Resort, 877-441-4386, snowshoemtn.com
Reed Hellman is a professional writer living in Alberton, Md. Email your questions and comments to RHWay2Go@yahoo.com.