Ever ridden a bike through snow? Here’s how.

Why hibernate when you can play outdoors instead? This winter, give “fat bikes” a spin!

Reinventing the wheel

As you might have guessed, not every bicycle can handle snow. You’ll need a fat bike.

Don’t let the name fool you. Goofy monniker aside, these beasts are pretty tough. They resemble mountain bikes in every way, with the exception of the tires. Wide and textured, “fatties” are hard to miss. Some are twice the size of a typical mountain bike tire. Their eccentric looks aren’t just for show, though. Fat bikes have lots of perks.

Traction is their biggest benefit. They have superior grip— just what you need for snow, slush, and ice. What’s more, wide tires don’t “sink” as much as narrow ones. You’ll feel like you’re floating above the terrain instead.

Fat bikes are also versatile. Snow aside, you can take them over sand, rocks, and mud. If speed isn’t a priority, you might be tempted to keep these machines going all year!

Oh what fun it is to ride

Snow and bikes? The combination seems unlikely. But in the past few years, winter riding has gained lots of traction.

For one thing, snow makes old paths seem new. Favorite summer trails transform into magical winter wonderlands, seemingly overnight. There’s nothing like pulling over and savoring the silence of a frosted meadow or forest.

For another, low-pressure fat tires make riding fun. They’re bouncy and floaty— and much more entertaining than cycling at the gym. If you’re looking for a refreshing alternative, this is a great option.

Saddle up

You can easily write a book about riding techniques. However, if you’ve never ridden in snow before, these rules of thumb will help.

  • Keep your hips slightly behind the saddle and your heels down. That way, it’s harder to tumble forward if the front wheel slips.
  • Extra weight over the back wheel improves traction. When possible, try to remain in the saddle.
  • When approaching a curve, keep your knees loose. Doing so improves reaction time if your bike loses traction.

Handy gear

Old Man Winter is cold. You know that. Still, riding through snow can be miserable if you’re not prepared.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Wear layers
  • Get wind-blocking gloves and foot covers
  • Stock up on air-activated warmers for hands and feet
  • Prevent snow glare with a pair of sunglasses
  • Replace metal pedals with plastic; it’s harder for ice and snow to accumulate on them

For long backcountry rides, bring a friend and emergency equipment. A pocket knife, lighter, and space blanket are essential. Of course, these suggestions are just starting points. Do all the research you can before hitting the trail.

Ask the experts

Now for the fun part: shopping! The New River Gorge, renowned for its spectacular trails and outdoor recreation, has lots of resources. Check out Marathon Bicycle Company and Arrowhead Bike Farm in Fayetteville; both have everything you need to get riding. Once you’re outfitted, hit the Arrowhead Trails for a fun-filled ride!

Good luck and have fun!

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Eat, drink, and be merry: your indoor adventure guide

Need a little break between hikes? Jump off the couch and join us for edible, drinkable, and “cosmic” exploration!

A slice above the rest

There’s pizza, and then there’s artisan pizza. Pies & Pints in Fayetteville cooks with style— and the results are not only innovative but also delicious.

Bite into a slice of:

  • Cuban Pork: an exotic pizza with slow-roasted pork, caramelized onions, fresh pineapple, jalapenos, feta, cilantro, and creme fraiche
  • Grape & Gorgonzola: a sweet-and-salty pie with red grapes, fresh rosemary, and Gorgonzola cheese
  • Black Bean: a bold, vibrant pizza with seasoned beans, jalapenos, cheddar, salsa, cilantro, and creme fraiche
  • Sriracha Shrimp: a festive creation with sriracha-marinated shrimp, garlic, red onions, fresh pineapple, scallions, basil, mint, cilantro, and sriracha aioli

That’s just the beginning. Fancy ingredients don’t hide flavorless crusts, either; homemade dough gives every pie a solid foundation. Dig in!

Bridge Brew Works

WV beer

With nature as your muse, why settle for business as usual? That’s the spirit behind Bridge Brew Works, a Fayetteville microbrewery with bold, memorable IPAs, stouts, and lagers.

For an adventurous twist to your day, visit the brewery! As you’ll discover, most beers are inspired by the New River Gorge. The names might escape you unless you’re a local, though, so here’s a guide:

  • The Blunt: named after a trick performed on whitewater waves, this amber ale splashes the palate with hints of Spanish cedar. Bottles only.
  • Long Point Lager: a hoppy, crisp brew named after a popular New River Gorge trail. Available all year. Draught only.
  • Crux Kölsch: a “crux” is the most difficult part of a mountain climb, and the Gorge’s sandstone cliffs have plenty of climbing routes! This German-style beer has a spicy finish. Seasonal.
  • Black Diamond Lager: inspired by the region’s challenging ski slopes, this dark beer tantalizes your senses with hints of chocolate. Seasonal (draught only).
  • 3 River Tripel: a creamy, slightly fruity brew that commemorates the Gorge’s rivers: the New, Gauley, and Bluestone. Limited availability.

Bridge Brew Works has more brews in its lineup, too. The brewery is open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. and Fridays-Saturdays from 1-6 p.m.

Secret Sandwich Society

Think sandwiches are only for lunchboxes? Fayetteville’s popular eatery is a transformative experience. Using homemade, fresh ingredients, cooks at Secret Sandwich Society glamorize this humble meal.

Look forward to creations like:

  • Eagle: a burger layered with an over-easy egg, mortadella, garlic mayonnaise, pickles, crispy onions, and American cheese.
  • Washington: a toasted baguette with ham, green apples, white cheddar, and rosemary mayonnaise.
  • Fillmore: a savory fried eggplant sandwich with onions, spicy cherry peppers, provolone, garlic mayo, and greens on a toasted baguette.

Secret Sandwich Society makes all of its sauces— including ketchup and mayonnaise— on site, too.

Pinheads

If there’s such a thing as fancy bowling, this one qualifies. Pinheads in Oak Hill is sleek, bright, and modern. Even the meals are surprising; you can order Southwest chicken eggrolls, pizzas, and calzone-style “muffins,” among others. Thirsty after a duel with your buddies? Pinheads has an enormous selection of bottled beer— almost 100 options. They also serve beer on tap, soda, and refrigerated drinks.

But if there’s one thing that makes Pinheads stand out, it’s cosmic bowling. Every Friday and Saturday night, the lanes glow in the dark. Separate times for families and adults ensure everybody has a good time, too.

Epic Escape Game: New River Gorge

Fayetteville’s “locked-room” adventures will keep you entertained through winter. In fact, you’ll probably need to come back multiple times— the plots are that engaging!

Here’s what’s happening at Epic Escape Game: New River Gorge:

  • Runaway Train (easy): your speeding locomotive is running out of track. Can you find all the clues and stop the train before time’s up?
  • Mothman (intermediate): a storm traps you in the legendary monster’s lair. You have an hour before the Mothman returns.
  • Brave New World (hard): a nuclear missile is fueling, and it’s pointed at the United States. Fortunately, your friend has the cancellation codes in his cabin. Locate them before disaster strikes— literally!

You don’t need any experience to play these games. Just bring your wits (or your smart buddies) and let the countdown begin!

Have fun! What indoor adventure are you going to try this winter?

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A tribute to the father of Bridge Day

Saturday, October 21 marked another glorious Bridge Day. Hundreds of BASE jumpers and rappellers came from around the country, as did thousands of sightseers.

It was a poignant moment, too. Burton Ervin— the first man to parachute from the New River Gorge Bridge— died days before the festival.

Here is a tribute to this BASE jumping pioneer.

A leap of faith

On August 17, 1979, Burton Ervin made history. At the time, people thought he was a goner, too. But the Army veteran ignored their doubts. He knew it was possible to parachute from the New River Gorge Bridge. And the Webster County native wanted to be the first to do it.

BASE jumping during the 1970s was exotic. Most people had never heard of such a thing, much less contemplated it. The 876-foot-drop wasn’t just another stunt, either. Locals and parachutists alike thought the bridge was lethal. Height aside, Ervin would have to avoid turbulent rapids and angular boulders.

Nevertheless, he had faith in his calculations. Bolstered by that American “can-do” spirit, the mine foreman took the plunge at 10:20 p.m on August 17. The inky night engulfed him, obscuring the black river beneath his boots. Approximately 200 locals watched him from the shoreline. Some held spotlights. Most held their breath. To their amazement and relief, Ervin emerged from the darkness— intact and victorious.

How a festival was won

It wasn’t long before other daredevils wanted to leap from the New River Gorge Bridge, too. The height and exhilarating scenery made it irresistible.

That’s when Ervin thought about having a BASE jumping festival. As he saw it, the event would encourage legal parachuting. The local authorities must have been swayed. A year later, the Fayette Chamber of Commerce founded the first-ever Bridge Day. The 1980 ceremony began with 2 skydivers and ended with 5 BASE jumpers. Eccentric and thrilling, Bridge Day captured America’s attention.

Bridge Day today

Since then, BASE jumping has gone further than Ervin probably imagined. Roughly 400 parachutists glide from the bridge every year. Hundreds of rappellers tackle the immense bridge while tens of thousands of mesmerized spectators watch. Thanks to Ervin, Bridge Day has become West Virginia’s largest single-day festival— and one of America’s most unique events.
We only wish he could have celebrated with us this year. The 82-year-old veteran died 2 days short of the New River Gorge Bridge’s 40th anniversary.

Rest in peace, Erwin. May you continue to soar.

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The New River Gorge Bridge’s 40th birthday party – and you’re invited!

Every Bridge Day festival seems to be better than the last. But this year, the New River Gorge Bridge’s 40th anniversary celebration adds to the excitement. Find out what inspired the original event— and what’s going on for the party.

How it all began

On Oct. 22, 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge opened to traffic. It was an achievement by anyone’s standards. Graceful yet sturdy, the span broke engineering records. It’s the Western Hemisphere’s longest steel-arch bridge (3,030 feet) and America’s second highest (876 feet). But that’s just the beginning.

The New River Gorge Bridge isn’t on flat ground. Quite the opposite. It straddles a wild river valley that’s nearly 1,000 feet deep. Imagine tackling a project like that! What Ginger Rogers did for dancing (backwards and in high heels), the New River Gorge Bridge did for engineering.

Drivers had another reason to rejoice. Before 1977, the river valley forced people to take a 45-minute route. Winter made commutes even longer. The New River Gorge Bridge changed everything. Smooth and quick, it replaces mountain roads with a 60-second crossing.

Now that’s worth celebrating!

Bridge Day history

In fact, that’s what happened: a festival. The very first Bridge Day launched in 1980. Back then, it featured 2 skydivers, 5 BASE jumpers and commemorative certificates to anybody who crossed the span.

The event has grown ever since. BASE jumpers and rappellers number in the hundreds, while sightseers tally by the thousands. It’s one of America’s most unique, dramatic festivals.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s happened over the years:

  • World’s longest bungee jump from a fixed position: Chris Allum tackled this feat in 1992 (although bungee jumping is no longer allowed).
  • World’s biggest simultaneous BASE jump: In 1998, a dozen parachutists (followed by 4 others) broke the standing record.
  • First high line from the bridge: Since 2002, anybody brave enough can zip line from the catwalk. Interested? High line tickets are available.

The 40th anniversary celebration promises to be a historic occasion, too!

40th anniversary celebration

This year’s Bridge Day— Oct. 21, 2017— marks a significant milestone for the New River Gorge. To celebrate, Governor Jim Justice will visit at 11 a.m. for a special presentation. His talk will be an addition to regular festival events.

What’s more, Sweet T’s Bake Shop from Fayetteville will serve 1,000 free cupcakes! You won’t want to miss these iced wonders. Tandy Dempsey and her crew have a loyal following for their homemade treats.

“We are very excited to share our goodies on the bridge’s birthday,” said Dempsey.

So now you have even more reasons to come for Bridge Day! What do you hope to see or do during the festival?

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1 event, 13 restaurants: Taste of Bridge Day

What’s better than a buffet? Taste of Bridge Day, where top dishes from local restaurants are yours to enjoy! Here’s your preview to who’s cooking and what’s playing on Bridge Day eve.

What’s on the menu

It’s Friday night, right before the festival. What better way to celebrate than with a feast? That’s the spirit behind Taste of Bridge Day, held at Adventures on the Gorge in Lansing.

This year’s lineup includes:

  • Chetty’s Pub— Appalachian-inspired comfort food that’s imaginative and hearty
  • Woody’s— Award-winning wood-fired pizzas and specialty sandwiches
  • Cafe 110— Comforting West Virginia favorites
  • Gumbo’s— Zesty Louisiana and Cajun classics
  • Dobra Zupas— Artisan cuisine that’s seasonal and inspirational
  • Sweet T’s Bake Shop— Homemade treats, from pastries to cupcakes

… and much more! In fact, you’ll have to pick from 13 restaurants (tip: bring an appetite, preferably stoked by rafting or hiking). Taste of Bridge Day will also serve wine and craft beer. Bottoms up!

But let’s be honest: the food is the best part. Look forward to appetizers like crawfish etouffee and white bean chicken chili, paired with BBQ West Virginia-style baloney sliders. Other highlights include chicken French medallions, orecchiette pasta and bacon-and-blue stuffed potato pave.

Dessert is no slouch, either. Cinnamon rolls, spicy peach bread pudding and New York-style cheesecake are just the beginning. Pace yourself accordingly.

Entertainment

Taste of Bridge Day isn’t just an upscale sampling of the region’s best food. It’s also a relaxing event with gorgeous scenery, live music and vendors.

Location really sets it apart. Set above trees, the venue overlooks incredible mountain scenery. Watch as dusk settles over the colorful New River Gorge. It’s a delightful way to enjoy dinner with your family.

Live music also sets the mood. As you dine, listen to Common Houses, an acoustic band specializing in pop, bluegrass, and rock. Taste of Bridge Day will also host Danny Cooper, a talented bassist.

Taste of Bridge Day has lots of activities, too. New for this year is the “kids’ zone,” where families can dine or play. Enchant your tots with putt putt, face painting, super hero appearances and balloon art. Teenagers and adults can also shop for local artwork.

How it works

Hungry? Taste of Bridge Day is free to visit, but for dinner, you’ll need tasting tickets. Get them online, at the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce or at the event.

Tasting tickets are sold in $10 increments, with meal samples ranging from $1 to $7. Proceeds go towards Just For Kids, a charity for children.

Taste of Bridge Day is Oct. 20 from 5-9 p.m.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite Taste of Bridge Day dish?

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