Those who live in or around Harrisonburg, Virginia know that it is a town with a prominent and growing bike community. Many of the roads around the community are currently being expanded to include a bike route for students heading to class at James Madison University and for the thousands of bikers who are on their way to some of the best biking areas on the East Coast. One figure who has played a huge role in this ever-developing bike community is Kyle Lawrence.
Kyle is currently the president of the Shenandoah Valley Bike Coalition (SVBC). Here, they strive to improve all types of cycling in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County by building trails, pushing the city to build bike lanes, and doing various bike community building events. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kyle and discuss everything from his favorite trails to favorite foods and compiled a list of 10 things you never knew about Kyle.
- He works at the SBC. No, not the SVBC where Kyle is president, but the Shenandoah Bike Company which has no connection to SVBC except for their love to ride. The Shenandoah Bike Company is one of the four Harrisonburg’s local bike shops. For ten years, Kyle has been doing “a little bit of everything” at the store.
- Kyle is an alum of James Madison University. About ten years ago, Kyle graduated with a degree in history. Historically, he had been working for the bike company for a few years so he saw fit to continue working there after graduation and live in the community.
- While a student, Kyle planned and put on four different mountain bike events. He immediately got involved with the JMU cycling club as a freshmen and was quickly plugged into community events through this club and the bike coalition. Kyle and the cycling club planned three mountain bike races at Massanutten as well as a hill climb to the top of Reddish Knob.
- Biking wasn’t always Kyle’s niche. Before joining the cycling club and having endless opportunities to ride at JMU, Kyle lived in Fairfax, Virginia where he rode bikes some, but really found his passion riding once he lived in Harrisonburg. “Not only is this a fantastic location to ride roads or trails, but the people in the community really make it great,” Kyle says.
- The northern territory of George Washington National Forest is his favorite place to ride. The Lee Ranger District lies at the northern most part of George Washington National Forest and has amazing trails for hiking and biking. Being so close to Harrisonburg and having amazing bike trails, Kyle finds this to be his favorite area to ride in all of Virginia.
- Besides biking, camping is Kyle’s favorite outdoor activity. Bike camping, car camping, backpacking, and any other forms of camping attracts Kyle. His favorite places to camp are at the top of Shenandoah Mountain which borders Virginia & West Virginia and at Fridley Gap which is a hike with ridge climbs, gentle streams, and a refreshing swimming hole.
- Kyle’s longest time riding a bike was 19 hours. This big loop took Kyle almost a full day to ride. When I asked him why he did it, he told me that it was because this trail was just begging to be ridden. The furthest Kyle has ever ridden was 190 miles of road biking that he successfully completed last week.
- He has found a dead body at the head of the trail. About to embark on a harmless trail ride, Kyle stopped breathless in his tracks when he saw a trash bag with two legs hanging out. Before going to find help and call the police, he got a little closer to see that it was a dead bear that someone had shaved all the hair off its legs and improperly disposed of.
- He eats. He eats A LOT. When you ride 190 miles in one day, your body burns calories faster than you have a chance to consume them. So Kyle has to eat a lot of food, even when he doesn’t want to. His favorite food is an egg and cheese sandwich with fresh avocado and pesto.
- After ten plus years in Harrisonburg, Kyle is still blown away by the town. Founded over 100 years ago, Harrisonburg has an abundance of roads and new ones are continuing to pop up. Kyle is grateful that he can grab breakfast and coffee downtown and ride a few miles out to be emerged into the rolling hills and green fields of the countryside. There are so many roads he has explored on his bike yet there are still so many more that he enthusiastically waits to explore. With plenty of roads, trails, and open space Harrisonburg is the perfect destination for road and mountain bikers who are looking for a beautiful country town with passionate bikers like Kyle Lawrence.