Fat Tire Fall: a mountain biker pedals in front of a backdrop of changing leaves. 

Finish Lines Under Foliage, The Most Colorful Races in the Blue Ridge 

The onset of fall is prime time to race. The air is crisp and the trees are beaming with crimson, orange, and gold. Grease your chain or lace up your running kicks and toe the line with the autumn breeze at your back.

Rotor Meltdown Mountain Bike Race: Roanoke, Va. • October 13 

The fall splendor of the Roanoke Valley might be your only solace as your quads start screaming at this race that’s billed as “not for sissies.” At the Rotor Meltdown riders cover 33 miles of trails at the epic 12,000-plus-acre Carvins Cove Natural Reserve. You’ll gain 4,000 feet as you wind through a mountain maze of choice singletrack, including notable stretches on the Gauntlet and Arrowhead. A shorter 12-mile course option will also be offered. mountainjunkies.net 

Charlottesville Fall Classic Half Marathon and 10K: Charlottesville, Va •  October 20 

You’re in luck if Wednesday is liver and lima beans night at your house. Skip dinner and head to Forest Hill Park for some post-work big wheel racing. Richmond’s urban singletrack is mellow and flowy, so even if you’re new to racing you won’t be too far from the pack. Plus, the loop-course races only last about 45 minutes, so the rides are more than attainable for newbies. Cyclocross races will also be taking place. runriderace.com 

Rogue Runner Virginia: Amissville, Va. • October 20 

Held among the Shenandoah shadows on Battle Mountain—the site of a notable Civil War clash—the Rogue is a 10K adventure run that will lace its course with two dozen obstacles to stump racers with plenty of unique challenges. While slogging through a mix of wooded singletrack and open pastures with a handful of hearty climbs, runners will be forced to crawl under barbed wire, jump into icy water, scale walls, and navigate tire mazes. If you reside down south, a Rogue Runner Georgia race will take place on November 3 at Pyne Road Park in LaGrange. roguerunnerrace.com  

Spin for Kids: Rutledge, Ga. •  October 20-21  

At this weekend-long bike event, pedaling has a purpose, as all entry fee proceeds benefit Camp Twin Lakes—a camp for kids with serious illnesses and disabilities. Designed to offer rides for all skill levels and abilities, Saturday is devoted to fat tire fanatics with organized rides between eight and 20 miles on the windy singletrack of Fort Yargo State Park. Then on Sunday it’s all about touring the back roads of North Georgia with a handful of cycling options between five and 100 miles that will roll through scenic rural countryside and a few small towns. spinforkids.org

Run around the Gorge

Runners will get their fix when they head to West Virginia’s big canyon for this two-day trail running stage race that’s also paired with a relaxing fall getaway. Over the weekend, runners will cover 40 miles on the winding trails of the New River Gorge during peak foliage season. The price of admission ($350) includes race entry, as well as two nights in a cabin and six catered meals. runaroundthegorge.com    

Flint Ridge Fall 5-Miler: Wesser, N.C. •  October 27  

This hearty five-mile trail run on the Flint Ridge Trail features plenty of switchbacks, but you can take your mind off all of that huffing and puffing by checking out the bursts of foliage happening in the surrounding Nantahala River Gorge. Plus, after the race an Octoberfest will be raging back at the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Wesser campus, so you can reward your running efforts with a frosty dark larger. noc.com 

Ridge to Bridge Marathon: Morganton, N.C. • October 27

Word is out about the Ridge to Bridge. The fast and friendly foothills marathon had the fourth highest percentage of Boston qualifiers last year, making it a recent top choice for runners looking to post a PR. After a rolling start, you can pick up some serious time through a gradual nine-mile descent on back roads adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest. With plenty of mountaintop views and a drop into the stunning Wilson Creek Gorge, deep fall hues should be in full effect as runners complete 26.2 miles against the sprawling Blue Ridge backdrop. Currently the race is full, but organizers insist that most people who join the waiting list eventually get a bib number. my-bmrc.org  

Swank 65 MTB: Pisgah National Forest, N.C. • November 11

Gotta love a race that brands itself “mountain bike racing at its most primeval, far removed from civilization and polluted air.” Good thing, as you’ll definitely need all the lung power you can muster for 65 miles of sadistically sweet Pisgah singletrack. The epic course consists of three clover-shaped loops that wind around Gloucester Gap and feature some of the region’s toughest trails, including the steep climbs of the extremely technical Farlow Gap and boulder hopping on Pilot Rock. blueridgeadventures.net