A pair of local cyclists launched a new website dedicated to promoting gravel cycling in Tennessee's Southern Blue Ridge Mountains (east of Chattanooga and south of the Smoky Mountains). The new website, TennesseeGravel.com, showcases a wide variety of ways to enjoy the beautiful backroads in and around the Cherokee National Forest, from simple day trips to overnight bikepacking adventures to bike races and events.
Riding gravel roads is arguably the hottest trend in cycling currently, and the website's authors, Kim Murrell and Shannon Burke of Velo View Bike Tours, believe the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains offer some of the best gravel cycling in the eastern U.S.
"You will be hard-pressed to find a more gorgeous place to ride, with this many miles of gravel and with this much challenge, anywhere else east of the Mississippi River," said Mr. Burke.
While bicycle tourism is big business (a 2017 study by the Outdoor Industry Association found that bicycle tourists spent $83 billion in communities throughout the U.S.), the physical impact bicycle tourism has on cycling destinations is negligible since the roads are already in place. With no effort required other than letting cyclists know where to ride and where to find dining, lodging, shopping, etc., courting bicycle tourists is a winning economic development strategy for rural communities blessed with beautiful natural amenities, according to Burke. The hope with the new Tennessee Gravel website is that it will bring tourist dollars to the region while also helping visitors appreciate the gorgeous landscape of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.
For more details about gravel cycling in the region, visit TennesseeGravel.com.