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Get Outside Weekend Update -- 7/24-27

Festivals, Events, & Outings

Thursday, July 24

Friday, July 25

Saturday, July 26

Sunday, July 27

Monday, July 28

Tuesday, July 29

Wednesday, July 30

Thursday, July 31

For even more events visit the Roanoke Outside calendar

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Pete's Pick: Cooking in the Outdoors

Learn How to Cook in the OutdoorsAfter posting last week’s story Camping and Paddling the James River, it dawned on me that we share a lot of tips on how to get outside and what to do once you’re out there, but we seem to overlook one of the most critical components of any successful overnight trip: eating.

Whether you cook on a stove, over an open fire, or you bring along the charcoal grill, nothing seems to beat a meal cooked outside. From getting the fire started, to improvising because you forgot a key ingredient, to great conversation, to being the one who doesn’t have to wash the dishes, there’s something special about the experience. But it can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience camp cooking. It takes more planning, more time, more patience, and more ingenuity than kitchen cooking, but thanks to Walkabout Outfitter you can become a campfire chef in a few short hours.

Join Walkabout Outfitter staff this Saturday (7/26) at their Valley View Mall location for their new “Cooking in the Outdoors” class. You’ll get the opportunity to play around with three different stoves as you learn to prepare pad Thai, stroganoff, spaghetti, and hurried curry.  Afterward you’ll be ready to tackle an overnight backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.

Happy cooking!

Pete Eshelman (friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter)
Director of Outdoor Branding
Roanoke Regional Partnership

Check out the Outdoor Calendar for upcoming events
you need to keep your eye on!

 

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Save the Date: Radical Reels Film Fest & Expo

Radical Reels Film Fest and ExpoSave the date adventure seekers; the 2014 Radical Reels Film Festival & Get Outside Expo is coming to Roanoke on September 10.

Every year, the biggest, baddest, most outrageous outdoor films are showcased at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The best of those mountain films - the best of the best, if you will - are then taken on tour around the country and showcased to local audiences. Roanoke Outside is proud to bring the Radical Reels Tour to Roanoke and expose our outdoor junkies to a wide range of adventures big and small. The films will include all manner of sports from the hardcore extreme (big mountain climbing, wingsuits), to weekend warrior mini-adventures (paddling, mountain biking). 

This year's film festival will take place at the Jefferson Theater and will also include the Get Outside Expo. The expo will feature local outfitters, stores, non-profits, and volunteer groups showcasing what they do and is a great opportunity to meet the people who keep our outdoors community moving in the right direction. 

If you are interested in being a vendor at the expo, there is limited space available. Email Pete Eshelman for an application.

In the meantime, check out the 2014 trailer:

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Two Biking Events to Test Your Endurance

Star City Vicious RandonneeTwo upcoming endurance biking events in the Roanoke Region aim to test your endurance in the saddle. If you think you have the steeliest legs in the valley, here is the chance to prove it. Plus, both events are free, so it won't cost you anything to become the endurance king of roanoke. 

The first is coming up this weekend, so you better get ready quick. On Sunday, July 27 Virginia Endurance Series Event #8 will challenge you to ride "The Gamut," every trail in the Carvins Cove singletrack system in a single day. We are talking about 43+ miles of trail that includes a heck of a lot of climbing. Very few people have completed The Gamut, but if you are up for the challenge, meet at the Bennett Springs parking area at 9 a.m. 

The second upcoming biking endurance challenge is billed as the "toughest group road ride in the history Virginia." The Star City Vicious Randonnee will take place Sunday August 10. A traditional randonnee is a self-supported distance ride over various surfaces like pavement, gravel, and even dirt. The Star City Vicious will feature six different routes of varying distances from 12 to 115 miles. The capstone Suiride Route features over 15,000 feet of climbing, with 15 rated climbs, over its 115-mile length. It's no surprise that only two riders have ever finished the Suiride. If you want to join the list, show up at East Coasters Bike Shop on Brambleton Ave. at 8:30 a.m. 

Find out more about these two races >>>

Good luck!

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New Program Bringing Solar to Roanoke

Solarize RoanokeYou may see more solar panels going up on roof-tops throughout the City of Roanoke due to the new Solarize Roanoke program.

The program is a partnership between the City of Roanoke, Community Housing Partners (CHP), local solar installers, Freedom First Credit Union, and local community members, and is designed to make solar energy affordable and accessible to homeowners. The basic premise is that when people sign up for the program, they get a free assessment of their solar needs and capacity then are able to purchase a system through the program at a discount and install the panels through a local contractor. 

For more details on the Solarize Roanoke initiative, check out the press release below and visit solarizeroanoke.org.

Press release:

Roanoke, VA - At a press conference earlier today, the city officially launched Solarize Roanoke, a program designed to make solar energy affordable and accessible to homeowners. Solarize Roanoke is a partnership between the City of Roanoke, Community Housing Partners, local solar installers, Freedom First Credit Union, and local community members. The program will run until Sept. 30. Homeowners living in the following zip codes are eligible to participate: 24011, 24012, 24013, 24014, 24015, 24016, 24017, 24018, and 24019.

In order to make solar cost competitive with standard electricity, Solarize Roanoke combines discounts on solar installations and a 30-percent federal tax credit with affordable long-term financing. The loan payments on a solar system for a typical house can be roughly equal to monthly electricity savings, meaning the overall cost of electricity changes very little, and homeowners are buffered from increases in electricity prices in the future.

When a homeowner is interested in going solar, Solarize Roanoke organizers first conduct a satellite site assessment to determine if the roof is a good candidate for solar panels - looking for orientation, trees and other obstructions. From there, a solar installer conducts a free solar site assessment to determine how large or small of a system is needed to provide power for the home and how much it costs.

The City of Roanoke offers a tax reduction in addition to the federal tax credits for all city residents purchasing solar equipment. By providing a bill of sale for properly installed solar equipment, a homeowner is eligible for a real estate property tax exemption for a portion of the purchase. This exemption is valid for five years thus adding to the homeowner's savings.

A recently concluded Solarize program in Blacksburg resulted in at least 50 solar contracts on homes. Other communities around the state have followed suit, including Richmond, Charlottesville, and Arlington County.

Solarize Roanoke is a key component of the city's wider efforts to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The public is invited to an event on Tuesday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. at Mountain View Recreation Center to learn more about the Solarize Roanoke Program; additional community meeting times are listed online at http://www.solarizeroanoke.org or http://www.facebook.com/solarizeroanoke.

For more information, contact Mason Cavell, program administrator for Solarize Roanoke at 540-267-6137, or by e-mail at mason@solarizeroanoke.org.

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Camping & Paddling The James River

“The mighty James River begins its majestic journey in Botetourt County, winding through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains on its way to the Chesapeake Bay. The unspoiled beauty of the river is more accessible than ever through the Upper James River Water Trail. Paddlers, anglers and families can get back to nature and enjoy the sights and sounds of 45 miles of the Upper James, including 14 pristine miles designated as a Virginia Scenic River. See the mountains like you've never seen them before on the Upper James River Water Trail.” – Stolen (with permission) directly from the Upper James River Water Trail website.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

 

I’ve been floating the James River for more than 20 years and every time I slide my boat into the water I’m reminded of how incredibly beautiful it is - it just doesn’t seem to get old. A few weeks ago I was talking about the river with some friends who told me they’ve never been on the James River before and I knew right then and there that it was my responsibility to change this travesty.

One of the many roles of Roanoke Outside is to make it easy for people to connect with the outdoors, so I approached the planning of this trip from the perspective of someone who has never been on the James River, let alone kayaked or canoed before. Our goal was a river trip, with a little camping thrown in for good measure, and a lot of fun.

First up, find an outfitter that could outfit us. That’s pretty easy. Twin River Outfitters, named for the twin owners John and Dan Mays, make it incredibly easy and simple. Spend a few minutes on their website www.canoevirginia.net and you’ll see that there are many options to choose from - day trips, overnight trips, and even tubing trips. If the many options start to overwhelm you, just give them a call and they’ll lay out the perfect trip for you.

  • Our Group:  Four couples (8 people) and two dogs.
  • Challenge:  Coordinating an easy meeting location with multiple arrival times.
  • Solution:  Called Twin River Outfitters – this is what they put together for us.

Friday Evening:  Twin River has a few campsites along the river that allow you to pick and choose from a variety of trip lengths.  We opted to camp at their Breeden Bottom Campground which is located in Arcadia, just off Exit 168 of I81.  The beauty of this campsite is that it is self-service.  You're sent driving directions (which couldn’t be more simple) and a code to the gate lock.  I shared this information with the group which made it simple for everyone to arrive on their own schedule.  The campground sits on one of the most beautiful pieces of land and the individual campsites are spaced out so much that you don’t see or hear your neighbors.  The campsites are rustic, but come with what you really need – picnic table, fire ring (with grill attachment), port-a-toilets, tent sites, private river access, and sheer beauty.  Some people camped in tents, some in hammocks, and some in their vans.

Saturday Morning:  After some breakfast burritos and coffee we piled into our van and drove 10 minutes upstream to the Twin River Outfitters outpost in the town of Buchanan. The staff greeted us, showed us a safety video, and then outfitted us with PFDs, paddles, dry bags for items that couldn’t get wet, maps, and kayaks.  Everyone opted for sit-on-top kayaks, which come with an area that you can store gear, coolers, etc.  The section of river we floated was the Buchanan to Arcadia trip, which is a six-mile float that would take about 3 hours depending on how fast, or slow, you paddled.  The beauty of this section was that we  started at the Twin River Outfitters headquarters and floated directly back to our campsite. 

Saturday Afternoon:  Twin River had instructed us to give them a call when we saw a big bridge over the river.  By the time we floated under the bridge and pulled the kayaks up to the campground take-out, they had arrived with a boat trailer.  They loaded up the gear, bid us adieu, and were gone.  We hung out by the river for another hour until someone suggested we move the party to Flying Mouse Brewery.  With no objection from the group, we loaded up and within 20 minutes were at the brewery.

Group consensus was that the trip couldn’t have been more perfect.

See you on the river!

Pete Eshelman
Roanoke Outside

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Get Outside Weekend Update -- 7/17-20

Festivals, Events, & Outings

Thursday, July 17

Friday, July 18

Saturday, July 19

Sunday, July 20

Monday, July 21

Tuesday, July 22

Wednesday, July 23

Thursday, July 24

For even more events visit the Roanoke Outside calendar

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Pete's Pick: Honor The Bike

Members of our local junior cycling team left this week for the USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships where they’ll represent the Roanoke Region as they ride head to head with the best youth mountain bikers in the United States.  In case you aren’t aware, there are some pretty talented riders that call Roanoke home.  We’ll probably see at least one of them riding the Tour de France one day. Follow their weekend-escapades on the USA Cycling website.

In honor of these cycling studs, Roanoke IMBA (RIMBA), local chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, is hosting a Mountain Bike Social this Saturday (7/19). You can join just for the ride, just for the social, or both. The social rides start at 10am at the Carvins Cove Bennett Springs parking lot and include a variety of skill-level rides led by ride leaders – this is a great opportunity to meet fellow riders and learn the trails.  RIMBA is also offering the “First 50 at Parkway”, which means the first 50 post-ride beers at Parkway Brewing Company are on the club (another great reason to join the club, and yes you can join onsite).  Rumor has it the club plans to host these Mountain Bike Socials on a monthly basis.

If you can’t join in on the Saturday fun, here is a list of local rides, places you can rent bikes, as well as bike shops that sell and service bikes.

Happy riding!

Pete Eshelman (friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter)
Director of Outdoor Branding
Roanoke Regional Partnership

Check out the Outdoor Calendar for upcoming events
you need to keep your eye on!

 

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Community Profile: We Run Roanoke

Like so many sparks of inspiration, Sherman Lea, Jr. discovered running through a combination of impatience and luck. Too antsy to sit out in between games of basketball at the gym, one morning last year he headed upstairs and got on a treadmill. Never a runner, he jogged and walked, over time eventually working up to running a mile, then two, then five. Soon, he was feeling the tug of the "runner's high," and entering his first half marathon in Washington, D.C.

Running through the monuments of the capital, Lea felt the need to do more, to inspire his friends to live a healthier lifestyle - something he can personally attest to: since he first stepped on that treadmill last year, he has dropped 60 lbs. He made t-shirts featuring a RUN ROA logo riffing on the RUN DMC logo of the 80s rap group, and issued a challenge: if any of his friends could run 8 miles with him, they got a shirt. The initial trial was a success, and the shirts were gone, so Lea broadened his scope and made it a weekly event. 

Thus, We Run Roanoke was born. Lea based his concept on running groups he saw while travelling to large cities; groups that routed their runs through urban areas as a way to expose people to parts of their communities they may rarely see. 

"One of the things that was really beautiful about those clubs was they run the city," he said. "People only see Roanoke from their cars; when you actually run it and see it, you actually know what you have. It grows your appreciation of what the city can offer, and the natural commodities that Roanoke has."

Lea plans routes around all sections of Roanoke, mixing it up each week to give the group a different perspective of every part of the city. He also blends in night runs and the occasional trail run to keep it fresh. This tactic not only keeps the runs from getting stale, it helps the runners appreciate the city Lea grew up in - Lea is the director and owner of Roanoke's New Hope Support Services, LLC, went to William Fleming High School and his father, Sherman Lea, Sr. is a member of Roanoke City Council. 

While fitness and healthy living remain the number one priority, We Run Roanoke is also a community building effort. The twice-weekly, 3-mile runs are geared toward casual runners, beginners, and those that just enjoy the support of a group. Walkers are encouraged to join, no one is left behind, and there are always high-fives and a photo of the group at the finish line. 

"It's no cost, just come out and run at your own pace, have fun, and feel like you are part of a group and meet a lot of good people." says Lea. 

We Run Roanoke runs on Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30 pm. If you are interested in joining the group, check their Facebook and Instagram pages for starting locations and routes. 

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A.T. to Receive Science Based Assessment

Appalachian Trail StudyNext year, a research team from Virginia Tech will help create a comprehensive, data-based, assessment of the condition of the Appalachian Trail. This will be the first time the world's most famous footpath will receive such a study.

Working with North Carolina State University, Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment adjunct professor Jeff Marion will lead a team of researchers on the task of measuring the impact of trail use on natural resources as well as trail and campsite conditions. The study is being funded by a $300,000 grant from the National Park Service.

Throughout 2015, Marion and his team will "characterize visitor impacts on vegetation and soils, develop sustainability guidance to minimize impacts, provide workshops on trail design for maintenance staff and volunteers, and provide education materials about Leave No Trace practices and outdoor ethics for schools, youth groups, and trail users."

Marion is an avid hiker himself, and used his own observations of the A.T. to come up with the plan for the study. He believes weather events associated with climate change will have an effect on the condition of the trail and sustainable trail design will ensure the continued existance of the trail. The study will also provide a baseline for the future, allowing measurements against it down the road. 

Read more about the upcoming study >>>

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