FAYETTEVILLE — Of all the tips tour guide Aspen Handy offers to new mountain bikers at the Arrowhead Bike Farm, arguably the most important one involves the fine art of stopping.
“Hold both brakes down with equal pressure,” she says, demonstrating how to pull both brakes on each side of the handle bar down while using the exact same pressure — so you don’t get launched off the front of the bike. This seemed important to me.
The Long Point Trail is — mostly — an easy, three mile trek. On a normal day the trail would have some spots sprinkled with gravel and other spots with dirt and roots.
However, due to the rain the evening prior to my tour, there were slick spots of thick mud that lined the trail as we went deeper into the woods.
As my bike pushed through the wet dirt, mud sloshed onto legs and backpack. This — and my lack of mountain biking skills — made me go slower than Handy.
“You better catch up!,” called a passing hiker, laughing at the large gap between me and my instructor. Other passersby simply stepped aside and waved.
The lesson in braking wasn’t needed much until close to the halfway mark, when the path took a turn in the woods and all but plummeted down a very rooty hill. Let’s just say without brakes and the ability to apply them properly, the bottom of the hill might not seem so gentle.
If you can make it down the hill, around the many trees in the middle of the trail and to the conveniently placed bike rack at the bottom of the hill, then you are close to seeing the sweeping views of the New River Gorge bridge.
A quick trip by foot leads to an opening in the trees and there, in the middle of seemingly nowhere, a crowd of nearly two dozen people is gathered. A safe distance from the edge of a rocky cliff, they breathe in the views from a scenic overlook that spans miles.
Never mind that the trip back starts with an uphill climb. This moment is what draws scores of people to the farm.
That and the goats.
Also the locally-brewed craft beer, locally grown food, camping options, the full-service bike shop and the miles of biking trails.
“It’s a good place to kick back after you go have an adventure during the day,” said Adam Stephens, one of two owners and the operations manager.
In a state known for its outdoor attractions, this is nature at its finest.
A West Virginia hidden gem off of Gatewood Road in the small outdoorsy town of Fayetteville.
Arrowhead Bike Farm is roughly an hour south of Charleston. Families and adventurers from around the state come to what is locally known as “the farm” to experience many different activities.
The 30-acre site opened its doors to the public approximately seven years ago in 2015. Conveniently, it is located near the New River Gorge National Park. Visitors of the park can stop by after a long day of white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and more, and wind down for the evening at the farm.
The site itself is eco-friendly, as you might imagine. The goats, for example, are available for pats – but mostly their job description involves composting.
“Arrowhead bike farm does a lot of different sustainable methods such as upcycling, certain water pressure time limits on the showers and sinks. We use solar panel lights, we grow our own garden, and our archway is a bike piece,” said Handy.
As you walk up to “the farm” you are surrounded by old bike parts that have been transformed into fencing, gates, dream catchers, and other decor. This, as it turns out, is where old bikes go to die — and get repurposed into art sculptures that dot the landscape and leave little question as to what this place is all about.
They also use PVC pipes, old pallets, and pieces of wood to create obstacles that are utilized during mountain biking competitions and clinics.
Visitors can book a campsite, register for a bike tour, rent bicycles, or relax with food and local craft beer from The Handle Bar + Kitchen.
There are multiple campsite options to choose from. For $10 a night field camping is available. Other campsites with more advanced features — electric and water hookups, for example — as well as RV sites that are open for booking year round.
Whether you’re a novice biker coming out of retirement or a self-proclaimed professional mountain biker, there is a bike to rent or a tour for you to take when visiting the farm. The tours range from 1-on-1 clinics to adult technical skill classes, and include “explore the gorge” tours and other clinics.
The farm occasionally will host events such as the “Wild n’ Wonderful Women’s Weekend” to create a space for bikers to enhance their skills and meet other outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy riding two wheels into the West Virginia wilderness.
The Handle Bar + Kitchen is connected to the bike shop at the Arrowhead Bike Farm. It includes indoor seating, outside dining on a patio, and a beer garden with picnic tables that are located around the farm. The restaurant has a menu that includes everything from brats to fish tacos or vegan options.
While food is always a plus after a long day of adventuring, to some the craft beers are even better. There is an assortment – with plenty of beverages crafted in West Virginia — local beers to choose from.
Throughout the week the kitchen will provide specials that are made from scratch and include vegetables or fruits from the farm’s very own garden.
While the bike farm already does a significant amount to be a sustainable and unique business, they are still working to come up with new upcycling ideas and new ways to stand out.