Tuesday, January 1, 2019


2019 | AML_400 | GRAND DEPART

FRIDAY | APRIL 26th 2019 | 6:00am


The Allegheny Mountains Loop is a 400 mile bicycle route created and mapped by the Adventure Cycling Association.

The route begins and ends at Virginia Tech's War Memorial Chapel in Blacksburg, VA.

A "Grand Depart" (i.e. mass start) of Individual Time Trials is proposed each year on the last Friday in APRIL at 6:00am (local time).

The "Challenge"

The AML_400 is a challenge based on one simple idea...

Complete the 400-mile AML in a clock-wise direction pedaling north on the western half of the loop and southbound on the eastern half of the route as fast as possible.

IMPORTANT:  This "challenge" INCLUDES climbing the "Ridge Alternate" AND the "Mountain Lake Cutoff" on the southbound portion of the route which are considered OPTIONAL segments on ACA maps.


The 2016 route was AMENDED to include MORE gravel and LESS pavement.

The new segments DEPART from ACA's "published" 2013 route for the AML 400 challenge that can be clearly seen using the "Route Map" link below.

ACA's maps were REVISED in 2017 to include the changes that were raced in 2016.

ACA's maps are LOADED with accurate LIFE-SAVING information and are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for AML_400 challengers.

This springtime adventure is planned when almost any type of weather is possible along the Virginia/West Virginia border... which could include very cold rain or even snow during this time of year.

The intent is to ride self-sufficient between towns and to function self-supported when in towns.

Above all... attempts are intended to be solo (in essence), self-timed, and observed as one stage, i.e. the clock runs non-stop.

*** Support should ONLY be expected and/or received from local businesses on-site during their normal business hours ***

This IS a Self-Supported, Bikepacking Adventure

If YOU choose to "toe the line" 
at the Grand Depart 
or any other time of year


would like to have your effort recorded 
for posterity sake,


are encouraged to RSVP by emailing 

a Letter of Intent (LOI) to...

RidetheAML [at] gmail [dot] com


The AML_400 route IS NOT MARKED... 

It shall be the SOLE RESPONSIBILTY of each challenger to successfully navigate and safely complete the entire route via bicycle. 

This challenge is voluntary... participate "at your own risk".

Participation in the Grand Depart is NOT mandatory and is at the discretion of the challenger. 

ITTs of the AML_400 route can begin any day/time of the year. 

There are no time limits or cutoffs.  The decision to continue or abandon the challenge is ALWAYS at the whim and discretion of the challenger.

In-person spectating is DISCOURAGED... 
Remote spectating is ENCOURAGED... 

The roads and trails along the route are open to vehicular, equestrian and foot traffic.  During an ITT, participants would be wise to follow all rules of the road AND to consider yielding to equestrians and hikers. 

The AML_400 is composed of... 
  • gravel forest roads (178 miles) 
  • gravel rail-trail (78 miles) 
  • grass-covered abandoned rail-trail (22 miles) 
  • paved roads (125 miles) 


The "ethos" of Ultra Long-Distance Bikepack Racing is occasionally refined, but nowhere has it been better stated than by the organizers of the "Grand Tour of MTB" (i.e. Tour Divide). 

The vision "posited" in THIS blog entry represents a set of ideals meant ONLY to "level the playing field" for those desiring to compare their personal efforts with those of other challengers. A vision primarily based upon those of Tour Divide (link) which REQUIRES an honorable self-police-ing by the participants themselves for this challenge to have any meaningful and lasting relevance.

An ITT is deemed SELF-SUPPORTED if/when...

  • Accepting neutral assistance from the owners or operators of establishments along or off route, on-premises during NORMAL posted business hours. 
  • Supplies (e.g. food, beverage, parts, tools, etc.) received from commercial establishments along or near the route are obtained/purchased during NORMAL posted business hours. 
  • Campsites, camp fires and hotel rooms (i.e. lodging) are SHARED with other challengers
  • Rendering aid to another challenger, however, the RECEIVER of the aid must honorably withdraw themselves from the challenge. 
  • Leaving the course at any time, provided that the return to the route is VERIFIABLE and within 100 feet of the point you leave the course. (i.e. returning on the other side of the road is permitted)

An ITT is deemed NOT SELF-SUPPORTED if/when...

  • On-course assistance is PRE-ARRANGED (i.e. prior to ITT start).
  • During an ITT, assistance with navigation, supplies or lodging is RECEIVED from friends, family or private individuals.
  • Supplies (e.g. food, beverage, parts, tools, etc.) are SHARED between riders.
  • Supplies used have been "stashed" or "cached" by any person at anytime.
  • A motor-powered vehicle (moving or stationary) is UTILIZED, doing so, indicates a voluntary withdrawal from the challenge (EXCEPTION - A bicycle in "un-ridable" condition and it's rider may be transported for repairs). 
  • Drafting occurs.  A "no drafting" rule is in effect at all times.


The Appalachian Trail Conservancy website states, "the term 'trail magic' was coined by long-distance hikers to describe an unexpected occurrence that lifts a hiker’s spirits and inspires awe or gratitude."

Another definition reads... "any act of goodwill bestowed upon a day, section or thru-hiker by a total stranger who seeks nothing in return."

The term implies a random happenstance in which the crossing of the paths of both giver and receiver are serendipitous.   

During an Individual Time Trial, obtaining an item from another person can only be unsolicited and accidental (e.g. a dropped beverage, food, part, tool, etc.) otherwise, the receipt of assistance or supplies reflects a lack of self-sufficiency which renders an effort NOT SELF-SUPPORTED.


.GPX files of the route and waypoints have been created and are available (see links below). 

Maps and cues for this route have been created by the Adventure Cycling Association and are updated at regular intervals. 

Riders are encouraged to use GPS and SPOT devices. 

NOTE:  Receiving navigational assistance, supplies, or lodging from friends, family or private individuals during an Individual Time Trial is considered "support".


Family and friends can follow registered SPOT tracking devices in near real-time via the link below.

A properly functioning SPOT device OR downloadable .gpx tracklog is NECESSARY to validate start and finish times and adherence to the route (post-race). 

If you DO NOT own a SPOT satellite tracking unit, rental units are available from Trackleaders at a very reasonable cost ($65 which includes tracking). 

Trackleaders registration ($20 without rental)

Trackleaders tracking AND rentals are available for ITTs year-round.


AML_400 | .GPX FILES | https://goo.gl/ZqIaO3

AML_400 | ROUTE MAP | 

AML_400 | THE RULES | (included above)

AML_400 | ROUTE BETA | http://bit.ly/2DcfBqw

AML_400 | PICS | https://goo.gl/eIZYOS

AML_400 | VIDEO | https://goo.gl/TEBwiD

AML_400 | FINISH TIMES | http://goo.gl/y1rOZC

AML | MUSIC (Podrunner mixes) | http://goo.gl/wkhO8V



AML_400 on BLOGGER | https://goo.gl/dKgbVV

AML GROUP PAGE on FACEBOOK | http://goo.gl/Wk74hO

AML CLUB PAGE on STRAVA | https://goo.gl/Adwydf


AML WEATHER | HOT SPRINGS, VA | https://goo.gl/rZ1wH2

AML WEATHER | BLACKSBURG, VA | https://goo.gl/M9UWRj


AML_400 | ACA MAPS & CUES (for purchase) | http://goo.gl/2q8Srd

AML_400 | ACA Route Description | http://goo.gl/SYTF88

AML_400 | GRT Description | https://goo.gl/f9Tj3n

AML_400 | GRT Trail Map | https://goo.gl/MggDgt


AML_400 | 2019 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | http://bit.ly/2GfKUTf

AML_400 | 2018 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | https://goo.gl/sA6oNz

AML_400 | 2017 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | https://goo.gl/W5WT10

AML_400 | 2016 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | http://goo.gl/wCJY2h

AML_400 | 2015 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | http://goo.gl/173iDu

AML_400 | 2014 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | https://goo.gl/7YuORy

AML_400 | 2013 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | https://goo.gl/liIs8m

AML_400 | 2012 TRACKLEADERS TRACKER | https://goo.gl/tDNKpO


RidetheAML [at] gmail [dot] com

*** QUESTIONS, COMMENTS or SUGGESTIONS are welcomed at any time ***