TransVA Grand Departs – TransVirginia

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TransVA Grand Departs

The TransVirginia Bike Route is a 550-mile mostly-unpaved backcountry cycling route that traverses the state of Virginia from Washington, DC to Damascus, VA. The Grand Depart is a set time to begin a route and race the clock for a fastest known time (FKT). Riders’ progress can be tracked online via Trackleaders.

The TransVA Grand Depart (mass start) of individual time trials (ITTs) of the TransVirginia route will be held The Saturday before Memorial Day weekend at 06:00 from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Riders are encouraged to tour or race the route at their preference and self-determined challenge level. Northbound riders can start at the same time from the caboose in Damascus, VA. The course is open for ITTs at any time.

  • May 20, 2023
  • May 18, 2024
  • May 17, 2025

Registration Participants in the Grand Depart and ITTs are asked to

  1. Fill out the Letter of Intent Form:
  2. Register on (available one month before ride)
    1. Tracking map that is available to share with friends and family will be available closer to starting date.
  3. RSVP on the Facebook Events:
  4. Trackleaders live tracking map: (available one week before ride)

Please register on TrackLeaders and obtain a tracker linked to the event (either a rental unit or use your own).

Navigation The route is unmarked and remote with areas of no mobile phone service. Self-navigation is a critical skill for all riders.

  • RideWithGPS links:
  • Paper Maps – See FAQs on the website for specific paper map info.

Disclaimer – Ride at your own risk!All travel on TransVA routes is at your own risk! The route is unmarked, remote, and very physically challenging with a large amount of climbing. All navigation, planning, safety considerations, re-supply, sleeping arrangements, etc. are the sole responsibility of each rider. Cyclists should follow all laws and accepted etiquette for roads and trails utilized including yielding to pedestrian and equestrian traffic.

Touring the TransVA Riders are encouraged to tour the TransVA route at the time of the Grand Depart at a more leisurely pace, either on the tougher main TransVA Mountain 555 (558 miles/ 45k’) or the new Valley 535 (537 miles / 34k’) route. An updated 400-mile DC-Harrisonburg loop option is added for 2023, as well as the DC to Harrisonburg, VA (213 miles, 12k’).

Racing the TransVA For those racing for the fastest time, the aim is to complete one of the routes in a self-sufficient manner, self-timed with non-stop timing from start to finish. ITTs can be recorded any time of the year, the idea of the Grand Depart is simply for the fun and motivation of a voluntary mass start. Self-sufficient means each rider may only use resources available to all riders (for example, you can resupply at a store during normal business hours, but NOT receive re-supply from a friend or family member).

TransVA Grand Departs – TransVirginia

Fastest Known TimesIf you intend to record your time and contend for the fastest known time FKT / Course Record, the following guidelines apply. A more robust explanation of the ethos and guidelines of this style of challenge can be found on the Tour Divide website:

  • You must be self-supported without any outside help not available to other riders nor pre-arranged in advance
  • You must complete the entire course self-powered by bicycle (or hike-a-bike)
  • If you depart the course, you must re-enter within 100 ft of your departure point
  • Your course run must be recorded by GPS device via Track Leader with continuous tracking and timing from start to finish

Results are self-reported and rely on rider honesty (and GPX/tracker verification), in the spirit of a challenge that has no prizes other than pride and bragging rights.

Current FKTs!*2020 routes were changed slightly from 2019, and a detour around Comer’s Rock was in place for construction. (Times in Hours:Minutes)

*2021/2022 routes now detour around White’s Ferry and are 17 miles longer and have 1000′ more elevation than 2020 routes. 2023 routes are two miles shorter, now using Featherbed Ln soon after crossing the Potomac River. For 2023, the 400-mile loop now crosses Massanutten east of Harrisonburg.

TransVA 550 Southbound

  • Men’s FKT – Abe Kaufman (Harrisonburg, VA): 55:21, May 2021 Grand Depart
  • Women’s FKT – Laura Hamm (Blacksburg, VA): 84:22, Oct 2020 Grand Depart
  • Single Speed FKT – Chris Joice (Knoxville, TN) and Graham Skardon (Marietta, GA): 94:10, Oct 2020 Grand Depart

TransVA 550 Northbound

  • Men’s FKT – Eric Grossman (Emory, VA): 100:51, Oct 2019 Grand Depart

TransVA Valley 520 Southbound

  • Men’s FKT – Mitch Potter (Arlington, VA): 82:30, Oct 2020 Grand Depart
  • Women’s FKT – Cyndi Janetzko (Falls Church, VA): 106:38, Oct 2020 Grand Depart, including Potts Mountain and Mountain Lake from 550 route

TransVA Valley 520 Northbound

  • TBD!

DC-Harrisonburg 400 Loop

  • TBD!

DC to Harrisonburg 200 Southbound

  • Men’s FKT – Patrick Mannon : 14:46, June 2021 ITT
  • Women’s FKT – Joanna Friesen (Harrisonburg, VA): 18:50, May 2021 Grand Depart

DC to Harrisonburg 200 Northbound

  • TBD!

For ideas on getting from Damascus to DC before or after riding, check out FAQ #14. The simplest option is a one-way car rental from nearby Abingdon, VA.