Tourism groups in Roanoke are helping to build new bathrooms in the middle of the woods to hopefully get more mountain bikers to vacation in the area.
Nothing can ruin a trip to the outdoors more than a sudden urge to use the bathroom. In Roanoke, Virginia, one organization hopes that a new bathroom could make the area even more inviting for tourists.
The Roanoke chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association (RIMBA) has long advocated that the trails around Roanoke are some of the best bike trails in the country. Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is the second-largest municipal park in the entire country and draws thousands of outdoors enthusiasts every year.
The park has three access points, however only the entrance by the Marina has full bathroom facilities.
Late last year, RIMBA launched a fundraising campaign to get two new bathrooms built on the Carvins Cove bike trail. The fundraising campaign's rallying cry was "No more peeing in the woods," and the bathrooms were originally estimated to cost $18,000 each. Today, one bathroom has already been installed on the trail and the group is actively fundraising to finish the next one.
As silly as it sounds to expect a new bathroom to bring thousands of new tourists to the park, it actually could work. Every year, the International Mountain Bike Association announces new rankings for mountain bike trails across the world. Trails can be ranked as either bronze, silver, or gold. The more features and amenities that a trail has, the better the ranking. Each level has different requisites that must be met before a trail can even be considered. Having bathrooms is one of the features that Carvins Cove needs in order to be upgraded to silver status. Another silver-level feature that the Roanoke chapter is looking to add is a bicycle repair station.
If Carvins Cove is able to obtain a silver designation, it would be one of just a handful of silver mountain bike trails east of the Mississippi. Because mountain bikers generally have above-average incomes, they are generally more willing to vacation around their sport. That means that bringing even a few thousand extra bikers to the park could translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in the surrounding community.
This has gotten the attention of other Virginia tourist groups. The organization Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge
is working with RIMBA to make the necessary trail upgrades to reach the silver level.
"That particular status would be huge not only for us, but for the mountain bikers worldwide," organization President Landon Howard explained. "When they hear that we have something that special here, I think that they would immediately say, hey, let's go experience that,” Howard said.
In pursuit of these new tourism dollars, the entire community has now rallied around building a bathroom in the middle of the woods. Locals already knew that the Roanoke area is one of the best mountain bike destinations on the East Coast. With these new bathrooms, they're hopeful that the whole world will want to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains.