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Cycling

Cycling Along the Cheat
John Denver didn't get it all right in "Take Me Home, Country Roads," his 1971 ballad to the byways that wind through pastoral West Virginia. The Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River mentioned in the song are actually found in Virginia, not the mountain-mama state to the west. But the rest is true: These undeveloped areas offer smooth and empty roads for cyclists. Monongalia and Preston counties, along the Cheat River, offer pure rural countryside. Don't plan on finding a prepackaged inn-to-inn tour, but Whitetail Cycle and Fitness, in Morgantown, can set you up with a hilly 100-mile loop from there to Kingwood, then south along the Cheat River. Be sure to stop for the banana cream pie at Mary's restaurant, in Kingwood. Another option: Down south in Lincoln County, follow county roads 214 and 3 to the town of Mud and the 6,000-acre Big Ugly Wildlife Management Area. This is bona fide Appalachia; you'll see wheelbarrows parked next to residents' personal coal mines.
HOW TO GO In Monongalia and Preston counties, find spare tubes and route information at Whitetail Cycle and Fitness (304-291-2270, www.whitetailbikes.com). For the Lincoln County ride, Charleston Bicycle Center (304-925-8348) has county-road maps, equipment, and advice.
LODGING For the Cheat River ride, the Preston County Inn (304-329-2220, www.prestoncountyinn.com), in Kingwood, has rooms for $65-$125. While lodging is scarce in Lincoln County, just north, in the friendly capital of Charleston, is the Brass Pineapple Bed & Breakfast ($89-$139; 304-344-0748), a short ride from local delicacies at the Capital Street Farmers' Market.

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