I spent a few days in West Virginia last week and made a point to visit the Cranberry River as a result of the good write up it received in the book "The Fly Fishers Guide to Virginia". That book also covers key waters in West Virginia.
The book made an offhand comment about the fact that the Cranberry has exceptionally limited access as a result of the gates on the well improved forest service road at both its north and south entrances. The book went on to recommend that if you want to get away from the heavily pressured areas near the campgrounds that huddle close to the gate, but you should get a bike and use that to put some real distance between you and everybody else.
I did not have a bike and I was commenting on this to one of my friends as I prepared to go out on this trip. He recommended that I go by thrift store and I would probably be able to pick up a marginally acceptable bike for a bargain basement price. What the heck? I did that, swallowed my pride, and picked up the only thing available - a girls 10 speed that was a little bit small for me and hoped it would be ok. I tuned it up to make sure all the gears worked and then threw it in the back of the truck.
I rolled into the parking lot at the southern entrance, got rigged up, organized the bike and headed off down the forest service road. It was a little bit awkward given the bike's size, but after I became accustomed to riding the thing, I was able to put a significant amount of distance between myself and the parking lot. I started to fish about 4 miles in and had reasonably good luck, but nothing to really brag about.
Along about 10 o'clock in the morning, I noticed other bikers coming in and was surprised to see how many of them they were and how well they were prepared. I learned that a true "Cranberry biker" has tricked out their bike with baskets to carry gear along with PVC tubing with a slot cut out of the middle to slide their rod (with reel attached) down the pipe. They bounce down the road with two rod/reel combinations ready to go at a time. And were talking about good old boys here -- the salt of the earth type of person do you expect when you go to West Virginia. I had a number of good chats with many of these guys and they pointed me at the better spots on the River.
Of course, the best places to go were farther in and since I was going to fish the Williams River that afternoon, I did not have time to explore the entire length. Many of these guys had 24 speed rigs that clearly were not purchased in a thrift store like my marginally acceptable 10 speed was.
Anyway, a lesson learned ... and I'll turn this thing back into the thrift store so some kid can get it for Christmas. It only cost 20 bucks and that was a bargain price -cheaper than renting - given the great day I had on the Cranberry.
Typical stretch of River:
Here's the bike in all of its embarassing purple glory: