Blue Ridge Parkway in VA/NC in 5 days (10/1-10/5/07)-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Blue Ridge Parkway in VA/NC in 5 days (10/1-10/5/07)

    Just to let you know: This is not a mountainbike trail I rode, but a paved road - 469 miles / over 50-60 k feet of climbing - throught the Blue Ridge Moutains. But I rode my Mountainbike (with slicks), so I thought I could post it here. The same story - including many pictures - is also on my blog

    I read that some people ride the Blue Ridge Parkway supported in 5 days, so let's try it unsupported and see what happens.

    Day 1
    Miles: 112.7
    Ridetime: 8 h 15 min
    Temps: 62-78 F, sunny all day

    24 mile prologue from Charlottesville, VA on CR250 to the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then left turn and start pedaling south. It's Monday, almost no tourist traffic.

    Best conversation of the day at dinner, I think that's what the waitress said (gotta be carefull with that southern dialect when you talk to a German!)
    --> Waitress: Yuu raidn the whole theng?
    --> Me: Yes, started today, rode 110 miles, got 4 more days to go.
    --> Waitress: Waell, thad s semply awesoom.

    Another good one in one of the parking lots:
    --> randome dude: So you're doing that just for fun?
    --> me: Yes, but also because of frustration about a girl...
    --> randome dude: Ever considered getting drunk?

    Day 2
    Miles: 115.7
    Ridetime: 8 h 45 min
    Temps: 58-75 F, cool but humid in the morning, sunny in the afternoon

    Within the first mile I got the coolest thumbs up from a motorcycle rider ever. Good way to start the day. Start seeing some of the same cars and motorcycles over and over again throughout the day. Can remember them by e.g. special licence plates, like the white Harley with the trailer and the plate "Martha". Those guys seem to like to stop at all the lookout points - if you ride your bike you always have enough time to look around and don't need to stop.

    See a van that supports a bunch of roadies, conversation with the van-driver:
    --> Van driver: Wow, unsupported - you do it to tough way
    --> Me: No, I do it the stupid way...

    Had a mid-afternoon lunch somewhere on the parkway. BLT sandwich, chicken soup, cake and coke. Don't know what they put in that food, but I was flying afterwards. Speed limit is 45 mph, I started getting concerned I would get a ticket... I really love eating.

    No more camping, the shoulder still hurts too much (from last weeks crash), so I get a $44 motel room at Fancy Gap - the town where you get spaghetti and meatsauce, plus cherry pie and coke for less than what you have to pay for a 4-pack of Red Bull.

    The lady at the check in is surprised to see that I'm travelling "all by yourself?". Again, that's what I think she said, the further south you're going the harder it gets to understand those people.

    Day 3
    Miles: 97.5
    Ridetime: 8 h 36 min
    Temps: around 70 F and cloudy all day

    Get passed by a roadie within the first mile today.
    --> Roadie: You make me look really lazy

    More roadies show up, they are a supported group (the van from day 2!), also determined to finish the parkway in 5 days. They have several stops throughout the day, and since I just keep pedaling without stopping we keep passing each other. Funny, they start handing me gels and Cliff Blocks when they ride with me. Guess they were pretty imnpressed about my riding with all the gear.

    Today's stretch is the most scenic so far, lot of variety in landscape. Towards the end the climbs get bigger and steeper, I easily hit top speeds beyond 40 mph on the downhills. Doesn't sound that fast, but I have a lot of aero drag (not my ass, but the bags and gear on the bike).

    Met 43 year old Ron from Richmond, VA at around mile 40. He is out there self supported as well, so we stop and chat. Bikes, gear, chicks. Turns out the reason for his ride is that his girlfriend broke up with him. Sounds familiar, so we get a good laugh out of it. He has over 60 pounds of gear on his bike, and it seems like he wants to start crying when I tell him about my 20 pounds... once we split again, he is determined to find a post office to ship some of his stuff back home. We had plans to meet up for dinner in Blowing Rock, but unfortunatelly he ran out of daylight. Probably better, I have a feeling we would have gotten wasted!

    Day 4
    Miles: 97.2
    Ridetime: 7 h 33 min
    Temps: around 60 F above 4500 feet, wet and humid in the morning, cold and cloudy all day (less cold if you put on more layers, but it took me a while to come up with that idea)

    Another night at a motel, good, since it rained all night. 10 AM start, one hour later than the days before. This is bad riding weather today, but somehow the hours just flew by. The parkway throws many long climbs at me, just the way I like it. Climbs often take longer then 1/2 hour. Legs feel amazing, I have to force myself to go slower. Focus more on constant eating today, every 10 miles a bar or gel. Typical Coffee and Candy stop along the way, and I surf the sugar wave past Mount Mitchell. Guess I miss many scenic views due to the crazy thick fog at altitude. It is fun riding into the clouds, and I feel how the temps drop and the air is super wet. Riding over bridges and I can't even see how tall they are.

    Day 5
    Miles: 91.5
    Ridetime: 7 h 19 min
    Temps: 62 F, 95% humidity and drizzling at the beginning, but sunny and simply perfect at the end

    Another 10 AM start, and the first stop already after 3 hours. I was soaking wet and needed to get changed. Felt better instantly, but somehow lost my pedaling mojo. Took me another 2 hours to find my rhythm again. Met a bunch of guys from GB, they were out touring. Funny, those guys never saw eggbeater-pedals before.

    Saw a roadie early in the ride, another memorable conversation:
    --> roadie: Where are you headed to today?
    --> me: the finish.
    --> roadie: the finish?
    --> me: Cherokee
    --> roadie: holy ****, that's a long way
    --> me thinking: not really, I only got 85 more miles to go.

    Many more long climbs today, again long and steep, one covers 2400 feet vertical. By now I have this strategy to always count 200 pedal strokes seated, then stand up for 30-60 strokes, and do it over again. You can count to 200 several times within 2400 feet of climbing...

    With 2 miles to go on the last climb, one of the supported roadies from 2 days ago catches up to me again. He was pretty surprised to see me ahead of him, and we race it to the top. Finally, no more need to ride conservative. I think he tried to drop me.. I let him go on the last downhill, which is about 10 miles long.

    Touchdown in Cherokee, that's it, ride is over.

    Stats over the 5 days
    Miles: 514.6 (469 on Parkway, the other miles to/around towns nearby)
    Ridetime: 40 h 28 min
    Climbing: yes

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Wow! I can read through your fairly modest and precise capturing of the details that what you accomplished is a HUGE achievement!

    Well done!

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    that's awesome... I rode some on there on my road bike the other week and loved it. awesome ride! Those are some big mile days!!

  4. #4
    avg. joe
    Reputation: STinGa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Awesome ride

    During late summer 2006, I did the BRP both ways (in car) as the last vacation of the summer before the kiddos went back to school. It was definitely one of the most relaxing trips I have taken. Probably 30% of the traffic was bikes, both motor and pedal powered. And like you, I ran into numerous people who where friendly and talkative. Once my kids are older, I plan on taking them on a bike trip along the BRP.

    The best thing about the Parkway is that the travelers who are on the road are there for a reason, to enjoy the controlled access travel with the reduced speed limit, no commercial trucks, and plenty of places to stop and enjoy the sites. We camped out each night of the 9 day trip and the weather was perfect. Cool enough at nights to need sleeping bags, and the days weren't too hot.

    From what I have been told, once the leaves start turning, the road becomes a long parking lot, but hitting the drive during the late summer months, we didn't have that problem at all. There are several books / pamphlets that go into good detail about things to see and do along the way, broken down into milemarkers, so you can easily plan targets to hit.

    Thanks for the passion hit.

    The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: thadthetroll's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Hey now..

    Don cha be crakin on da way i tawk, an speclly on muh name..Thad
    I kinda likes havin dis playgrnd in muh bac yerd...Asheville

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Rev Bubba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Classic Passion!

    Excellent writing! I did not require a picture to see the action. My mind and your words were all that was needed. In the end, that says more than you can imagine about your ability to convey a thought.

    Thanks. Inspiring

  7. #7
    i worship Mr T
    Reputation: *rt*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    that is awesome!

    the BRP is beautiful. i've only ridden sections of it in NC but the scenery can't be beat. it never occurred to me to try to ride it from one end to the other.....but now you've got me thinking......

    "where are you not going so fast?" (question asked to cyclist on a trainer)

    *rt*'s fabulous blog
    mm blogging

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