So day 9 did not work out to be such a great day. Our plan was to head out of camp early and make it to Boone to meet up with the owner of Boone Bike and Touring my old friend Shaw and his wife Sarah. The problem was Bill was feeling a little under the weather so we ended up leaving late and riding slow. By lunch time we worried we would not make it to Boone and were thinking about just finding a place to camp. Lucky for us the resturant we stopped in had WiFi so we connected and sent a message to Shaw looking for suggestions. He was busy and said he would respond later so we headed back out on the road thinking we would not get his response. After a few hours of riding the response came in the form of Sarah driving on the Parkway and saving us the last 10 to 15 miles into Boone. Looking back, I think we would have made it but as luck would have it, Sarah saved us right before it started to rain and got us to there house in time to clean up and have a great dinner.
Thanks Shaw and Sarah!!
And the drinks and the dinner party were the icing on the cake!
The best bike shop in Boone: http://www.boonebike.com/
Our route for the day: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161791527
The day started out early with eggs and bagels in camp. We headed out on our bikes to find the Stone Mountain climbing area and few directions from the rangers we were ready to start climbing the classic Great Arch route. Since we were traveling by bike all this time we only brought a short 50 foot rope. I think the Great Arch is normally done in 3 or 4 pitches but we ended up having to do 9 pitches, with a little creativity on Bill’s part. I must say the climb was easy and fun and a great way to start the day.
We got down and back to our camp in time to have some lunch and take a siesta before heading out on our bikes. Our goal of Doughton Park Campground was not too far away but we had to do some serious climbing just to get back on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Along the way we met Zak and Betty from Conway, Arkansas who were doing the parkway on their Harley. While talking to them we noticed a butterfly caught under the light of the motorcycle. We set it free and it flew around and landed on Betty’s hand. Since we were headed south, and at that time of the year the butterflies are also, we put it in Bill’s basket thinking it might want a ride for a few miles. As it turns out, it stayed with us all the way to our campground, spent the night in the basket and left the next morning right after breakfast.
Our route for the day: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161779611
The plan was to take day 7 off and hang out with my sister and her family. Bill really wanted to make it to Stone Mountain so we could climb the next day and I wanted a day off. Our solution was that Bill would ride and my sister and family would drive me the distance. This worked out perfect since I was starting to have some achilles tendon pain. I arrived at the Stone Mountain campsite in the late morning and set up our tent. Bill rolled in around 5pm. After a little break we did some scouting for the climbing area, had a good dinner and headed to bed.
Day 7 was the beginning of the change of the adventure. We not only had a short day but we changed our focus. Riding was starting to take a backseat to climbing. We came a good 5 to 10 miles off the Parkway so we could do some climbing. We also were no longer as worried about the destination but more interested in the process.
Day 5 or the 28th of August started in Roanoke with plans of making it to Rocky Knob, and we almost made it. The thing is that the climb turned out to be as hard as the day before, which we did not expect, and Tuggle Gap appeared as a beautiful oasis and perfect stopping point. We were both willing to keep on riding and it was only a few miles more but we would have had to camp and we did not have much food. Tuggle Gap on the other hand had a restaurant, hotel and just looked like the right place to stop. If ever do this ride again, I will make sure that I stop here again.
Link to map and additional info: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161742359
Started the day off crossing the James River at the lowest part of the Parkway and headed up to the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia. This meant a long slow climb but it ended up being not so bad, well….. at least not so bad until we ran out of food. We had stopped several times on the climb to eat but at about 5 miles from our next food stop we ran out of food. This meant sugar low struggle to get to the Peaks of Otter lodge, which had a great restaurant and deli. When we arrived we attacked the deli first and then took a table at the restaurant. We spent too much and at too much but it felt good and tasted good.
After eating too much and a little rest we headed for Roanoke, which was mostly down hill. We arrived late in the day and there was a ton of traffic so instead of searching for a great campsite we just settled for camping off the road back in the woods. Other than some strange noises and a not very flat camping area the night was good.
As usual, you can check out a map of our route for the day and other information here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161670151
Day 3’s route was from Waynesboro to the James River campground, which made it the longest day distance wise, but it turned out to not be the hardest day. Find a link to a map of the route here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161661027
We stopped early on at an overlook and met 2 guys, Doug and Craig who were getting ready to do some rock climbing. We asked them where and they simply said right it had Raven’s Roost overlook. They showed us to the start of the climbs, let Bill jump on a climb they already had set up and gave us directions for a nice little climb that we did in 3 pitches with our short 55 foot rope.
Because we spent 2 hours climbing we made it to the campground around dark. It was an ok place, with a fire ring with wood in our campsite. We cooked up some country ham we had been carrying for a few days over the fire and fell asleep after a full day.
The day started great in the Big Meadows campground. Not only is it a nice campground with showers and laundry it also has the Big Meadows lodge which has a great breakfast.
The ride for the day was pretty easy since the day before we did all the climbing and this day we mostly went down hill. A link to maps and more information about the climbs etc.. is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161649707
At the end of the day we stayed in an ok hotel called the Colonial House just off the parkway on the way into Waynesboro. At the hotel we met 2 women from the Northeast who were finishing up there ride across the US. They had started in Northwest been all across the US in more states than I can count and were few days from finishing up. They made our little ride look like nothing. Super impressive!! I wish I had taken their picture.