We woke up at Shaw and Sarah’s house, took a nice ride down to Boone Bike and Touring with Shaw to meet Bill’s friend Robert, who live in the area. After getting out bikes ready we headed out of Boone for the Parkway. Our plan was to ride to Jeep’s house near Table Rock. Jeep is an old friend from Outward Bound that Bill and I have had many a great adventure with.
Along the way we dropped down into Blowing Rock for some great pizza at the Mellow Mushroom. The ride back out was more than slow with a few pounds of pizza in our guts be we were able to keep moving.
We arrived at Jeep’s in the late afternoon after saying our goodbyes to Robert and hung out for a mellow evening. It was great to catch up and even watch a stage of the Vuelta de España on the TV.
For a map of our ride on this day check here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161833181
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.
After a great nights sleep at Tuggle Gap we got on the road early at around 7:15. Our early start was due to the fact that we had to meet my sister and her family near Orchard Gap. They had rented a cabin near by and were driving up to spend the afternoon, night and next morning with us. The early start worked out perfect because we got a big breakfast at Mabry Mill along the way.
The cabin was great and since we had arrived early went for an afternoon hike. We carried the climbing gear because we heard that at a place called Devil’s Den there might be some climbing. Well, it turned out there was some rock but I am not sure if it had ever been climbed. We set up a top rope and my nephew Ben had the pleasure of doing the first accent. His brother Noah could not be out done so he jumped on it also.
After a little shopping we returned to the cabin for some fishing, a big meal and hanging out. What a great day!
Map of the ride: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161753025
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.
I am glad to say that this summer’s sufferfest is over and I survived. My old friend, Bill Irving had this great idea to ride all of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our original plan was to do it with a group of people and a sag wagon but when that didn’t work out we set out on our own. Without the sag wagon we decided we wouldn’t have time for all the parkway but we could at least make it to Asheville to pick up a rental and head back north. At the last minute while packing we decided to throw in some climbing gear just in case we got the urge to do some climbing. Well the climbing ended up becoming a great distraction.
Our total trip was around 14 days and we did a little over 500 miles or 800 kms, we climbed on the loaded down bikes over 59 thousand feet or 18 thousand meters and managed to do 8 different rock climbing routes.