Blue Ridge Parkway "Diversions"?????

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Cbike, Jan 23, 2003.

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  1. Cbike

    Cbike Guest

    A group of 12-14 are planning on riding the parkway in early June of 03. We have a mix of riders
    abilities so we're looking for as many lodging places as possible and also any deviations from the
    parkway at time which are scenic, or easier, or harder. We're up to speed on the parkway issues and
    have been gleaning info from various sites and books such as the Skinner's "Bicycling the Blue Ridge
    Parkway". Esentially we want to have options that will fit most of the group. We're really searching
    for more options relating to periodic divertions which might parallel the Parkway for a short
    distance . We've done the Northern part of Natches Trace several times and developed several
    diversions which we feel make the trip more enjoyable.

    Appreciate any advice you have to offer. Charlie
     
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  2. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "CBike" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...

    > A group of 12-14 are planning on riding the parkway in early June of 03.
    We
    > have a mix of riders abilities so we're looking for as many lodging places
    as
    > possible and also any deviations from the parkway at time which are
    scenic, or
    > easier, or harder. We're up to speed on the parkway issues and have been gleaning info from
    > various sites and books such as the Skinner's
    "Bicycling the
    > Blue Ridge Parkway".

    > Esentially we want to have options that will fit most of the group. We're really searching for
    > more options relating to periodic divertions
    which
    > might parallel the Parkway for a short distance . We've done the Northern
    part
    > of Natches Trace several times and developed several diversions which we
    feel
    > make the trip more enjoyable.

    For some great Appalachian culture, hit the town of Floyd, VA on a Friday evening, and check out the
    bluegrass jamboree at the Floyd Country Store:

    http://www.floydcountrystore.com/

    This is the real thing. I'm told it's been going on for like 100 years.

    Floyd is a little off the Parkway on route 8.

    Oddfellas Cantina in Floyd is highly recommended. Chateau Morrisette, a winery just south of Floyd,
    has a great restaurant too. However, I think it's a better value for lunch, plus that's a better
    time to enjoy the excellent views.

    There's some neat touristy stuff on the Parkway in the Roanoke area -- Explore Park, Mill Mt., the
    Roanoke Zoo, etc. The Parkway is just a few miles from downtown Roanoke, which would be a good place
    to kick back at a cafe, check out some art galleries, do some shopping, etc. There's a farmers'
    market downtown every day, a bunch of restaurants, and a good food court. Try www.explorepark.org,
    www.downtownroanoke.org When riding into Roanoke, don't take Route 220. There are other roads into
    town from Mill
    Mt. -- take those instead.

    A little north of Roanoke there are the Peaks of Otter, twin 4000' peaks where I believe the stone
    from the Washington Monument came from. Hiking to the top is worth the view -- it's a steep 1500'
    climb, which may not appeal to you while spending the rest of the day on a bike, but it's something
    to think about. There's a quaint 1950s motor hotel right there too, plus all the other usual
    amenities.

    There are multiple campgrounds/lodges/hotels/B&Bs in all these places, though the pickings may be
    slim in Floyd.

    Throughout Virginia, the Parkway itself is probably the best route. It's tailor-made for cycling.
    Nearby roads are usually not as nicely graded, much more heavily trafficked, narrower, and no
    less hilly.

    That's it for my neighborhood.

    Matt O.
     
  3. Mark Boyd

    Mark Boyd Guest

    On Mon, 13 Jan 2003, CBike wrote:

    > A group of 12-14 are planning on riding the parkway in early June of 03. We have a mix of riders
    > abilities so we're looking for as many lodging places as possible and also any deviations from the
    > parkway at time which are scenic, or easier, or harder. We're up to speed on the parkway issues
    > and have been gleaning info from various sites and books such as the Skinner's "Bicycling the Blue
    > Ridge Parkway". Esentially we want to have options that will fit most of the group. We're really
    > searching for more options relating to periodic divertions which might parallel the Parkway for a
    > short distance . We've done the Northern part of Natches Trace several times and developed several
    > diversions which we feel make the trip more enjoyable.

    It is a lot easier to divert from the Natchez Trace than it is from the Blue ridge Parkway. Of
    course it is also a lot easier to ride the Trace than to ride the Parkway, but I think the
    difference in diversion difficulty is greater than the, quite large, difference in riding
    difficulty.

    The basic problem is that the Parkway does run along the Blue Ridge. That means leaving it often
    involves a lot of altitude loss and getting back to it requires a lot of climbing. That means that
    nearby roads are mountain roads which, as Matt O'Toole pointed out for the Virginia part of the
    Parkway "are usually not as nicely graded, much more heavily trafficked, narrower, and no less
    hilly." All of those things are worse on the North Carolina section than they are in Virginia.

    I suggest you stick to the diversions that are on, or quite near the Parkway itself, which the
    Skinner's book does a pretty good job of listing, rather than divert from the Parkway. If you are
    trying to find less hilly routes that parallel the Parkway. they rarely exist. If you want services
    that aren't on the Parkway. you'll pay a big climbing price getting to/from them.

    There are a few sections of the Parkway in populated areas where it practical to leave the Parkway.
    The obvious ones are in Asheville, where I live, and in Roanoke. Neither Asheville or Roanoke are
    very bike friendly, so be prepared for some very urban riding if you go into either one. I ride in
    Asheville every day and I have ridden through Roanoke twice. I wouldn't do either for pleasure
    <grin>. If you do want to go into Asheville, you might read my web page:
    http://www.cs.unca.edu/~boyd/touring/pisgah/pisgah.html which talks about two routes into Asheville
    from the Parkway. For a bad route into Roanoke <grin> see
    http://www.cs.unca.edu/~boyd/touring/tour95/day4.html which is part of my ride report on a tour
    where I rode from Asheville north on the Parkway.

    There are some nice places that are easy to get to from the Parkway. The area north of Spruce Pine
    (don't try to ride into Spruce Pine!) and south of Boone has a lot of interesting places that are
    relatively easy to get to from the Parkway. South of Spruce Pine, the Parkway is, except for
    Asheville and maybe Waynesville (that requires riding more than ten miles on the shoulder of an
    expressway and climbing more than 500 feet, but it isn't a bad ride and the town is nice), pretty
    remote riding. North of Boone is very pretty country, but, until you get almost to the Virgina
    border, There aren't many places to divert. Near the border you do have opportunities for
    diversion, but, unless you want to do some serious climbing, you are restricted to the towns right
    on the Parkway.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "a mix of riders abilities," but none of the Parkway is easy to ride,
    and some parts, e.g. the sections around Asheville, are quite challenging. Riding from the south end
    of the Parkway to Asheville is 80 miles with something close to 10000 feet of climbing and no
    service for the first 65 miles. Going north from Asheville is a little easier, but there is still
    about a mile of climbing in the first fifty miles and it is that far to the first services.

    There really are no routes that parallel this part of the Parkway in either direction. I was riding
    on the Parkway yesterday. It is closed to motorized traffic just north of Asheville and, as I rode
    around the barrier that blocks the Parkway, a car came up from the south. The women in the car were
    headed to Boone and didn't realize that the Parkway was closed. They asked me how they could get to
    Boone. I sent them down to I-40 and then back up to the Parkway on 221 from Marion. That is a long
    way out of the way with a lot of climbing, but it is the closest to a parallel route. You could do
    it on a bike, but you'd have to ride some dirt roads to get down to Old Fort. The other option is to
    go north and then east through Burnsville on 19E, but that route is even less bike friendly.

    Sorry not to be of more help,

    Mark <http://www.cs.unca.edu/~boyd/bicycling.html
     
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