Blue Ridge Parkway "Diversions"?????



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Cbike

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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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Matt O'Toole

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"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.
 
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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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