cycling trip
Last Post 10/08/2021 11:23 AM by 79 pmooney. 23 Replies.
Author Messages
thinline

Posts:305

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08/17/2021 08:15 AM
Heading to the Asheville-Brevard area in NC in a month for a week of cycling.  Mt. Mitchell is on the dance card.  Anyone here ever pedaled up it?  Thoughts?  Impressions?  I am definitely not in my usual shape after missing almost all of last season and not being as focused as normal this season (work, moving, selling house etc.).

Sound like it does not get as steep as stuff around here (Vermont) but it sounds much loooooooonger than our big climbs and pretty relentless except for a couple patches of descent part way up (I have a love/hate thing with those moments, feels good resting but then you have to get all that elevation back a second time!).

Insights appreciated.  Hope y'all are doing well.
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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08/17/2021 08:36 AM
For the Blue Ridge Parkway you'll want a tail light and a headlight for the tunnels. For the full monty Mt. Mitchell climb start lower than the Parkway.
I like the Parkway climb from the French Broad River up to the Pisgah Inn, 3k vertical, with a nice water stop at the Inn. They also have a snack shop, not sure it's open with Covid. That section of the Parkway has a lot more traffic than it used to. 276 from Brevard to the Pisgah Inn is a good climb too, and passes some pretty waterfalls. Further west, the 215 climb up to the Parkway is a classic - was one of George Hincapie's favorites. It's good from either side. After reaching the Parkway, you can continue west for a few miles to the highest point on the Parkway, a cool destination. Less traffic on that part of the Parkway.
Note that rain is frequent in this entire area in the summer.
Mountain biking there is fantastic. Avery Creek drainage has some classic rides, and Dupont forest has been well developed - also rains less and the soil drains better than in Pisgah. Road grades on the Parkway are less than App Gap for sure, but not necessarily on the side roads. Low grears recommended!
Orange Crush

Posts:3659

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08/17/2021 09:19 AM
I’ve only ever driven through area but it certainly made me want to bike there. That’s all. Enjoy.
thinline

Posts:305

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08/17/2021 01:35 PM
The planned route is Town Mountain Road out of Asheville and onto the BRP at Craven Gap. From there to the road up Mt. Mitchell (can;t recall the route number but I recall reading it was about 4 miles from the turn off the BRP to the top. About 35 miles total from Asheville to the summit for a round trip of 70 with supposedly about 8k vertical.

Did 50 miles Sunday with 5k vertical, most of the climbing on steep, dirt roads (Moretown Mountain and Roxbury Gap for those familiar with the Mad Rive Valley area). Had more in me still at the end but not sure another 3k was in the tank!
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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08/17/2021 03:22 PM
That route will put you on a long, exposed high elevation stretch of BRP, with a fair bit of traffic. Be mindful of the weather, and expect some cars, but should be epic.
If you approach the Mt. Mitchell road from the other side, it’s more protected.
6ix

Posts:415

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08/17/2021 04:25 PM
Lived in north Asheville from 2012 to 2018 so can offer up some suggestions. First off, bring ALL of your bikes!! Mountain and gravel bikes are best suited for the fire roads that go through Bent Creek. In fact, you can take Bent Creek Gap Rd all the way to National Forest Rd, then on to 276. All on fantastic gravel but with some serious climbing thrown in. Bring your low gears.

For road, lots of good stuff but most of my experience were the roads north of town which did include Town Mountain (leading out of downtown Asheville), then the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Craggy Gardens. Excellent climb that will probably take you 50 minutes to an hour and only has two short tunnels. Headlights aren't necessary for the north tunnels but definitely the ones south of town leading to Pisgah.

Be warned that the weather can be COMPLETELY different once you get up near Craggy and then far worse up near Mitchell, even in the summer. Freakish storms brew up and there isn't anywhere to hide at all.

I'd suggest riding Town Mountain up to Elk Mountain, then bomb down Ox Creek to Reems Creek. I lived in this area so know it extremely well. If you want a seriously stupid steep climb, take Maney Branch up to Barnardsville. Fantastic roads abound.

Enjoy it!! Would love to go back. Be sure to bring your blinkie light though!
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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08/17/2021 06:44 PM
I can confirm that Maney branch will remind you of the last pitch up App Gap from the west. 297 going NE from there is just gorgeous, has a great climb over the NW arm of Black mountain (The range that includes Mt. Mitchell; a short bit near the top is decent gravel, road bike fine), then maybe the coolest descent you will ever do into a pretty, and - rare for around there - flat valley. A good out and back ride with some serious climbing, steeper than Parkway grades but worth it. Trust me. If you canm at least drive it.
Love the gravel bike idea. The gravel roads handle the rain better than the trails and take you to some pretty places. Good stuff on both sides of 276, like presley gap. But the non-gated roads can be very dusty if it's been dry.
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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08/17/2021 07:32 PM
PS completely agree with Six about the weather up there. Like Vermont weather, only more sudden and Old Testament. A useful rule of thumb when interpreting weather forecasts in the southern appalachians: If the chance of rain is 40% or more, it WILL RAIN. Maybe not on you, but you can't count on that.
6ix

Posts:415

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08/18/2021 08:12 AM
If it were me, I'd just skip Mt. Mitchell. I'd instead ride up to Craggy on the Parkway, maybe a little further and then enjoy the descent back into Asheville. It's a solid ride. Keep in mind it will be the start of leaf season so traffic will be heavy on the Parkway. It's an amazing road and since it's closed in the winters, the surface is in fantastic condition. I've gone up to Craggy in the middle of winter when it's closed, but it's a risky endeavor since there is no help coming for you should you need it. You are on your own.

Beyond that, great roads north of Weaverville and Mars Hill area. If you want a tough one, look up the Hot Doggett course. Brutal. Goes through some very rural areas that will make you appreciate the roof you have over your head. It's like a gut punch sometimes to see the level of poverty in western NC.

If you want a good group ride, the Saturday morning 'Bakery Ride' starts out near Trader Joe's in North Asheville and goes into the Leicester area, then on to Marshall and back on River Road. If it's still there, they used to start at the Fudrucker's parking lot but that may have been torn down.

I've found most country road drivers to be nice. Only had a handful of jerk drivers over 6-7 years. Just a simple wave or nod of the head goes a long way. Makes you human to them instead of a road obstacle.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3641

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08/18/2021 08:26 AM
Did Mitchell a couple of times...in 2017 and 18. Had to abort the attempt in 2018 due to rain and cold (it was May). Water was literallly running down the Parkway in rivers....LOL.

I'll have to see what route we took up to the parkway, but it was a great route and coming down was one of the best descents I have ever done...was literally laughing out over how much fun it was.

Edit - we took Route 80 up to the Parkway and the full ride was ~40 miles, roundtrip. See Strava file below.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1582566671
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Orange Crush

Posts:3659

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08/18/2021 08:33 AM
Falling leaf season is exactly when we were there. Awesome. Somehow we ended up sleeping somewhere off the parkway just dumping our sleeping bags on ground. Very nice (great sky) but each time a leaf fell on our nose we kept wake up thinking it was a bear wanting to play. Went on to NC and then SC to visit a friend who had moved there from Michigan.
79pmooney

Posts:2778

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08/18/2021 10:31 AM
Posted By Orange Crush on 08/18/2021 08:33 AM
Falling leaf season is exactly when we were there. Awesome. Somehow we ended up sleeping somewhere off the parkway just dumping our sleeping bags on ground. Very nice (great sky) but each time a leaf fell on our nose we kept wake up thinking it was a bear wanting to play. Went on to NC and then SC to visit a friend who had moved there from Michigan.

Falling leaves and Michigan!  Many years ago I rode Minneapolis to Saginaw MI via the UP.  First week in October.  The UP, riding along Lake Michigan, the lake to my right.  Cape Cod with vegetation to the water's edge (no salt).  To my left, all the fall colors of Vermont.  Light prevailing westerly at my back.

And my sleeping bag scare - first night in Wisconsin.  Found a nice pine grove for camp.  Had my brand new, minimalist synthetic sleeping bag.  I was cold!  Got up and not a trace of frost.  Did I miscalculate badly?  I'd spent 4 years in Ann Arbor.  I knew that further north and west and nowhere near moderating water, it could hit mid-20s or lower.

I was in near panic, not for right now, but for tomorrow and the rest of the week - until - I tried to make coffee.  My WB was frozen!  Oh yeah!  I'm in pines.  No frost to be seen.  I know that!

Spent the rest of the week perfecting the technique of not compressing any of the sleeping bag walls; sleeping while wearing everything I brought.  Took a couple of nights but I learned how to sleep very well in it (but never again bought a "regular" sized sleeping bag!)

Thinline, Ashville to Mt Mitchell sounds roughly like my two sorties to Crater Lake with Cycle Oregon.  First time from the south, up and around, then down and miles of gentle descent.  Second time from Diamond Lake to the north (at 5000' so a very real head start).  Biggest difference (besides Mt Mazuma having a full Mt Mitchell's worth of material gone missing) is that the parkway starts at the top and stays there.

Enjoy!  For me.  Between the fires and COVID, I get to miss the September ritual of Cycle Oregon for the 3rd time in 5 years.
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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08/18/2021 01:05 PM
Agree with 6ix - but I also get the bucket list allure of Mt. Mitchell
thinline

Posts:305

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08/18/2021 01:18 PM
Great info.  Unfortunately, our options are a tad limited.  We are going on a planned tour with, gulp, Trek Travel.  So, we will be flying down without our bikes but riding Madonne SL7s.  I did a Trek ride camp in Greenville SC several years ago and they got the bike to fit me perfectly and it was a very nice ride, so I'm good with that.

Each day there are a couple routes available, the regular route and the "avid" route.  Day three the regular route goes to Craggy Pinnacle and back with the avid continuing to Mt. Mitchell.  We'll see how it goes!

Thanks for the info.  From what I've heard I expect I will want to go back sometime with a couple friends and plan it all out ourselves.

We were supposed to  be going to Italy, first in May 2020 (cancelled) and then next month but we decided to postpone another year just in case things get worse.  So, we got online and found this trip on short notice instead.

Thanks for the info!
smokey52

Posts:400

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09/14/2021 10:18 PM
any updates?
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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09/15/2021 06:53 PM
Just observing that our new normal in the SE is September is still summer so deluges in the mountains continue.
this aside I wish TL and his crew clear skis and empty roads.
Orange Crush

Posts:3659

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09/15/2021 08:03 PM
It’s not ski season yet I hope. I got my own 3 day bike trip planned (impromptu today) for next week in interior now that forest fires have been mostly doused. Forecast looks good, cool but sunny. A total of 415 kms on gravel will be somewhat ambitious given current form.

Whistler alpine may get a first dump of snow this Friday.
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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09/15/2021 08:14 PM
Have you ever met an outdoor group more optimistic and hopeful than downhill skiers?
thinline

Posts:305

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10/06/2021 10:23 AM
Had a fine time.  Got to Asheville a few days early (West Asheville) and used the bus system to get around and check out stuff.  Did a walking tour with a group called Hood Huggers to learn a bit about the history of the black community in Asheville.  Very informative.  I recommend it to anyone visiting the area.

As for cycling, we got some rain on 4 out of 6 days.  Generally not bad, just rained for a bit.  Most days :-) 

Day one was a nice ride intro to the area of a couple hours.  Marshall to Asheville in a meandering fashion on some great roads.

Day two we did the longer route option that featured an add on at the end of a climb up Elk Mtn. Scenic Highway to the BRP and a descent of Town Mountain Road to finish.  The climb was awesome.  Very cool switchbacks.  The descent started out as super fun but then it started to rain hard the second half where it was steep and twisty with increasing traffic towards town so we had to cool it. 

Day three was Mount Mitchell day.  Started out in the rain with a 4 or 5 mile climb to the BRP, then north with a loooooong piece of climbing (mellow to occasionally moderate grade for about 12 or so miles).  Thankfully, the rain had stopped and it was really quite nice, even got some views.  But, the last 2 miles of that we were suddenly in pea soup clouds, nasty cold winds, and cold, cold, sideways drizzle/rain.  Got to the lunch spot, ate quickly, and decided against trying for the summit of Mount Mitchell (another 12 miles or so, 8-9 on the BRP then about 4 on a road to the summit) given the weather.  One person out of the group did it but bailed on the bike and got into the support van just after starting back down.  He was freezing and in nasty conditions so opted for warmth and safety.  Can't blame him.  I was a tad jealous I did not go for it!  The fun part (after the fun 12 miles of downhill on the BRP), we again descended Town Hill Road but this time on dry pavement with no rain and little traffic.  Dang, that was fun!

Next day, rode to Brevard.  Okay, partway.  We stopped for lunch at the Sierra Nevada brewery and when we came out, strong winds gusting to maybe 20-25 mph and sideways DOWNPOUR rain.  Alright, into the van and to another brewery. 

Day five, freaking gorgeous pedal out of Brevard under blue skies and sunshine, comfy temps after a brisk start.  Rode through DuPont State Forest then veered off the standard route to the add on option section on a road called East Fork just off the Greenville Highway, and I suddenly realized, hey, I have pedaled here before.  It was on a trip several years ago that also used that stretch of road as part of another route.  Pretty cool and awesome stretch of pedaling. 

Last day, short ride before heading to the airport.  Beautiful but very chilly.  Numb toes and fingers but well worth it.

I have to give my sweetie and "atta girl" for her tenacity.  This is only her fourth season cycling (started at age 57) and she toughed it up all the long climbs, went for the long route options on all but the day three route (Mt. Mitchell day), which I think she would have tried to go for it if the weather was good.

All and all a fine trip if a bit wet and chilly at times.  Looking forward to the next one!

As to ski season, we are expecting a nice run of fall weather here in Vermont.  Foliage is peaking and skies are clearing right now.  Looking at several days of sunny weather in the 60-70 degree range.  I smell a lunch time pedal and maybe some end of day golf at the local mountain course!

Hope y'all are well.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3641

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10/06/2021 10:26 AM
Sounds like a great trip, thinline! Too bad about Mt. Mitchell but it gives you an excuse to go back now!!
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Orange Crush

Posts:3659

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10/06/2021 11:26 AM
Posted By thinline . on 10/06/2021 10:23 AM
As to ski season, we are expecting a nice run of fall weather here in Vermont.  Foliage is peaking and skies are clearing right now.  Looking at several days of sunny weather in the 60-70 degree range.  I smell a lunch time pedal and maybe some end of day golf at the local mountain course!

Hope y'all are well.


Sounds like you had a great trip. Good that your better half is able to join in such challenging rides. My wife who also started recently isn't quite there yet. Next year we have a big goal to work towards, so fingers crossed.

Ski season is around the corner here too. Last Friday we went to see Golden Larches at Manning. They're a deciduous conifer that turns into a spectacular yellow right before loosing needles. Between the yellow, the bright sun low on horizon, first frost and some trace snow the conditions were nothing short of spectacular.
longslowdistance

Posts:2466

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10/06/2021 05:12 PM
Good Ride Report, thanks!
What was your route from Brevard to Dupont? East Fork road is a clue. 276 east of Brevard always scared me (narrow, fast traffic, lots of retirees and rednecks), never rode on it ever.
thinline

Posts:305

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10/08/2021 10:34 AM
LSD,

We rode out of Brevard mostly using a bike path for a couple miles, then quiet roads (starting from pilot Cover Cabins).  We turned right onto a road into the DuPont Forest and immediately began a climb of a mile or so.  At the top on the right was an ice cream stand/snackbar by what looked like a campground if that helps you figure it out.  Descended about a mile then right into another climb, maybe 1.5 miles or a tad longer, then a short mild descent to a T intersection.  Turned left and a bit later turned right onto the Greenville Highway.  Took that for maybe 2 miles and turned left onto East Fork, climbed up by a fire station, went through a series of rollers before a steep descent with really tight hairpins onto the valley floor by the river.

Hope that helps!
79pmooney

Posts:2778

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10/08/2021 11:23 AM
Thanks thinline. Great read! So you went to the mountains and were greeted by true mountain weather. How'd that happen? (I've been pretty lucky - or maybe just sheltered) - in my mountain ascents. It was 28 degrees at the top of Mt Washington my second time up but it was the TT. We weren't allowed to ride down.

I've spent about 36 hours in NC; visiting a high school classmate in Charlottesville, then my brother's MB graduation at Duke. May, green and beautiful. No bike.

I'd love to hear more about visit to the history of the local Black community. I had a very interesting time with my (Black) classmate. He picked me up at the airport, then he, his wife and I went to dinner. Nice restaurant. Seating was in deep booths. The staff was both Black and white and obviously got along and worked together well. Next morning, my friend and I went to a popular breakfast spot. Large open room. Tables of Blacks and whites in roughly the proportion of the city breakdown. Staff was both. Everyone got along. But at both places we stood out for being the only party that was mixed. And throughout the rest of my quick time in the state, I saw the mix of Black and white everywhere but only as work or other association brought them together. Not once as friends. (Sorry thinline. This should really be a separate thread. I'd cut and paste it to a new thread but I am still a Windows 10/touchpad beginner and selecting text correctly only happens when the gods allow it.)


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