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