While we were devouring pizza in Charlottesville, Carrie and I discussed the peaks and valleys of the trip and whether we’d recommend touring the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Usually rain plays a part in creating a low point in the trip, but on this trip rain wasn’t much of a factor. We rode in the rain on the first two days, but it never rained hard enough to bother donning rain pants. The only other rain we received came in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. That wasn’t a big deal because we were already in camp by then, semi-safe in our semi-waterproof tent. Poor Hubba Hubba is plum tuckered out.
Carrie’s slashed tire on the first day was a bummer. But the roadside repair I made held until I was able to properly boot it and add a strip of Collin’s Gorilla Tape over it for good measure.
Perhaps the biggest challenge we agreed was that we didn’t schedule enough off-bike time. We rode 12 hard days in a row. Our easiest day still featured about 2500 feet of climbing. Carrie’s knee complained through most of the trip. Only by the power of Ibuprofen could she keep riding. That was a combo of a lack of pre-tour training and an overly ambitious tour.
We were pretty quick to list a bunch of highlights from the trip. Riding with Collin and Michae was great. They’re fun to be around and flexible enough to change tactics if things didn’t go according to plan, which is often when I’m in charge of planning.
The Parkway itself was pleasant. Except around the bigger population centers of Asheville, Blowing Rock, and Roanoke, the road was blissfully quiet. And 99.9% of the drivers were courteous and patient.
So would we recommend this trip to other bicycle tourists? The answer was a resounding maybe. While the Parkway was pleasant and easy to navigate (follow the road North), it was also impressively hilly, forested, and many times dull. You’re likely to spend a full day of riding with sweeping views of just roadside trees. And when you need to leave the Parkway to resupply or find a place to bed down, your only choice is most often a busy highway with no shoulders.
Carrie and I agreed that the Parkway would be best enjoyed on unloaded road bikes with someone driving sag. The sag driver could then do the grocery shopping while the riders cruised up and down the hills unburdened. That would be marvelous.
Just the facts:
- Total miles ridden: 544
- Total feet of elevation gain: 53,434
- Total days ridden: 12
- Average miles ridden per day: 45
- Average feet of elevation gain per day: 4,453
- Most feet of elevation gain in one day: 6,283
- Punctures: 1
- Rest days: 0