My latest adventure down the west coast is now over. Posts are listed by date on the right. In a departure from previous years, I am not asking for donations. Instead, I will be making a sizable donation on behalf of my father-in-law, father, and all the wonderful people who have supported me over the years.

My rides will continue to make a difference in the lives of families fighting lung disease and to increase awareness about the importance of lung health. Follow along … Together; we are improving life, one breath at a time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway: Days 3 - 5

On to days 3 through 5 ... you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them.

Day 3 - Monday, May 7th

The Woodberry Inn was a good find by Karen and Aila ... good food, good accommodations, and a stones throw from the Parkway.  It also meant we had the option of backtracking to yesterday's end point.  That equated to 12 miles and about 1,400 feet of climbing.  With over 30,000 feet of climbing ahead of me and my legs already a bit tired, I figured 1,4000 less would be just fine.  Joe and Jeff made quick work of that stretch and we headed out together toward Mabry Mill.

Mill Reflection on Pond is Cool ... Note Jeff's New Roark Behind Me
Mabry Mill was built by Edwin Boston Mabry in 1903 and included a blacksmith, wheelwright shop, sawmill, and operated as gristmill.  Today it is a great picture spot and chance to see how life was in Appalachia over 100 years ago.  They have a great restaurant known for its buckwheat pancakes ... will have to pencil that in for the next time.

Jeff Leads Us Out ... Very Light Traffic

Great Shot of Me and Joe Making  a Turn

The weather was a bit brisk, but dry ... mostly overcast and quite foggy as we rolled up and down.  Unlike the first two days, we had no real big climbs.  This enabled us to stay together pretty much the whole day.  We still climbed almost 3,500 feet in 44 miles.  A pretty short and a lot easier of day by our standards. The last three days of our trip will test us big time as we climb to over 6,000 feet peaks.  Hope it stays dry.

That's Me Emerging From the Fog ... Joe Snapped Some Great Shots of Me This Trip

200 Down ...
Today's ride was shorter because the Parkway was closed from MP 218 - MP 248 for reconstruction of the historic rock masonry walls in that section.  Just before the road closure, we entered North Carolina.

A Chance for an Early Celebration

Joe and I on the Final Hill Before the Road Closure

On to Sparta

We stayed in Sparta, NC about 12 miles from the closure.  Joe and Karen spent the evening with Joe's mom in Fries, VA near the New River Trail.  

Click Here to See My Route and Data (a little off due to battery issue) -- 05/07/12 Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 174 - 218

Day 4 - Tuesday, May 8th

I contemplated posting just one picture today ...

This Says It All

Rain, rain, and more rain ... and it was chili too.  As you can see from the photo, Joe was not fazed.  Jeff was less than happy.  I was somewhere in the middle, but leaning toward Jeff's way of thinking.  Our plan was to ride from either MP 236 or MP 248 to Boone/Blowing Rock at MP 294.  The road closure did not let us backtrack (thankfully), so we set out for for another short 46 mile day.  The hills were a bit more up and down then yesterday, but still nothing like our first two days.  That said, the 46 mile route had over 5,600 feet of climbing.  Only Joe would do it all.

Unloading For a Very Soggy and Cold Day

One of the Few Pictures of Jeff (Yellow) and Me (Green)
We stopped at the Northwest Trading Post at MP 259 and met up with Karen and Aila.  After getting back on the bike, I was really cold for several miles.  The weather just stunk and to top it off my already failing Garmin computer stopped tracking the elevation and grades accurately due to all the rain.  This made climbing somewhat of a guessing game as I could not see things on my computer or up the road due to the poor visibility. Another 14 miles later, Jeff and I had enough and called it a day.  Iron Man Joe pushed on and made it to Blowing Rock.  It actually stopped raining for him the last 10 miles or so.

Joe Pushes On Alone
Jeff, Aila, and I drove to Boone for a hot shower and lunch at neat local diner (Troy's).  The sun was actually shining, but would turn rainy again later.  Karen followed Joe to the end and joined us a few hours later.  We had a memorable dinner at Coyote Kitchen and a second milkshake at Troy's (been a long time since I did that, but Joe had to have one too).

Great Southwestern "Bowl" for Dinner

With the rain, I only rode 25 miles, but still climbed almost 3,300 feet.  Click Here to See My Route and Data (had to use import Jeff's data ... speed information is off) -- 05/08/12 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 248 - 273.  That brings me to almost 225 miles and over 21,000 feet of climbing so far.

Tomorrow is a rest day in Boone, NC and Blowing Rock, NC.  Time to sleep in and rest those legs for the last three days.  Joe is also blogging at ... check it out for more pictures.

Day 5 - Wednesday, May 9th

We slept in until 8:30 then had a quiet breakfast at the hotel.  During breakfast, we conducted our version of "route wrap" and planned out the next three days.  We had originally targeted around 60 miles a day, but in attempt to shorten our last day and get back to Maryland without having to stay over at a hotel, we have lengthened day 6 to be a killer ... now planning for 83 miles and over 9,000 feet of climbing.  Joe and Jeff are also planning a bonus 5 mile 1,400 foot climb (killer grades) of Mount Mitchell that will give them over 10,000 feet for the day.  I hope it stays dry and warm.  I have told Aila and Karen to stay close as I have a feeling I may skip one of the massive climbs. 

We are also scheduled to meet up with Jeff and Sondra Lazer and Pam Estrada from ABB.  They are on their way to lead the Great Mississippi Ride ... 25 Days from New Orleans, LA to Minneapolis, MN from May 14th to June 8th.

After a relaxing morning, we headed to Blowing Rock for lunch and a nice stroll through town.  Blowing Rock is a quaint little spot with lots of inns, shopping, and dining.  It was cold and drizzly, but we were able to window shop and hit a few of the stores and park. My Karen would have liked the gardening stores and local garden art. Perhaps a weekend trip to one of the local inns/spas is in order for the future.

Appropriately Located Outside the Library

This Would Look Good in Our Garden

Could This Be My Karen in About 20 Years?
Given the weather, we did not stop at the actual "Blowing Rock".  It is a huge cliff 4,000 feet above sea level, overhanging Johns River Gorge 3,000 feet below. The phenomenon is so called because the rocky walls of the gorge form a flume through which the northwest wind sweeps with such force that it returns light objects cast over the void.

Blowing Rock
Legend has it that a Chickasaw maiden, daydreaming on the craggy cliff, spied a Cherokee brave in the wilderness below and playfully shot an arrow in his direction. The flirtation worked because soon he courted her with songs of his land and they became lovers.  One day a strange reddening of the sky brought the brave and the maiden to The Blowing Rock. To him it was a sign of trouble commanding his return to his tribe in the plains. With the maiden’s entreaties not to leave her, the brave, torn by conflict of duty and heart, leaped from The Rock into the wilderness far below. The grief-stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one evening with a reddening sky, a gust of wind blew her lover back onto The Rock and into her arms. From that day a perpetual wind has blown up onto The Rock from the valley below.

We ate lunch at a proper English pub (Six Pence Pub) that had a nice selection of beers.  I was so chili, we stopped at a local sporting goods store where I bought a new Under Armour base layer.  Dinner in Boone tonight then off to bed early ... lots of work (and some fun too) lay in store tomorrow.

Jeff and Joe Raise a Glass

Karen and Aila Sample the Lighter Options
Good Night Moon ... Good Night Rain (Go Away) ... Good Night Climbs ... Good Night Family ... Good Night Friends ...

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