September 12, 2023

A perfect day for cycling. Great weather, good roads, and little traffic. The only downer to a wonderful day was a Parkway Road closure. At the 30-mile mark of our 45-mile day, the Parkway was closed for repair. We rode around the barricade hoping for a bit of luck but about a mile up the road a huge dozer was at work so we turned around, found Mary Ann and her truck, changed clothes, and made our way to Sparta, NC. We crossed the NC state line a few miles before we hit the closure and are at the 260-mile park, just five miles shy of the halfway point.

One of the big surprises for me on this trip has been the change in topography. I am accustomed to the hills and vistas of the Parkway around the Asheville area. From mile marker 0 for the first 175 or so miles, the views and vistas were reminiscent of Asheville. Pretty much since Roanoke, we’ve been cycling through farmland and forest. Still beautiful and serene, but in a different way. To truly grasp these changes, I think they are best captured from the seat of a bicycle. Even driving at the Parkway speed of 45 mph, it’s tough to take in all the different types of beauty we are encountering.

We expect a far greater amount of climbing tomorrow as we make our way to Boone, NC. Boone is a lovely mountain town, one Pam and I have visited on occasion and I’m looking forward to the experience. From Boone, until we end in Cherokee, the going gets tough with longer mileage and significant hills.  It should be fun! More tomorrow from Boone with a few photos. I am typing this blog on the front porch of the B&B we’re staying in tonight. Lodging around this area is rather limited. Best to all until tomorrow.

Read more


Tale of two rides. Sunday, September 10, ride #4 was one we likely won’t forget. The weather in Roanoke dawned overcast with a prediction of rain. We dallied, watching the radar, but decided to move ahead with our ride to the outskirts of Floyd, VA. The photo on the left does not do justice to the torrential downpour we rode in for 90% of this 43.68-mile ride with 3,589 feet of climbing. It was a very difficult day. At higher elevations, it was heavy fog which necessitated intense concentration and the need to be hyper-alert. There were 12 climbs on this route of varying distances and gradients. The longest, at 8.02 miles was a real gut-buster into the wind and rain. Thank goodness for Mary Ann. She did an admirable job of shepherding us, often driving with her blinkers on to keep other vehicles from coming up to us in the fog. Before someone says we are crazy, yes, we admit it. Never once did we think to quit. I commented as we climbed out of our sopping clothes alongside the truck, still in the rain, that this ride was far more a mental challenge than a physical one. I think that’s one of the allures of cycling. Cycling is such a difficult sport once you are past the recreational cyclist mode. Having the mental capability to continue pushing yourself is one of the attributes that draws a certain personality to this sport. Most people would not understand, which I get, but I find it a fascinating mental exercise when we’re in challenging circumstances such as on Sunday.

Our hotel reservations were in Floyd, VA, and what a surprise. Floyd turned out to be a delightful town with a terrific hotel, great dining, and outstanding entertainment. I snapped the third photo at the top while getting coffee in the Floyd Country Store. On Sunday afternoons, they have a no-charge community musical and the locals were kicking up a storm. Floyd, VA would be a great weekend getaway. Outdoor activities, excellent hotels, and dining. Pam and I need to return.

Ride 5 – Monday, September 11. The contrast between yesterday’s weather and today was startling. Cool and crisp at the higher elevations, we started out wearing cycling jackets to stay warm but within a couple of miles, we encountered the first of 10 climbs in the 38.2 miles we covered today. None of the climbs were particularly challenging but seemed to come one right after another with no time to recover. We climbed almost 3,600 feet in the 38 miles which was about 95 feet of climbing per mile – no easy task. However, the beautiful weather combined with very little traffic made for a joyous ride. The terrain in this section of the Parkway is far different from what we encountered on the first few rides. We rode among beautiful farmland and thick woodlands that offered none of the scenic overlooks of previous rides. We passed several dilapidated old farmhouses. It made me think of what became of the inhabitants, perhaps displaced by the Parkway claiming eminent domain. That’s the beauty of these rides – the opportunity to ask questions that pop into your mind that are usually buried by the business of our daily lives. Today, Rusty kept passing me on the downhills which made me think about the law of gravity. We ended up researching Isaac Newton and Galileo and gravity over a glass of wine.

At the end of today’s ride, we encountered two cyclists from Winston-Salem who often ride this part of the Parkway. They informed us that parts of our next two-day rides are likely closed. We researched the Parkway website but could not confirm so it will be interesting to see what develops.

Thought of the day:  I am studying a concept called misogi. Misogi has evolved from ancient Japanese times and now refers to the idea of breaking out of your comfort zone and attempting to do challenging and remarkable that add zest and meaning to your life. I won’t bore you with the details as it would likely add some folks thoughts about why I attempt things like this bike ride, but I will close by saying how grateful I am to be able to attempt these adventures and for friends like Rusty and Mary Ann who willingly join me. Thanks guys!

Read more