We passed Aho Gap, NC about halfway through today’s ride. I wish I could say this was named after a long-departed relative but since my grandparents came from Finland, it must be another factor. Due to Parkway road closures, we played hopscotch today. The goal was 40 miles but we encountered another set of barriers at the 12-mile mark. Loaded our bikes onto Mary Ann’s truck, followed the detour, and once back on the Parkway, completed 19 additional miles for a total of 31.4 miles. We are back in the mountains and out of the more gentle rolling countryside. Today we faced numerous climbs, many 3 to 5 miles. One 3.2 miler was at 8 & 9 degrees gradient the entire way. The day totaled 3,700 feet of climbing which makes it about 118 feet of climbing per mile. Without question, a challenging day. The good news is it looks like the Parkway road closures are behind us. However, it looks like we will face even more climbing per day than we did today.
We arrived in the Boone, NA area at about noon and the traffic was considerable. Undoubtedly, it will be the same when we hit Asheville. Today’s rides were reminiscent of the first few days of our trip. Beautiful vistas, scattered farmland. We learned that the Parkway owns much of the land on either side of the road. We saw farms with neatly stacked bundles of hay and learned that the Parkway allows farmers in certain areas to grow hay with the stipulation they must keep the fields neat. With just a few exceptions, the Parkway road has been in magnificent shape and we’ve experienced very few instances of litter.
Tomorrow, we start the final leg of our journey. We’re riding from the Boone area to Little Switzerland. The name is significant. The hills (mountains) and scenery look like they could have been transplanted from European Switzerland. Tomorrow’s ride is pegged at 40 miles with significant climbing. However, we have a rest day on Friday. Pam is joining us tomorrow evening and I’m looking forward to seeing her. Saturday, Rusty’s son Lucas, along with a member of the Blue Ridge cycling club, and two of Rusty and Mary Ann’s friends from Nashville will join us for the final three rides. These folks are far younger so I’m going to have to be patient, follow my game plan, and not attempt to chase them. However, I’m looking forward to the experience. MaryAnn is compiling several photos which she will make available post-ride. It should add to what has been a terrific and rewarding adventure.