Blue Ridge Parkway Tour
So I have set my sights on biking the whole Blue Ridge Parkway this summer. Has anyone on this forum done it before?
I can only get a week off of work, so with the bookend weekends, I would have nine days to bike the whole 469 miles, bike the ~60 miles back to Asheville, drop the steed off at a bike shop to ship it back, then ride the greyhound back to Charlottesville to show up at work clean shaven and chipper on Monday morning. I have done a few touring bike trips and more long rides with my roadie-turned-touring machine on sections of Skyline/BRP, but nothing like this. I also do most of my cycling in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, so I don't have a fear of sustained 6-7% climbs. With 2-3 months of hard training and multiple century rides/2-3 day tours to prepare, is this do-able? Been long distance running for 6 years and cycling for 2 to 3 years, so I am no stranger to endurance endeavors. I have (or will have by departure time) a pretty lightweight kit to enable me to camp just about anywhere I would need to, while keeping the whole bike/gear weight under 45lbs.
Thoughts? Is this a fool hardy endeavor? Lastly, should I opt for a more forgiving low gear combo than my current 39/27 (half joking on the last bit)?
The grades aren't that steep on the Parkway, but they are long. However, if you are carrying panniers and a lot of gear on your bike, that still might be tough with a 39-27 low gear. Have you tried riding your bike loaded with that gearing? If your gearing is not low enough, you could install a compact crank or a mountain bike rear derailleur with a 12-32 or 12-34 cassette for much less money than installing a triple.
The hardest climbs aren't on the Parkway itself, but on the roads leading up to the BRP if you have to ride into nearby towns for food, lodging, supplies, etc. Some of those climbs are long and very steep. You may have to get off the Parkway at times because there aren't many places to get food or lodging right on the BRP.
If you haven't done so, find of copy of this book: Bicycling the Blue Ridge.
Finally, make sure you plan to bring front and rear lights for your bike. The Park Service requires lights for riding through the tunnels on the BRP, and there are plenty of them.
I rode the length from Cherokee, north in September.
6 days of riding - but we were supported with 2 vans and shared driving duties (and stayed in nearby hotels).
The grades in NC are definitely steeper than in VA. I was happy to have put a 27 on the back with my compact crank (50/34) up front. Still, I'm not much of a climber and I found myself at the back of our little group.
1.5 years ago 4 of us ventured to the BRP. Rode 3 days and on the 4th cold (almost freezing) rain and fog settled in on us. We were forced to abandon the trip.
We were supported by a van which was nice. Could stop eat, refill water bottles and drive to eat.
I too am planning on going back this year to finish what I started. My nephew is driving a support car and will be doing some riding also. I am going to pick up where we stopped. In a way I will more than likely be disappointed not completing it as planned but I just cannot leave this ride unfinished.
Not having to really tour is nice with the long climbs. The climb that stands out to me was the first on the second day. Almost 14 miles long. I am not a climber per say and it took me two hours with standard road gearing. I really cannot imagine climbing that long fully loaded but I just have a bike geared for that.
We were planning on splitting camping and hotels. The hotels we chose were not the nicest but it was nice to take a hot shower.
Good luck with your trip.
Shoot me a pm if you want more info.
BTW water holes are few and far between.
Ooo reads like a great ride!
Check out "crazy guy on a bike" tour reports.
I liked this one: 485 miles (780 km) over 7 days. A solo rider with backup car support. Great photos.
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