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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Smoky Mountain Riding

    Iím going to be staying at the Above the Clouds cabins on a ridge of Cove Mountain in Wear Valley, Tennessee this August. Itís a family reunion in which a day is set aside to watch the eclipse. Iíll be bringing a road bike and am looking for three routes in the 30-60 mile range. I enjoy lots of vertical both for the climbing and descending. Iím thinking this area has much to offer.

    I see the main road being route 321. How is this for riding? Iíd definitely prefer quieter roads but am not a big fan of gravel. It looks like Iíll be near Lyon Springs Road. Would this be a good starting road?
    Iíve never been to this area so Iím kind of shooting blind. Any feedback from those who know the area would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks.
    2012 Motobecane Le Champion Team Titanium
    2002 Jamis Eclipse
    2000 Specialized Allez Elite

  2. #2
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    You're in great road riding area.

    321 is not great for riding - 4 lane divided highway, but it has a shoulder and you can ride on it, it's not too dangerous. Now the part of 321 that is Wears Valley is windy and hilly, no shoulder, lots of traffic at times. But you can ride Wears Valley during non-peak hours. You've got great options from your cabin. Take Lyon Springs towards the park, go thru Metcalf Bottoms to get to Little River Road. You'll have a long steep climb to get there. Then you're at River Rd - take a right and loop back to 321, take a right on Wears Valley to get back to your cabin. Actually, that ride flows better if you do it in the opposite direction.

    Or when you get to River Rd, take a left and you'll have a long gradual climb (4 miles) up Fighting Creek Gap, then take a right on 441. Then you've got about a 10 mile climb to Newfound Gap (5,200 ft), and you can go another 7 miles (mostly up) to Clingmans' Dome, which is only about 30 feet lower than Mt. Mitchell. That's an out and back ride, and LOTS of traffic on 441. Go very early in the day if you do that.

    A good starting point is where Wears Valley Rd meets 321. Anywhere you go off of 321 you'll start climbing. For a 7+ mile climb (4-5% grade), look at Foothills Parkway, which is probably 4-5 miles from that point. If you take Old Walland Hwy back towards Knoxville/Maryville, which parallels 321, you're on one of the most popular biking routes in the area, and it's relatively flat. Again, go off the main roads if you want to climb.

    The local club is Foothills Striders. Foothill Striders

  3. #3
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    p.s., you need to head west/southwest for the eclipse. The epicenter around our area is in Sweetwater. All the cheap interstate hotels are all booked up. I've already planned a gravel ride up to the Cherohala Skyway to enjoy the day.

  4. #4
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    Thanks very much for all the info including specific roads! Iíll use that with ridewithgps.com to map out some routes before I go. I donít use a GPS so Iíll be printing maps. Maybe I can post the routes here and you could take a look. A friend of mine had mentioned Clingmanís Dome as a good and challenging destination.
    2012 Motobecane Le Champion Team Titanium
    2002 Jamis Eclipse
    2000 Specialized Allez Elite

  5. #5
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    Everything mentioned is main roads sort of and nothing is steep. All gradual climbs, pretty boring.

    Over by the foothills parkway, look at Butterfly Gap and Happy Valley Road (Walland Wall) as alternate routes up to Look Rock.

    Go to Strava and do the segment explore thing. Click ride and click the slider to whatever category you want. There's everything in the area from HC to steep Cat 2 stuff and everything below as well, lots to choose from.
    use a torque wrench

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