Day 3: Saturday July 7th
There is very little traffic on the BRP early in the morning. It’s an amazing experience to have this magnificent road nearly all to oneself. Surprisingly, I passed a lot of Lance Armstrong types, dedicated bicyclists riding the mountains. I mean, these folks were MILES from the nearest exit, pedaling uphill on grades that went on and on and on and on. These dedicated athletes have my respect…but I’ll take the Rogue any day!
The road surface is as close to perfect as you’ll ever see. Smooth, no potholes, just a pleasure to ride on. But the tunnels are DARK. There are no lights inside, and the transition from bright sunlight to dark tunnel leaves you nearly blind. The tunnels are short so you are out of them before your eyes have a chance to adjust. The road inside the tunnels was almost always wet as well, so I made it a habit to slow down and lower my sunglasses just as I entered the tunnel. Note the tunnel entrance smack in the middle of the picture below.
I stopped at Linville Falls around 11:30am to stretch my legs. A coworker had told me about it, so I hiked the ¾ miles to the highest overlook. Well worth it.
The mountains were cool and dry, but there are no facilities on the Parkway, so as the gas gauge fell to the last bar, I exited at Rt. 80 and went south about 15 miles to Pleasant Gardens, NC. Once again, I was surprised by the temperature differential between the Mountains and the valleys. It was easily a 15° difference. Some will argue, but IMHO, that stretch of 80 going south from the BRP is just as challenging and demanding as the Dragon. In fact, some consider it more demanding because of the 2500′ in change in elevation. So, it was about a 30+ mile detour for gas, but the twisties made it worthwhile. Click on the map below to see the entire route.
Some of the sights along NC 80.
All of the BRP in North Carolina is beautiful.
I didn’t enjoy Virginia quite as much – the terrain flattened out a bit, and the suburbs encroached on the parkway in places. But still, a great ride.
My goal was to camp at Sherando Lake in George Washington National Forest which is about 4.5 miles off the Parkway on Highway 814, close to the end of the BRP in Virginia . But I didn’t get there until about 9:30pm and it was filled up, so I backtracked to the Parkway and rode to the end. Then I had another 15 mile excursion to find a hotel. I finally found one with a room in Waynesboro VA . It was a long day of riding, I was weary, and I have to admit, the shower and bed felt pretty good after two nights on the ground.