Once talking rocks for two hours with a Va Tech prof, and wondering the halls of the geology building reading posters and papers for an hour, I struck out for North Carolina. The main goal was to drive a good portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway down to Boone, NC and get a bike ride in. The parkway was splendid, full of turns, expansive Appalachain vistas, and little traffic. Reminding myself to slow down, to let everything soak in did the trick, and despite heavy cloud cover for the majority of the drive, I had a big smile on my face at the end. After about three hours of Blue Ridge driving, I was in Boone, and fine folks at a local bike shop, pointed me in the direction of a good bike ride. I headed down the road to the town of Blowing Rock, which was a fitting name, because for the second day in a row, the wind was blowing.
The guys in Boone told me to ride on Highway 321, however they neglected to tell me that my ride would start with an 8 mile winding descent through a couple of construction zones (which means an 8 mile climb through construction zones on the way back). As usual for this part of the country, the expansive views of rolling hills were great, making me realize that Michael Mann did a great job picking his filming locations for Last of the Mohicans. The other great aspect to riding in this part of the country are the countless roadside stands that sell boiled peanuts (which I would pick up on the drive out of town). The wind was howling, and made me regret not putting on some arm warmers, but after delaying my eight mile climb back to town for long enough, I started the climb. In the tradition of my stupidity, I got into my "pick a gear and don't shift" mentality, and spent probably somewhere between 35 and 40 minutes slaving up the climb.
After getting back to town and exploring some local country roads, I got back to the car and changed back to street clothes. My original plans had been to visit and old college friend in Charlotte, but after making and appointment to meet with a prof in Knoxville early Wednesday afternoon, I realized that the 2.5 hour trip in the wrong direction was a bad idea. Instead, I headed towards Asheville, and through the help of Slohio Rob, got hooked up with Shana of Endless Cycles, who was kind enough to let me sleep on her futon. After introductions we headed to a garage where a crew of cyclists had converged to drink (Olde English for me) and shoot the breeze. I have heard nothing but great things about both Asheville the city, and the riding surrounding it, and was rather bummed out I wouldn't be able to get a ride in. After a good night's rest, I packed up the car and headed out for Knoxville, but not before Shana made me a quality cup of coffee. So with that I offer a huge thanks the Shana for her kindness, knowing that the next time I have to buy a cog for one of my bikes it will be from her.
Your humble author along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Rock descriptions on the highway make me happy