Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day 1 Roanoke to Asheville, 2013

After nixing my plans to take a trip on The Palmetto Trail, I spent the next couple of days hanging out with my wife and kid.  I was definitely disappointed that I was not going to be riding this difficult but scenic route through South Carolina, but as the hours went by, I was increasingly thankful for the quality time.  It was then I realized that for me,  bikepacking is a privileged, not an entitlement.  Somewhere along the line, I picked up an entitlement mentality and that was quickly reeled in.

After some deep thought and discussion with the wife, we decided that it would be feasible to drive with them up to Roanoke and then ride back home.  I was excited to get out on the bike for an overnight trip, it had been late summer since my last trip and I was jonesing.  

 I found a cool online map that shows current Blue Ridge Parkway closures.  Day one I planned to ride to Fancy Gap, which turned out to be 70 miles.  The temp at the start was just below freezing with 15-20 mph winds and highs maybe up to the 40s.   I layered up.  If you have kept up with me since Snake Creek Gap, you know that I am tired of riding in the cold temps.  But, considering the alternative, being cooped up in a house for 3 days.......I took this as an opportunity to challenge myself.

Grover, the ultimate traveling companion.
My Love
 Since the parkway was closed and snowed under, I opted to take Hwy 221 south.  A mostly 2 lane road with mostly rural traffic, cattle farms and houses.  Not as scenic as the parkway, with lots of rolling grunt climbs and some longer climbs.   Picture taking was difficult with the big gloves on.  I managed to take some pictures on day one, less by day 3.  

Bent Mountain, Hwy 221 S.
 I was happy  to be on the bike, semi warm, and quickly deciding that I was not cut out to be a cold weather explorer.  I have had plenty of cold weather adventures, hiking and camping in the snow,  long rides in the snow, and can honestly say that it is not my forte.  I read an article recently that reported some recent research confirming that exercise in the cold is harder on the body than in milder temps.  I can confirm that research. 
Most of the scenery looked like this.
 I made it 30 miles to the town of Floyd, VA and stopped at Subway for lunch.  It was a welcome break, but I got a little chilled while eating.  After a 6inch Italian BMT, I was a distorted kind of happy to get back out on the bike generating some warmth again.  

Floyd, VA
Another 40 miles and I found myself at the destination of Fancy Gap.  I decided before I left to leave the camping gear at home and spend the money for hotels.  I didn't want to battle the cold all night too, so I traveled lighter, and slept really well. 

 Dinner consisted of a mediocre BBQ pulled pork sandwich, and undercooked fries, followed by a pint of Breyers Chocolate ice cream.  Lights out by 9pm and up at 6am after a good nights sleep!

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