Monday, April 03, 2017

The Blue Ridge Mountains Loop

 The Blue Ridge Mountains Loop is a loop that I have mapped out that circles the mountains and valleys around Asheville and deep into Pisgah National Forest and the Smokey Mountains National Park.  The route is a mix of gravel and pavement.  The final route is about 30%gravel with 70% pavement. 
 I've been working on the route for a long time, about 4 years.   I came home after doing the Allegheny Mtns Loop and decided to map out something similar in our area. 

Our scenery is beautiful and challenging and I want to share it with the bike packing world.
So I sat down at the computer and started mapping, planning, routing and re-routing.  The original route was about 350 miles.  Pretty huge and some fairly long stretches of pavement.  The route circumnavigated Mt Mitchell

But, as time went by I started whittling  the route down into something more manageable.  Not an easy feat, because there are so many gravel roads in certain areas and I wanted to include a lot of it.   But, then I realized that there is no reason to include everything in this one route. 
 So,  I thought about my goals:
  • Leave from my front door, or anywhere in the Asheville area.
  • Manageable mileage for the weekend warrior or the beginning bike-packer
  • A challenge for those who enjoy pushing through the night and traveling light and fast.  The long distance racer types.  
  • Easy access to services for refills, so one could travel lightly and "live off the land" without having to carry 3 days worth of food, etc.  
  • Access to lodging options including campgrounds, cabins and hotels for those who no longer enjoy sleeping in ditches. 
  • And finally, a route that would showcase our mountains and give a taste of Pisgah and the Smoky Mountains.
 I wound up with a 190 mile route that meets all of the above criteria.   I have not released the map yet, because I wanted to be the first to ride the route, obviously. 

But,  I wanted to release it early this year so that folks could have access to a great route for training or simply the challenge.  I have attempted to complete the route several times but have not quite finished for different reasons.

I'm not quite ready to release the route yet, because there is a portion that I have not scouted, and I don't want to send someone up the wrong road, in the middle of Madison County.   My desire to do this was confirmed when Grace Moon, who kindly gave me  a ride back to civilization when I was disoriented and fatigued.  She asked if I had heard of a place in Madison County called Spillcorn. 

No, I had not. 

She warned that that is one place I didn't want to end up especially on a bike....  I told her I have a way with folks and wasn't too worried.  After all, she had picked me up.   We agreed that not just anyone could pull that off!
 I have  a little bit more route recon to do before releasing the map.  I hope to get that done in the next week or two. 

Stay tuned!

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