NealH and I joined the Canary Coalition for their sponsored Ride For Clean Air today. Our friends began the ride at 6:15am at Newfound Gap at the NC/Tn border in Great Smoky Mtn NP and cruised down the mountain with lights until we met them at the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We got under way about 7:20 on the Oconaluftee River elevation 2020' and began the 10 mile climb to Lickstone Ridge at 5300'
Neal gets ready to climb.
The weather was cool but humid this morning with a fair amount of fog.
We traded off the banner as we rode, well Odell and Neal carried it mostly.
We slowly climbed above the clouds.
We descended 3 miles to Soco Gap and then rode up to Waterrock Knob 4.8 miles and 1450'. From the gap at the Knob we dropped down 8.5 foggy miles and 2450' to Balsam Gap. At Balsam Gap 3360' we picked up a few more relay riders. The two that started up at Newfound Gap turned down the hill to town while Neal and I continued another 12.5 miles to the high point of the BRP at 6053'. The clouds cleared and it was a perfect morning for a ride.
By the time we got to Richland Balsam, we had climbed 7500' in 38.5 miles, 26 of it climbing. It was the turn around point for us. The group had grown to about 20 riders by this point as the relay continued on to Asheville via bike, run and hiking. We ate a sub from the support van and turned down the mountain towards town.
24.5 miles later we were back in town looking for a second lunch! Ride totals were 63 miles, 7800' of climbing and one great morning on the bike.
It was a great route and ride! And supporting a good cause adds an element of satisfaction to the day. Enjoyed the company of those that participated and we had really good weather, especially for climbing (and we certainly did our share - my Garmin reported right at 7900'). It was the virtually endless descent from Richland Balsam down through Balsam and on to Sylva that I realized just how much climbing we had done. And to think the upcoming Tour de Tuck has all this and even more!
Our group picture at Richland Balsam. Thanks to Avram Friedman and his wife for taking this shot - and for coordinating the event and supporting the participants.
Our profile for Saturday's ride: The cursor sits on Richland Balsam. I started the Garmin about a half mile into the ride, so the start elevation shows 2200' but, its really 2020'. Lot of climbing, and a lot of descending. Classic Western NC Parkway.
Here is a picture of our hosts for the Canary Coalition - getting ready to take a picture:
Vanity has its way, here is a self portrait on the way up:
Andy and I rode from Sylva to Waterrock Knob today for our recovery ride. 40 miles and 4090' of gain. Again, we were either climbing or descending. The cursor marks Waterrock Knob.
We ran into a fellow from Texas who is planning to come ride the Parkway. Andy provided him with a good overview of what to expect.
Andy and I at the pinnacle:
We had a 12K' weekend! Both days were super nice for riding. My legs have earned a day off.
I see you added the group picture from Richland Balsam. The neat thing about this ride is the different abilities of the riders that came out to support it. You could ride just a mile if you wanted, be supported by the sag van, or ride nearly 40 miles of the route like Neal and I did. Most of the riders were out for a nice social ride in a beautiful place. There was certainly a fun atmosphere to the ride. I think Jack, who rode with Neal and I the 6 miles up from Balsam Gap was riding for the muffins at the Grassy Ridge rest stop. He mentioned them several times on the ride up there. LOL.