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  1. #1
    Spin it off, Snack Fairy! Alasdair's Avatar
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    Cherokee Cycling

    I am planning a vacation with the family this summer to Cherokee, NC. Anybody have any good routes in Cherokee for a novice climber?
    Experience is that thing you get just after you needed it.

  2. #2
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    You could try to get over to Tsali. Its really tame riding. I don't know of a lot right in the Cherokee area. You could just come back over to Pisgah and forget Cherokee.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

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    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    I was in Bryson City and Cherokee last July and saw lots of cyclists doing Saturday morning rides on US 74 and US 441. No big groups. Mostly solo and single file groups of 2-3.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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    Spin it off, Snack Fairy! Alasdair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH
    I was in Bryson City and Cherokee last July and saw lots of cyclists doing Saturday morning rides on US 74 and US 441. No big groups. Mostly solo and single file groups of 2-3.
    Yeah, 74 looks like fun, although some of the climbs may be challenging to me. I am a masher and not a spinner - I see some of those hills breaking me of that. I'll also need to get a 12-27 cassette to replace me 11-23.
    Experience is that thing you get just after you needed it.

  5. #5
    Spin it off, Snack Fairy! Alasdair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker66
    You could try to get over to Tsali. Its really tame riding. I don't know of a lot right in the Cherokee area. You could just come back over to Pisgah and forget Cherokee.
    Sorry, I just naturally assume the world is road cycling. Unless there are routes I haven't heard of, Tsali is mostly (all) MTB, right?
    Experience is that thing you get just after you needed it.

  6. #6
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alasdair
    I am planning a vacation with the family this summer to Cherokee, NC.
    How much money are you planning on losing at Harrah's?
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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  7. #7
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Call or stop by the bike shop at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. They can give you plenty of options for rides in the area.

  8. #8
    I-M-D bell curve of bikn'
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    Plus one on the NOC.............
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  9. #9
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    Where are you in the Upstate exactly?

    If you need some practice, there are always Paris Mtn hill repeats as well as Ceasar's Head to get used to the climbing.

  10. #10
    sch
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    I usually come in from the Gburg side, but the ride upto the crest on 441 out of Cherokee is a fairly nice one. You have to be aware traffic is significant any time of year in the Smokies on either side of the mountains, but it tends to be a little bit slower and laid back in the park than out. The first 8mi or so out of Cherokee is 15-17mph terrain, then the terrain begins to steepen up to 6-8% grades for the next 10mi until you begin the final climb to the pre-crest area around a couple of big hairpins. After a mile or so downhill the last 2 miles upto the gap gives you 21 mi uphill. It is not a big deal to go on the additional 7mi to Clingman's Dome from the gap, of the 7mi, 6 are uphill, 1mile downhill. But the elevation change is not so bad (2000' in that 6miles) and it is (mostly downhill on the way back. It has been pretty snowy there this winter but by summer most if not all the sand and gravel spread over the winter should be gone and you should be able to let it rip going down, barring a car blockade. From the Gburg side I like to do the Gburg to Cades Cove and around the Cades Cove loop and back, about 58-60mi if you start from the Sugarlands ranger station. No long bad climbs and really nice scenery along the Little River road. Take along enough fuel. Water is not too hard to find. I always hankered to do the Heintooga loop out of Cherokee, but it starts out on the Blue Ridge Parkway and is formidably steep for the first 5 miles or so, even in a car it was impressive. After that the 5miles to the end of the paved part is not bad, I walked about a mile down the (closed at the time) gravelled part and felt a road bike with appropriate tires (Gatorskins or similar heavy types) could do at least that part, but it is 11 or more miles of gravel. From the topo maps the terrain after the first 8 miles or so doesn't look too forbidding, over all length I forget,
    but 20miles or so, with the last several being downhill and paved again. The county/state/federal roads outside the park will be hilly, windy and challenging for terrain and traffic. Some of the roads, ie to Tsali, NOC etc on past Bryson City are down the valley types but heavily trafficed. Roads a little further out into the next valley east may be a little better but are unknown terrain to me. Asheville area has a lot of attractive riding. There is also a gravel road that circumnavigates the northern border of the park, but you will be wayyy out in the boonies up there with uncertain cell phone functioning if trouble develops.

  11. #11
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    The NC side of US 441 in the Park is currently being resurfaced. I wouldn't recommend riding that section from the entrance to Newfound Gap.

  12. #12
    sch
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    Good news if the 441 is being resurfaced. They resurfaced the Townsend to Cades cove road 1-2yrs ago and the improvement was dramatic. It was getting pretty raunchy before with all the patching. Little River road is still in good shape, just drove it in Jan '07. Might be worth a look at the park website, as I suspect they will make a big push to finish resurfacing before summer. The Gburg to the crest side was resurfaced in '05 in the 'off season'. One other thing, it is a pretty good drive, but the "Dragon" from Fontana damlake over the hill to the southern side of the park is heavily trafficed but so twisty you can go faster than the cars can down the hill. Taking the eastern route just before Fontana and going up to Santeehlah lake and Joyce Kilmer is a nice bike ride and going past Joyce Kilmer to the Cherohala parkway is a really nice bike ride, though it is 15-16mi uphill (6-8% grades) and 1-1.5mi downhill on the trip upto 5400'. The Smoky Mtn bike club does a century (115mi) from Tellico Plains using these roads in mid June.
    www.smwbike.org

  13. #13
    Free Velo Vol! Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Obviously, our definitions of words vary, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend a few of the longer climbs suggested above for a "novice" climber.

  14. #14
    sch
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    Yup, some of what I mentioned is a bit outre, but you don't have to
    do the whole route, IE Cherokee up 441 10-15miles toward the gap
    out and then back is a very nice not particularly hard ride. The problem
    is there really are not very many manageable road rides in the local
    Cherokee area because of the narrow roads and formidable traffic
    esp in June. Blue Ridge Parkway is not too bad after the first 5-8 miles
    or so, but the first 5mi really are a challenge. There are a few camp
    ground loops. Also just remembered the "Road to Nowhere" north
    out of Bryson city that is fairly bike friendly and there is a 5 mi loop
    in the Deep Crk campground that is just north of Bryson City.
    One other thing, you have to like motorcycles on some of these roads,
    Gull wings are ok but 15 blatting, belching HD are not. Cherohala is full
    of the monsters. The ride from Fontana to Joyce Kilmer likewise is not
    at all overwhelming and fairly pleasant traffic wise.

  15. #15
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    There are plenty of local rides on quiet roads anytime of year in the area around Cherokee. You just have to know to stay off the main roads during busy periods. Again, check in at the NOC for more info.

  16. #16
    Spin it off, Snack Fairy! Alasdair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH
    How much money are you planning on losing at Harrah's?
    None! I don't gamble. I actually went to Cherokee early this last fall to take my kids. I am decended from Cherokee (Great Grandmother) and thought of seeking tribal membership. Going back to spend a few more days in the area and maybe do some more research.
    Experience is that thing you get just after you needed it.

  17. #17
    Spin it off, Snack Fairy! Alasdair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamiewilson3
    Where are you in the Upstate exactly?

    If you need some practice, there are always Paris Mtn hill repeats as well as Ceasar's Head to get used to the climbing.
    I am in the Greenwood area. We have a group planning on riding through the Pisgah forest from Brevard to the Parkway and back this coming Spring.

    All of our climbing here is usually less than a mile and around 5-6% max. I am a recovering masher, so short hills are no problem. It's the long ones that kill me!
    Experience is that thing you get just after you needed it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member cooperwx's Avatar
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    Yeah, some road riding up here will cure you of the mashies real quick. The ride from Brevard -> Parkway has quite a bit of climbing.

    As far as a flatter ride out of Cherokee, may I suggest a ride down US 19 to Bryson City and out the North Shore Road, a.k.a. "Road to Nowhere." It would be tough to get lost (like two turns) and traffic would be pretty low in the mornings.
    06 Trek 7.5 FX

  19. #19
    Spin it off, Snack Fairy! Alasdair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooperwx
    Yeah, some road riding up here will cure you of the mashies real quick. The ride from Brevard -> Parkway has quite a bit of climbing.

    As far as a flatter ride out of Cherokee, may I suggest a ride down US 19 to Bryson City and out the North Shore Road, a.k.a. "Road to Nowhere." It would be tough to get lost (like two turns) and traffic would be pretty low in the mornings.
    Cool. I had read something about the Road to Nowhere once. Sounds like a good ride. Do you know if there is a route on RouteSlip or similar site?
    [EDIT] Found the Road to Nowhere route on Route Slip. I swear I had looked a few months ago and couldn't find it!
    Experience is that thing you get just after you needed it.

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