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Old 08-04-13, 04:41 PM   #1
lookinUp 
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Blue Ridge Pkwy - Little Switzerland

I'll be in Little Switzerland for a couple of weeks and plan to (TRY) riding on the BR Parkway. I'm debating between taking my Trek 520 touring bike - with nice low gearing as opposed to taking the Madone. The Madone does have a triple, but no serious 'granny' gear (and I'm a serious granny). But... the 520 weighs a TON!!

I rode the Parkway from Asheville to Fancy Gap, VA about twenty years ago, but have lived in Florida way too long and figure it isn't going to be easy now that I'm old. Any suggestions about riding the Parkway, or specific areas along the Parkway to ride between Little Switzerland and Boone or even a little further north would be appreciated. I understand it is closed headed south just past Mt. Mitchel.
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Old 08-05-13, 07:00 AM   #2
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I vote for the 520... come on, it's a Trek 520!
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Old 08-05-13, 07:39 AM   #3
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Parkway grades:
Most grades on the Parkway are a moderate 6% or less. But there's a few climbs where part of the climb gets to a quite steep 8-9%. Your Madone with a triple should be fine. You probably have a 30-27 low gear on it, good for the steepest Parkway grades. (That's the equivalent of between a 34-30 and a 34-31 for bike with 50/34 compact cranks.)

For me, climbs on the Parkway are nothing like the local 300 foot climbs. A 1000 foot climb on the Parkway seems way easier than three 300 foot local climbs. The Parkway climbs have a steady grade, and there's all kinds of scenery, from distant views to woods to rock walls. I know it's a long climb, so I slow down to a sustainable pace, and I'm at the top sooner than I expected.

It's the side roads leading up to the Parkway that can get very steep.


Routes:
Moses Cone Craft Center to the Linn Cove visitor's center. See my ridewithgps map. It's just 22 miles round trip.

This is one of the best rides on the Parkway, a must-do route. It was the first ride I did on the Parkway, years ago. Before I got there, the big climb intimidated me, coming from SW Ohio. But it's a steady grade, so I just enjoyed the views, rode at a sustainable pace, and got to the top easier and sooner than I expected. The return downhill was fun. There's no sharp turns or cars pulling out of side streets, so it's safe and enjoyable.

It starts with a downhill, then 3 miles of gradual uphill to the big 800 foot high climb to the Linn Cove Viaduct. The climb has great views all the way up, and there's some scenic overlooks to stop at on the way up. Then you cross the Viaduct and continue on to the visitor center. On the way back, you have a 5 mile downhill, then end with a climb back to Moses Cone.

The Viaduct:



Little Switzerland to Linville Falls visitor center. One-way route map.

I haven't done this section of the Parkway, but it looks interesting.

This route starts in Little Switzerland and rides along the mountain ridge top. There should be good views all along this section. This part is fairly flat for the southern Parkway, with the biggest climb just 270 feet. A nice mix of climbing and descending.

The big climb is 1100 feet in 3.5 miles. The grades are mostly 5-6%, so take it easy on the climb. You could turn around at the top at the 13.0 mile mark (or sooner!), or continue down the other side to Linville Falls.




North from Blowing Rock. Here's a one-way sample route. It starts at the next high overlook north from Moses Cone, to avoid climbing back up at the end of the ride. (I haven't ridden this exact route.) Near the turnaround, after crossing US 421, it heads uphill. You can turn around at the overlook at the 16 mile mark to start the return route with a downhill. Or even turn around at the top of the climb at the 12.7 mile mark.

I think this goes almost to E B Jeffress Park, which has a picnic area, but I don't know if there's water there, and I'm not exactly sure of it's location on the route map. It's probably a half mile onward from the route's turnaround point.

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Old 08-05-13, 10:54 AM   #4
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rm-rf ... MANY Thanks! That's just the kind of info I was looking for.
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Old 08-05-13, 01:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lookinUp View Post
rm-rf ... MANY Thanks! That's just the kind of info I was looking for.
You know, I've never ridden that route north from Little Switzerland, but it does sound good. Post a ride report if you try it out.
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Old 08-05-13, 02:14 PM   #6
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rm-rf -

the maps you reference are private and since I don't have an account, I'm unable to view them
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Old 08-05-13, 05:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by lookinUp View Post
rm-rf -

the maps you reference are private and since I don't have an account, I'm unable to view them
oops.

Moses Cone Craft Center to the Linn Cove visitor's center. This one was marked private. Try it now.

And I had the wrong link on North from Blowing Rock I corrected it in the post, and here it is too.


On all these ridewithgps maps: Pull down the Map list at top right, and click Terrain. Now you can zoom all the way in and see the mountains shaded in. Each contour line is 40 feet, and the darker lines are 200 feet apart. The start of the Little Switzerland to Linville Falls visitor center route runs right along the rim of a huge valley, 1500 feet deep, with even taller mountains across the valley.

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Old 08-06-13, 05:30 PM   #8
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I would recommend your Madone. As rm says, the grades are not steep and a road bike will be more comfortable - not to mention agile and responsive. You will not find grades like you find in Clermont.

Touring bikes are best for loading touring - and the 520 is a good one. But for general road riding, nothing beats a good road bike.

With two weeks to burn, you can try other routes in the area.
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Old 08-07-13, 05:12 PM   #9
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Many thanks for the good links. I also checked Map My Ride and found a bunch of additional maps along the Parkway.
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Old 08-07-13, 05:53 PM   #10
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I would start with this loop;
start @ Beacon Heights parking- go south on brp to Hollaway MTn rd to 221. 221 towards linville back to Beacon Heights. There is also a nice flat 35 mile loop along the Toe River starting and ending in Burnsville.
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Old 10-12-13, 08:40 PM   #11
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LookingUp - How'd your tour go? Which rig did you end up taking (forgive me if you indicated and I missed the post :- ).
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