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Riding the smokey mountains?

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Riding the smokey mountains?

Old 02-02-16, 04:37 AM
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mrfreezesdefy3
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Riding the smokey mountains?

A group of us went to pigeon forge last weekend , and rode .
I have decided that I'm going to leave ga in the am early one Friday and have my wife or my son go with .
And am gonna ride from Cherokee to the top of new found gap n then have them pick me up at the top because the descent would be to dangerous ,has any one attempted this before? We climbed from Pigeon forge to Gatlinburg sat then on up to chimney top pulloff and came back .but I saw then it's do'able .
Any body thought the same?
That was 2500 ft gain and it's only a 3rd ot the way up but I'm gonna do it ,I realize I might have to pull off on a pulloff n take a break ,but I'm going for it
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Old 02-02-16, 06:55 AM
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I've ridden the other side. Gatlinburg up to Clingman's Dome, then back down. There wasn't anything dangerous about the descent but the weather can be colder and wetter at the top. I went mid week so traffic wasn't too bad.
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Old 02-02-16, 10:39 AM
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The Cherokee side usually seems less crowded than the Gatlinburg side. Generally good pavement, nothing too steep, and the curves are fairly wide. Weekdays are usually not as crazy, and if you finish by 10:00 or so, you'll miss most of the traffic.

You can bet that if I rode up that mountain, I'd darn sure ride back down it!
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Old 02-02-16, 11:20 AM
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Did you have disc brakes?
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Old 02-02-16, 12:04 PM
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I did not. Just a regular road bike with calipers. You might have cold wet stuff here and there this time of year, keep an eye out on the way up. I'm timid on descents, I'd happily take a car ride back down if available but I don't recall any pucker factor. Again, it will be much colder on the way down, be prepared!
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Old 02-02-16, 01:56 PM
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I've seen people biking the Blue Ridge Parkway, too.

Just make sure that you have headlights/taillights. On the BRP, there are tunnels where you'll need the headlights. And since it is mountains, you may ride through the clouds where you'll need the taillights.

GH
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Old 02-02-16, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mrfreezesdefy3 View Post
A group of us went to pigeon forge last weekend , and rode .
I have decided that I'm going to leave ga in the am early one Friday and have my wife or my son go with .
And am gonna ride from Cherokee to the top of new found gap n then have them pick me up at the top because the descent would be to dangerous ,has any one attempted this before? We climbed from Pigeon forge to Gatlinburg sat then on up to chimney top pulloff and came back .but I saw then it's do'able .
Any body thought the same?
That was 2500 ft gain and it's only a 3rd ot the way up but I'm gonna do it ,I realize I might have to pull off on a pulloff n take a break ,but I'm going for it
What?! You are going to suffer a climb and then not ride back down it?!! That's the whole point of riding up the damned hill in the first place!

While I haven't ridden from Cherokee to the top of New Found Gap, I have ridden from the Forge of Pigeon to Cherokee on this bicycle



carrying about 50 pounds of camping gear and food. I rode from the top of New Found Gap



in a rainstorm with that load and cantilever brakes. GPS tracking on my cell phone says I hit 55 mph but my wired bicycle computer only registered 45 mph. Considering that the place where I supposedly hit 55 is relatively flat and I saw the 45 mph further up the hill on my bicycle computer, I tend to believe my bicycle computer. That's still stupid fast in a rainstorm, however.

But I'd do it again...not the climb...Ick!...but the downhill was saaweet!
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Old 02-02-16, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ColaJacket View Post
Just make sure that you have headlights/taillights. On the BRP, there are tunnels where you'll need the headlights. And since it is mountains, you may ride through the clouds where you'll need the taillights.
I'd suggest using them both, day or night. People will see you from further away and you will benefit.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
What?! You are going to suffer a climb and then not ride back down it?!! That's the whole point of riding up the damned hill in the first place!
Amen to that!
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Old 02-03-16, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post



carrying about 50 pounds of camping gear and food. I rode from the top of New Found Gap
Is that a watermelon? Talk about suffering for the cause!
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Old 02-03-16, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by kevindsingleton View Post
Is that a watermelon? Talk about suffering for the cause!
No. That's my sleeping bag, pad and pillow.
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Old 02-03-16, 12:48 PM
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I've ridden to the top of New Found Gap and back from the Gatlinburg visitor's center. Like others, I certainly wouldn't do all of that climbing without the downhill as a reward. I wouldn't consider the downhill dangerous if your brakes and pads are in good working order and you exercise caution on the curves. Traffic is also an issue, and I wouldn't attempt the ride in either direction when traffic is heavy.

Personally, I find the ride from the visitor's center to Cades Cove, along with the loop through the cove, much more enjoyable and rewarding. Traffic can be extremely heavy in Cades Cove, but they close it to motor vehicles certain times during the week.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is also a very rewarding and challenging ride, and traffic usually is not nearly as heavy as GSMNP. Uphills and downhills are VERY long. The park service requires cyclists to have lights (front and rear) on their bikes for the tunnels, and you would be foolish to go without them.
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Old 02-06-16, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
...You can bet that if I rode up that mountain, I'd darn sure ride back down it!
Ditto. The descent is the reward!
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Old 02-06-16, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mrfreezesdefy3 View Post
A group of us went to pigeon forge last weekend , and rode .

I have decided that I'm going to leave ga in the am early one Friday and have my wife or my son go with .
And am gonna ride from Cherokee to the top of new found gap, n then have them pick me up at the top, because the descent would be to dangerous, has any one attempted this before?

We climbed from Pigeon forge to Gatlinburg sat then on up to chimney top pulloff and came back .but I saw then it's do'able .
Any body thought the same?

That was 2500 ft gain and it's only a 3rd ot the way up but I'm gonna do it ,I realize I might have to pull off on a pulloff n take a break ,but I'm going for it
(I added some paragraph breaks)

Cherokee to Newfound Gap is 19 miles, 3300 feet of climbing, one way. I've never tried the climb, because I think the road is quite busy on nice days.

Blue Ridge Parkway

I'd rather ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most sections aren't too busy, and it's very scenic. There's lots of overlooks to stop at on the climbs. And the drivers are in less of a hurry, and during the week, it's just not busy at all. Most of the downhills have good sight lines, and sweeping curves, so you can go fast, and not have to hit the brakes much. I like out-and-back rides, I can see stuff on the climbs that zooms by when I'm on that downhill.

I'd avoid the (very long!) climb out of Asheville to Craggy Gardens on a weekend, too much traffic and enough curves that the cars can't easily pass, so they take chances.


Near Asheville NC:

Here's a ride similar in effort to the Cherokee ride:
Craggy Gardens to Mt Mitchell overlook is 35 miles, 3600 feet round trip. The big climb is at mile 17, 1500 feet in 6 miles, with a couple of flat sections during the climb. Great views, and the descents won't need much braking.

This ride is above 5000 feet, so it'll be much colder up there. It's best as a summer ride.

The extra credit version includes the climb up to Mt Mitchell on the outbound half. That's a steeper climb, often 7% or 8%. It can be really cold up at the 6500 foot level. 39 miles and 5100 feet. Hard!

~~~

Here's another
difficult ride if you do the full round trip. But it can be easily shortened. It's my favorite part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bring lights for the tunnels.

Round trip BRP mile 433 to the Pisgah Inn for lunch. 50 miles and 5600 feet. The hardest climb is the return, mile 33, 1200 feet in 4 miles, with sections at 7%. The other climbs are less steep, very scenic, and there's downhills mixed in, too.

The only water is at the Pisgah Inn stop--there's a camp store, a restaurant, and bathrooms. The restaurant is inexpensive, and has picture window views way across the valley.

The easiest version would be to get dropped off at Richland Balsam, mile 2 on the route. This is the highest point on the BRP, 6050 feet. Then ride 25 miles to the Pisgah Inn. Lots of good downhill, and some shorter climbs along the way. It still has 2000 feet of climbing. Very scenic.

Last edited by rm -rf; 02-06-16 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 02-06-16, 06:07 PM
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Thanks I'll keep that in mind next time up there ,I just feel like at 270lbs ,I just don't wanna burn up my new hed belgium's wheelset up going down the mtn .after watching my strava yr end video last yr my longest hill was 348 ft gain .I wanna blow that away this yr ,
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Old 02-07-16, 11:25 AM
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Yeah, those long downhills will need some good braking technique, and building up experience on shorter downhills is a very good idea.

Newfound Gap

Here's the Cherokee to Newfound Gap climb on ridewithgps. I see it routes on the local bike trail near the start, then gets on 441.

It's 19.4 miles, 3300 feet of elevation.

That's a pretty steep climb. ridewithgps doesn't always report short steep climbs correctly, since they have to estimate the exact position of the road surface from nearby known elevation points. But the average grade is usually quite accurate.

I dragged to select the steeper part of the climb, from mile 10.8 to mile 16.0, and clicked the Metrics tab. That's 5.3 miles, 1900 feet, at 6.9% average grade. It's very difficult due to the grade and elevation gain. There's a few pullouts along the way--choose OSM Cycle from the Maps pulldown, and zoom way in to see the pullouts. So at least there's spots to stop and recover along the way.

Richland Balsam
Here's the one-way ride from the Pisgah Inn to Richland Balsam. (fixed the link.)

It's 23 miles, 3300 feet. The same elevation gain, but much nicer to ride, with some smaller downhills along the way. Lots of scenic overlooks on the climbs. What a nice ride!

It's longest, steepest climb is at mile 8.8 to mile 12.0, 3.2 miles, 1100 feet, 6.1% average grade. It's still a long, steep climb, but not nearly as difficult as the one to Newfound Gap.

The downhills are mostly easy grade, and a nice break from all the climbing, and usually don't need much braking.

There's two tunnels, one at mile 1.5, and at mile 13.6. (ridewithgps thinks the route goes over the hill at the tunnel, and reports a short, steep climb.)

Along the way to Richland Balsam:









The Richland Balsam sign.

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Old 02-09-16, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mrfreezesdefy3 View Post
Thanks I'll keep that in mind next time up there ,I just feel like at 270lbs ,I just don't wanna burn up my new hed belgium's wheelset up going down the mtn .after watching my strava yr end video last yr my longest hill was 348 ft gain .I wanna blow that away this yr ,
I suspect you are a brake dragger and are a bit afraid of speed. The touring bike, gear and me in the picture above weigh more than you do. I didn't burn up my wheels on the 20 mile ride down from New Found Gap to Cherokee even though I hit speeds of around 45 mph. I didn't burn up my wheels on the rest of the 1200 mile ride that I did either even though I 64,000 feet of climbing and, more importantly, 64,000 feet of downhill. Nor did I burn up my wheels when I used the same set of wheels to do 1500 miles (and 56,000 feet of downhill) around Lake Erie. I'm fairly certain I didn't even burn up my brake pads over those two distances.

Going down hill on a bike with a heavy load is about how you use the brakes more than anything else. Many people are afraid of the speed so they try to keep it low by clamping on the brakes and keeping them clamped on until they hit the bottom of the hill. Learn how not to do that! Practice by letting the bike get up to a speed that you aren't necessarily comfortable with on a short hill. If you feel the need to slow down, rather than clamp on the brake and leave it on, pulse the brake.

To pulse the brake properly, apply it quickly and fairly hard to scrub off some speed than get off the brakes! Get back on them again if you feel the need to slow down but, again, get on hard, then get off. Do this as much as you need to but also try to learn how to be comfortable with speed and increase your comfort level over time.

Trust me, this works. I've been riding mountains here in Colorado as well as lots and lots of other places around the US. Even with a heavy bike, a heavy rider and a touring load, I've never come close to having a rim overheat and I throw myself down hills at stupid speeds all the time. With a bit of practice, you can let go and enjoy the downhill you so richly deserve.
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