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Biking in Waynesville, N.C area

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Biking in Waynesville, N.C area

Old 08-20-16, 09:35 AM
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Biking in Waynesville, N.C area

I apologize if this is not the correct forum for my question.

My wife and I are in low 60's and ride our road bikes three times a week 20-30 miles. ( Florida.. No hills, just bridges!)
We rented a place in Waynesville, N.C. for 3 weeks and have been debating if we should take our bikes. Have not found much on the internet about riding roads in the area although there is a bike shop in town which appeared to be geared towards the mountain biking group.
Just wondering if anyone in the forum has been in that area or lives in that area
and feels that we should ( or should not) take our bikes
Thank you for any responses
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Old 08-20-16, 12:48 PM
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I've spent some time over that way on business but unfortunately was not able to take a bike, though it looks like a place that I would enjoy riding. Try posting this over in the Regional Discussions/Southeast forum. You'll likely get more focused responses.

Have fun on your trip.
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Old 08-20-16, 12:53 PM
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I've never ridden there, but Ashville isn't far from there and is a hotbed of regional cycling. However, this is a hilly area, and while you might avoid long climbs, any route is likely going to feature rolling hills.

So, take your bikes, but make sure you have decent gearing suited to riding hilly terrain.

BTW- while you might end up finding the terrain more challenging and not ride as much as you'd hoped, you'll probably regret NOT taking the bikes much more.
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Old 08-20-16, 03:28 PM
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I live and ride on the other side of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Waynesville. I've never ridden my bike over there but have driven through it a couple of times. Bringing your bikes is dependent upon your sense of adventure. We don't have hills here, we have climbs. I average at least 2000 ft of climbing on an easy ride. This is not meant to scare you, just inform. Because my partner is also a cyclist - probably in the same fitness as you - and she finds predominantly flat roads to ride 3 days a week. There are also several bike paths around the general area if don't mind driving to ride. (I do, so I ride what the road gives me) The most known is the Swamp Rabbit Trail that runs about 20 miles from the NC border (around Traveler's Rest) south to Greenville, SC. A great place to spend some time, too. It also looks like there are roads that circumnavigate Lake Junaluska in Waynesville, so that should be pretty flat and scenic. I'd buy a local road map, find an interesting route and then drive it first. No nasty surprises, much more fun.

For 3 weeks, bring your bikes, you'll find places to ride and for the most part feel safe and comfortable. The roads are narrow and winding but most drivers are courteous - sometimes too much so. Don't let the mtn bike hype turn you off, this was road biking country before there were mtn bikes. But WNC is quietly building its reputation as mtn biking mecca, so its hard to avoid the subject. I ride the woods in the winter, its less crowded and warmer than the road.
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Old 08-20-16, 07:18 PM
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Thank you for your responses
We will take our bikes and explore
I will post on the Regional Forum as suggested (I have to admit I had overlooked it)
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Old 08-20-16, 09:21 PM
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The Asheville area is great for biking. It's a "worth the drive" destination. But most riders are doing big climbs up in the mountains.

You should test drive the roads that follow the French Broad River, north or south of Asheville. For example, this 20 mile out and back looks very scenic, and has very small climbs: Asheville river ride. I don't know how busy those river roads are, but I expect them to be okay on weekdays.

I see that the river roads are popular for bikes, on the Strava Heat Map. (click Toggle Labels to see town and road names.)


Blue Ridge Parkway

The high elevations on the Parkway are extremely scenic. It's all climbing or descending, but most grades are 7% or less, with a few close to 9%. A bike with low enough gears is needed. There's a lot of overlooks to stop at, to help break up the climbing. Speed limits are 45 mph, and drivers are polite. Traffic is light on weekdays on the high elevations away from Asheville.

I looked at my favorite ride, a round trip up and over Richland Balsam, with a stop for lunch at the Pisgah Inn. There's no short selection from this, say 15 or 20 miles round trip, that is much less than a very hilly 100 feet per mile.
To shorten this ride a little, start at overlook near Richland Balsam, for example, the one at mile 6 on the route.

For example, here's a round trip 16 mile ride (with 1600 feet of climbing!) from the Devils Courthouse overlook. It could even be shortened, turning around at the crest of the climb near mile 5.5: map link
It's a lot of climbing, but I think many flatland riders could handle it. Gear down and climb slowly. Stop at the overlooks.

The Pisgah Inn's restaurant is worth a visit. It's informal and not expensive, and the outside wall is all glass, with great views way across the valley. I've had breakfast there before a ride.

[IMG]https://www.bikeforums.net/(The Pisgah Inn's restaurant is worth a visit. It's not expensive, and the outside wall is all glass, with great views way across the valley. I've had breakfast there before a ride.)

Last edited by rm -rf; 06-20-18 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 08-21-16, 09:27 AM
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Wow! Rm-rf
Great info and exactly what we need. Incredibly helpful and greatly appreciated.
We can do some of the hilly stuff and have the right gears.
One question.....when you do the rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where do you leave the car....
such as in your favorite ride. Can we leave the car in one of the overlooks or are there parking areas for leaving the car.
We have been in that area before but maybe 10yrs back and we were not riding at the time.
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Old 08-21-16, 01:59 PM
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Glad you decided to bring your bikes. A point of information, head and tail lights are required while riding the Parkway.
The tunnels are curved and it gets rather dark when you can see no light at the end.
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Old 08-21-16, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Rstyle
Wow! Rm-rf
Great info and exactly what we need. Incredibly helpful and greatly appreciated.
We can do some of the hilly stuff and have the right gears.
One question.....when you do the rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where do you leave the car....
such as in your favorite ride. Can we leave the car in one of the overlooks or are there parking areas for leaving the car.
We have been in that area before but maybe 10yrs back and we were not riding at the time.

Oh good. Then you should definitely ride up there.

I just pick an overlook and park. It's usually much colder up at 5000 feet than the valleys, so bring appropriate layers. But I've been in up there when it was warm, too.

Water refills are my limiting factor for an out-and-back ride. The only places I know about are at Craggy Gardens, at the Pisgah Inn, and at Waterrock Knob. Or, you could stash some bottled water in the bushes near an overlook.

From Waynesville, drive up Rt 215, drive north to a ride start at the Pisgah Inn, and stash some water along the way. That way, the ride south from the Pisgah Inn has less climbing on the return leg (but still a lot of climbing!) The most difficult climb is at Graveyard Fields, 1200 feet at an average 6% grade, max 8%, in 3.7 miles. If you start at the Pisgah Inn, it's a climb on the outbound leg, and a long downhill on the return.

A ride with photos
I posted this on BF some years ago: Sept 2009 Doubletop overlook to Pisgah Inn. For inspiration, here's the photo album link to the first photo in the series. It was a Picasa album, which has been archived in Google Photos, so you only have arrows to get to the next photo. I have some comments on some photos. I assume you can access it?

You will need lights for the tunnels, otherwise you can't see the ground or the walls in the middle. Very freaky. And it's good to bring lights in case fog hits.

Here's the route link to go with the album. ridewithgps shows a sharp, steep climb at the tunnels, but of course you won't be going over the top of the hill there! It just doesn't know those are tunnels.

Last edited by rm -rf; 08-21-16 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 08-21-16, 02:49 PM
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First ride
Here's an intro to the Blue Ridge Parkway riding. It's 18 miles round trip, nothing really steep, and the biggest climb is 550 feet in 2.4 miles. A total of 1200 feet of climbing outbound, only 600 feet on the return leg.

Since you'll be there for a few weeks, this would be a good first ride. See how you like it, and get used to pacing the longer climbs at a sustainable effort.

Still, it's 100 feet per mile, the benchmark number for a hilly ride.

Devils Courthouse overlook, elevation 5470, to Richland Balsam, the high point on the BRP at 6050 feet. Lots of scenic overlooks, so take your time and stop at all of them.

The ride link.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copied from a previous comment I posted:


Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, north on the BRP from Asheville. I've done the climb up from Asheville to Craggy Gardens, but I can't really recommend it. Better to drive up. There's quite a lot of traffic, and lots of bikes on weekends. The climb has lots of curves, so the cars take chances passing bikes. Not many overlooks on the climb, but you can stop at the side of the road, of course. (It's a 9 mile downhill on the return, I actually got tired of the downhill and wanted some flats or uphills mixed in!)

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 small 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% to 9%. It can be really cold up at the 6500 foot level. 39 miles and 5100 feet. Hard!

Last edited by rm -rf; 08-21-16 at 03:07 PM.
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