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Opinions requested: Down Coast, up mountains or... down mountains, up coast?

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Opinions requested: Down Coast, up mountains or... down mountains, up coast?

Old 04-15-16, 09:12 AM
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Opinions requested: Down Coast, up mountains or... down mountains, up coast?

Hey All!

Hope this finds you well. If you have a moment I would appreciate your input. I am just getting out of grad school and have a job that's 80-90% certain. I spoke with my future employer and bargained 7 weeks of time off in between school and job. I thought it would be the perfect time to get some touring in.

My plan is to go from my house near Newark, Delaware on down to Key West in Florida (stopping at my brother's place in Jacksonville). I think I can manage a down and back (~3200 miles) in 7 weeks at my current fitness (~1000 miles commuting for the year with loaded panniers). I have only done 1 multi-day tour before (Buffalo NY area to DC via GAP ~5days) and several overnight stints.


I really want to do both the skyline drive and the outer banks of NC.

1. What do you think?

2. Would you go down the Coast and back up the mountains?

3. Down the mountains and back up the coast?


I am leaning towards #2 because I think that would let me avoid the late season heat and the possibility of early bird storms.

-gonfishin

Last edited by gonfishin; 04-15-16 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 04-15-16, 09:33 AM
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why Just NC? , says the Oregonian living on the Columbia river.
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Old 04-15-16, 09:37 AM
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#2 gives you more a chance to get better in shape before you hit the mountains on the return leg as well which means you'll be able to make better time in the mountains compared to starting off in the mountains when you aren't in as good of shape.
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Old 04-15-16, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
why Just NC? , says the Oregonian living on the Columbia river.
pardon me! haha, I want to do a coast run really. Get a feeling for the whole thing. I just went to the outer banks as a 6 year old and remember evacuating due to a massive storm.
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Old 04-15-16, 10:27 AM
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Blue Ridge Parkway? seems like people like it , I've never been there , myself..
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Old 04-15-16, 11:23 AM
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Which way are the prevailing winds on the Outer Banks? I did them from South to North in April and had some good tailwinds but not sure if that is normal.
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Old 04-15-16, 01:03 PM
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I've driven the BRP and Skyline Dr. parts of it many times. I've also driven the complete Outer Banks with the ferry rides twice.

What comes to my mind first is the incredible amount of traffic at the Northern end of the Outer Banks. If I ever went back out there, I would start at the Southern end at Cedar Island and head North. Maybe go see Kitty Hawk, then turn around and leave the way I came. Hatteras and Ocracoke seemed a little quieter and sleepy compared to towns on the Northern end.

On the BRP, the closer you get to Smoky Mountains National Park, you'll get into some heavy traffic & crowds when you hit 441 going to Cherokee or Gatlinburg. These are really crowded areas. If I was heading North from Florida, I would pick up the BRP closer to Ashville, NC. Heading South, I would leave the Parkway near Ashville to avoid Smoky Mountain National Park. Crowds and more crowds are just not my idea of a vacation. Some of the drivers out there navigating campers as long as a semi may be of unsound mind.

I'll Assume you are camping...I would read up on dealing with bears in some of these areas. You need to have a plan on what to do with your food at night when you camp. The weather in the mountains can be pretty strange especially if you haven't spent lots of time in mountains...expect daily rain & thunderstorms and fog. Very common. Maybe even see snow or ice at the highest elevations.

If you like massive crowds and traffic jams, ignore all of this!
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Old 04-15-16, 02:04 PM
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Based on wind direction, you're probably better off heading north along the coast. More tailwinds that way.
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Old 04-18-16, 01:47 PM
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Depends. Whichever way you choose, you'll find a reason to do it the other way!

Late July/early August is when the heat usually hits Skyline and the BRP. Better to do that early, and then let the coastal winds on the Outer Banks temper the weather.

Headwinds on the Outer Banks can be miserable. You'll probably have a day either direction when it's switched.

The scenery is really tremendous on the BRP from Asheville south. It's not terribly hard to get out of Cherokee, NC on a bike; just leave between 8:30 and 10:00, between the time the workers are traveling and the time the tourists roll out. Leaving at 8:30 should get you half way up the Nantahala Gorge, off 19 going to Fontana Dam, or south past Sylva, before the traffic picks up.
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Old 04-19-16, 10:50 AM
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Hey All, Thank you for the responses. I love the amount of knowledge on here.

I remember driving through pigeon forge and gaitlinburg a few years ago, a complete and utter mess. It felt nothing like a national park. I've done a bit of camping in bear country and have previously used rope and a stuff sack (pain in the neck to set up but, hopefully worth it).

I might go for the BRP first and north on the outer banks. Hopefully I won't hit too much crazy weather on the way back.

Gosh I am excited for this.
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Old 04-19-16, 01:30 PM
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Yes, the scenery from Ashville to the National Park on the BRP is stunning and contains many tunnels but I guess I have been there so many times I tend to try and avoid the crowds.

For many years, I haved really liked camping up at Mount Mitchell which is North of Ashville off the BRP. Not the official campground, but the turnouts on the state highway that runs to the top. One year they had no parking/camping signs at all of these turnouts; the next time I came they were gone. I've been camping there for 30 years.

I would go ahead and get the BRP map from the park service and also the Outer Banks maps so you can look them over. One other thing I can think of, not too many services along the BRP. You might have to carry a little bit extra food and water at times and leave the BRP to stock up. You might want to check out some of the journals on the BRP:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/sear...&main_type=all

and the Outer Banks...

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/sear...&main_type=all
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