Bicycle touring is about adapting and ajusting. It's also about enjoying yourself and having fun. Therefore, tomorrow I am bailing off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and coming down off the mountain, and taking the low road. I'm adjusting to the fact that to make 70 miles in this terrain before nightfall, I have to be up before dawn, and pedalling a half hour after sunrise. There is no time to do anything else but ride.
I'm adapting to the fact that the physical demands of this road are such that I'm risking injury. My left knee is a bit sore, and I need to take it easier or I could be sorry.
Today was another perfect fall day. I had a hearty breakfast at the Mountain House Restaraunt in Meadows of Dan. I passed into North Carolina, and cooked myself lunch at the Cumberland Knob picnic area. The vegetation has changed somewhat from a couple days ago. In Virginia, you ride through stunted oak forests at high elevations, and hardwoods lower down. Today, the forest shifted to pine mostly, with lots of rhododendron bushes as undergrowth. I have been around 3000 feet all day, and never below 2600. The peak colors are at about 3000 feet, as opposed to 2500 feet further north. My high point for the day was 3700 feet.
The road is still up and down constantly, but the top of the ridge is flat enough around here that there are houses and farms. I think we are in the outer exurbs of Mt. Airy, NC. There are still no businesses or other means of support for hungry bicyclists. It is very remote and isolated. The isolation is another thing driving me off the mountain.
So at the information center at Cumberland Knob, the ranger lady gave me this great sheet for bicycling the Blue Ridge Parkway. It has all the hills marked out by section, and the total elevation gain for each section. I can calculate how much climbing I have done every day, and how much more there is to do. The future is very grim. Today was only 5100 feet, but yesterday was 7100 feet, and the remaining four days of my plan are all over 6000 feet.
The campground was closer than I thought, and there was less climbing than I had anticipated, so I got in with a couple hours of daylight left. I decided to ride a mile down the road to the restaraunt. Turns out, it's two miles down the road, and you have to go into a valley. The restaraunt served me the most revolting spaghetti dinner I've ever had. Chef Boyardee would be appalled. I left most of the spaghetti behind, and I've been hitting the snack bag since I got back. I want real food in a real restaraunt, no more of these horrible parkway government contractor restaraunts.
The straw that broke the camel's back so far as staying on the parkway was the weather forecast on the white board at the registration desk. It's going to be nice tomorrow, then... SNOW. I gotta get off the mountain.
Here is today's gruelling road actually travelled.