Author Topic: Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area  (Read 2199 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline sarahkendz

Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area
« on: November 09, 2017, 03:18:52 pm »
1. I am new to bike touring! And new to this forum!  :)
2. I have ridden 50+mi in a day but do not have much experience with multiple day long distance bike trips.  :(
3. I am in my 20s, am an avid rock climber, hiker, mountaineer, camper, etc.   8)
4. I am planning on riding the Pacific Coast Hwy next fall with my brother and would like to start building my experience level to ensure that I enjoy it.   ;D

Which leads me to the point of this post:

I will be spending Thanksgiving in Lake James, NC.  I have until the end of December to adventure in the South on my bike.  I am open to any and all trip suggestions. Thinking 2 weeks, 400-600mi?  I have looked at the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have also explored the possibility of biking to Nashville where a friend could drive me and my bike back to Wisconsin for Christmas. 

Thoughts? Suggestions? 

Thanks!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2017, 03:58:12 pm »
Thanksgiving is pretty soon to start from zero. Your biggest challenge in that short of time will be to acquire gear. Start finding gear lists, and decide what subset you want to take. Because time is short, you may not be able to take advantage of sales, or spend a lot of time considering the options.

Before considering a two-week trip, I suggest you plan an overnight trip.

But that's just me. I'm a planner. If you're more of a "wing-it" guy, then you can get by with much less planning that I can.

If you're an avid backpacker, you may have much of the equipment and skills you need already. You'll need to add repair tools and spares, and something to carry it all in on your bike. You may even need a different bike.

Offline sarahkendz

Re: Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2017, 04:45:16 pm »
Thanks for your response John!

 I am approaching this trip with more of the "wing-it" mentality you mentioned. I left my job in August to travel for the rest of 2017 and 2018 so I have been successfully on the road driving, hiking, camping, backpacking for a few months already.  My days are free all the way up until Thanksgiving so I have plenty of hours to put into planning, making last minute purchases, etc.

I already have the basics for the trip - touring bike, panniers, camping gear, etc. and am in the works of obtaining the repair tools / spares that I don't currently have.  I mostly just need the assistance from yourself and other fellow bikers on the forum for suggestions on decent roads and routes in the area.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2017, 04:59:11 pm »
I'll throw out some random route thoughts -- pick and choose.

First, on the general season.  Many campgrounds are going to be closed, bathrooms locked, and water turned off.  As a practical matter, I'd suggest approaching this as a bed-and-breakfast or motel-to-motel trip.  That means that even though it'll be cool, you'll have to carry more water than you will need to next summer, because resupply will be problematic.

The Blue Ridge Parkway may be closed at any time if there's any freezing precipitation.  Still, you may catch a warm and clear stretch of weather where it'll be gorgeous.

From Lake James, if you do decide to ride the Parkway, I'd climb up to Little Switzerland.  You'll have a long day's ride into Asheville, another good ride over to Balsam Gap (?) on U.S. 19/74, and then a relatively easy day to Cherokee -- you could stretch it down 19 into Bryson City.  Robbinsville is a good day's ride, then over Cherohala (if it's open!) to Tellico Plains.  It'll be about a week into Nashville from there; you could take the scenic route, or do a few days' ride going south on the Natchez Trace and back.

Roads in the mountains will be narrow, and some will have lots of traffic.  Did I mention it could snow?  You might not want to be on the roads after it snows.  Even though N.C. does a good job of plowing, there'll be a while where the snow melts, covers the road, and re-freezes at night.

Can you ride, or catch a ride, over to Charlotte and take the Southern Crescent train south from there?

Offline sarahkendz

Re: Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2017, 12:45:11 pm »
Great tips and route suggestions, thank you Pat! A couple questions:

You mention taking the "scenic route" from Tellico Plains into Nashville... any specific road/hwys that make up this route?

Instead of starting from Lake James, I could start from the airport in Charlotte. I'll be spending Thanksgiving at Lake James and could catch a ride into Charlotte before my families flight departs.  What insight do you have regarding the Southern Crescent train?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2017, 04:52:48 pm »
You mention taking the "scenic route" from Tellico Plains into Nashville... any specific road/hwys that make up this route?

I was thinking of the 600k route the Brentwood (TN) randonneurs (ultra cyclists) ran some 5-10 years ago.  I may have the cue sheet on some computer, just not this one.  Their current permanents surely cover some of the route, but I suspect there's a gap between Vonore or Madison and Pikeville or Dunlap, TN.  I do recall it crossed Watts Bar Dam, which opened my eyes wide when I saw it.  On reflection, though, the Kingston bridge is even more narrow, which leaves reasonable ways across the Tennessee on a bike lacking between the old Walnut St. bridge or Market St. in Chattanooga and the bridge in Loudon.  (I've never crossed the new bridge at Birchwood.)  You might want to touch base with the Brentwood people to see if they have an archive of the route or better recommendations.

Quote
What insight do you have regarding the Southern Crescent train?

Not much, to be honest.  My niece took it a few times when she was in college to get between Birmingham and maybe Lynchburg?  It goes through Charlotte, IIRC, on the way, and then goes down to New Orleans.  Check Amtrak's web site for schedules, prices, etc.

Offline DanE

Re: Help! First Tour. Suggested routes? Ashville NC area
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2017, 05:55:44 am »
This is not really a solution for what you are looking for, but if I was in Lake James and had a gravel grinder, or a MTB, or perhaps just put some extra wide tires on my touring bike I would do this.

http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/two-gorges-gravel-s24o/

It would take up two days of the Thanksgiving weekend.