Author Topic: Best [bicycling] roads from Asheville to Nashville  (Read 12713 times)

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Offline Bicycle Rider

Best [bicycling] roads from Asheville to Nashville
« on: August 21, 2011, 10:47:25 pm »
Asheville area, actually.

I know how to get as far as Hendersonville, if Asheville itself is an area to be avoided.  I will also be riding self contained, Camping is an option as I will be equipped for it. My goal is the Natchez Trace parkway.
May you always have the winds at your back, and a low enough gear for the grades

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Best [bicycling] roads from Asheville to Nashville
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2011, 09:28:07 am »
The Nashville area randonneurs did a 600 km ride from McMinnville east to Tellico Plains; see for details and a cue sheet.  That's about as good a route as you'll get across eastern Tennessee.

From Asheville I'd suggest taking the Blue Ridge Parkway to its southern (western) end.  You could either take 441 north from Cherokee to Gatlinburg, then the road over to Townsend, back road to Walland, and over Foothills Parkway to meet up with the brevet route; or take 19 south from Cherokee to NC 28, and meet up with US 129 at the foot of the dragon.  Bit of climbing either way. 

You could eliminate one climb on the first route by going on in to Maryville, but that's going to involve more traffic.  Oh, and while it's possible to take the Cherohala Skyway, and it will be lightly trafficed compared to 129, it's also long and steep.  129 usually doesn't have much traffic except on weekends and summer, when the motorcyclists come out to play.

To pontificate just a bit, I don't think you're going to find neatly laid out routes for your trip short of the Southern Tier.  Avoiding 5,000' gaps is one of the reasons I've been urging you to look south of the NC/TN border.  Most of the roads in western NC (and many in east TN, for that matter) are narrow and winding; their suitability for bicyclists depends strongly on the traffic, which can be anywhere from nearly non-existent to like rush hour.

Offline Bicycle Rider

Re: Best [bicycling] roads from Asheville to Nashville
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2011, 12:58:42 pm »
Thanks. I printed that out, and I will check the link as well. The Natchez Trace is a very tempting route as it's scenic, bike friendly, mapped, and will take me 400+ miles all the way into the center of Mississippi. The problem with the Southern Tier route is it goes way too far out of me way. I need to get to Denton TX (a suburb north of Dallas) and L.A., not Houston and San Diego! Now the suggestion of the SilverComet/Ladiga trail route is nice too, but it only takes me from Atlanta GA. to Anniston AL. Do you know of a good route to bike from Alabama to Dallas? Or better yet, a way to catch the Trace further south? If you do, please let me know. I understand your recommendations; I don't exactly relish the thought of having to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains in early March myself.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 01:56:27 pm by Bicycle Rider »
May you always have the winds at your back, and a low enough gear for the grades

Offline surlyJohn

Re: Best [bicycling] roads from Asheville to Nashville
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2011, 08:45:29 am »
This is very helpful as I'm trying to do the same sort of route, RoadWarrior.  I'm departing from Asheville with a destination of Eunice, LA and my first choice is to head west to Nashville and down the Natchez Trace Parkway.  I understand how to get from Asheville to McMinnville using the brevet route; but it's not clear if there's a great way to continue on to Nashville from there.  If anyone has any suggestions I'd greatly appreciate them.

I was also looking at riding south to Greenville and somehow connecting to the Silver Comet Trail outside of Atlanta, but i've not been able to find a recommended route from Anniston, AL through to southern LA.  Any luck RoadWarrior?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Best [bicycling] roads from Asheville to Nashville
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2011, 11:14:29 am »
I don't have first-hand knowledge of either of the routes being bruited about, but I'm curious as to what other search methods either of you (surlyjohn or bicyclerider) are using.

Have you tried google maps' bicycle routing?

Have you checked with the state transportation departments?

It appears there aren't any (many) Nashville or Birmingham cyclists on this board.  I'll claim some knowledge of viable routes for myself within about 30 miles of home, and a few, spotty, areas where I've lived, cycled, or toured.  So, have you contacted bicycle clubs along the holes in your routes?  I'm thinking of cycling clubs around McMinnville, Murphreesboro, Nashville, Franklin, or Columbia, TN; or Anniston, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, AL and Meridian, MS, for the southern (Silver Comet) route.  Have you checked out all the supported rides any of these clubs do?  Is there a way you could link up some routes, with perhaps a few miles' cycling along unknown roads?

I'd be cautious about recommending some routes I ride for cyclists of unknown capabilities.  If you could tell me about what you ride, I might volunteer more information.  If/when you ask for help, can you tell someone what your comfort level is?  Do you require bike-only, no motorized vehicle paths; very low traffic routes with limited curves and hills; or are you comfortable with high-speed traffic and decent shoulders; or even urban cycling?  If I asked you, what's the highest traffic volume you've ridden comfortably in, can you answer?  (Hint - do you need to pick one local road, and call your county roads department to find out what the traffic volume is on that road?)  I'd think a local bike club would be more forthcoming if you included this kind of information in your request.

Finally, I applaud what you're trying to do.  There are posters on these boards who pick their own routes, as you're trying to do, but they usually have a couple of solid tours under their belts before trying it.  I think it's great that you're basically trying to replicate the work Adventure Cycling does on a semi-commercial basis, if even for your own use, without that much background.  Do keep us in the loop about your planning, and how it goes when you get on the road.