Asheville to Wilksboro, NC

Looking back towards Black Mountain from near the end of US 70
Note the start of fall colors

Barbara, my wife, and I drove from our home in north Asheville to Black Mountain. This saved me about 20 miles and meant I didn't have to deal with riding through Asheville. We stopped for coffee and scones at a bakery and then she headed back to work and I headed east on US 70.

Mill Creek Road

US 70 parallels I-40 for a few miles east of Black Mountain. Then it is closed - has been for more than 20 years - so I rode Mill Creek Road down out of the mountains to near where US 70 starts again. Mill Creek Road is dirt with some fairly large gravel, so it isn't a great road for road bike -even on my touring bike that long descent beats me up - but it a very pretty ride down a steep, heavily forested valley.

Andrews Geyser near Old Fort

Old 70 is also a very pretty ride before Old Fort, and it is much smoother, and flatter, than Mill Creek. After Old Fort, it gets hillier and, between Old Fort and Marion - about ten miles - it has a fair amount of traffic and no shoulder. After Marion the traffic is much lighter.

US 70 between Marion and Morganton - nice riding

It took me about half an hour to ride through Marion, so it was almost noon when I stopped for lunch at the east side of Marion - The Market Grill. The food was cheap, good, and there was lots of it. Too much of it (!) since, after cleaning my plate, I suffered some tummy pain as I climbed the bigger hills on my way to Morganton. The hills get steeper around Glen Alpine, up to 5 or 6% grade from the 2 0r 3% grade before that. Nice riding, but it would have been even nicer if I had not eaten quite so much lunch!

NC 18 / US 64 heading northeast from Morganton

I took NC 18 / US 64 northeast from Morganton to Lenoir and NC 18 on to wilksboro. It is a good road with a decent shoulder almost all the way. In Lenoir, I took the 18 bypass which was nice fast riding, but a mile or two longer that going directly through town on 18. Between Morganton and Lenoir I began seeing puffy white clouds ahead. After Lenoir they turned dark and threatening. I knew there was a big storm front coming, and I sped up a bit hoping to make it to Wilksboro before the storm hit.

Storm clouds building ahead of me north of Lenoir

I did get rained on several times before I reached Wilksboro, but just by passing bands of light rain. When I reached Wilksboro, it was raining lightly so I headed over to the first service station / convenience store I saw to ask about motels. There was a long line at the counter, so I walked over to a utility truck that had just pulled in and asked the two guys in it where I should go to find a motel. They told me, but it was a bit complicated so without my asking and without saying they would, they led me to the motels. A nice way to end a nice day of riding.

At the motel, the woman at the desk asked me if I had "been on the road long." I grinned and said "only since 10 AM this morning." I was pleased that, after over two months off the road, I still look like I have been on the road for a while.

88 miles with 3500 feet of climbing in 6 hrs and 20 minutes of riding. In addition to stopping for lunch in Marion, I stopped for two snack breaks between Morganton and Wilksboro. The weather was warm, dry, and the wind was light until north of Lenoir.