Buchanan to Floyd, VA

Starting up NC 43

I got up early, looked out the window and saw heavy fog, and decided to pack up and ride in the fog since I would be on back roads until I got to the Parkway. I hoped that the fog was valley fog and that I would climb out of it. I cleaned up, packed my bags, put them on the bike and was read to ride at 8:15. Then I checked the tires. The rear tire was flat! I took the panniers off the bike, flipped it over, and found a truck tire wire in my back tire. Even TT2000s get truck tire wire flats..

The wire had broken off just above the tire on the outside and was sticking out just enough to puncture the tube on the inside. I had a hard time finding the hole and an even harder time getting the wire out. It was almost 9 AM when I finished the repair and got up from the floor to flip the bike back over. I couldn't pick the bike up! Somewhere in the process of tire repair, I had pulled muscles at the base of my back. I had to push the bike over and them pull it back upright. I could still ride as long as I didn't have to push really hard on the pedals, so I loaded the bike and headed down to breakfast.

Breakfast was very good and the fog was clearing up when I finished it. I rode across I-81 and headed for Buchanan. I had only ridden a little way when a local rider coming the other way crossed over for a visit. He thought I was headed for Oregon - we were on Bike 76 - and, after telling him I was headed for Asheville, we talked about touring. He would love to ride across the USA, and is physically up to since he rides 150 to 200 miles a week, but will never do it because he doesn't want to leave his wife for the time it would require. I tried to talk him into leaving her ;-}, but failed.

1000 feet or so up 43, that is the Blue Ridge ahead of me.

In Buchanan, I crossed the river and turned left - east - onto NC 43 S. It was flat for half a mile or so and then climbed for the next three and a half miles at 8% grade with some short sections that were a lot steeper. My gearing was low enough that my back only bothered me on those very steep sections. This was good since I knew that the Parkway didn't have any sections that steep.

Reaching the Blue Ridge Parkway

There was one point during the climb when I could see the sun through the clouds, but that was the last time I saw it till late in the day. The Parkway was cloudy, cool, and very pretty! This section of the Parkway is one of my favorite parts and, even with 'bad' weather, it was very nice riding.

Looking east from the Parkway

Looking west from the Parkway

This part of the Parkway runs on top of the Blue Ridge and you can look east or west into beautiful valleys. Today the valley to the east - the Shenandoah Valley - was filled with clouds while the valley to the east was just hazy. When I stopped to take pictures of the valleys, I heard voices in the woods. There were no cars parked nearby so they must have been hikers on the Appalachian Trail. A little later, as I rode on, I saw several people on the trail. It runs along the same ridge top as the Parkway and that ridge top isn't very wide!

Looking south along the Parkway
The Parkway runs through that notch you can see on the hill ahead

I rode along for about ten miles and then, just before the Parkway headed down, I stopped to eat my snack, a honeybun that I bought in Waynesboro. I stopped at an overlook which had a picnic table that was somewhat sheltered. It was raining lightly, so I put my camera in a pannier. Some folks who had recently moved to the area and had driven up to that overlook walked over to talk about bicycling on the Parkway. At the next overlook, I said hello to some birders who were watching for migrating hawks.

After coming down off the ridge

There was a long downhill, about 1500 feet vertical, into the valley coming in from the east towards Roanoke and then a relative;y flat section of Parkway crossing several roads that run through that valley. I was ready for lunch and looking forward to a restaurant that I remembered as being close to the Parkway. I kept looking forward to it as I road on and on climbing ever bigger ridges. I rode past Roanoke Mountain which I thought was on the other side of Roanoke. When the Parkway crossed US 221, I thought it was only a few miles ahead and kept riding and climbing. I was confused that I hadn't come to the restaurant yet, but I kept riding.

After climbing back up 1500 feet

Then I climbed out of the Roanoke Valley. it was now several hours since I had snacked and I was very hungry but, stupidly, I rode past the next exit to 221 which was an exit that I had thought about taking. The Parkway was very pretty, and the riding was very nice, but I needed food.

The Parkway south of Roanoke, over 50 miles after I got on it
It is quite gentle in this section

Finally, at 5 PM - I'd last snacked at 1 PM and I climbed about a mile since that snack - I decided I would get off the Parkway and find some food. I had planned to camp at Rocky Knob with a bad weather alternative of riding to Floyd instead. I left the Parkway on VA 681 and, about an hour later, made it to Floyd. I hadn't eaten in five hours and had run out of water. On 681, I considered stopping at someones house and asking for some water and a snack, but decided I could ride to 6 PM. 681 was nice riding and not as hilly as the Parkway. It ended at US 221 less than a mile north of Floyd. I rode to a Subway - the first restaurant I saw - in Floyd and ordered a 12" sub with chips and a drink. I ate it all and, after a bout of shaking due to exhaustion, was able to ride to the only motel in town. it was abit upscale from the places I had been staying, but good value. I especially appreciated the comfortable bed. My back still hurt but I didn't need pain killers to sleep ;-}!

Riding on VA 681

I rode 78 miles and climbed 7100 feet in seven hours and fourtyfive minutes. If I had taken 221 through Roanoke, I would have saved several thousand feet of climbing and had lunch and a snack before 6 PM. The restaurant I remembered was on 221, not the Parkway, but I didn't realize that until I was well past Roanoke. If I had taken 221 at Adney Gap, I could have ridden it to Floyd and found something to eat at least an hour or two sooner. It wouldn't have been as nice as riding the Parkway, but it would have been the sane thing to do once I realized I wasn't going to find a place to eat on the Parkway.