Floyd, VA to Daughton Park, NC

A farm on US 221

This morning started a bit better than yesterday morning. The sun was shining and, although my back hurt when sitting, I could ride without back pain. I rode up to the center of Floyd and had an excellent breakfast while watching traffic go past on 221. There wasn't much traffic, so I decided to ride 221 this morning and possibly get back on the Parkway this afternoon.

Heading south out of Floyd on US 221

Although there wasn't much traffic this morning, there was a lot of wind and that was another plus for 221. The Parkway in southern Virginia is mostly very exposed to the wind. I figured 221 would be better protected from The wind and having less climbing than the Parkway. I was right about the wind and wrong about the climbing. In the first ten miles I rode today, I climbed 1250 feet. When I stopped for lunch after 28 miles, I had climbed over half a mile and, thanks to the wind and the hills, was averaging less than 10 mph. I was also exhausted.

At the top of a hill midway between Floyd and Willis
Note the flag whipping in the wind and the farmers coat
It was cold and windy
It was also very beautiful

Roughly half of the time the wind was blocked by the hills and riding was really very nice. However, many of the climbs seemed to be into the wind. On one of the worst into the wind climbs I almost crashed because of a dumb, impatient, FedEx driver. Riding up a steep hill into a 20 mph head/side wind, I did not hear the FedEx truck come up behind me. Another vehicle was coming down the hill toward me when the FedEx guy decided he should squeeze by. All of the sudden part of the wind I had been fighting was blocked by by his flat sided truck and my bike swerved toward the side of the truck. I got the bike under control 6" or so from the side of the truck. It probably would not have been a major accident if I had hit him since he was only going 5 mph or so faster than I was, but he should have had enough sense not to try to squeeze by in that wind! The vehicle that was coming down passed us just after that and it was the only thing on the road besides us, so it would have cost the FedEx guy very little time if he had waited till he could pass me safely.

The FedEx truck passed me on this hill

Looking back down into the valley from the top of that hill

I stopped at Dugspur for a break - Yoohoo and honeybun - and then ground on toward Hillsville. Hillsville is supposed to be built on seven hills. I climbed three of them just getting into town. I hadn't planned to stop in Hillsville for lunch, but, grinding up a steep hill into a strong wind, I saw a nice looking cafe - simple with a lot of cars and trucks parked at it - and stopped to eat. It was an excellent choice. Good food, lots of it, and lots of coffee, and all for $5.50 with tax. I took my time, enjoyed my meal, enjoyed the people in the cafe, and rested up for my next session of climbing into the wind.

US 221 going under I-77

US 221 between I-77 and Galax, VA

Riding west from Hillsville, I passed under I-77 and rode about ten miles of hilly expressway with good shoulder on my way to Galax. This riding wasn't as pretty as the earlier part of 221, but it was easier since the hills blocked the wind as I climbed and, while the wind slowed me down a lot on the descents - sometimes the wind gust were strong enough to almost stop me - it was a pure headwind so that I didn't have to fight to keep my bike on the road.

Downtown Galax

Nice riding on VA 89

Heading south on the Parkway in southern Virginia

The nice shoulder went away in Galax and riding was a bit tense in fairly heavy traffic on a long, four lane, 'strip.' Riding wasn't really bad, but it wasn't fun either so I took VA 89 S, which goes through the center of Galax, and rode about 9 miles to the Parkway. 89 is a really nice road. It was especially nice today because, unlike 221 which goes across a seemingly never ending series of valleys, 89 goes down a long, fairly flat, valley. Ahhhh...

A gentle part of the Parkway in North Carolina

I had about 25 miles to ride on the Parkway to get to Daughton Park where I planned to camp. The Parkway was relatively flat where I got on near Low Gap, and it stayed that way for ten miles after it passed into North Carolina, then it started some serious climbing. Of course the view go better after it climbed a bit, which was nice, but the temperature also go colder as it climbed. I doubt the temperature was ever over 45 F today, and as I climbed, it dropped into the 30s.

Looking east at Pilot Mountain
I rode just south of that mountain on my way to Charlottesville
The long range visibility was incredible - Pilot mountain is about 50 miles away

It was getting cold, and dark as I neared Doughton Park

I reached Doughton Park at about 6 PM. It cost me $20 for a camp site since I didn't have the correct 'change' of $16. For that price I got a place to put my tent, cold running water in the bathroom, and a picnic table. Not a great deal, but Doughton Park is one of the prettiest campgrounds anywhere and, if you are riding the Parkway, it is often a long way to any other place to stay.

The camp ground bulliten board said the expected low was 35 and there was the possibility of snow flurries. I hurried to get everything setup while there was still light, then cleaned up using very cold water. I got in my tent. ate my remaining honeybun - I should NOT have done that in my tent! - wrote some of the days ride report. and then settled in for a cold night.

74 miles with 6300 feet of climbing in seven and a half hours.