Day 3, Anderson, SC to Asheville, NC

Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville

It rained during the night and the weather in South Carolina was dreary today. There was, according to the Weather Channel, a 40% chance of rain. I carefully packed stuff knowing that I need to be able to get to my rain gear easily and that I need to get my cameras into a protected place if I got rained on. It did rain where I was, but, at the time I was in a Subway eating lunch and my bike was under an overhang outside, so nothing got wet. The ride was damp and the weather was threatening until I got to North Carolina where the sun was shining.

Starting out on 29

I left my motel about 8:30, heading towards Greenville on US 29. The great shoulder went away after half a dozen miles and I rode on four lane, divided four lane and three lane without shoulder for the next ten miles before heading north on SC 8. It was nice having the great shoulder, but the other parts of 29 were OK riding too.

Three Lanes on 29

Heading into fog on SC 8


The pretty part of SC 8

SC 8 was a nice change from US 29. I stopped for coffee at a service station a mile or so from US 29, then rode on through some really pretty country toward Easley. Unfortunately, the pretty part ended and SC 8 became a boring, over developed, hilly, four lane road into Easely and beyond that to Pickens. I stopped for breakfast before the four lane started, and stopped again for lunch in Pickens.

178 heading north out of Pickens

After the, brief but intense, rain passed, I put away my cameras and put the rain cover on my handlebar bag. Then with some trepidation - it is a long way from Pickens to Rosman and there isn't much in between but mountains - headed north on 178. As soon as you get out of Picken, 178 is lovely bicycling. It stays that way till it ends at Rosman. I took my cameras out just north of Pickens where it was obvious that the heavy rain had not extended north of town.

On 178 just before it crosses SC 11

178 just north of SC ll

Once north of SC 11, US 178 is a beautiful, twisty road that climbs pretty steadily with a maximum grade of around 8% for a mile or two. Then it descends, briefly, into a valley where there are resorts and camps, and then it climbs some more before doing a much longer descent into a bigger valley. Then it climbs a little, descends a little into a small and quite beautiful valley and follows the creek out of the valley up a long climb that lasts beyond the NC border. I stopped by that creek to rest and snack.

Climbing the first climb

The creek just above the bottom of the last valley

Coming down in North Carolina

When I got to Rosman, it was about 3 PM. The wind was blowing down the valley toward Brevard, so I was able to ride the ten miles to Brevard in less than half an hour. I stopped a Subway in Brevard, bought a drink, and ate the second half of the foot long sub I'd bought at the Subway in Pickens. Then, about 4 PM, I headed for Asheville.

I had planned to stay in Brevard and ride into Asheville the next morning - Sunday - when it would be safer. But the sun was shining and the wind was at my back, so I rode on. On the way out of Brevard, I almost lost my wind vest which I had taken off after the descent into NC and tucked under a bungee on my rear rack. It blew off, but a pickup truck driver saw it come off and told me about it so I was able to recover it.

I rode up the big hill out of Brevard - I'd hit 40 mph comimg down the hill on the other side of Brevard - wondering if I wasn't too tired to ride on. Once I was on the other side, I was able to average about 20 mph for the next ten miles on US 280. Then I turned on US 191 for about half a dozen hilly miles till it crosses under the Parkway.

The Parkway bridge above US 191 and the French Broad River

The Parkway near US 25 in south Asheville

I rode up onto the Parkway, took a last snack break, and headed 8 miles north to where US 25 crosses under the Parkway. Then I rode south through Biltmore Forest and past the Biltmore Estate to get on the river road along the French Broad. There was a good wind down the river, so I was able to cruise at 20 mph most of the way home. 112 miles, 8 hours, average speed 13.5 mph.