Asheville to Webster, NC 60 miles with about 3500 feet of climbing
After eating lunch with my mother - it was mothers day! - I started my tour heading west and south from Asheville. Since this is my home, I used back roads for the first thirty miles from Asheville to Lake Junaluska. This is nice riding if you know the back roads, but not much fun if you don't.
Newfound Rd which runs from near Asheville, through Newfound Valley shown above, and over Newfound Gap to Canton is one of my favorite winter rides. The gap is only 3000 feet so it is usually rideable when the, much higher, Blue Ridge Parkway is not. This road starts from NC 63 and ends near the huge paper mill that dominates Canton..
It took me two hours on my heavy (I weighed it before I left - 80 lbs with out food or water) bike to cover the twenty, fairly hilly, miles from my house to Canton. The weather was close to perfect: 70 F, clear skies, and low humidity. The wind was moderate - probably near 10 mph and mostly out of the north
I stopped for a break in Canton and then rode on to Lake Junaluska. I ride the Old Clyde Rd, shown above, thought Clyde and then take Lee Hill Rd from Clyde to Lake Junaluska. These are both pleasant, somewhat hilly, riding. The alternative is to take Hwy 19. I did that once, when I was looking for back roads, but it wasn't much fun. When I got to Lake Junaluska at 4:15 PM, I discovered that the Subway I usually stop at had closed early - at 4 PM - because it was Mothers Day.
Leaving Lake Junaluska heading south on Bus 23, I realized that Mother's Day wasn't an ideal day to be on the road; too much traffic! Bus 23 runs through Waynesville before rejoining 23, a four lane highway that crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway at Balsam Gap. Waynesville is a pretty town with lots of B+Bs. I was joined briefly on my ride through the center of town by a policeman on a bicycle. He looked to be in his 60s, but had no trouble overtaking me as I cranked slowly up a steep hill. He was very nice, but it was a little strange to be riding along beside someone with a gun. Hmm, maybe I should get a light weight, fake gun and holster to wear while touring!
If I had had a real gun, a 'nice' mother might have gotten shot at after she cut me off as I cranked up US 23 towards Balsam Gap. US 23 has a few roads running off of it and this lady, who wanted to turn on one of those roads, apparently thought that she had the right of way. I was on the shoulder - and a very nice shoulder it is - and watching in my mirror as she came up from behind. She had her turn signal on, but I had entered the road she wanted to turn into before she got there so I expected her to stop. She didn't. I had to swerve sharply to avoid running into her as she cut in front of me. Another good example of why I wouldn't ride without a mirror. I hope her daughter in the rear seat wasn't too offended by the finger I raised in greeting.
The climb up to Balsam Gap is long, but fairly gentle except near the top. It is 12 miles from the top to Sylva NC, and all but a mile or two of that is a great downhill. The shoulder on the South side of Balsam Gap isn't as wide as on the north side, but it is mostly adequate for the 30 to 40 mph coasting that I was enjoying. When I got to Sylva it was 6 PM, so I called my friend who was expecting me for supper and he came to get me, saving me another seven or eight miles of riding. I'm a wimp!
My bike at the store where I waited for my friend.