Webster to Murphy NC - 75 miles with an estimated 6000 feet of climbing
This was another beautiful day with highs in the 70 and low humidity. I didn't work on my ride report for yesterday till this morning, so, although I did get up before 7:30, I didn't get off till 10 AM. This was no big deal given that I was only planning to ride to Murphy which is less than 80 miles from Webster. I left my friends house and headed down the steep gravel road to NC 116. Fortunately I didn't get to far before I realized I had left my camera case on his front porch. I left my bike leaning against a tree and scrambled back to retrieve the case. No harm done, although certainly did confuse/annoy one of his neighbors dogs <grin>.
Riding from Webster to Frankilin was uneventful and fairly pleasant except for the big hill in the middle. Before that hill I was cranking along at 12 to 13 mph, enjoying, despite the traffic roaring by a few feet away, the beautiful day and the beautiful mountains. US 23 from Sylva south to Franklin isn't ideal for bicycling; it is a nice four lane highway with a decent shoulder and moderate traffic, most of which is polite. The hill lasts about two miles and climbs - I'm guessing here - seven or eight hundred feet. Not too bad, but a half an hour of grinding. At the top of the gap which is also the county line, the road deteriorates and the shoulder becomes almost unrideable.
The poor shoulder wasn't to big a deal for next few miles because they have a seven to eight percent grade and I was pretty well keeping up with the traffic. I even passed a semi! But when the road levels out and my speed dropped to the low teens, I had to ride the white line and keep a close eye on the traffic coming up behind me. Not fun.
I stopped at 'The City - home of good food' for lunch. This is a pretty down home place just off 23 on 441 at the north end of Franklin. Good food of the truck stop variety. I like it. Then I went back to 23 and headed south to US 64. I hoped to ride 64 to Murphy, but its shoulders were worse than the shoulders on 23 and it had much more traffic. Yuck!
I got off 64 ASAP (two or three very unpleasant miles) and headed back into Franklin on 441. When I got to Pleasant St (pretty well named) I headed west. This becomes Old Murphy Rd which, five miles or so later, becomes Wayah Rd. It also NC bike route 2. Lovely bicycling, but there is BIG hill going up to Wayah Gap. It is challenging on a loaded bike. Were talking three or four miles of 10% grade that just doesn't let up. The last time I rode it on a loaded bike, I got off and walked the for a mile or so and then got back on only to have both legs cramp up so badly that I fell off my bike onto nice soft grass and lay there pounding my legs to get them unlocked. Kinda embarrassing!
Wayah Creek - the road follows it up the hill
This time I didn't walk and I didn't cramp, but I did have to stop and rest three time and eat one time. Given all that I barely, made it to the top. That is one hard climb! Wayah Rd climbs again and descends again several times - none of which compare to Wayah gap - before running alongside Lake Natahala for a few
miles. I stopped at a store/grill/ fishing place near the end of the lake in order to get a second lunch and to ask about the road to Andrews. Last time through, I missed the turn. That meant a VERY nice ride down Wayah road to US 19 folowed a very dangerous several miles on 19 before it becomes fours lanes with good shoulders at Andrews.
One of the ladies I asked said "Take Junaluska Rd. Andrews is just past the bottom of the hill. Hmm, Andrews is more that ten miles from where Junaluska Rd starts. Which hill? As I discovered, there is only one hill. It climbs for about five miles and then it descends for about five miles. Oh well, it was pretty and lightly traveled. And it probably didn't climb much more than a thousand feet. Oh my aching legs...
I stopped at a McDOnalds in Andrews to use the bathroom and drink a milkshake. I sat at a table which had today's Atalanta Constitution and , as I was reading the paper and drinking my milkshake, some nice folks sitting at the window by my bike complimented me on how pretty it was (that's those Arkel panniers!) And then one of the people working there came around with free bagels (and cream cheese or 'steak and eggs') I just had a plain bagel, but it was really pleasant to have friendly neighbors, a paper to read, and a free bagel to munch on at McDs.
The ride down 19 from Andrews was equally pleasurable. A nice shoulder, gently rolling hills in a broad valley, a pleasant temperature, and a tail wind. What more could one want from life? Well, supper would have been nice, but not much is open in Murphy on Monday night and the place I walked to for supper had gone out of business. I'm at the Sunset Motel - 32.70 inclusive for the night. A good place - I stayed here before - and I'll get a good nights sleep and be really hungry for breakfast in the morning.