Day 12

In the morning I had breakfast and headed out of town on 11. The locals had assured me that, despite the fact that my maps showed 11 disappearing into I-81 again, there were rideable frontage roads on 11 all the way down to Wythville where 11 re-emerged from 81. They had also told me about the big hill that I was going to have to ride over in the morning. It took me over half an hour to crank up that steep hill so I'd guess it was more than 1000 feet of vertical. The view from the top was quite nice and the ride down the other side was great.

After reaching I-81, I crossed it and continued briefly on Rt 100. The frontage road exited from 100 a hundred yards or so past I-81. I turned left and headed down the frontage road. It was still a bit foggy, but the fog cleared quickly and I rode on parallel to I-81. Then the road ended (!) in a private road, but I backtracked and was able to crossover I-81 to the frontage road on the other side. I also saw a Bike-76 sign marking this crossing.

The frontage road on the other side lasts all the way to Wythville. It is good riding with light traffic and enough hills to be interesting. Some parts are a bit boring because they parallel I-81 too closely, but those same parts are where the services are. You don't find many truck stops on back roads, but they are good place for hungry bicyclists! Note that the Bike-76 route (and the AC route) divert off of the frontage road and onto back roads, but I don't think that is a good idea in this case.

I rode on to where the frontage road ended were I-77 emerged from I-81. I crossed the interstates and had a large second breakfast at a Cracker Barrel restaurant on the other side. Then I rode back into Wythville, found 11 and headed south. Note: It is better to cross I-81 just before it reaches Wythville. You cross on Lovers Lane Road and then take the frontage road on the south side to 11. This is easier and faster and there are plenty of places to eat in Wythville right on 11.

Not long after eaving Wythville, 11 becomes really nice riding. There are only two lanes (farther north 11 is usually three or even four lanes) and no shoulders, but the traffic is light and the riding is quite enjoyable. I stopped in Marion at a Chinese Restaurant for a late lunch. Then I headed towards Abingdon. I stopped for a snack at a historical marker near Meadowview - there are an amazing number of historical sites on 11. As I rode between Meadowview and Abingdon, PING! a spoke in my rear wheel broke. I was able to true the wheel enough to ride on, maybe five miles to Abingdon. In Abigndon I stopped at the intersection of 11 and I-81 and asked about a bike store. There was one maybe half a mile away! I rode to the store and they replaced my spoke and trued my wheel while I visited with one of the mechanics who was starting a tour of the Parkway the next day (I'm afraid he got rained out...). They replaced my spoke for free and I gave him my copy of 'Bicycling the Blue Ridge' by the Skinners.

With my wheel fixed, I continued on through Bristol VA and Bristol TN to Johnson city TN where I had supper and spent the night. I left 11 in Bristol and rode 11E and 19W to Johnson City. This was a long days ride, but not hard riding.


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