Entering Eden on NC Bike 4 there is a sign: "Prepare to meet God." Certainly appropriate for entering Eden, but, in the 'strip' where all the motels are, that god is obviously Mammon. I'm a little disappointed with Eden, although the jacuzzi in my $60 room did feel awfully good after a hard days ride.
I didn't leave Mountain Hearth B+B till 10:45 this morning. I had an excellent breakfast with nice company and got on the net to upload the first two days ride reports and read my mail. My night at the B+B cost $80, but that included a superb dinner and a breakfast. A much better buy than the Innkeeper in Eden, even if it didn't have a jacuzzi.
Before I left, Ernie, the guy who owns Mountain Hearth, promised he'd sue the state for designating highway 21 as part of NC Bike 4 if I was killed on the way down 'the hill.' I wasn't, but I must say I would not dream of trying to ride up that hill on a bicycle. It is roughly eight miles of narrow twisty road with no shoulders and lots of heavy truck traffic. Going down at 35 mph was OK since I could pretty well keep up, but going up at 8 mph would be an hour in bicycle hell!
There really are very few ways 'down off the mountain' so NC didn't have any good choices in that part of the ride. After Thurmond, at the bottom of the hill and, today, at the end of a 15 minute wait for road work, NC Bike 4 goes off on back roads and pretty well stays away from bad traffic. I'd say the biggest problem today was dogs. I must have been chased at least two dozen times in 100 miles, often by several dogs. A new record for me and, if you are afraid of dogs, a good reason to avoid this, otherwise pretty nice, route.
Bike 4 in western North Carolina
Most of today's ride was spent between 1000 and 1300 ft, but, as the 4500 feet of climbing I measured indicates, I went back and forth between those limits quite a few times. Relative to the Parkway, this is not a hilly ride, but by most other standards, it would be. The nicest part the ride was NC 66 which is quite hilly, but very pretty. It goes south from NC 258 to Moores Spring Road which then runs east to Hanging Rock State Park. I felt almost like I was riding in Western North Carolina instead of north central NC.
I had a good, inexpensive, lunch just after NC 4 crosses I-77, and a good, inexpensive supper at the Garden Cafe in downtown Stoneville, about 10 miles west of Eden. There was rather too long a break between the two! Hmm, I wonder what is east of Eden. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. Looking at my maps I see that, like today's route, it is a long way between services. A few little towns, but few of them even have cafes. I'll probably have to go off route to find a place to stay tomorrow.
I stuck to NC Bike 4 except for a section from I-77 to Dobson. Someone told me about a bad dog on that section, so I stayed on Zephyr Mountain road, a more heavily traveled route, instead of following NC Bike 4. No problem with the light traffic or with dogs. After Stoneville I debated continuing on NC 770 instead of following NC Bike 4. I should have done so, since the dogs and the hills were very bad on that section.
It was a long, hard day, but the weather was almost perfect - 5 mph or so headwind - and the route really was quite nice, other than the dogs, for most of the day. I was exhausted after the section near Hanging Rock State Park, but there was nowhere to stop from there to Eden. I got a bit down, but I pressed on regardless and was rewarded with easy riding for most of the last 30 mile or so into Stoneville.