Riding from Asheville to the Bicycle Inn

The Bicycle Inn (www.bicycleinn.com) is located about 50 miles north and east of Asheville. The riding distance and the amount of climbing enroute depend strongly on the route taken; there are some big hills out there. Fortunately, the shortest route is also the flattest. I have a relief map of the area on a wall where I can light it from one side and this route really stands out on that map. It follows valley bottoms almost all the way, crossing only one gap (at 2900 feet) and several smaller hills in the 56 miles between north Asheville and the Bicycle Inn. Most of the route is on back roads with little traffic, but there are two busy stretches that total about eight miles.

The first busy stretch is Bus 19 heading north from Asheville to Weaverville. This seems like a pretty bad road to ride, but it actually isn't bad because the lanes are wide (see the image above) and the traffic moves relatively slowly. Once you reach Weaverville, you can take backroads for the next 25 miles. This road climbs over two ridges between Asheville and Weaverville and there are shopping areas along much of its length.

In Weaverville, I turn left on Alabama Ave and ride for a few blocks till it ends at Church Street where I turn right and, a block later, turn left on Bus 19 again. That avoids Weaverville's downtown. The turn for Alabama is shown above.

I leave Bus 19 at the stoplight before Bus 19 rejoins 19/23 expressway. This is a five way intersection and the road you want angles off to the right and towards the expressway. It parallels 19/23 for a mile or so and then crosses over the expressway to Flatcreek Rd which runs down the other side of 19/23 for about eight miles of mostly rural rolling hills. When it ends, by Teeing into NC 4128, turn right, cross under 19/23, and then turn left on the first road on the other side.

This road takes you over a hill, past the Forks of Ivy shopping center and through Forks of Ivy. About a mile later, as you climb a gentle hill, you'll see the clearly marked Beech Glen Rd. Turn right onto a rural road which is a bit rough, but very nice riding. About four miles down this road you'll pass through Beech Glen (watch for the right angle turn half a mile before Beech Glen - you'll see a sign for the Beech Glen Church) and cross a bridge. Right after the bridge you'll see another clearly marked road, Paint Fork Rd. Turn right on Paint Fork Rd.

After six miles of almost ideal riding with gentle rolling hills, light traffic, and beautiful surroundings, you start to climb and, in another mile you'll be at the high point of this ride, Paint Gap.

Paint Gap is the steepest road I have ever ridden. Fortunately the steep part is quite short. If you aren't real macho, I recommend pushing your bike up the last quarter mile or so. I usually do. On my touring bike, I can pedal up it at 2.75 mph or walk up it at 2.25 mph. Since walking uses different muscles and gives my seat a rest after two hours or so on the bike, I like to walk. Even walking, it is very hard work getting over this hill, but you are rewarded with several miles of nice downhill on the other side. By the way, the slope on the north side is gentle, less than 1/3 the slope on the south side.

Four miles after Paint Gap, you'll cross a bridge at Cane and turn left towards US 19E. At 19E turn right toward Burnsville and two ridges - maybe a mile and a half - later, just after you cross the Cane River, turn left onto Jacks Creek Rd. 19E is a busy highway, but it has an adequate shoulder on this part so it isn't bad riding.

Jacks Creek Road climbs over another couple of ridges, and then settles down into a long gentle downhill that lasts for at least ten miles.

The moon is rising over Jacks Creek Rd as I cruise down the road at 18 mph. This is really nice riding!

A beautiful farm on Jacks Creek

Jacks Creek Rd ends where Jacks Creek reaches the Nolichucky River. You need to turn right onto a bridge that crosses the creek and head on up the river past Green Mountain. It is about a mile to where the road along the river becomes NC 197. Turn left on 197 and follow it to Red Hill which is another five miles.

Mike Davis took this shot as we rode along the river

Four miles on the river is close to flat, but then there is a pretty good hill in the last mile.

At the top of the hill, in Red Hill, turn right on 226 which runs through Loafers Glory in three miles and Bakersville in six miles. At the stoplight in Bakersville, turn left on Mitchell Ave and it is another two miles to the Bicycle Inn. Look for the Bicycle Inn sign on the left hand side of the road, then follow the signs to the Inn.

Note: The images used in this report were captured on four different rides to the Bicycle Inn, one in October, two in November and one in January.