Day 16 – Asheville, NC north on Blue Ridge Parkway to Linville then 221 to Deep Gap and on up to Roanoke, VA
I am not sure I am going to be able to articulate what today was like. It started out w the realization that I was going to have a lot more room in my hard cases as we put several more layers of clothes than we had for a number of days. It was definitely cooler than it had been but still I opted to zip in the liners in my riding pants and pull on long underwear but not wear fleece pants. No to my balaclava but yes to my neck-up and mid-weight gloves. As I let the bike warm up I turned my grib heaters to low. We mounted up and got onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Wow! It was spectacular. Blue skies. Lovely foliage. Next to no traffic. Pullouts with each view better than the next. After the first six or seven we realized that there was no way we were going to make the 270 miles to Roanoke if stopped at every one. So we rode on, climbing up higher and higher until we reached the most spectacular scene. The east side of the mountains were in the full sun and beautifully lit. The west side still in the shade and thick with rime ice. We had to stop for a few minutes and marvel once again at our impeccable timing and luck.
A little earlier and the roads would have been dangerously icy. A bit later and we’d have missed all the rime ice. It was windy and the ice was blowing off the trees like snow. It was a winter wonderland.
We proceeded down the backside slowly but the roads were dry and it was simply amazing.
We got off at 181 Jonas Ridge Hwy just south of Linville and continued north on 221 to Deep Gap. We’d not yet made many miles but we hadn’t had breakfast and it was getting late so we started looking for a place to eat. We stopped at two places, both of which were closed on Sundays. Turns out that was a really good thing.
221 is a hair raising, leave your little-girl-panties at home, twisty curvy STEEPLY banked (some 20 degrees) blind but linked s-turns with either no guardrails or ones fit only for Leprechauns and views to literally die for. Hard to enjoy the view when running in a loop in my head was beginning biker mantra – “You go where you look.” There were times when I’m sure if I’d eaten lunch I’d have thrown it up!
I led part of the way and all I could see coming into some of the turns was blue sky and nothingness. No road, no nothing! It was difficult to focus on the road with unbelievably gorgeous views. And a very occasional on-coming vehicle.
GPSs kept telling us the speed limit was 55 mph. Even Gregg agreed that was not possible. Good thing the GoPro batteries went dead on the Blue Ridge Parkway as there was a fair bit of profanity on 221. Gregg moaning in ecstasy and me trying not to vomit and thankful I’d not yet eaten. Regardless we were laughing pretty hard. At one point we pulled over so Gregg could pee. He was surprised I didn’t have to. I explained that was because I’d already wet my pants (not really but there were points that were scary enough that i wanted to). We both laughed until the tears were rolling down our faces.
It was an amazing day – a great mix of just gorgeous riding, pushing and expanding my comfort level and a wonderful reward of walking next door to dinner for some excellent Mexican food and jumbo margaritas.
Tomorrow we head to Harrisburg, PA.