Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Blue Ridge Asheville, NC, Thursday, 03 November 2011 6:22pm

The weather forecast today for my destination (Asheville, NC) called for rain in the afternoon, so this morning was a balance between waiting for the morning to warm up (it began with frost on the bike) and leaving early enough to try to beat the weather. I almost made it in time.

It took me a couple tries to actually find the Blue Ridge Parkway, because the onramp that I was looking for was right in the middle of a road work area, and when I followed the pilot car through the one lane section the first time, I didn't understand what the parkway sign was pointing at. The road I accidentally took (and then backtracked along), VA-8, was one of the nicest I've seen, with lots of tight curves down into a valley and brilliant fall foliage. Most of the leaves along the ridgeline have fallen (probably because of the wind), but in the valleys there are still spectacular colors.

The Blue Ridge Parkway south of Roanoke VA isn't as twisty as the section I rode yesterday. It's mostly broad, sweeping curves, and allows for much faster travel. For most of the way it was a great ride, with crisp, cool weather and long views from the vista points.

The animal of the day was the Wild Turkey. A single one ambled across the road in the early afternoon and gave me a withering look as I passed. Later I saw a flock (herd? pack? gaggle?) of about half a dozen running by.

Unfortunately, I ran into the weather I'd been worried about in one of the worst possible places. I was greeted by rain, hail, and thick fog at the turnoff for Mt Mitchell (the highest peak in the Eastern US). I had to follow an SUV closely so that I could keep its taillights in sight.

My plan had been to stop if I ran into serious rain, but the Blue Ridge Parkway is remote enough in this stretch that there was really no place to go closer than Asheville, so I pressed on for one more hour in the rain.

The rain let up a bit as I neared the city. I hope the storm blows through overnight.