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Entries in Biking (1)

Sunday
Jul102011

Bike Riding on the Parkway

Every year, I see more and more road bikers on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Because it is in the mountains, riding the parkway can be as inspiring as it is intimidating if not exhausting. Also, maintaining the good cadence to move efficiency requires excellent conditioning. It you have a reasonable level of fitness (i.e. advanced) and a road bike with gear ratios for hill climbing (a triple), there are many places you enjoy rides on the parkway. Still, all of these rides have serious climbing stretches: 2-3 miles at %8-%10 or greater.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is known for spetacular views.

Because it is very close to my house, I frequently ride the parkway. I ride with a race-style dual cluster, and generally I ride about 30 – 36 miles, or around two, fairly strenuous hours. In most of my training my goal is to test my power system, not to undergo a fitness test. Sometime I enjoy, trashing myself with endurance –style rides, but this is not the norm.

Here is one of my favorite starting points for parkway rides with Google map coordinates

James River North and South

There are two great rides here. First, travel south to the top of Apple Orchard Mountain and you will climb from the lowest elevation of the parkway (700’) to the highest part of the parkway (3,700’). Especially steep is the 7 miles from mile marker 65 to 74. This ride is definitely a physical trial. As with most rides on the parkway, the scenery is spectacular and changes dramatically from season.

It is about 15 miles and 3000’ to the top and it takes me about 1 ¾ hour. If you want more miles, ride to the Peaks of Otter . The return climb to the top of Apple Orchard is only 1000’. That said, on your return ride dropping 3000’, at speeds of more than 45mph is quite interesting.

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When you climb the parkway, you will be rewarded with endless views of the road falling away below you.

In the winter the parkway is often closed to vehicles; yet still open to bikers.

North:

If you ride north from James River, the rides are much less steep. For a 38 mile ride I suggest you ride to where route 60 crosses, coming up the hills from Buena Vista. There is one pretty steep hill, with about 2 miles of climbing, after you leave the Bluff Mountain tunnel.