Having had a nice little respite in Asheville and after discussing options for the remaining 60 miles we set out on Saturday prepared to make a game day decision on whether to break up the day into two shorter rides or shoot for the whole 60 miles. It would depend on weather and terrain.
The day started with a scenic bike path along the French Broad River passing the back end of New Belgium Brewing. Because you know. The route IS called the Appalachian Gravel Growler.
About 25 miles in we were feeling good but loaded up with snacks and water still thinking we may break up the 60 mile ride into two days. Since we didn’t bring a water filter and didn’t know if there would be places to resupply if camping I loaded up with a LOT of water.
We cycled farther and farther out of town and in the middle of nowhere the Garmin said the course turned right.
I wish we would have taken a pic for the turn was nothing more than an overgrown footpath. It felt like we were going back into the abyss once again as sure enough there was more very steep uphill hike-a-bike ahead. And now my bike was heavier than it had been all week with water.
Eventually we got to some single track where was one side of the area was pretty wet and rooty but the back side of the trail was a lot of fun. There were lots of mountain bikers and even hikers on the trail and there we were with our big ole loaded gravel bikes.
The sun was out, and soon the mountain bike trail dumped out onto nice gravel when somehow my tire picked up a metal chard and my front tire went flat. Everyone who passed offered help but Tom fixed it quickly and we were back on the road.
About noon we decided to lunch at a horse camp and pulled out two sammies we had stored in our frame bags. That’s when rain started and didn’t let up until the end of our ride. Thunder, lightning, continuous downpours and lots of uphill switchbacks. That was Saturday afternoon. 🤣
We put our heads together and decided to head straight into Brevard instead of going back into the wet sloppy mess and rode 12 miles (all downhill) on a road with smooth pavement, gorgeous waterfalls and reasonable traffic. And it was ALL downhill and of course, still raining. We ended up at The Hub, exactly where our car was parked and in time to get some souvies and celebrate riding the Appalachian Gravel Growler with one last pint.
We experienced a little bit of everything this week with respect to road surface that included the pristine Blue Ridge Parkway, well groomed gravel to rutty forest roads, many variations of single track, ungroomed hiking trails and that doesn’t even include the rocky steep descent down the power line easement. Haha I don’t know how to characterize that part of the course.
Our weather ranged from sunny to stormy on the last day. We bathed in the Catawba River with bandannas while primitive camping and then stayed at the Pine Grove Resort where the white towels were over the top fluffy.
It really was a week of continuums and not knowing exactly what the route or weather was going to throw at us next.
Not sure how Logan Watts created the route but it’s a worthy one. We bailed on a couple of sections due to weather and timing but would consider returning and doing those sections again someday.
In hindsight there are two things we would do differently. Break it down into six days and reduce the daily mileage and definitely bring a GoPro to capture more of the ride.
NC we got to know you a little bit this week and can’t wait to come back and get reacquainted with you soon!