N. C., Bike & Wedding

Mt Mitchell and Blue Ridge Parkway

Many years ago in about 1975, Pepper White who really got me into biking asked me to ride bikes in North Carolinian and to visit his parents in Brevard, North Carolinian. They lived in a little retirement community in the town limits. The town offers: arts, music, the majestic mountains and the waterfalls provide a wide variety of activities to enjoy like river rafting and fly fishing in all seasons. Some of the states most beautiful waterfalls, streams, and mountain trails await you here.  One day Pepper and I slid down this waterfall and went swimming the pools below the falls –they were halcyon days.

We visited the Biltmore Estate and Gardens in Asheville, The Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and saw Chimney Rock Park.  The Biltmore was awe-inspiring.  Please take the time to be inspired by the relaxed elegance of George and Edith Vanderbilt’s 250-room family home and country retreat in Asheville, NC.

The  self-guided house visit infuses more stories about the Vanderbilt’s, plus displays of vintage clothing, storytelling, and period pieces that show what it was like to live in or visit America’s largest home. Of course, you will still enjoy original art from masters such as Renoir, magnificent 16th–century tapestries, Napoleon’s chess set, a library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70–foot ceiling, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, bowling alley, and priceless antiques. Stroll acres of formal and informal gardens designed by America’s foremost landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. From the formal beauty of the Italian Garden to the breathtaking presence of ancient trees in America’s first managed forests, Biltmore’s lush landscape is a living tribute to Olmsted’s genius.

Ok so on to the ride 1975.

We left early in the morning from Brevard and rode our bikes from the top of the Skyline Drive down into Ashville and got some fluids before heading out and upwards to the top of Mt. Mitchell about 7000 feet of climbing. Yes Mt. Mitchell is the highest Mountain in the East coast and it was going to be a hard ride. So we started to climb from Ashville at about 10 Am or so and we rode and rode and rode.  Every turn I thought we would see the top but nooo.  It kept going and going.  My legs hurt but we would not fail. So at about 5 PM we reached the summit.  I saw a fire lookout tower and Pepper and I climbed it when we reached the summit. At about 5:30 we started down it had started to rain so we put the bikes in the back of a truck and unfortunately had to ride in the car –we never felt the exhilaration of flying down Mt. Mitchell. Well it was a good time and at Ashville a ranger took us home as it was dark, we had no lights and were tired. Upon reaching his home we went swimming in the pond and laid on the floating dock watching the full moon, it was now midnight and we had been up a long time and exercised a lot.  This is a very cool trip – no photos form 1975

2013 now = We traveled to Ashville for a wedding,

to bike up the highest mountain in the East coast Mt. Mitchell

and to enjoy the town of Ashville and its many sites and functions.

See each section above for the details.  Below is a brief overview of the weekend adventure.

On Saturday I rented a bike from HERN bikes and rode it with Steve Senn, (my nephew who kicked my butt)  from Ashville up to the top of Mt Mitchell – the highest Mountain in the East coast @ 6,700 feet.  We traveled about 70 plus round trip miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway passing Wild Turkey, flowering azaleas rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel. I took along a camera so I could share some of that ride with you.

Leaving the Beaufort House, we got lost riding through the residential parts of Asheville.  Wow it was hilly just on Sunset, Cherokee, Town Mountain Road and Patton Mountain Road was dirt and I was thinking of a flat but it never happened.

This was the good part of the lost road we were on!!!

Getting lost probably added another 6 miles and more than 1500 feet of vertical.  The  roads climbs mostly at 6% or so with a few sections approaching a 15% grade so I was smoked before reaching the Sky line Drive before even starting the adventure – wow not good. We had a wicked cool down hill to get back down to the sky line drive wow dangerous at 40 MPH

Above is a view looking down on Asheville . Just after the start of this climb you ride though a Tanbark Ridge Tunnel. There are two other short tunnels on this route, one on either side of Craggy Gardens, DUDE it is scary that is all I will say!!!  After the tunnel you are in for a pretty steady climb of about 2000 feet in the next 10 to 20  miles. Very pretty riding made even more interesting because it goes through several climatic zones with different vegetation.

Wild Turkeys above on far left of screen – sorry they look small but are huge

The views are nice below

Here is a picture, taken a few miles beyond the tunnel, which shows the Parkway  half a dozen miles away. The next picture is of my bike with some pretty scenery in the background.

As we continue to climb, we sweep around a valley and pass the road to the Craggy Gardens picnic area. We are now at close to 5000 feet and, a mile or so past that road, we can look back on the way we’ve come and, on this rare clear day, see mountains 50 miles away. Looking the other way , we see the Parkway climbing past a wall of glistening rock covered in water. It is really pretty awesome to look up there and realize that you have ridden it.

We had a 2 miles downhill to Balsam Gap past flowering Rodos above, and that brought on nagging thoughts about having to climb back up=  bummer I hate downhills. At the visitors center, we had come about 20+ miles and climbed about 4,000 feet. That is about a third of the round trip distance to the top of Mt Mitchell and about half of the climbing.  Climbing out of Balsam gap you actually reach the highest point on the Parkway north of Asheville at about 5700 fee- (not the top of Mt Mitchell). The view of the valley is incredible. Several thousand feet below and five miles or so away is North Fork Reservoir, which is the Asheville water supply.  Rt 128 which goes from the Parkway to the top of Mt Mitchell is 36 to 40 miles with about 5500 feet of climbing from the Beaufort House so now we were close. I have only a few photos as I concentrated on riding uphill. On Rt 128 you have less than 3 miles to go, with 1200 ft. of climbing, almost all of which is in a single 2 mile long hill before you reach Mt Mitchell State Park. The last half a mile is pretty steep. Here is a shot of the road near the top. This stretch of 128 maintains a pretty steady 10 % grade. It isn’t fun for tired legs, it takes to cover that 3 miles. Here is a shot taken from the top.

Nice view!

my long time friend Terry above at the top.  We had a great time at all the parties

The restaurant, at about 6300 ft., is several hundred feet below the top (about 6680 feet) on a saddle between Mt Clingman and Mt Mitchell. I went in for some Gatoraid and they had nothing for the bikers wow bummer.  Coming back down Mt Mitchell is a great experience if you like speed. It is twisty enough to be challenging at 45 mph and steep enough to make it possible for me to hit near 50 on the fast bits. The three mile road to the Sky Line Drive took like 5 minutes we were smoking it passing cars and so on = dangerous.

another shot at the top.

Once on the Parkway again, the reality of the ride home sets it. There is only 1500 feet of climbing on the way back and 1200 of that comes before you reach Craggy for a (total of 7000 feet for the day).  We were smoking it There is only one brief uphill section in the entire 10 miles and it was getting to be late in the afternoon so we had to fly to the wedding and it is almost all downhill to Asheville.  The sky line drive that took 3.5 hours to come up now took 1.5 hours to come down wow smoking dangerous at the speeds we were traveling.. We’ve come about 70 miles and climbed over 7500 feet.

Time for a good supper and some oxycodone!

Below back in time  for the wedding

 

 

We raced home for the Wedding held on a nearby ranch.  It was totally amazing

 

We started with the town which is home to many to the art community, craft beers and fine wines and dining.  We enjoyed listening to many of the musicians play music while dinning on a variety of fine cuisine around town.  I give the town an over the top thumbs up.

We stayed in the very cool Beaufort House Inn (Below) which was built in 1894. This historic home has been meticulously restored as a romantic bed and breakfast, with an air of casual luxury and elegance – the perfect environment for an exceptional getaway experience.  It Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this beautiful Queen Anne Victorian is situated on 1 ½ acres in the quiet, residential Chestnut Historic District. It provides an oasis of beautifully landscaped grounds, gardens, and waterfalls just a half mile stroll from the vibrant activities of downtown Asheville, NC.

The wedding guests partying like rock stars at the Beaufort House Inn, I highly recommend this place.  The Inn was once the home to actor Charlton Heston and his wife, Lydia, who would walk downtown to their work at The Asheville Community Theatre, which is still putting on great plays throughout the year

Friday Afternoon we had a most awesome Brides Maid Luncheoun at  Posners below

love “Hot Chicks”

For Friday night we visited the Grove Park Inn for an engagement party –wow over the top.

The Grove Park Inn is a nearly one hundred year old historic resort hotel on the western-facing slope of Sunset Mountain within the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Asheville, North Carolina. It serves as one of the most romantic places to stay on the eastern U.S. seaboard and has been visited by many United States’ Presidents and other people of notoriety.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also features a $44 million, 40,000-square-foot, modern sub-terranean spa below, which placed #13 worldwide in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Hotel Spas in 2008. They offer:  a golf course, rick climbing gym, rafting, tennis as well as over the top dinning and ambiance.  It also features 55,000 square feet of versatile event, banquet, convention and meeting space. This includes an 18,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom and an 8,800-square-foot Heritage Ballroom. The Inn has 510 guest rooms plus, 42 meeting rooms and suites as well as pre-function areas and stunning outdoor terraces, patios and balconies.  So on to our party. with hosts below

We partied like rock stars ( see above) on the outside terrace into the late hours of night. Shrimp cocktail, lamb chops, wine wines of every bouquet, distinct beer, and other fine beverages all in celebration for the wedding.

Yes I can still party even though old above

 We also visited Ashville. The Asheville area, named a must–see destination by Frommer’s, boasts a thriving arts community, diverse outdoor adventures, a vibrant and inviting downtown, numerous historic and architectural attractions, and unique shopping options. The Asheville arts scene is buzzing, featuring hundreds of fine artists, performing arts venues, mountain crafters, folk artists, hip arts neighborhoods, numerous art galleries and myriads of art events. Alternative rockers The Smashing Pumpkins made Asheville their temporary home with a nine-show residency in 2007 at the Orange Peel. And well-known artists such as Gladys Knight, Warren Haynes and David Wilcox have made Asheville their newfound home and drawn inspiration from the area. But it’s just not nationally renowned artists that find musical inspiration in Asheville. You can find street musicians entertaining crowds on Friday evenings; drummers pounding out a rhythmic beat in Pritchard Park and nightly jam sessions in local pubs. Asheville’s stunning natural beauty and artistic atmosphere fosters a creative, collaborative atmosphere ripe for great music.  It was a great long weekend.

Make plans to visit Asheville this spring and find yourself immersed in our unmistakable mountain vibe. We’ve become well known for our culinary cool, our burgeoning beer scene and our thriving artistic community. Add to that miles of panoramic vistas and you have a recipe for an unforgettable escape from the daily grind.

This summer, discover toe-tapping adventures along the new Blue Ridge Music Trail. Explore our backyard to find outdoor adventures that will have you zipping across mountaintops or riding over river rapids. Or, take a leisurely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to experience the breathtaking beauty of America’s favorite scenic drive. Want more ideas? Check out our official guide to summer in Asheville