Blueridge parkway bike ride Prep - Uphillhike
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Blueridge parkway bike ride Prep

Riding the six gaps in N GA as a trial run for my planned 660 mile Washington DC/Skyline Dr/Blue Ridge Parkway ride in June. Plan is to ride with panniers loaded with camping gear and supplies and to actually camp on a two day ride.

It was nearly 4pm when I set out from the rock pile and headed up Woody Gap. The extra load did not seem too bad, but I purposely took a slow pace with frequent breaks. I wanted to ride as if I was going for 2 weeks straight up and down the ridge tops of the Blue Ridge. Taking care not to end the ride prematurely by overdoing it is going to be my goal.

I ran out of light and found a secluded campsite just off the road outside Helen. I chose not to risk riding into Helen for dinner and getting stuck in the dark. That is why I had only a cookie and orange for supper. Good news is that I am close to Helen and will be able to ride into town in the morning for an awesome breakfast with plenty of hot coffee.

Skies are clear so I am sleeping in my hammock. The Chattahoochee River runs next to the campsite. Mosquitoes had a better dinner than I did. I have bites on my hands and legs, but the most annoying is a huge bite over my left eye. Didn’t expect mosquitoes in the mountains, but this site is in a low place next to water.

There was massive destruction of trees along the road descending from Unicoi Gap toward Helen. An tornado had recently snapped hundreds of trees. It is a good thing that it hit National Forest where there are no houses.

Just before ascending Jacks Gap toward Brasstown Bald I caught a young lady riding her back. She was suffering. She had done Hog Pen Gap 2 times today. She actually backtracked up Hog Pen while looking for her husband and friends so that makes 3 ascents of Hog Pen Gap in a single day. She had also ridden the loop of Jacks Gap and Unicoi Gap twice. In case you don’t know, Hog Pen is very difficult with long steep grades. I paced her for a little while and gave her a banana when she summited Jacks Gap. I went on, but I think I saw her husband drive by on his way to pick her up and take her back to Helen.

It was a good day. I did 41 miles and took it easy, but I am still worn out. I will tackle Hog Pen tomorrow. On the Blue Ridge I need to average 50 miles per day while leaving enough energy to do it again the next day.