Roaring Gap, NC

We start with rain. Which grows into pouring rain. Which then becomes driving rain.

This is one of the low rain times of the year, from what I read, but we sure seem to be getting wet a lot recently for a dry season. Today is warm, maybe 70, and we are not being harried by the wind. So, that is an improvement weather wise. Soaked to the skin, but not uncomfortably cold.

The plan is a little unclear today. Dugsur, 221 to Hillsville, then 52 south through Fancy Gap to the parkway. We want make it to Boone, but I don’t see that happening. Over 100 miles is a bit much in these hills and driving rain just drags out the day. Yep, not going to happen in a soggy chamois. We are just going to ride until it feels like it is time to call it quits.

The rain comes in waves. A heavier storm is bearing tornado warnings, but, for the time being, the ridge seems to be safe. We are at the Sparta turn off which would require us to drop down off of the ridge into the valley, 14 miles. That seems to be a waste of 14 miles today and then another 14 miles just to get back on the parkway tomorrow. We take a risk and continue south over a couple of moderate climbs but nothing serious.

The Blue Ridge Parkway has limited options when it comes to places to stay and places to eat. 45 miles into a continuously rainy day and we reach the turn off to 21, the road to Roaring Gap. It is this or another 30 miles to the next possibility. No matter what we do today, it will have to be a two day run to Boone. Tomorrow is supposed to be dryer and clearer. Today seems like a good one to end early. Our first motel of the trip. Breaking another goal to stay on couches the whole way home. No matter. This is as good a place as any to dry off and for our kits to dry out. It is off season and in the middle of the week which results in us having the run of the place; an entire motel empty save for two wayward cyclists.

What we didn’t realize was that we were parallel with Sparta on 21. The first turn off was just a diagonal. It is 14 miles off of the parkway on 21, so the first exit, had we taken it, would have been bad riding on busy roads for many miles. Roaring Gap is only 4 miles east of our route, so it was still a good play. We didn’t end up going as far as we though we had, but at least we hadn’t gone that way. Ending early, and only 45-50 miles in, means that the three big climbs of this stretch still lay in wait.

A shower based laundry room. Soap up your kit, and then stomp on it like you are making wine. The gear doesn’t look particularly grimy, but the brown flowing from it with each step tells a different story. Lather, rinse, repeat until the water runs somewhat clear. Ring out as much liquid as possible so that the lamp shade drying rack above the wall mounted room heater has a chance at getting the remaining dampness out of it by morning.




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