I've been poring over topo maps in planning our spring training fling to North Carolina this weekend. Brett found some really cheap tickets ($137 round trip) to Charlotte to help clinch four full days of riding in a beautiful part of the country. It's a 3-4hr drive to Asheville, our base camp. Forecast looks like seasonable temps in the 70's, actually cooler than what we've been getting here lately. Higher elevations might only be in the 50's. Perfect for me.
Some tidbits of info. The highest peak east of the Mississippi is near Asheville, Mt Mitchell at 6684ft. Clingmans Dome is just about as tall at 6643ft. Paved routes climb both of these. We plan to link in portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway en route. Mt Mitchell offers more than a vertical mile of net gain from nearby town Marion. You can ride a vertical mile on our Mt Washington from Gorham or Jackson, but only on a race or race practice day. The quest for dirt will be satisfied too. The bulk of climbing to summit of Mt Mitchell will be on Curtis Creek Rd, a lovely one-laner dirt deal.
Many cycling fans have heard of Brasstown Bald. This is on the agenda too. Brasstown Bald was put on the cycling radar during the Tour de Georgia races. The Georgia 6-Gaps ride also goes over Jack's Gap at the base of Brasstown Bald. Brasstown is notable not for net gain, but its steepness. Portions are 14-18% grade. Brasstown with Mitchell will bag two more state high points I've biked. Most state's high points are either not accessible or legal to bike to. I'll hit the ones I can.
Yet another planned ride will focus on the Blue Ridge Parkway itself. There's a lengthy section south of Asheville that hovers between 5000 and 6000ft, all ridgeline riding. It hits the highest point of the BRP. Of course, we'll make a gaps ride out of it, going up and over the BRP a couple times to net some monster vertical out of the ride.
I'd love to take a trail bike into Pisgah National Forest, but Brett isn't into that kind of riding. If a larger group had gone, I'd certainly vanish into the woods for a day. The off-road is every bit as epic as the road riding down there.
Local rider Jon Speer has provided valuable info on ride options in the Asheville area. Interestingly, he's an accomplished sprint specialist that loves to ride in the mountains. He may join us for the Mt Mitchell ride.
So here's a summary of four major ride ideas. These may get pared down depending on weather and how well the legs hold up. These rides represent easily over 40,000ft of climbing. Topo gives something like 50% more than this, but it is way wrong. I include my estimate of vertical for each ride, something I think a barometric altimeter would record.
Clingmans Dome out and back via BRP. Thursday. 13,000ft vertical.
Brasstown Bald + half of Georgia's 6-Gaps ride. Friday. 7,600ft vertical.
Mt Mitchell + Little Switzerland Loop. Saturday. 12,000ft vertical.
Waynesville/Brevard + Blue Ridge Parkway. Sunday. 10,400ft vertical.