Friday, November 9, 2007

Cherohala Skyway bike ride

Well, the folk are still waiting for a report of S's biking weekend riding the Cherohala Skyway so here is a brief summary. I'm sure S would have many more interesting details of the actual ride. This photo was taken at the end of day one.

On Friday, August 24, we drove up toTellico Plains with our caravan and set up camp at the local KOA for convenience sake. The campground is quite nice, especially if you get a spot by the trees, and the Tellico River, like we did. After setting up camp, we drove the length of the Skyway to stash water in various "hot spots" for the next days' rides. The plan was to ride a full 82 miles two days in a row in preparation for their trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway the next month.

The following morning, bright and early, friend M (with son D), joined us at camp and M and S soon set off up the road on their bikes - maybe around 7:30am. The Cherohala includes a long steep climb of 31 miles to the high point of over 5000 ft (the total elevation climbed that day was about 10 000 ft.) The guys then rode down the other side to a point and returned up and over for a total of 82 miles. The day was hot and the guys had underestimated their need for fuel so it was a grueling day for them. The kids and I met them about half way with some food and extra water which helped them over the hump, so to speak.

As for me and the kids, we played in the Tellico River on both days, rode the bikes around camp and generally just hung out.

Awww, isn't this sweet?

 They also had fun sliding down a long water slide the camp people had set up on the side of a hill.

When the guys got back that evening, they were ready for a good rest, shower and a big meal of pasta. At this point they realised that doing 80 or more miles a day for 5 or 6 days was going to be tough. That night all 5 of us slept in the caravan and the next morning they were off again. This time another friend, F, had driven over and joined them at the bottom to do it all again. Actually, M and S decided to only ride to the high point and back (total 62 miles), instead of the 82. Their friend did the full 82 since he hadn't gone the day before. Fortunately the weather was a little kinder, not so hot and muggy, plus they were able to gauge their fuel needs better and were in a lot better shape on their return than the day before.

So that is the story of the biking weekend. They were glad they did it as it gave them a good feel for what it would be like doing the Parkway in only 6 days.....

Next week I'll give a little overview of our holiday on the coast in early August.

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