It started raining about an hour after I pulled into the motel in Boone last night, and it didn't stop until 9:00 this morning. TV said that there was accumulated snow on Sugar Mountain, where I was yesterday. There was a good chance I was going to get wet today, but it never happened. Again, I have been sooo lucky with the precipitation in this trip. It was cold again. 43 degrees when I left the room, and it got as low as 40. I dressed better today than yesterday. Two pairs of socks, a long sleeved shirt under two jackets, and headgear that only had a face hole, to cover my neck and ears. I needed all that for about half of he trip, the second half of the trip was in the sixties, with sun.
When I left the room, I went a few miles out of my way to check out Appalachian State University. The campus was settled down into the very foggy mountains. There was no one out, because of the weather. Not only was it very wet, but there was a nasty cold wind blowing out of the north. It sucked at times, but fortunately I was headed south, towards Hickory, NC. I climbed out of Boone, as I left town on US 321, which I would follow all the way to Hickory. I racked up about 700 ft real quick, climbing back above 3700 ft as I got into Blowing Rock, a very upscale tourist area, with ski resorts, tubing and rafting, and ...what a view. Too bad I couldn't see it I has read some billboards talking about ' the edge of the mountain,' and that's exactly what I saw. To my right, was a sudden drop off, and if I could have seen through the fog, I probably could have seen Tennessee. US 321 was under construction all through town, but when I got out of town, I had my 'edge of the mountain' experience.
The Appalachians do nothing gradually. It's all very intense, as I mentioned yesterday. I came to a sign that said something about an eight mile downhill, and man, was it a downhill. Thank God I didn't have to climb it. I'm sure I could have broken 50 mph on another day ( that's always been a goal of mine on a bike. The fastest I've ever gone is a little over 47). But not today. My bags were loaded a little unevenly, the road had some bumps, which can be bad when you're on a bike going over 40, and the wind blasted me from every direction as I wrapped around the mountain on the descent. I didn't get the death wobbles, but I got blown pretty good, and I rode my brakes a good part of the way down. It was another white knuckle experience. And, it was freaking cold, with that wind and 40 degree temperature.
By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I had descended 2500 ft in a half an hour, the sun came out, and the temperature went up into the sixties, and that was the end of the fog and drizzle. The scenery was beautiful on the way down, but it went by real fast.
At the end of the day, when I saw that I had climbed 3600 ft, I was shocked. It just didn't seem like it. I guess a lot of the hills, I used my accumulated speed to cruise right up 50-100 ft hills without much effort. The story of the day was the descent out of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My total drop was 6033 ft. My legs were pretty beat from the climbs yesterday, so I really appreciated the descent, but they really didn't notice the ascent until the last few if the day.
Once things started to level out a little bit, I went through town after town on US 321, the largest being Lenoir, and Hudson, previously the Capitals of North Carolina s furniture building industry. Then I got off of 321 for a while, as I went into Hickory. I stopped at the Blue Ridge Harley Davidson store, where I visited with Randy Cook, a friend from Mesa, AZ. He works as a supervisor in the beer vending business with the Cubs, and is in charge of work campers at Mesa Regal, one of the Cal Am properties where we stay. We have become friends, and it was worth going 30 miles out of my way to say hi.
The trip to Hickory took me a little off my original trail, so I will miss the Winston Salem area, and get a little more country riding. After visiting for about a half hour, I got on US 70 (again), and headed east to Statesville. I went on some roads that paralleled 70, which paralleled I 40, so traffic was calm on shoulderless roads. I went through the town of Catawba, and crossed a lake that the Catawba River formed. That was one of the last hills, where I really felt my tired legs, climbing out of that river valley. The motel was on the west side of town, right next to a Camping World that Pam and I stopped at on our way from NC to the Keys two years ago. The only restaurant close by was a Waffle House, so that was dinner, and a fine dinner it was!!
|Appalachian State University|
|The Mountaineers football stadium and track|
|Campus on a cold, dreary day|
|I never did see Blowing Rock itself, so I took a picture of the billboard!|
|What should have been a beautiful view|
|The eastern Continental Divide for the second time in two days|
|Just before the huge descent|
|Half way down. Sun and a nice view|
|Randy Cook and I at the Harley Davidson dealership|
|I tripped upon some time trials going on at this famous race track. I AM in North Carolina!|
|Ralph Earnhardt is the father of Dale Sr, and Grandpa to Dale Jr|
|The bike snuck in too!!!|
|A reminder of the good ol' days! But the truck was loaded with pine straw, not mulch!|