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August 1, 2011 – Marion, NC

Ride Mt Mitchell from East Side









This morning the temperatures were predicted to be pretty hot so we decided to shorten the route a bit buy driving up RT 80 a bit form Marion until we found a spot to park. We ended up cutting about 5 miles each way from the ride by parking at this little church that was nestled in a cove next to the road. It was the perfect starting spot as there was no one there and there was plenty of shade.

While I was feeling better after yesterday's easy ride, I still was feeling burnt out from last weeks rides so I decided to take it slow at my own tempo. That turned out to be a great decision as I really enjoyed this ride as I did go to the top again when I wasn't sure at the start.



I caught up with Bill and Paul at a dirt rest area where we joined the Blue Ridge. Here are a couple pics that they took of each other there.


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And here is a shot that Paul took of me arriving at the top of RT 80 about ready to join the Blue Ridge towards Mt Mitchell. While we were at this stopping area two motorcycles came racing up the switchbacks. They obviously we were having some fun, but I am glad we were not riding when they arrived as they were flying.

Soon we started our way and we all headed off towards the remaining climb.


There were a couple of tunnels on this ride, but they were not too bad as they were mostly short. The lights which are required that we brought with us were not a lot of help in my opinion. They were not bright enough to see much, but I guess they warned oncoming traffic that we were there.
Here I took a short video pass through one of the tunnels on the climb.


Paul and Bill must have ridden really really fast as they beat Tom and I to the summit and we never saw them pass us. Hey wait a minute, what is that piece of paper? Isn't that my routing sheet? And something is fishy with the altitude ...




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This was a pretty enjoyable ride, particularly since I wasn't riding really hard, yet I was making good time. I stopped to take a lot of pictures today as we really didn't have any from previous rides. The road picture is typical of what the Blue Ridge Parkway riding is like. There is also one below of another of the tunnels..

Finally I took a picture of my bike at the Laurel Knob Overlook. I also took a short video to show the 360 degree view from that rest area. It was pretty nice as the previous nights rain seems to have cleared out the haze a bit.

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Some more pictures of the rest areas and Blue Ridge Parkway heading towards Mt Mitchell.

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As you can see, there aren't many spots for great pictures like previous trips as we are definitely not in the high altitude mountains on this trip.


Finally I made it to the entrance to Mt Mitchell State Park which is where the final climb to the summit starts. This part of the climb was common with our ride from Asheville last week. I suffered a lot on this part last week, but since I was taking it easy today, I found it to be quite a bit easier. I also have to say that the predicted high temperatures were not coming true, at least up here at the mountain top as I actually found it kind of cool.


One thing we noticed on both our Mt Mitchell rides and somewhat on the other rides on the Blue Ridge was these Blue Butterflies. They seemed to be everywhere and frequently crashed into us while riding or into cars. There were many laying in the road, baking in the hot sun. Was quite surprising how many actually.

On the climb to Mt Mitchell, I noticed a field of flowers that were loaded with these butterflies so when I saw a bunch feeding next to the road, I had to stop and take some pictures and a short video.

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Here's a final picture of the formal entrance to Mt Mitchell State Park. The road eases up around here for a few miles before making a final kick to the top of the mountain which is actually behind the hill in this picture.

I found Tom at the top just about to head back down and while he waited for me to eat my Snickers Bar and drink my can of Coke, I found out he raced the Ohio State Cycling Team up the mountain and as usual, kicked their behind just like he did with et French and Italian National teams in Europe. lol.

We did have a goofy lady knock my can of Coke over which must have been because she was exhausted from the long 20 foot walk from her car to where we were standing. Shame those parking lots are so dam tiring and dangerous!



The descent was pretty straightforward and while we expected to run into Paul and Bill we never saw then until we reached the car. Told you before they ,must have ridden like lightning to get to the top before us!

The descent down RT 80 to the church was really wile as the switchbacks and swervy road was fun. I have to admit I am loosing my nerve for descending as I had to take my time more than I would have expected. I also was almost hit head on by a truck who crossed the yellow line to try to pass another vehicle. I couldn't remember how far we had to descend, so after a while, I got disorientated and thought I had passed the church. I stopped, tried to call Tom who was long gone with no luck as there was no coverage. Finally I decided to keep going and in about 30 seconds, I found the church just as the search parties were setting out to see if I had ridden over the cliff!








Cycling Marion, NC 8-1-2011, Elevation - Distance Cycling Marion, NC 8-1-2011