Just came back from Charlotte, NC! I organized a small bicycling trip among friends, and we converged on that fair city and had our pick of many exciting road routes in the area. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was ever a city more surrounded by thunderstorms as was Charlotte this past Saturday, so on Saturday we ended up driving into Virginia to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of the town of Meadows of Dan. Locally, this is pronounced like “metasedan”, which sounds a little bit like a car racing game, or even a little bit like “Medicine Man”. It was still rainy in those parts, and cold, about 55 degrees, and I was having trouble with asthma.
We started out towards Fancy Gap, but only made it about 10 miles to the crest of Groundhog Mountain before we decided to head back in the other direction. We hit about 32 mph coming down. We passed our starting point and continued a few miles towards Mabry’s Mill
The Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful. There wasn’t a lot of shoulder to ride on around Meadows of Dan, but there weren’t a lot of cars either, and the cars we did encounter seemed friendly enough. The countryside was green, and Spring was in the air. It was interesting how colorful many of the trees look in the Spring – the buds and the young leaves were bright red and orange like old leaves in the fall. Unfortunately, we hadn’t arrived at the parkway until after 2PM because of all the driving to avoid the rain. We also took a wrong turn in Mt. Airy after asking for directions, so bring your own maps. As a result, we did not have time to have dinner at the Mill, which was recommended by one of my friends who had stopped there to eat some years before.
Saturday was supposed to be our long ride, and Sunday our short ride, but because of the rains we ended up doing the long ride on Sunday. We did a ride called “The Lake Norman Challenge” which I got from Trails.com. Basically, we started out in Denver and rode out to Catawba and back in a 40 mile loop. The instructions were mostly good, but we did get lost in Catawba. There’s a sharp turn in route-10 downtown. You’re supposed to ignore the turn and go straight, but we followed route-10 for a few miles instead before we realized our mistake. Too bad, because of my friends’ airline constraints, we had to send our fastest ahead for the car after that. The rest of us made it to within 6 miles of the finish anyway, and we made it to the airport with 45 minutes to spare. Again, good road biking, but mostly not a lot of shoulder to work with, and more cars this time. We got buzzed twice, and the northern trail section along Sherrill’s Ford road had especially heavy traffic.
Anyway, my favorite story from this past weekend is the story of the stick. We were riding down “Molly’s Backbone Road” outside of Catawba when we encountered a gentleman walking along the other side of the street with a large bright pink broomstick. As we came upon him, two large dogs came running after him. There were a lot of dogs along the ride; people living in the rural areas outside of Charlotte don’t usually have dogs on leashes or behind fences. The man expertly used the stick to keep the dogs at bay, poking and parrying, until their owner barked at them to come home. As we passed, I commented, “So you carry that stick around just to keep the dogs off?” He replied in a slow drawl, “And the cars.”