If you follow other blogs in the bike blogosphere, you may have noticed that I (Rachael) had the great fortune to receive a scholarship from Bikelaw to attend the first annual Tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway from June 22-26. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity to rub elbows with colleagues and bike-advocate friends from North and South Carolina, but it was an incredible way to enjoy a couple hundred miles of the BRP by bike.
|A self-portrait while riding|
Our adventure began in Blowing Rock, NC last Wednesday. We convened at a lovely lodge in the afternoon, and departed for a 30-miler in the surrounding countryside. That evening, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the lodge and shared in a great round-table conversation about the positive aspects of the movement that we are all a part of.
Day two began a little cloudy, clouds which eventually broke to rain as soon as we mounted our saddles and shoved off. Forty miles of rain was welcomed by this Columbia-resident; it was a wonderful respite from the heat of June in SC. Riding on day two was a bit challenging, but we all arrived in Little Switzerland safely, just in time for a delicious lunch overlooking the valley. Check out Peter’s post from day one and two for more details and fantastic photos.
On the evening of day two, we had a great social marketing schpeal from Bike Shop Girl extraordinaire Arleigh Jenkins. We again shared conversation about our advocacy pursuits and various tactics to promote and improve our work.
Day three was by far my best, as it also included some exciting firsts. The weather was just glorious–the sky was the bluest of blues, the clouds were billowy and cotton candy-like, and the temps were incredible. I successfully climbed Mt. Mitchell, definitely a first for me, and I accomplished my first near-mountain metric-century (63 miles in the SC midlands does not compare to 63 on the BRP). We rolled into Asheville just before happy hour, and were joined over dinner by friends, family members, and a PCC Board member. Dinner conversation was full of fellowship and good cheer. Check out what Peter has to say from day 3.
I decided to sit-out from riding on day 4–this was probably for the best given the pain in my knees and bottom. From the stories and photos that I’ve heard and seen, it sounds like the group showed the Parkway what they were really made of. Again, visit the update from day 4 on Bikelaw’s blog to get the spin.
Last but not least, we wrapped up the multi-day adventure on Sunday with another first for me–an alley cat before breakfast. Sunday AM, Arleigh challenged us with a delightful scavenger hunt around downtown Asheville, full of laughter, surprises and lots of fun.
All in all, the experience was incredible, made possible because of the goodwill and foresight of Peter and Jana at Bikelaw, and the logistical expertise of Paul and Keith at Black Bear Adventures. Stay tuned for next year’s adventure–I hope you will be able to experience it yourself!
|1st annual Bikelaw BRP Tour gang, looking fairly disorganized atop Mt. Mitchell; notice that Peter and Jana are the only two that seem to have it together!|