I hit the road this morning, almost on schedule, leaving just a little after 6am. Morning rides through the country are one of my favorite things. The smells are much more noticeable in the cool, damp air. And there’s (generally) less traffic. 221 from Lynchburg to Roanoke looked pretty good on the map, but it was really just divided highway; south of Roanoke, however, it got fun and interesting: no longer divided, some really twisty sections (like shockingly twisty), and nice views. I stayed with it until lunch beckoned and I ran south to Fancy Gap 🎩 where I had an excellent reuben at The Gap Deli. From there I took the Blue Ridge Parkway until I got bored with the traffic and the speed limit (which doesn’t take long on Memorial Day weekend…) and split off toward Glade Valley for gas. At that point I was starting to feel the heat (upper 80s) and I’d already been in the saddle for the better part of 7 hours, so I opted for interstates to get to Asheville. That only sort of worked: it took less time than back roads, but at the expense of frequent stop-n-go traffic and higher temperatures at the lower elevations. I saw 100° for a while, and it was above 90° for most of the afternoon.
I’m staying at the Smokey Mountains Hostel in Bryson City. Clean, friendly folks, and walking distance from a brewery with a taco truck and around the corner from an ice cream shoppe. Could be worse.