Day three was the easy day. The word “easy” is relative, as any day on the parkway is going to be a challenge. Even though the climbs were not as long, they were still punishing without flats in between.
We awoke from the Woodberry Inn at Mountains of Glen to chilly, low 40 temperatures. Everyone assembled near the 5-Hour Energy van, bundled up in full layers from head to toe. The sun was beaming on our heads, and it certainly didn’t look cold, but the stiff, constant wind chilled our bones. Even for 3,000 feet, it was a chilly morning.
Fortunately the sun stayed above the entire day, and we finished the day at around 60 degrees. The wind was around, but for a lot of time it was at our backs. It was just cold enough to keep the layers on, and that was fine as the riding weather was comfortable, and towards the end, pleasant.
Just like the end of yesterday’s ride, the early riding was more rural and agricultural with few overlooks. The biggest landmark was Mabry Mill, which we encountered at the very beginning of the ride. The house is gorgeous, and I’ve heard that it is the most photographed parkway location. It is also known for serving delicious pancakes. Since the government was still shut down, those would have to wait for another trip.
The hills were again rolling, with a couple small climbs, but we were within 500 feet of 3,000 elevation most of the day.
The most significant achievement of the day was leaving Virginia and crossing into North Carolina. Once we crossed the state line, after the obligatory photo op, it seemed like the scenery got a bit of a boost. We rode by Cumberland Knob (the place where construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway began), and we finished with some breathtaking views of the eastern Piedmont. We could see the Sauratown mountains and Pilot Mountain in the distance. There were stretches that we rode through covered foliage. Maybe it was because we were at a slightly higher elevation, but the colors felt a little brighter, closer to peak.
We ended the ride at the near halfway point in terms of mileage, although given the higher elevations that await us in the High Country and beyond, there’s harder work to be done in the days ahead.
Strava link (Thanks Steve)