This is the ride of a lifetime — 470 miles of beautiful, constantly curving and turning road, twisting through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
For 2015, the Blue Ridge cycling starts on September 16, which means we’ll likely escape the highest temps of the summer heat, and be teased by the first glimpses of Fall colors. Evenings may be cool, but many agree that September is as close to perfect weather as it comes.
The Velo Girl grew up on a farm walking distance from Mabry’s Mill, just one of the historic sites we’ll pass on the Parkway, which means you’ll be joining her in a place she’s known and loved for a lifetime.
ITINERARY FOR 2015
We’ll all meet in Asheville, NC early Wednesday Morning on September 17, and then we’ll transport you (and your bike) to the Northern start where we’ll spend the night in historic Staunton VA.
You’ll arrive at the Southern finish ten days later on September 25. That makes for 1 day driving, 8 days riding, and 1 rest day (in Blowing Rock, NC). Yeah!
- Day 1 – Drive from Asheville, NC to Staunton, VA (Northern Start).
- Day 2 – Rockfish Gap to Peaks of Otter – 86 miles
- Day 3 – Peaks of Otter to Smart View – 68.5 miles
- Day 4 – Smart View to Orchard Gap – 39.2 miles
- Day 5 – Orchard Gap to Mountain View – 62.3 miles
- Day 6 – Mountain View to Julian Price Memorial Park – 40.9 miles
- Day 7 – Rest Day in Blowing Rock
- Day 8 – Julian Price Memorial Park to Little Switzerland – 37.1 miles
- Day 9 – Little Switzerland to Mount Pisgah – 74.0 miles
- Day 10 – Mount Pisgah to Cherokee – 61.1 miles (Southern End)
You meet us in Asheville, NC on Wednesday morning, September 16 – We’ll transport you and your bike to the Northern Start in Staunton, VA, where we’ll stay that night. We’ll travel in our luxury Velo Girl Rides Sprinter van, and your bike travels inside a trailer specially-built for keeping your bike safe.
On September 25, you’ll roll into Cherokee, NC, the Southern Finish– and that evening we’ll get you and your bike back to Asheville, NC (Asheville is a bit more than an hour driving time from Cherokee).
Lodging is included from September 16 (Virginia) until September 24 (the night before we finish in Cherokee). We can arrange lodging for you in Asheville before and after the ride, for an additional fee (we can also provide advice on other aspects of your travel arrangements).
Lodging is in rental cabins, hotels, and motels that we’ve used before. Most are on or near the Parkway, not always easy to obtain, but worth it to minimize our time in vehicles.
All meals are included (Breakfast, lunch and dinner) on all days except the rest day in Blowing Rock, NC. Dinners (included except alcohol) are in restaurants that we’ve also used before and look forward to visiting again! Portions are generous, given how hard you’ll be working.
AUTHORIZED BY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Velo Girl Rides offers tours on the Blue Ridge Parkway under the authorization of a National Park Service permit. This means we must follow certain rules and regulations for how, where and when we ride; our vehicles and their use; and our guides, including their certifications.
Most of the requirements are good common sense, in the best interests of our safety and/or consistent with our regular riding policies. We’ll remind you of the NPS Parkway requirements before and throughout the trip.
SUPPORT AND SAFETY
You will be fully-supported at all times with a friendly SAG (Support and Gear) vehicle carrying supplies, food, fluids, ice, and of course, encouragement. We roll the Parkway tour with two vehicles (and a trailer) — we use two vehicles so that we’ll more likely have a SAG vehicle near you when you need one. The SAG vehicles are radio-equipped to stay in touch, since sections of the Parkway do not have cell phone service.
You may choose to ride in the SAG vehicle at any time, for any reason.
Safety is important at Velo Girl Rides, given that mixing bicycle riding and motor vehicles is always dangerous, even on the Parkway (where the vehicle speed limit is 45 MPH).
We’ll be talking with you in detail about Safety, both what we can do to help, and the choices you can make to be safe on your bike. If the worst happens, we are certified for first aid, CPR, and often have an EMT along too. We carry an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) in one of the SAG vehicles.
If you have questions about safety — please ask.
A guide will ride with you, every mile of the journey. We’re there to help you get the most out of this beautiful environment and fabulous ride… and besides, we love the journey too!
We use two guides on our Parkway tour, which means a 5:1 ratio of guests to guides. Your guides are there to help you with the inevitable issues that come up on a tour — large or small. With a collective 35+ years of riding experience, you’re in good hands.
Our guides have ridden the Parkway before, and Jen Billstrom (the Velo Girl) grew up a stone’s throw from the Parkway (ask her about the time she rode her horse on it), so you’ll be getting the insider’s view of this very special place.
As with our other tours, the maximum number of riders is 10 — we like to keep it small, fun, and we like to laugh… we hope you do too.
If you have ridden some portion of the Parkway, you know what to expect: rarely a steep climb, but many loooong climbs (up to 5 miles without a break). So you’ll want to prepare for this tour, to fully enjoy those climbs.
The descents are a dream, since the grade and curves were plotted for the typical automobile of the 1920s and our bikes zoom down them as if on rails. You may find that you rarely touch your brakes — except to check out the exceptional views.
If you want to ride every inch from start to finish, then build up your miles so that you can climb about 1,000 ft over 5 miles, and increase the length of your rides until you can comfortably finish a long day (about 70 miles with about 7,000 ft of climbing) within a couple of weeks before this ride starts. While only two of the days are over 70 miles, every day involves climbing 1,000’s of feet of elevation gain.
Also keep in mind that the Parkway is often up high for a Southern route — 6,053 ft at the highest point. And if time allows, we’ll have an optional side trip to the summit of Mt Mitchell (6,683 ft; the highest point in the Eastern U.S.) since you can ride to the top. Keep this in mind if you are sensitive to altitude — and let one of the guides know about it.
The cost of the 2015 Parkway Tour is $2,995 per person, double occupancy. If you need a single room, the premium is an additional $795.
A deposit of 50% of the tour price is required to hold your spot. For the 2015 Tour, the remainder will be due by July 18, 2015.
First come, first served – once we receive deposits for each of the available spots, this year’s trip will be full.
We will consider entries on a waiting list, but it is doubtful any of those on the waiting list will get to go. Our guests tend to be the determined type!
THE LEGAL STUFF
Yes, Velo Girl Rides is insured. We’ll also ask you to read, understand, and sign our Liability Agreement (PDF Download) which indicates you understand bicycle riding is dangerous and risky, and that you are assuming that risk as part of your cost of participating in a tour with us. Seriously, please download the PDF and read it before you come play with us.
Call Jen Billstrom at 540-320-2849 if you have questions about any aspect of the ride.