After a restful night at the Peaks of Otter lodge day 3 dawned with sunny skies and cool, crisp temperatures. My goal today was to reach Roanoke, VA, 39 miles away. The route included a detour because 15 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed for maintenance. According to the National Park Service Blue Ridge Parkway website the detour didn’t add more miles to my route and began about 8 miles south of Peaks of Otter and took me onto Goose Creek Valley Road. The first couple miles were downhill and steep with a road surface that had recently been repaired using the tar and chip method that left a lot of loose “chips”. I had to control my speed down this hill that had sharp turns to keep from sliding.
Once I reached to bottom of the hill the next 8 miles opened to a wide, beautiful valley, I assume was named Goose Creek Valley, which featured rolling farm land and a fairly level road. The map I printed from the Blue Ridge Parkway website was easy to follow, except you had to follow their directions to keep on course. I had one turn to make at the end of Goose Valley Road and when I consulted to map at the beginning of the detour I was sure the turn at the end of the road was to the right. Did you ever have the feeling that something wasn’t right but you couldn’t put a finger on it? After 3 miles and several climbs I had a feeling I was going the wrong way. It just didn’t feel right so I stopped and looked at the map again and sure enough I was heading in the wrong direction. After turning around and pedaling 3 miles back to Goose Creek Valley Road my 39 mile ride quickly became 45 miles. Had I made the correct turn I was only 1 mile from Rt. 221 where the detour continued. The remainder of the trip was uneventful and I got back on the Blue Ridge Parkway about 16 miles from Roanoke.
My initial itinerary included camping at the Roanoke Mountain campground but it was closed so I checked into a small motel near the parkway in Roanoke for the night and found it to be lacking in cleanliness (I am being nice). The bed was comfortable but the bathroom left much to be desired. You get what you pay for. I turned on the television in the evening to check on the weather for the next day. The local weather the next two days called for 90% chance of rain. It began raining later and continued into the morning. Across the street from the motel was a Walmart and behind the Walmart was a mountain. The next morning that mountain was blanketed in fog. I was bummed. I waited for two days to begin the ride and now I was going to have to wait two more days for the weather to improve. I made the decision to end this trip and called my wife and had her pick me up.
The thought of biking the entire 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway was a romantic notion and the 121 miles (plus my side trips) I rode from Waynesboro, VA to Roanoke, VA while hard at times stopping now was disappointing. I was certain that with better weather I could at least finish the Virginia section in two more days. After training for so long I felt I should have ridden farther but I wasn’t prepared to spend more time in that motel waiting for the weather to improve. But the Blue Ridge Parkway will always be there and I will Keep Moving and would like to try to finish the Virginia portion some time in the future.
I did not finish what I started, even though one of my goals was to improve my physical conditioning, which I did. One of my daughters lives in Asheville, NC and she and I have biked some of the parkway near Asheville, and I still have a strong desire to bike more of the Blue Ridge Parkway at some point and maybe finish the entire distance over time. In the meantime I still had a desire to finish a route that I started. Enter the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. I made plans and was determined to complete that 105 mile bike ride later in August, 2016.