Well, I'm back from North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I suppose I should relate how it went. My results were...mixed.
First, I did something I've never done before and was late meeting everyone on Thursday to leave. It's not that I've never been late, but I have never been the last one to arrive. Tanya only beat me by about a minute, though, so I guess it wasn't like I was the only one running behind. We left Knoxville and headed east, stopping in Morristown for dinner at the Cracker Barrell (Jan, who is from Michigan, had never eaten at one before). After that it was a several hour trip through a good bit of rain to Blowing Rock, NC, which we spent mostly playing the iPod game. We got in sometime between 10 and 11 pm, so we didn't wait long before hitting the sack.
As I briefly posted on Friday evening, the first day was all about riding from Blowing Rock to Little Switzerland on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We started with breakfast at Knight's-on-Main, which is somewhat famous for their mention in the "Mitford" series of books by Jan Caron and for their livermush. I'm not too fond of livermush, I must say, but if you are, apparently they make it quite well.
We started our ride back at the hotel and were quickly gaining altitude on a longish climb, interupted by a detour off of the Parkway and onto Highway 221 (due to roadwork). I had actually hoped we'd stay on 221 to Grandfather Mountain since I've driven that road and always wanted to ride it, but the detour went back over to the Parkway before that, so back we went and up and over the Linn Cove Viaduct, which is beautiful in it's own right. From there it was 16 miles of rolling road to the lunch spot, and John B. Josh and I were out front. Josh was able to take the only County Line sprint, catching John and me unawares, but that's how it goes sometimes. I did at least scramble for second.
After lunch we continued on the Parkway toward Little Switzerland over some hefty rollers. Meryl, the lightweight among us, and I were trading the lead back and forth most of the way there, with her passing me on the climbs and me passing her on the descents Between the two of us, we get where we are going at about the same time, but we don't spend a lot of time actually riding together. Fortunatley I had just passed her near the turn-off to the hotel (Big Lynn Lodge), or she might have blown right past it. I knew where it was from previous years.
Everybody arrived, showered (most important!) and relaxed until dinner (including a close round of horseshoes between teams of Josh and me versus Jim and Vick). After dinner was when I found the computer in the lobby for the quick note. I then joined Vick, Tanya, Elle, and Meryl for a walk up the road for a good ways to settle dinner.
We got to bed at 10 pm or so, but I don't think many of us slept all that well. Most of us had our windows open, so most of us got to listen to the sound of the rain all night long. All. Night. Long.
More to follow tomorrow.