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The potential for picturesque travel

activity-biking-prettyThe Parkway was designed as a scenic byway for motorists, but bicyclists are taking to it in increasing numbers for the challenge and the rewarding vistas.

Riding on the Parkway is not a beginner’s ride. The long, high elevations, mountainous byways and inclines make it a ride for those with a base fitness level adequate for riding hills for extended durations. There is a well written article, Beginner’s Guide to Cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway by Aaron West, author of SteepClimbs.com, that you should read if you’re considering even a partial ride. It’s a great way to get an overview of the challenges and issues facing bicyclists on the Parkway. While the Parkway is an incredible ride, it has the characteristics common to nearly all mountain roads – little to no road shoulder, no bike lane, long dark tunnels, blind corners, and hill climbs that can be up to 13 miles long. It is definitely a ride that you want to prepare for, physically and in your knowledge of the Parkway itself.

The article does include this rather illuminating elevation map by milepost to give prospective riders an idea of the elevation changes.
Credit: Blue Ridge Parkway Daily, "Beginner's Guide to Cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway" by Aaron West
Aaron notes “One rule of thumb is to consider the Parkway twice as difficult as rolling hills and three times as difficult as flats.” The positive being that unlike many other mountainous routes, the Parkway has… by design… a manageable grade.

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The article Biking the Blue Ridge Parkway by Brittney Summerman chronicles one person’s experience riding the Parkway, both the emotions and the memories of her ride. Yes, riders should always prepare and be careful but the rewards of biking the Parkway are all around you and can stay with you a lifetime.

Advisories

Bikes are only allowed on paved roads and parking areas (not on trails or walkways)

Bikes must have reflectors or white lights between sunset and sunrise

The Parkway experiences four distinct and often unpredictable seasons, so dress accordingly. Layers are a necessity. At the higher elevations, lightening strikes are a hazard. Always be aware of where you are, potential shelters and what is going on around you.

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