Statesville, NC to Maggie Valley, NC – 272.4 miles
Naomi was once again up at the crack of dawn rearing to go, while I wanted to snooze. I never have been an early riser, but I get the feeling this might be changing…for the next 5 weeks at least. We started off with a nice hotel breakfast. We had been eating Clif Bars the past few days, so having a proper meal to start was a nice change of pace. The bikes were fired up early and we headed out under overcast skies. I decided to wear rain gear out of the gate and was thankful of that decision as it was much cooler with temps in the low 70s. As we rode out of town I noticed the scenery change from flat cropland to rolling hills with cow pastures and turkey farms. The mountains rose in front and our ride consisted of less 90 degree turns and more sweeping curves.
We soon hit our first section of dirt that took us through the Pisgah National Forest. There was fog on the mountain and a misty rain, which made visibility tough at times, but we were more than happy to deal with the conditions. The gravel met up with pavement again and led us to a small golf community. We stopped to refuel the bikes and refueled ourselves at the taco stand next door. The short rib tacos were amazing and I think Naomi is still reeling from the habanero sauce she doused her jerk chicken in. If nothing else, she’ll definitely feel it again tomorrow.
The weather cleared as the sun finally shone through the clouds. I stripped my rain gear and we continued on through rolling hills, passing through small communities before hitting the dirt again. About half our day was spent flogging the bikes in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, crossing the state lines twice.
We met the pavement in Hot Springs, NC which is a stop over for those hiking the Appalachian Trail. We gassed up and asked the attendant if the town actually had hot springs to soak our old bones in. She advised us the hot water was piped in, which sounded more to me like a nice home bath than a day at the spa. We passed on the “resort” amenities and decided to hit the dirt again.
Somewhere back in the mountains of the national forest, Naomi’s bike decided it needed a break and laid down for a quick nap. I could have also used a siesta, but Naomi was still running hot and pushed us the rest of the way off the mountain.
Maggie Valley was the stop for the night where we found a nice spot to stay and a delicious BBQ dinner. If you’ve never had battered and fried corn on the cob, you’re missing out.
Today’s lesson: If it says habanero, it’s probably hot.