Day 11 – Collettsville, NC to Spruce Pine NC (36 miles)

June 11th

Woke this morning to the same beautiful partly cloudy skies that I went to bed with. So nice to not see rain after dealing with it for days. Also feeing just slight nausea so that’s improving too. Camping close to town I went to the only store to pick up breakfast. Sitting outside eating what I could piece together as a passable breakfast, This big dog, a chocolate Lab, was doing his ‘best sad’ face to get a bite or two from me. 

Once on the road, headed to a point to intercept the route, the terrain was some mild ups and downs for about the first 8 miles. Also found it to be a good sign that breakfast only made my stomach queazy for about 3 of those miles. Hey… Getting better.  

Came across two women riding road bikes heading the opposite direction. Stoped and talked with them for a few minutes to learn they are out for a ‘training ride’ for an upcoming bike trip at Mt Rainer. Said they were going another mile or two, then turning around to make the 13-mile climb yet ahead of me. I heard there was a bit of uphill grade, but now wondering just what kind of hell I’m in for.

Ladies out for a little Tuesday morning training ride. Passing me on the climb.

Before parting ways with those women I told them I’ll be seeing them shortly when they pass me on the climb. One was not so sure. Told her, You’re on road bikes and I’m on a fully loaded mountain bike… you will be passing me. 

Just a couple miles later I made the right turn and directly into the climb. Will say right now… Most brutal climb yet. Paved highway with a generous shoulder, but 13 miles of up required me to take MANY breaks along the way.

Stopped at a scenic lookout at one point to take in the awesome view. Also stopping at the same time was a gentleman named Steve. Super nice guy who was agreeable to take my picture for me. We chatted for quite some time. He’s a cyclist and has done many cool trips abroad, including a West to East across America trip in the early ’90s with his wife running support vehicle the whole way. 

Fellow cyclist Steve, who’s been very adventurous by way of a bike.

Bidding a farewell to Steve it was back to the climb and taking it very small bites at a time. Once I made it to the top there was the typical combination, gas station, convenience store, and sandwich shop. I took about a half an hour break getting something to eat and recover from the climb. 

With just a few more miles to cover before I’ll be joining the route again, after yesterdays road detour, I’ll need to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway. While on the Parkway I passed the entrance to Linville Falls. This is were Steve, I met earlier, was headed. Only a three-mile diversion, I figured it worth the extra work. 

Glad I stopped to make the .7 mile hike from the visitor station to the falls. Was nice to finally see something cool and interesting. 

Linville Falls

Back on the road, I put Spruce Pine NC in my sights as a possible stopping point for the night. Once I was in town, figured I’d see what the local hotels are offering. With everything and I mean everything on my bike taking a soaking the past several days and being packed away wet… It all was becoming quite odorous and needed to be washed and/or aired out. The first place I called the rate would be above $80. Thanked her for her time and went on to call the next. 

My next call was to the Spruce Pine Inn where I talked to Jeff. When he gave me the rate, I told him I was biking and would get back to him because I’m doing this on a tight budget, might try to find camping. He said to me, let me see what I can do from one biker to another and shot me a very good deal. To the Spruce Pine Inn, it is. 

Jeff was very accommodating and very interested in my trip. We talked at length about biking. He even came out with a big bag of protein bars and told me to take what I can.

Jeff at Spruce Pine Inn

Once in the room, I emptied everything out of the bike to let it dry. My hotel room was quite stinky. However, that did improve a bit when I took every single item of clothing to the washing machine. 

With me clean and my clothes too, I walked up the street a block and a half to a drive-in restaurant. Since I wasn’t driving I sat in a cool little annex they had for sit down customers. 

Happy to wrap up this ‘adventurous day’. Tired from all the climbing, but feeling fullfilled with all the cool scenery.

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