‘Round the Mountains

I’m not a morning person or a climber, so the cards were stacked against me for Saturday’s Around the Mountains Ride. Dragging myself out of bed at 5 a.m. so I could walk the dog, feed the house reptile, pet the cat, get dressed, eat, load the car, and make it John’s house by seven was no fun. Somehow I arrived on time, we added his bike to my rack, and off we went to Danbury, NC.

There are three routes, and since we opted for the longest (52 miles), we needed to be in Danbury in time for an 8:30 a.m. start. No problem — we were there by eight, and spent a half hour talking with others in the parking lot of Moratock Park before rolling out.

The mass start was slower than I expected. Going out of the park you immediately start a long but not particularly steep climb toward hanging rock. The entire group stayed together, rolling along at barely 10 mph. Once we arrived at the road to Hanging Rock some of the group turned left to ride to the summit, while the rest of us continued on the main loop.

The first several miles are a series of short to medium climbs. Nothing too steep, but there’s a definite feeling that you’re in the mountains. This continues until Brown Mountain Church, where the roads become flat to rolling. There we were able to pick up the pace a bit until arriving at our first stop, about 28 miles into the ride.

From that point until the finish we were either 1) climbing, or 2) hammering along on flat to downhill roads. The climbs started to take their toll; I could hear some groaning in the group each time the road tilted upward. There are a couple of particularly nasty climbs in the last third of the ride — they’re just steep enough to force you out of the saddle for a bit.

Hard work aside, the great thing about this ride is that you’re almost always in view of the mountains you’re circling. It’s not only scenic, but a reminder that climbing those summits would make for a much harder day.

The last two miles were a fast downhill run to Moratock Park. Here Fred, Stuart and David express their relief to be off their bikes.

Allan and Scott demonstrate calf stretching techniques.

This ride is highly recommended. If you want to try it, here’s the cue sheet:

53 Mile Loop of Hanging Rock, Sauratown
& Pilot Mountains

  • 0.0 RIGHT out of Moratock Park onto Sheppard Mill Rd.
  • 0.2 RIGHT onto NC 8/89 North (Option: turn left onto Hanging Rock Park Rd., climb up Hanging Rock)
  • Pass the point where Hwy 8 bears Right
  • 6.0 Store on right
  • 6.2 LEFT onto Lynchburg Rd. (NC 268, SR 1504)
  • 10.1 SHARP RIGHT on HWY 66 NORTH
  • 12.7 LEFT on Brown Mountain Rd. (NOT Brown Mtn. Church Rd.)
  • 17.2 LEFT onto McDaniel Rd.
  • 19.6 LEFT onto Old Westfield Rd.
  • 22.3 LEFT onto Main St. (Pilot Mtn., NC)
  • 22.7 RIGHT onto Hwy 268 West
  • 24.0 Cross Hwy 52 – Store
  • 24.2 LEFT onto Shoals Rd.
  • 28.6 LEFT onto Pinnacle Hotel Rd.
  • 32.6 Road name changes to Surry Line Rd.
  • 33.0 LEFT onto Old US 52 (Option: Continue on Old US 52, LEFT onto Old Winston Rd., LEFT into Pilot Mtn State Park, climb up Pilot Mtn., return via Old US 52 to LEFT on High Bridge Rd.)
  • 33.0 RIGHT onto High Bridge Rd.
  • 33.5 RIGHT onto Bowen Rd.
  • 35.8 RIGHT onto Volunteer Rd.
  • Road name changes to Chestnut
  • Grove Rd.
  • 39.3 LEFT onto NC 66
  • 40.7 Store (Option: continue on Hwy 66, Right onto Taylor Rd., Left onto Sauratown Mtn. Rd. – climb up Sauratown Mtn., return on Hwy 66 to Left on Flat Shoals Rd.)
  • 41.4 RIGHT onto Flat Shoals Rd.
  • 43.8 Store
  • 45.5 LEFT at 2nd intersection of Sizemore Rd.
  • 46.5 RIGHT onto Overby Rd.
  • 48.1 LEFT onto Mountain Rd.
  • 51.5 LEFT onto Hwy 8/89
  • 52.4 RIGHT onto Sheppard Mill Rd.

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