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Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy ride(10 posts)

Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy rideStuC
Apr 1, 2001 12:33 PM
Anyone with experience riding the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Blowing Rock N.C. area?
Need to switch from 39/53 front and 11-23 rear.
I was hoping to get away by just replacing the cassette with a 13-25. Do I actually need cogs bigger than a 25 and a long cage rear derailluer?
I know this largely depends on fitness level and climbing ability but,
Any suggestions for a moderately fit rider not use to the really big/long climbs?
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Apr 1, 2001 12:46 PM
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re: Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy ridescary4u
Apr 1, 2001 4:56 PM
Yes. You probably do nees the 13-25 gear cassette. I live in North Carolina. And I can tell you that there is some good steep climbs along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It will prabably be to your advantage to have them on your bicycle. Even if you are moderately fit.
re: Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy rideIan
Apr 1, 2001 5:48 PM
I did Six Gap in Georgia and used a 12-27 and a 38 tooth up front. I would recommend that combination. And you don't need a long cage derailleur.
re: Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy rideRay Sachs
Apr 2, 2001 7:18 AM
A 39x25 low might be enough if you're a strong climber or tend to push big gears anyway, but if you're not used to long and/or steep climbs and/or if you tend to be a spinner, you really don't know if it's low enough. And if it's not low enough, you could have a perfectly miserable time of it. I'd personally play it safe and go with something lower than that. I'd either fit a triple up front or get a mtb rear derailure and get a 12-32 or 12-34 cassette for the back. Personally, I'd want something close to a 1-1 gear if I was planning more than 30-40 miles per day in those hills. I'm a middle aged recreational/touring rider with no racing pretensions, so none of this may apply to you. But I'd still play it safe unless you're sure.

re: Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy ridebianchi boy
Apr 2, 2001 8:18 AM
Personally, I would go with at least a 13-27 cassette. Not only are some of the climbs steep, they are also very long -- 5-10 miles in stretches. In addition to the gearing, be prepared for foul weather. It can be much colder up on the parkway, more rainy and cloudy. Also, there are not many places where you can get food and provisions.

Here's a good guidebook to cycling the Parkway. I've got the book and can vouch for it, plus it's cheap ($12.95) Available through Amazon if not at your LBS or book store.

Bicycling the Blue Ridge : A Guide to the Skyline
Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway
by Elizabeth Skinner, Charlie Skinner

BTW, the Tarwheels, local bike club out of Durham/Chapel Hill, NC, has a Blue Ridge Parkway weekend tour coming up April 27-29. Might be worth checking out, or at least contacting some of the organizers through their website with questions on gearing, etc. Here's a link to their website --

Hope you make it. I've always wanted to do an extended ride on the parkway as scenery is spectacular.
re: Thanks to allStuC
Apr 2, 2001 9:31 AM
Thanks for your help. I'm leaning towards just changing out the cassette with a 13-25 or 26 and hoping for the best! The extra expense of a long cage and/or a triple doesn't really appeal to me so I'll just have to hope for the best.
This is a late April trip planned around the Merle Fest weekend in Wilkesboro.
I may post my experiences when I get back so others might have a better feel of gearing combinations that work or don't.
re: Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy ridepmf
Apr 2, 2001 1:10 PM
You can get a 12x27 for Shimano set-ups. I use one when I ride up Skyline Drive (which connects to the BRPW). The first 6-7 miles are straight up. I recently bought a 38 tooth front ring from Excel, but have not used it.
re: Gearing for NC Blue Ridge Pkwy rideTim Murphy
Apr 4, 2001 12:18 PM
Road biking on the Parkway AND Merlefest? Sounds like my kind of weekend. I live in Wilkesboro, home of Merlefest, and have some Parkway info for you and anyone else wanting to mix music and riding.

First, I would suggest at least a 39x25 if not a 39x27. A friend of mine really struggled with a 23 on our Parkway rides but keeps up fine with since going to a 27. You won't need a long cage derailleur with the 25 or 27. I ride a triple myself.

Second, be prepared for any kind of weather. We've had hot, warm, cool and very chilly Merlefest weekends. Rain is a definite possibility. Count on about a 10-degree difference between temps in Wilkesboro and on the Parkway. It's usually windier up there, too.

Finally, some ideas on where to ride. If you have an hour each way to drive from Wilkesboro, the section of the Parkway from Moses Cone Park to the Linn Cove Viaduct is outstanding. You can take US 221 north and the Parkway south and make a loop of it, with a twisty, forested, waterfall stretch on 221 and the viaduct, big views and a big downhill on the Parkway. If time is of the essence, take NC 16 north from the festival to the Parkway; it's the quickest approach to the Parkway from the festival. Go south on the Parkway from 16 for some good climbs and more great views. The Parkway stretch from NC 18 to US 21 through Doughton Park is also scenic and very challenging.

A lot of us locals also ride NC 268, which is the nearest state highway to the festival. Head out west. It's a fairly flat out-and-back with some nice countryside the farther out you go.