Over the hills and through the woods

Over the hills and through the woods

posted in: Bicycle Touring, North Carolina | 27

Day 10, May 9th – High Point to Courtney

Today I got a late start after lounging around in the morning at my luxurious campground with wifi.  After finally getting under way the weather was plenty warm.  Things continue to get hillier as I press on towards the mountains.  Even though I put in a decent amount of miles today, my progress on the map looks small.  It seemed to take forever to escape the Winston-Salem area.  The roads around here were fairly busy, but once finally out of town they greatly improved.  It looked like I was going to get rained on several times, but somehow narrowly escaped any downpours.

I had lunch in Clemmons at a BBQ joint and just as I pulled under the awning the skies let loose and poured for 10 minutes.  Good timing!  After eating way too much I slowly pressed on.  I wasn’t having much luck finding close camping spots on the map.  There was one near my route, but it was questionable whether I make it that far today.  As I road into Courtney (small town) it looked like another storm was rolling through.  Sure enough the downpour and wind came.  Fortunately, I was able to escape under a sheltered area by the high school.  This passed within 5-10 minutes.  It was just over an hour to sunset and I didn’t think I was going to make the campground so I decided to look for a place to hide my tent in Courtney.  Plus I didn’t know what weather could be coming next.

I found a good spot out of view down behind the soccer fields.  After doing the usual routine of setting up camp it was off to bed.

IMG_4705This one is for you Eric… There I found a lighthouse.  Does this count?

IMG_4706Something in the air has my eyes and nose running.  This seems to have solved the problem!

IMG_4710I kept seeing signs for “Homemade cookies ahead” so I figured I better try them.  I walked in the building and there were a bunch of ladies rolling out dough in the glassed off kitchen area.  Apparently not too many sweaty cyclists come in because I got some strange looks.  Someone walked out and I said something like “Uh… I hear you have cookies?”.  They had a bunch to try.  I went with the sugar cookie.  I’ve never had a drug addiction, but imagine rehab is something like trying to keep your hand out of this bag of cookies.  After mowing my way through half of them I moved them into my rear pannier out of reach.

IMG_4712Trying to capture how windy it was.  Not sure if I was successful…

IMG_4714BBQ spot in Clemmons… Little Richards

IMG_4715Delicious.  Probably not the best option for riding 30 more miles.  Had to take it slow for a while.

IMG_4720Sometimes I feel like my bike is this heavy

IMG_4741Took a break here to watch a few cars go by and contemplate camping options

IMG_4746Looking like I may get wet

IMG_4747My hiding spot for the evening.  Just low enough to be out of sight, but high enough that I shouldn’t be underwater if it rains.

Miles: 60.5
Max: 38.5
Avg: 13.2
Dogs: 2

Day 11, May 10th:  Courtney to Lenoir

Had my coffee and breakfast with my new stove and packed up.  I was on the road by 8:00 AM and passed the girls softball team on my way out.  I think I got a few strange “Where’d he come from?” kind of looks.  Little did I know that I would be hitting some mountains today, my map says they are the Brushy Mountains.  I’m guessing these don’t compare to the climbs I’ll be doing to get up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I spent most of the day on my low gears.

It was a long day with beautiful views.  The rain finally caught up to me and I was hit by several downpours.  I didn’t mind since I needed a shower anyways.  You dry pretty quick while you’re riding.  I didn’t have much to eat today… a banana with the little bit left of my peanut butter and a granola bar.  I mainly held off on a meal because I had scouted out a brewery in Lenoir and I had pizza on my brain.  Pizza and a good beer.  The thought got me over the monster hills between Taylorsville and Lenoir.

I arrived in downtown Lenoir and at first could not find the brewery, Howard Brewing.  Downtown was pretty empty and I was spent.  I was about to head out and just eat something on my way out of town but pulled out my laptop to check once more (my phone was dead and downtown had wifi).  The brewery was just a block from where I had ended my search by bike.  Fortunately they were open… and right next to a pizza place!  Stacie, the owners husband was working since Jason (husband/owner) was on his way back from a beer fest.  She had a menu of the neighboring pizza joint… within 20 minutes I was quickly replacing the calories burned earlier in the day.  It was glorious.

I also me Jake at Howard Brewing, a younger guy living in Asheville and in town for Mothers Day.  He offered me a place to stay at his mother’s house, but he still had plans to meet people in another town and it was probably going to be a late night with more drinking… I would been fine with this if I wasn’t planning to take on the climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  After contemplating my nights stay, I decided to look around town for camping.  It was getting dark and I ended up picking a spot behind some pine trees in a business park.  I’m getting the hang of this stealth camping.  I sure like the price!


IMG_4753Hot Breakfast!

IMG_4761Leaving Courtney

IMG_4763First view of mountains!


IMG_4772The downpour begins!

IMG_4773Lots of red soil in the area

IMG_4774Bridge near Linney’s Mill

IMG_4776There were some questionable boards… some were replaced.





IMG_4813Doooowwwwnhilllll! Into Lenoir!

IMG_4823Howard Brewing!  Found it!

IMG_4814This makes all the hills worth it.  I was told a small would be big enough (suggested for 1-2 people).  I ordered the medium (2-3 people) and ate the whole thing.

IMG_4818Jason giving us a quick demo of the canning operations


IMG_5480Jake, Stacie, and myself… great company!

Miles: 76.7
Max: 36.2
Avg: 11.9
Acts of Kindness:  3  – Stacie and Jason Howard both tried to come up with places for me to stay (they live out of town a ways); Jake, another friend I made at the brewery, offered me a place but it would have meant a late night and early morning since he had plans out of town later in the evening; Jason gave me a beer on the house and a quick tour of the facility
Dogs: 6? –  Lately I’ve been pointing and shouting “Go home!” and it has been pretty successful.  Most dogs have stopped and seem surprised I yelled at them.

Day 12, May 11th:  Lenoir to the Blue Ridge Parkway Marion

Today I woke up with a thick fog surrounding the town.  Good for especially stealthy camping, but pretty terrible for riding a bike.  I headed to The Coffee House for breakfast and planned my day.  My knee was fairly stiff and my legs were pretty tired.  I was planning to get up to the Blue Ridge Parkway which is supposed to be challenging but beautiful.  Once on the parkway I would ride a short ways and head back down into Marion to visit my grandma.  After realizing I was only about a 40 mile ride from Marion, I decided to save the parkway for fresher legs and head to her home.  Well 40 miles seemed like it would be a fairly easy day, but it was far from it.  It’s by no means flat between Lenoir and Marion and the weather continues to be hot!

Once I arrived I found the door unlocked and no one home.  My grandma had just left prior to my arrival to bring my cousin to the Charlotte airport.  When she got home we got a walk in and made dinner.  I was pretty spent so by this time I was ready for bed.  Feels great to have a shower and sleep in a bed.

IMG_4824A bit foggy this morning

IMG_4828On my way through Lenoir to breakfast

IMG_4829Brewery sticker collection is growing.  I should have been putting them on the bike!

IMG_4839The road to Marion.

IMG_4840Slow and tired.  I probably looked like an easy snack.

IMG_5487Eat?  Don’t mind if I do!

IMG_5489This was sitting out on the table 🙂

IMG_4846Gma’s cat Malaya

IMG_4848Getting spoiled

Miles: 43
Acts of Kindness:  2  – Grandma spoiling me and the lady at the diner writing out the long encryption code for me so I could use the wifi.  It didn’t work, but I didn’t have the heart to bother her with it.
Dogs: 2

Day 13, May 12th:  Marion (REST DAY)

I’ll be spending a couple days here in Marion resting my legs and having fun with Grandma Jean.  Oh and eating delicious home cooking!

I’m enjoying seeing all her latest artwork, gardening, yard work, and other miscellaneous projects.  I learned how to paint with wax today… encaustic painting.  I’m definitely not good at it, but it’s fun!  I’m incredibly messy.  Just swung into a coffee shop so I can update the blog then we are off to the studio to see some of her work.





IMG_4863Grandma in action!

IMG_4864Fresh air paint break!

IMG_4869My first encaustic piece.  Fun stuff!

IMG_4868Grandma’s piece.  She demo’d a bunch of techniques to me

She has some really great work around the house.  I’ll have to grab some pictures and share in another post.  No riding today.  Probably not tomorrow either.  The parkway climb will be INTENSE!

All for now.  I should go I see my grandma is falling asleep over on the couch waiting for me to update the blog.  I’m being a boring guest!  Thanks for all the comments!  It’s always fun to read them at the end of a long day!

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27 Responses

  1. Gramma & Grampa K

    Glad your in good place to rest up and “fill up”……hi to Gramma Jean…

  2. Enjoy your visit with Gramma Jean. Love your pictures and stories.
    Safe travels looking forward to your next entry.

  3. Okay, Brad, regarding the mini lighthouse. I’ve made a few calls, and the elders have decided that since you photographed a replica of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse on the Outer Banks, your trip will be official provided you take a pic of a real Pacific lighthouse! 🙂 Really enjoying the photos and updates. My legs are sore just looking at the Appalachians in the distance. But you will most certainly enjoy the scenery. Enjoy your time with Grandma!

    Sorry, I like my beer and I like cookies (molasses?), but not both at the same time!

    • Bradley

      Score! Remind me to look for one when I get to the west coast to make this trip official. Trust me cookies and beer on a hot day work just fine… then again maybe I inhaled too many paint fumes 🙂

  4. Keith Short

    Glad to see the streamlines on your encaustic art work. That CFD training we sent you to was not wasted. Some color gradient to indicate velocity and it would be a true masterpiece. Or a long-legged fly perhaps…

    • Bradley

      Sorry Keith once I did the finishing resin I couldn’t post process my work! Where’s star CCM when I need it? 🙂

  5. Keith Thompson

    Keep the blogs coming. I rode across the U.S. in 2004. Your trip is bringing back memories.

  6. Enjoy your time with Grandma! Rest up and fill up!!

  7. Jeff Makulec

    I love the photos. The leader for this post deserves to be on the photo wall at work. I’m truly impressed by the pace you’re maintaining — and will continue to be impressed when you hit the mountains. You grandma sounds like a lot of fun. Good luck with the surge to the Blue Ridge Parkway!

    • Bradley

      Thanks Jeff! Glad you enjoy… here I thought surely my camera wouldn’t take quality enough photos for this trip. So far so good. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade but for now the one I’m using is nice and small. Helping keep the dozer weight down 😉 My grandma is a ton of fun! Been having a great time hanging out with her.

  8. Jeff Makulec

    I love the photo with the bulldozer — especially because of the caption.

  9. Awesome pics and stories Brad! I’m guessing eventually your laptops gonna weigh an extra couple pounds with all those stickers 🙂 Looks like your having a great time with Grandma… You’re lucky to have such cool grandparents… and such cool parents of course 😉 Give grandma a hug from us. Good luck heading up to the parkway!

    • Bradley

      Gotta protect my laptop somehow! 🙂 Having a great time with grandma. Yea I know I know I’m a pretty lucky guy

  10. Forgot to mention that I like your grandma’s artwork!

    • Bradley

      She impresses me too!

      • I’m happy to see that you’ve started updating the Brew section. In fact, you’ve inspired to crack open a cold one. Only one flavor in my fridge right now, but you’ve already had it once or twice on your trip. Yuengling!

  11. Hey Brad- posted a note earlier, but now realize it was on an earlier day’s posting (may 4 ? ). Enjoying your postings and journey, thanks for sharing. You’re making great progress, according to the map posted on your cube wall. Keep on enjoying yourself!

    • Bradley

      Thanks Dean! Tail winds are always enjoyed! Haha progress tracker on the cube wall… I like it! Hope all is well! Glad you enjoy the posts. Sending successful gearbox testing vibes your way 😉

  12. Parker cross

    Am enjoying your trip in view of my bike to Fla. and back from Suffolk, Va., 1948

    • Bradley

      Thanks Parker! I think your young crew from back then would out pace me any day!

  13. Sara Nieft

    It was so great to meet you on Mt Mitchell– capturing the peaceful moments in time we often take for granted.

    I hope your delevation back down was phenomenal! 🙂 You must have truely Bombed it, because we didn’t see you at all on our way back down! As you continue through the parkway you will loveee the downhills with a weighted down Trucker, the Tank turns into a Racecar!

    p.s. Your blog is awesome! and you and your family’s artwork is beautiful! Safe, bountiful travels to you!

    • Bradley

      Great meeting you too! Unfortunately I didn’t make it up to Mitchell since I was feeling crunched for time, but at least I got a good view from the lookout. Hope the view from the top was great! The ride down was insanely fun… and FAST! Looking forward to that weighted downhill ride into Asheville.

      Thanks for checking in! Hope to see you out there on your Trucker someday!

  14. Their isn’t much that beats a grandma’s cooking and hospitality! Great to hear things are going well!

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