Blue Ridge Parkway Tour June 4 - 12, 2021.


Your Next Adventure?


Dates of trip: 4-13 June 2021

The Blue Ridge Parkway is arguably America’s best cycling route. It is closed to all commercial traffic and has a speed limit of 45 miles an hour, keeping big vehicles off the road and cars going relatively slow. The 469-mile scenic route takes you and your bike between Rockfish Gap, VA and Cherokee, NC. The route is the longest planned road in the US, with construction starting in 1935 and ending in 1987. The park was built with the intent to allow visitors to be “gorged on scenery,” with “one panorama following right on another.” The rhythm of the road for cyclists is the ever changing landscape and variety of visual experiences.

Concurrent with these views lies a formidable perspective. This is perhaps Threshold Academy’s most difficult tour. The route consists of four different terrains: the Ridge (miles 0-106), the Plateau (106-217), the Highlands(217-340) and the Pisgah(340-469), with the Ridge and Plateau located in Virginia and the Highlands and Pisgah located in North Carolina. Not counting getting on and off the parkway itself, guests will vertically climb 48,722 feet, riding 3 to 6 hours each day. Our detailed itinerary is thoughtfully planned, as there are very limited facilities for food and lodging along the parkway. Our reservations are made months in advance to accommodate everyone, and we must go everyday. That means “toughness” will play a role as the day progresses and your body fatigues.

We start each morning with breakfast, and we distribute daily route information and points of interest. We use the parkway's mile markers to let you know where we will stop to regroup as well as take in refreshments. We point out the lunch stop for you and confirm expected arrival times and any weather that may be in the forecast. We point out the day's climbs, especially the categorized ones, and we share with you our experience from previous rides. You need not get permission to stop and take in some views, grab a picture and chat with your peers. On a bike , the Blue Ridge Parkway is this crown jewel of our park system and has no equal.

Minimum number of participants: 4

Maximum number of participants: 11


What to expect each day

Our days start early, with first bikes out on the course at 7 am.  Faster riders will leave at 8 am.  We have rest stops for your with water and snacks every 90 minutes/20 miles.  Each participant installs an app on their cell phone, that allows the SAG/van driver to see your location and speed of travel.  We make it a point to make sure all riders reach the final destination for the day at 2 pm, so they have time to clean up and eat a group snack at 3 pm.  That means that we start picking up riders and their bikes at 1:30 pm or so, depending on how far away they are.  Can't go 80 miles and can only go 40?  Not a problem.  Our SAG wagon picks you up no later than 2 pm each day, making sure you get to the end. 

Our tour starts on Day 0 starts at a hotel in Waynesboro, VA, with a 6:30 am departure from the hotel the next am to the northern terminus of the parkway. We get dropped off at the entrance to the parkway and begin our first day at or around 7 am.  Each day, start your day with 2 full water bottles, nutrition to get you to the next rest stop, a rain jacket, a phone and a bit of cash.  

In the event of seasonal construction or road closures, we use the vehicles to shuttle riders around the obstacles and continue riding.  It is normal for there to be some road closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Day 1: Rockfish Gap to Peaks of Otter. 85 ish miles. 8800 ft. of vertical.

Link to Day 1 route

For the first nearly 50 miles, the terrain is a back and forth of up and down experiences, with little flat ground. However, once we finish a big descend from mile 50 to mile 64, we begin the hardest climb of the trek, a 3000+ foot climb over 12 miles that takes us Apple Orchard Mountain. The UCI would categorize this as an “H/C” climb, ranking it with the most difficult climbs on the Tour de France. The average gradient is bit over 5%, but our lodgings and views from Peaks of Otter make it all worth it. We eat dinner with a lakeside view and will certainly see lots of wildlife.  Limited cell coverage at the end of the day, but exceptional lakeside quiet time.  

Day 2: Peaks of Otter to Floyd, VA. 80 ish miles. 7400 ft. of vertical.

Link to Day 2 route

Day 2 is more of the rich greenery from yesterday, as we spend the first part of the day undulating in "rollers" of up and down. Nothing too intimidating until we leave the Roanoke area and perform a CAT 1 climb from mile 40 to 47 and reach Adney Gap. We have spectacular view all day and get a good meal and hopefully some live bluegrass music this evening down in the hippie town of Floyd. Typically, legs are weak at the end of day 2, and we encourage an early-to-bed protocol.  Good ice cream in town for those who want it

Day 3: Floyd, VA, to Sparta, NC. 85 ish miles. 7500 ft. of vertical.

Link to Day 3 route

Day 3 is our last long day, but the volume of climbs means that pacing yourself is super important. The climb at mile mile 63 takes us up over 1500 feet in about 10 miles, making it a Cat 2 climb. Sparta is a quaint little town that you may never forget.  Plus 1s have a chance to go canoeing or tubing down the New River and meet up with us for dinner.

Day 4: Day off in Sparta.  This may shift to Floyd, VA, based on group preferences.

Use this day to catch up on any laundry, rest the legs and potentially go canoeing, hiking or some local shopping.  

Day 5: Sparta, NC to Blowing Rock, NC. 60 ish miles. 6400ft. of vertical.

Link to Day 5 route

The best part of Day 5 is the Chetola Lodge, our home for the next 24 hours. We arrive before lunch and truly get a resort experience. We have a group dinner in a banquet area and get breakfast on one of the most beautiful properties each of the Mississippi. With 2 Cat 4 climbs and a Cat 2, the 50ish miles will not be easy, but the rest and relaxation at the end are well earned. We encourage a message for extra recovery.

Day 6: Blowing Rock, NC to Little Switzerland. 45 miles. 4700 ft. of vertical.

Link to Day 6 route

Don't let the distance deceive you. We are done quickly, compared to other days, but the volume of up and down will take away another thought that this is a day off. Shortly out of town we begin climbing towards Grandfather Mountain and over the renowned Linn Cove Viaduct. We descend over the Viaduct and down to the Linville River where there is an optional hike to view Linville Falls. After remounting our bikes we climb up to Switzerland Inn, our ridge line host for the evening, along the way we will go through the first of NC’s 26 tunnels. The Switzerland Inn makes the ride worth it, with fantastic views, great food and great relaxation opportunities.  A firepit and adult beverages overlooking the valley below are the stuff of long term memories.  

Day 7: Little Switzerland to Asheville. 50 miles. 5100 or 7400 ft. of vertical.

Link to Day 7 route

Today we cycle into the highest mountain ranges along the Appalachian chain, the Black and Craggy Mountains.  Our first and only aid station is at the base of an optional climb to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi.  The ride up is only 5 miles, but the round trip travel time is an hour.  Riders wishing to attempt the summit shall leave an hour before everyone else, to allow us to regroup.   We have one more major obstacle, the climb to Craggy Gardens, before a mostly downhill run into Asheville.  You will feel the temperatures increase as we near Asheville, and the tone of the trip changes as we get into traffic and humanity.  

Day 8: Asheville to the "end." 60 miles. Who cares about the vertical at this point.

Link to Day 8 route

We cut out a small section of this route, due to congestion on the parkway. Even then, this is a day to appreciate all that cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway entails; the physical and mental challenge to complete this endeavor. Few people will have experienced this National Park as you have, and you have lifetime stories. The tour ends with a glorious stretch that includes 13.5 miles of descending over the final 17 miles. After the completion of this unbelievable adventure we shuttle back to Union County to celebrate our accomplishment for an evening of bonfires and grilling by the swimming pool!

Day 9: Departures.

If not done at dinner the night before, we give out awards for best rider, fittest rider, happiest rider and most improved rider, based on your voting. Then, everyone is off to the airport and their next adventure.

-Breakfasts and Dinners; lunch on most days, with excluded meals clearly outlined upon arrival.

-All lodgings

-Threshold Academy guides’ knowledge and support

-Mechanical support and basic repair parts.

-Daily route support plus detailed route maps w/ profile data

-Ride support vehicle accompanies Tour

-All necessary transportation and luggage transfers during your trip

-Threshold Water Bottle

-Threshold Academy Cycling Jersey (you will need to provide your size)

What is NOT included?

-airfare to and from departure/arrival cities.

-food on our day off.

-alcohol

-specialty cycling nutrition, like gels, salts, bars and shakes.

-bike rentals

-personal items purchased during the trip

-excluded meals (typically at least a few)


Meet Jeff and Alex Gaura


Jeff is a USA Triathlon certified coach and a Training Peaks Level 2 coach, with a passion to lead people on adventures that they would not otherwise undertake. Jeff loves the fitness that goes with cycling, and will share with you all that he has learned on all Threshold Tours. Jeff races as an age group athlete for TeamUSA in the sport of duathlon and runs at least 1 ultramarathon a year.

Alex is a student at Arizona State and an accomplished running and endurance athlete, taking Silver at Long Course Triathlon Nationals in November of 2019. Alex has won multiple cycling competitions and has earned many fancy titles. Alex brings the trip to life for younger generations with anecdotal stories of his life and encouragement when the day gets tough.

Both Jeff and Alex are Eagle Scouts who takes the learnings of their youth and bring them to life on all of the Threshold Tours that they do together.

How does payment and tipping work?

A deposit is due upon booking. This amount is fully refundable if cancellation is made 91 or more days from the start of the trip. The final balance is due 90 days from the start of the trip. Cancellations made between 60 and 90 days from the published trip start date are eligible for a 50% refund. Any cancellations made within 60 days of the published trip start are non-refundable unless Threshold Academy cancels the trip. Tipping is not expected for any Threshold Academy employees, owners, or staff; however, wait and in-country support staff may be tipped, upon guest discretion.

I am scared of trying to travel that many miles, that many days in a row, but you say you can handle all levels of riders. How is that possible?

Our days start early, with first bikes out on the course at 7 am. Faster riders will leave at 8 am. We have rest stops for you with water and snacks every 90 minutes/20 miles. Each participant installs an app on their cell phone, that allows the SAG/van driver to see your location and speed of travel. We make it a point to make sure all riders reach the final destination for the day at 2 pm, so they have time to clean up and eat a group snack at 3 pm. That means that we start retrieving people at 1:30-2:00 pm or so, depending on how far away they are from the finish. Can't go 80 miles and can only go 40? Not a problem. We pick you and your bike up and make sure you get to the end, each day.

What training should I do for the trip?

It is somewhat difficult to give a generic answer that is true for all cyclists. All Threshold Tours have a physiological demand built into their agenda and require greater fitness and endurance than a typical week at home. For an ‘average’ rider signing up for a Threshold Tour, we suggest that you aim to be riding 3-4 times per week (indoor training ‘counts’ on this scorecard) in the 3 months leading up to the trip. The cumulative duration of those rides should build up to at least 10 hours per week in the last 4-6 weeks of preparation. You should have at least one session of no less than 80 miles, and you should be building in some intervals or ‘efforts’ of 15-30 minutes duration to 2-3 of your weekly rides. Give attention to your descending skills as well as to your ‘base fitness’ and climbing ability. It is very valuable on any of our trips to be able to descend safely and confidently. If you’d like any more personalized advice on training reach out to either Jeff or Alex, and they will be happy to discuss your own circumstances in more detail. If you need a detailed plan to get your ready, Jeff is a certified coach and available for hire, with a 3-month minimum coaching commitment required.

What gearing do you recommend I ride on the big climbs? I live in a flat place.

Inevitably, the answer to this one is going to be entirely down to your strengths as a rider. Stronger/lighter riders may well be content to ride a standard 53/39-tooth or ‘semi-compact’ 52/36-tooth chain set – usually couple with a rear cassette ranging from 11-25 or 11-28. Those of you who find the climbs a bit tougher or prefer to ‘spin’ a gear will find a compact 50/34-tooth chain set more suitable and may opt to match that with an 11-32 cassette to give yourselves a true ‘bail out’ option that will keep you pedaling on even the steepest sections. Nearly 100% of our climbing is at a gradient of 8% of less, so there are no real “get off and walk” sections of the road. If you’re still not sure what will be most suitable for your specific trip and riding style, email us and we’ll be happy to advise.

How do you manage groups to cater for a wide variation in rider experience and riding speed?

A key ‘success factor’ in enabling this to happen is that we need all riders in the group to take an efficient approach to all of our rest breaks, meal/café stops and col-summit regroupings. Your ‘job’ during a break period (as well as relaxing, eating, drinking, taking your photos & celebrating your successes) is to make sure you are properly prepared to move on when we ask you to.

On some mornings, we will give ‘head starts’ for the steadier riders in the group, sending them off a few minutes before the faster participants after each refreshment stop or col-summit regrouping. The composition of the ‘lead group’ may vary from day to day (if fatigue starts to play a part) or even on individual sections of the ride depending on terrain (some steadier climbers may be excellent descenders or very strong on flatter / rolling roads). The real key to the success of this approach is collaboration within the group – the faster riders showing some patience in allowing a head start to accumulate and the steadier folks being sufficiently well organized to get ahead when we ask them to. Regardless, we pick up riders and bikes in the early afternoon, to make sure that we all reach the final destination with time to clean up and get in some nutrition and recovery, as there is always another day in front of you.

How do you handle food/nutrition on the trip?

Every cyclist has their own beliefs, education, and perspectives on nutrition while riding. Regardless of which type of diet you adhere to, you will have a need for a lot of calories on our rides, and we do our best to make sure you get enough to be successful. We often rely on our hotel partners to provide either breakfast or dinner for our riders, and lunch is often addressed by our support team, as we eat from coolers and grocery store purchases at lunch time. If you have special food requirements that can’t be addressed at either grocery stores or hotels, please bring with you what you need (special energy bars or energy drink powders, for example). In general, there will not be stores on our tours that are stocked with cycling specific nutrition. We do spend efforts to keep everyone hydrated, reminding everyone to drink, often.

Jeff is an omnivore and Alex is a vegetarian, so you can ask either of us for additional perspectives.

What is included in all the Threshold Tour?

-Breakfast and Dinners on all days; lunches on most days, with excluded meals clearly outlined upon arrival.

-All lodgings

-Threshold Academy guides’ knowledge and support

-Mechanical support

-Daily route support plus detailed route maps w/ profile data

-Ride support vehicle accompanies Tour

-All necessary transportation and luggage transfers during your trip

-Threshold Water Bottle

-Threshold Academy Cycling Jersey (you will need to provide your size)

What is NOT included?

-airfare to and from departure/arrival cities.

-alcohol

-food during the day off

-specialty cycling nutrition, like gels, salts, bars and shakes.

-bike rentals

-personal items purchased during the trip

-excluded meals (typically at least a few)

I have some fear of all this climbing and all the distances. Can I really do this?

You are going to have a “peak week” in terms of training levels, both on duration and intensity. You need not have “done” a week like the one you are about to do in order to be ready. You need only have done a few equivalent sessions in the weeks and months leading up to a Threshold Tour to be ready. Pacing yourself, especially on the climbs, has no substitute. Although some in the group will attempt to race up the hills and compete for KOM and QOM titles, most people won’t.

How is it possible to recover and go hard day after day?

Jeff has studied this topic and attended seminars. Without question, the most important factors that you can control to make sure you recover are getting adequate nutrition and hydration and good sleep. We get up early every day, so we encourage and strongly suggest that you are in bed with the lights out early enough to get all the sleep you need. Since you will be training hard, we encourage adding no less than 1 additional hour of sleep at night.

I don’t want to ship my bike. Are rental bikes available and what is the quality?

We cannot control what the airline does with its handling of your bike, so it is commonplace for rental requests. We partner with local vendors to provide you a carbon framed bike with climbing, non-aero wheels. You should provide your own pedals, helmet, and riding clothing/accessories. We will provide assembly and basic bike fitting for you. If you do rent a bike, we will ask you to provide three measurements from your current bike to get your seat and handlebars in a near equivalent position before you arrive.

How many guides are on a tour, and what kind of support is there on the road?

Depending on size, all rides have at least one guide and one support vehicle on the road with you. For rides with at least 5 riders, there will be a pair of guides and a support vehicle. The support vehicle will contain packages snacks, water, basic repair tools and parts to assist you with minor bike repairs on the road.

If I am travelling alone but am not paying the single supplement, will you assign me a roommate?

Our tour pricing is based on double occupancy. We will assign you a roommate of like gender, but we can’t guarantee that we will be able to do so. If we are not able to assign you a roommate, then a tour specific single occupancy supplement will be assessed.

How do I get to the start of each trip?

Detailed information about starting and ending times and locations, airport and hotel van transfer locations and transportation options will be included in tour information emailed to you. If you wish to make airline reservations before receiving this information, please contact us for times and locations of your trip start and end.

Each trip begins and ends in or near a town accessible by mass transit as noted in individual trip descriptions. If you wish to drive to the trip start, please review the trip information emailed to you or give us a call for departure times and parking options.

How do refunds work, and do I need travel insurance?

Once you place your deposit, you are agreeing to pay for the cost of the trip, in full, no less than 90 days before departure. Based on when you cancel, you may forfeit your payments.

In the event you must cancel either before or during the trip and are not able to receive a refund from Threshold Academy, travel insurance represents your next fall back. We encourage and recommend the purchase of travel insurance for all Threshold Tours.

Is the trip guaranteed to run?

Threshold Tours have a minimum number of participants required for the trip to run and the published price. For 2021, we need at least 6 to run the Spain trip, 4 for the Blue Ridge Parkway trip, and 6 for the Pyrenees trip. We cannot currently handle more than 14 riders on any trip.

In the event that we do not have enough participants, we will offer you the ability to pay additional amounts to keep the trip. If a trip is cancelled due to a lack of participants, you are eligible for 100% refund or move your money to a different trip.

In the event we have too many people sign up, we will split the trip into two different weeks, allowing the first who sign up to pick which time frame is best for them. We will always keep the original published week as one of the options. For those who are unable to make either week or who sign up late, there will be a full refund of 100% of the amount you paid.

Can my school aged children come on this tour?

There will be other high school aged children riding their bikes on our routes. However, children less than high school aged (less than 13 years) are not allowed on our trips.

What documents should I expect to receive?

You will receive a guest confirmation the same day that you make your deposit. An itinerary and info sheet will quickly follow which gives the route and lodging information for yourselves and those at home. A week prior to your trip start you will receive an email about our start meeting location, time and any last-minute information that you will need to know before your first day. Daily briefings while on guided tours are given as well as info guides and daily maps or cue sheets, allowing you to ride with complete confidence that day.

I have never ridden a bike in a tunnel that has no lights. What should I expect?

There are 26 tunnels, and none of them have any lights-this part is true. The parkway authorities require that all bikes have lights on them for this section of the ride, so bring a red light for the rear and a white light for the front. The biggest item to remember is to take off your sunglasses as we traverse through them and to put them back on when you are done.

 
 

Until Blue Ridge Parkway Tour 2021!!!