Road cycling in North Carolina
With some of the best riding roads in the States and home to a vibrant cultural scene as well as world-class food and drink, Asheville in North Carolina is an ideal cycling destination.
Nestled in the south-east of the United States along the Appalachian Mountain range, Asheville and the greater Western North Carolina region, is a mecca for cyclists looking for a complete holiday experience.
On and off the bike, Asheville provides what any vacationing cyclist is looking for: smooth roads, varied terrain, world-class food and drink, and cultural experiences both modern and historic.
Whether you’re looking to climb the highest mountains or stay on relaxed terrain, you’ll enjoy the scenery and additional excursions in the saddle and out.
GUIDE TO ROAD CYCLING IN NORTH CAROLINA
If you are like most touring cyclists, you’re in perpetual search of the next new and exciting destination. We have a suggestion for you: Asheville and Western North Carolina in the south-east United States. We are biased since we are locals and provide bicycle tours in the area, but we know you won’t be disappointed even if you don’t join one of our tours.
The region has it all: Stunning mountain views, smooth roads, epic trails, tasty craft beers, traditional and cutting-edge cuisine, a vibrant art scene, and much more. From the top of Mt. Mitchell (the highest point east of the Mississippi River) to the flats of the French Broad River valleys, you can have any riding experience you desire. The quiet roads and varied terrain of our trails will satisfy any rider. The region lends itself to great cycling since National Forest and National Parks surround it.
Janez Brajkovic, a professional cyclist from Slovenia who has raced at the top level around the world, came to the area to train at the end of 2014 and said: "For me, Asheville has the best roads I've seen in America so far." Indeed, many American professional road racers call Western North Carolina home.
THE BEST NORTH CAROLINA RIDES
EXPLORING NORTH CAROLINA
Off the bike, the area has everything a cyclist would want. The food scene is booming and known to be one of the best foodie destinations in the south.
Food and drink
Asheville is known as “Beer City USA”, and for good reason. You’ll find the best craft beer, from local upstart brewers to national craft brewers who have located their east coast breweries to the area. Craft Beer is the perfect post-ride recovery drink, and after your ride, you can immerse yourself in the booming local scene!
Wicked Weed, Burial Brewing, Pisgah Brewing, Green Man are at the top of a list of local craft brewers too long for this guide The scene, plus the excellent mountain water, and the central location on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA has attracted larger craft brewers to set up their east-coast facilities in the area. New Belgium is in downtown Asheville, the Sierra Nevada is in Mills River, and Oskar Blues is in Brevard.
The Sierra Nevada and Wicked Weed have outstanding restaurants. If you’re looking for some good grub after a ride near Brevard, check out Oskar Blues’ Chuburger food truck.
Another great attraction is the Biltmore Estate - a beautiful house and garden built during the height “Gilded Age” and not to be missed. This place makes Downton Abbey look like an outhouse! The magnificent mansion, gardens and estate have been meticulously maintained since it was built over 100 years ago. The house was built by George Vanderbilt - a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family - and is the largest home in the United States.
After George’s death, much of the original estate land was sold very cheaply to the United States Forest Service to create Pisgah National Forest. The Estate has excellent roads for casual riding. You can rent bikes from the Estate, explore as a part of an organised tour, or ride on your own as part of an estate visit.
Also, there are opportunities for stand-up paddleboard rides, hiking, canyoneering, and climbing. The region has it all: Stunning mountain views, epic trails, tasty craft beers, traditional and cutting-edge cuisine, a vibrant art scene, and much more. From the top of Mt. Mitchell to the smooth roads of the French Broad River valley, you can have any cycling experience you desire. The terrain is varied and will satisfy any rider.
TOP 5 EXPERIENCES
1. The Good Roads State
North Carolina has some of the best riding roads in the United States. From epic climbs to valley flats, the riding is variable and as challenging as you wish. All cyclists will find their perfect riding route.
Asheville has become the epicenter of culture, diversity, and art for the southern United States. It has been said that Asheville now “out-San Franciscos San Francisco” because of the character and uniqueness of the city and its residents.
3. The food scene
Already home to the best barbeque in the world, the creative vibe of Asheville has expanded into a luscious food scene. You won’t go hungry after a ride in Western North Carolina. A number of award winning chefs have set up shop in Asheville. Top restaurants include Curate, Rhubarb, and Chai Pani. Others to visit are Zambra, White Duck Taco, and French Broad Chocolate.
4. The Blue Ridge Parkway
The best views are in Western North Carolina including Cumberland Gap, Craggy Gardens, Mt. Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain & the mile high bridge, and Mt. Pisgah. Many "rough it" by bike camping the route, but there are others that make the most of organized bike tours.
5. Fall colours
The fall colours in Western North Carolina are stunning. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and through Pisgah National Forest at the right time and you’ll see the bright reds, yellows, and oranges. It rivals any "leaf friendly" area for its beauty in the fall.
WHEN TO VISIT
Best times to go:
The best time to visit the area is between April and October.
April and May are beautiful with the emerging spring green. The summers are not too hot since the area is at an elevation that doesn’t bring high heat or humidity. Fall is absolutely beautiful, with the mountains bathed in reds, yellows, and oranges.
If you plan to come during the October fall colors please plan ahead as hotels can fill up very early. If you prefer to have smaller crowds avoid the fall.
Our preferred time to ride is in the spring and summer. Also, please keep in mind tours can't operate on the Blue Ridge Parkway on national holiday long-weekends or the month of October.
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