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Parkway vs. Tour de France Distance

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles of road between Virginia and North Carolina. The Parkway traverses the southern and central Appalachian Mountains, including parts of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah Mountains, which are some of the world’s oldest peaks. Cyclists typically complete the Parkway in 5 to 10 days, with the fastest time recorded at 29 hours and 36 minutes. This user-created map of the Blue Ridge Parkway features important stops and points of interest along the way.

The Tour de France

Unlike the Parkway, the Tour de France route changes every year. The 2020 Tour covered 2,156 miles of the country, with the winner finishing in 87 hours and 20 minutes. Some aspects of the Tour remain consistent; for instance, the route always includes the massive Pyrenees Alps mountain ranges, with climbs like Alpe d\'Huez, Mont Ventoux, Col du Galibier, and Col du Tourmalet gaining legendary status (and hundreds of thousands of spectators). Tour De France Map The 2020 Tour started in the city of Nice and ended in Paris’ Champs-Élysées, as it has since 1975. Check out this interactive map for more route details.

The Takeaway

  • The Tour’s route is considerably longer than the Parkway, and therefore requires more stops and planning
  • The elevation profile of both the Parkway and the Tour will vary depending on which direction you start and finish them in
  • Both routes require considerable planning and training
  • Neither route should be attempted by inexperienced riders

Parkway vs. Tour de France Elevation

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway varies greatly in elevation, with its lowest point at the James River measuring 670 feet and its highest point at Mt. Mitchell reaching just over 6,000 feet. Either direction you ride it, you’ll gain roughly 48,600 total feet in elevation. The highest climb is the Mt. Mitchell section of the Parkway. Measuring 24.1 miles with over 5,100 vertical feet of elevation gain, this section has earned the title of one of the 30 hardest hill climbs in the world by Bicycling Magazine. The longest single climb is in Virginia, where the Parkway climbs from 670 feet to 3,950 feet for a total elevation gain of 3,300 feet in a mere 13 miles. The steepest climb is Waterrock Knob in North Carolina, which covers 2,500 vertical feet in 5 miles, topping out at 5,820 feet.

The Tour de France

In contrast, the highest climb ever reached in the Tour de France topped out at 9,193 feet on the Cime de la Bonette loop road in the Maritime Alps. Much of the higher elevations reached in the Tour are in the Alps, like Mont Ventoux, which is one of the Tour’s most iconic climbs. Mont Ventoux traverses 13.4 miles to its 6,263-foot summit for an elevation gain of 5,000 vertical feet. At 8,668 feet, Col du Galibier is the eighth-highest paved road in the world and frequently one of the highest peaks in the Tour de France. This climb stretches 21.9 miles and has an elevation gain of roughly 6,300 vertical feet. Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees is the most-climbed pass in the history of the Tour. With a base elevation of 2,312 feet and a peak elevation of just under 7,000 feet, riders amass about 4,600 vertical feet in 11.7 miles.

The Takeaway

  • The most popular climbs in the Tour tend to be higher than those on the Parkway
  • Overall, the most popular mountain sections in both the Parkway and the Tour have similar elevation profiles
  • The Parkway is very protected by its tree corridors and stone tunnels
  • The Tour’s mountain sections are very exposed, providing zero protection from the sun and weather

Parkway vs. Tour de France Grade

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Parkway isn’t as steep as many other mountainous highways, with its grade generally maxing out at 6 to 8%. But just because the Parkway’s grade is moderate doesn’t mean its climbs are easy; in its Asheville section, Mt. Mitchell maintains a 4% grade for over 24 miles, while Mt. Pisgah sustains a 3.7% average grade for over 13 miles.

The Tour de France

In contrast, the average grade for many of the Tour’s most difficult climbs is between 7 to 8%, with the steepest, Mont Ventoux, maxing out at 12% and covering 13.3 miles. Most of the Tour’s hardest climbs, like Col de la Loze, Col du Galibier, and Mont Ventoux, average about 12 miles with a 6 to 8% grade.

The Takeaway

  • The Parkway’s hardest grades are equivalent to the Tour’s average grades
  • The steepest climbs on both the Parkway and the Tour are similar in length
  • Elevation is a major factor to consider when comparing grades, adding an extra layer of difficulty to Tour routes

Parkway vs. Tour de France Traffic

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Because the Blue Ridge Parkway uses short side roads to connect to other highways, there are no direct highway interchanges along the route, meaning no cross-traffic. Still, the Parkway was primarily built for motor travel (it’s called “America’s Favorite Drive” for a reason), and its narrow roads don’t have bike lanes. Cyclists should exercise extreme caution when riding on the Parkway by wearing reflectors, helmets, and high-visibility clothing, and staying off the road during periods of low visibility. The most-traveled time period on the Parkway is from mid-May to mid-September, so if you’re planning a cycling trip, you may want to hit the Parkway in early spring or late fall.

The Tour de France

During the Tour, it’s typical for roads to close to vehicles a few hours before riders are scheduled to pass through a specific section. If you’re cycling an old Tour route, expect vehicle traffic to fluctuate depending on whether you’re traveling through an urban area or a remote part of the countryside. The most popular time to visit France is in the summer, therefore we recommend planning your cycling trip in spring or fall. Want to experience the excitement of the Tour this year? Join other riders & non-riders from around the world this July for our annual guided Tour de France spectator tour.

The Takeaway

  • Always follow proper safety precautions
  • Check weather conditions ahead of time and get off the saddle if you fear motorists can’t see you
  • Traffic will fluctuate with the seasons, therefore you should schedule your trip accordingly
  • Before riding in Europe’s mountains, be sure to check mountain pass closures, as many passes are closed during the winter and even through the spring and fall. Some passes don\'t even open until early June!

Parkway vs. Tour de France Scenery & Attractions

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is highly regarded for its 200+ scenic overlooks that provide cyclists with sweeping views of the aptly-named Blue Ridge Mountains. Many overlooks have picnic tables, trails, or other amenities to enjoy along your ride. The Parkway also butts up against some larger urban areas including Asheville, Charlottesville, and Roanoke, providing plenty of opportunities to explore these cities. When cycling the Parkway, be prepared to ride for long stretches between developed areas. In its entire 469 miles, there are only 4 lodges with restaurants located on the Parkway. These offer a nice reprieve from sleeping on the ground and eating Ramen, but they are too far apart to rely on as a sole source of shelter and food. Therefore, we recommend you pack plenty of food and water, and plan on roughing it at the numerous campgrounds along the road. If you have time to detour into a town or head to a lodge, that’s great—but having everything you need to go it alone will provide peace of mind and allow you to ride at your own pace.

The Tour de France

Tour de France cyclists compete against the backdrop of some of the loveliest scenery in France. While the Tour’s route changes each year, the route always passes through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps and finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Cycle any of the Tour’s past routes and you’re bound to enjoy idyllic views of France’s countryside, coast, and rugged mountain ranges. As an added bonus, you’ll have the chance to see cobblestone streets and Gothic architecture in some of the country’s most historic towns, like Amiens Métropole, featured in the 2018 route, and Privas, featured in the 2020 route. For the athletes who compete in the Tour de France, there is no stopping to enjoy French cuisine along the way. For the rest of us, however, following a past Tour route will offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy the country’s authentic food and culture. 2020’s Tour started in the city of Nice, which is a large coastal city known for its Baroque architecture and delicious food. While along the coast, make sure to try some fresh oysters, which thrive in the Baie du Mont St-Michel, and enjoy hand-pressed cider and homemade baguettes while riding through the countryside. But despite the draw of delicious new cuisine, you should still plan on packing your own food and water, as cycling the length of a country will undoubtedly keep your metabolism up—even if you are stopping for pain au chocolat every chance you get. It’s also common for businesses in smaller villages to close as early as 1pm.

The Takeaway

  • Plan your stops ahead of time, but leave some wiggle room for detours
  • Enjoy the food and amenities along your route when you can
  • Pack your own food and water, even if you don’t think you’ll need it
  • Camping is more convenient than finding lodging, but you’ll probably want at least one night in a bed

Planning an Asheville cycling trip? Let us do the heavy lifting

What’s the best part of planning a cycling trip? Trick question—it’s not the planning. Our comprehensive DIY bike tour package includes hundreds of miles of rider-approved GPS cycling routes around Asheville (including the Parkway), tips on where to eat and drink, our favorite outfitters, and so much more. Our tour packet also includes world-class riding on less-traveled roads off the Parkway. Contact us today to learn how you can enjoy all the perks of a self-guided bike tour without the hassle of planning. Plus, stay tuned for our Provence bike tour, coming soon!', 'post_title' => 'How Do Blue Ridge Parkway Climbs Compare to the Tour de France Climbs?', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'how-blue-ridge-parkway-compares-to-the-tour-de-france', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2021-01-27 12:26:02', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2021-01-27 17:26:02', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'https://www.diybicycletours.com/?p=1124', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 1 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 1106, 'post_author' => '4', 'post_date' => '2020-12-04 14:30:43', 'post_date_gmt' => '2020-12-04 19:30:43', 'post_content' => 'Biking with your kids creates wonderful memories for them and is a great way to travel together, but it can be challenging to find child-friendly biking when visiting new cities. Asheville is one of the top destinations in the country for biking, eating, and drinking, and this post will help you enjoy all three with your whole family. From your little one brand new to bike riding to your budding pro, we have trail recommendations for all ages and skill levels. *Please note that COVID-19 restrictions may affect dining and lodging options included in this post. Check North Carolina’s COVID dashboard for up-to-date guidelines, and call restaurants and hotels ahead of time to make sure they’re open and to find out what precautions they’re taking.

Young learners (ages 2-6)

Where to bike: For little ones just learning to ride a bike, a small, mostly paved loop within the French Broad River Park provides the perfect setting. For slightly more comfortable riders, the half-mile stretch of greenway running from the French Broad River Park to the MellowDrome at Carrier Park offers enough space to stay safe from cars and pedestrians, while practicing skills like braking and dismounting. Once you reach the MellowDrome, a full playground with a basketball court and hockey rink awaits over the wooden bridge. If you’re feeling adventurous, add on a small quarter-mile loop through Carrier Park for some extra practice. Kid-Friendly Asheville Bike Tour 2 Check out the full Carrier Park GPS route here. Where to eat and drink: After cruising along the French Broad River and enjoying the bustle of Carrier Park, you’re going to want to grab a meal and a drink. Luckily, HomeGrown West, just across Amboy Road, serves up some delicious (and mostly healthy) homestyle cooking, and the adjacent Cascade Lounge has a vast selection of local brews and cocktails. We recommend the buttermilk chicken with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, paired with a Hi-Wire Low Pitch Juicy IPA.

Practicing cyclists (ages 5-8)

Where to bike: Though many parts of Asheville are not bike-friendly for younger riders, North Asheville is perfect for cyclists practicing their skills with their parents. Start at Magnolia Park and head north on Reed Creek Greenway for a secluded, peaceful ride. At the end of the greenway, cross Broadway Street and find the wide pedestrian path that runs along W.T. Weaver Boulevard. You can stop at the Botanical Gardens on your left for a self-guided tour of southern Appalachia’s native plants and habitats, or keep on cruising another three-quarters of a mile up W.T. Weaver until you reach Luella’s Bar-B-Que on Merrimon Avenue. This is a very busy intersection, so cross with care. Kid-Friendly Asheville Bike Tour Check out the full North Asheville GPS route here. Where to eat and drink: Luella’s Bar-B-Que on the other side of Merrimon provides the perfect mid-way lunch spot. Enjoy some of Asheville’s best barbeque (quite the claim, we know!) with a local pale ale or IPA. You’ll love their slow-smoked, chile-rubbed brisket, and your kids will go crazy for their mac and cheese.

Budding pros (ages 7-12)

We’ve got two great options to share with you for your budding pros: Where to bike option 1: Great news for more experienced riders—the City of Asheville recently completed a public bike skills park in Richmond Hill! This free track includes features designed to build specific skills needed for mountain biking, with options for all skill levels (though we recommend your child be a proficient rider). If you’re looking for more family activities, Richmond Hill Park has an extensive hiking and biking trail system and a disc golf course. Don’t worry, the trails all connect, making it difficult to get lost. Richmond Hill Route To access the bike skills park, park at the Richmond Hill picnic center (off Richmond Hill Drive) and follow the sign to the teaching loop. Where to eat and drink: A few miles north on Riverside Drive, Zillicoah Brewing Co. offers great beer, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating along the French Broad River, plus a Mexican food truck. Tacos and fresh beer after a bike adventure? Sounds good to us! Where to bike option 2: The Bent Creek area has over 30 miles of mountain biking trails for beginner to advanced riders, but we think your young pro will love their pump track. Located at the Bent Creek Community Park, this pump track is for more advanced riders, as it has some tight turns and rolling jumps. Families can enjoy a nearby playground, basketball court, and picnic area, or head a few miles down the road to Lake Powhatan for boat and kayak rentals. If your family plans on splitting up, be aware that cell phone coverage is notoriously unreliable in Bent Creek. Bent Creek Tour To access the pump track, head to the Bent Creek Community Park. Where to eat and drink: Stoneridge Tavern off of Brevard Road offers something for everyone with their extensive family-friendly menu. After your ride, grab a gyro platter or some cajun shrimp pasta and a cold draft beer. Or—if you’re up for a drive—head 11 miles south to Sierra Nevada Brewing, which has its own full-service restaurant and flagship line of brews.

Where to stay in Asheville

While Asheville has one of the hottest Airbnb markets in the country, we recommend staying somewhere with local flair and history, like the Chestnut Street Inn or the Grove Park Inn. Check out our last blog for more local lodging gems, including an upscale tree fort!

Experience Asheville like a local

Let us put together your family’s perfect Asheville bike tour. Our comprehensive Asheville DIY bike tour package includes hundreds of miles of GPS cycling routes, tips on where to eat and drink, how to rent bikes, and so much more. Have questions or want to learn more about who we are and the guided tours we offer? Drop us a line.', 'post_title' => 'Ideas for a Short, Kid-Friendly Bike Tour in Asheville', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'kid-friendly-bike-routes-asheville', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2020-12-04 14:31:09', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2020-12-04 19:31:09', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'https://www.diybicycletours.com/?p=1106', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 2 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 1094, 'post_author' => '4', 'post_date' => '2020-11-17 15:26:48', 'post_date_gmt' => '2020-11-17 20:26:48', 'post_content' => 'Asheville is a prime destination for travelers looking to bring their bicycles along: each season offers stunning natural beauty, bicycle routes range from leisurely to highly challenging, and the cuisine and beer is some of the best you can find east of the Mississippi. While all of these qualities make it a sweet spot for a day trip, to get the most out of Asheville’s extensive trails and bike-friendly streets, we encourage you to stay for at least a few nights, or even plan a week-long Asheville bike tour. If you’ve chosen a DIY Bicycle Tour, you already have the best routes in hand—but the choice of lodging is completely yours. Our area is thankfully home to some extra-special Airbnbs, as well as charming, cyclist-friendly Bed & Breakfasts with friendly hosts that will help you more fully enjoy Asheville. Here is a selection of our favorites.

The Hobbit Knoll

Mountaintop property ● Stunning views ● Gas fireplace and homey amenities [caption id="attachment_1095" align="alignnone" width="436"] View from the bedroom looking through the round hobbit door over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo: Hobbit Knoll - Treehouses of Serenity, AirBnb[/caption] These hosts left no stone unturned in creating the beautiful, comfortable Hobbit Knoll, which is built into a hillside on an 8-acre private property. The property also houses a number of treehouses for rent, but guests find the knoll to be secluded and romantic, and the property leaves plenty of room for exploration! Plus, you’ll enjoy some of the best views an Airbnb can offer an Asheville visitor.

Woodland Chalet Treehouse

Forest setting ● Charming porch ● Retreat and recharge in the forest [caption id="attachment_1099" align="alignnone" width="607"]Wood Chalet Peaceful Forest Retreat Photo: Wood Chalet/Peaceful Forest Retreat by Sean & Jen on AirBnb[/caption] The Woodland Chalet Treehouse is actually a treehouse. Tucked into a green canopy, accessible by footpath and stairs, you will feel you are on retreat. With just one bed and an outdoor-only shower, this Airbnb is ideal for those individuals or couples looking for a peaceful, eco-friendly stay in nature.

Luxury Treehouse

Forested hillside setting ● Beautiful design & architecture ● Outdoor/indoor showers [caption id="attachment_1100" align="alignnone" width="620"]Asheville\'s Luxury Treehouse Built by "The Treehouse Guys" from the DIY Network this treehouse has it all. Photo from Eva on Airbnb[/caption] The amenities are hotel-grade with plush towels, Wifi, and a squeaky clean setup, but this luxury treehouse isn’t just a nice house on stilts! With a loft bedroom and study, rounded walls, outdoor and indoor showers, architectural touches that mimic a real treehouse, and a wrap-around porch, you’ll feel charmed by this unique architectural wonder.

Upscale Cabin

Forest setting ● Drive to downtown ● Hot tub, campfire, & covered porch [caption id="attachment_1102" align="alignnone" width="660"]Upscale Cozy Cabin AirBnb Photo by Mae on Airbnb[/caption] This Upscale Cozy Cabin located in the woods just six miles from downtown offers you flexibility to hide out or enjoy Asheville during your stay. Stay here to enjoy a chic vibe without straying too far from the woods.

Chestnut Street Inn

Cozy bed and breakfast ● Historic area ● Walk to downtown
Not an Airbnb, but rather an authentic B&B, the Chestnut Street Inn in downtown Asheville offers a friendly, homey experience, with a tasteful antique aesthetic. The boutique property houses only 8 guestrooms, so every visitor is a VIP. The innkeepers will ensure you have a unique experience!

The Omni Grove Park Inn

Mountain setting ● Endless on-site amenities & gorgeous vistas
 
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Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary on bicycles or you just have a taste for luxury, The Omni Grove Park Inn offers everything at the highest standard. From the gorgeous, 150-acre property in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the fine food, you’ll feel right at home with a glass of champagne, a cheese board, and a spectacular view after a long day on the trails. You might even plan a day off from cycling to enjoy the 43,000 SF spa, which, with its subterranean caves and therapeutic waterfalls, has long been known as one of the top resort spas in the US.

Cambria Hotel

Downtown ● Walk to restaurants, bars, & shopping
If being among the city’s hustle and bustle energizes you, you’ll love the Cambria Hotel in the heart of downtown Asheville. The rooftop restaurant and bar, Hemingway’s Cuba, overlooks downtown nightlife and offers a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. From this spot, it’s also an easy walk to the South Side of downtown, where you can enjoy many local brews, local barbecue, and more.

Let us plan your Asheville bike tour

Ready to plan your bike tour in Asheville? Download our comprehensive guide, the DIY Bike Tour Packet, for access to GPS bike routes, recommendations for Asheville locales to visit, and more! To learn more about who we are and the guided tours we offer, contact us online. We can’t wait to help you discover the joys of Asheville from your bike.', 'post_title' => 'These Asheville Airbnbs Are Perfect for Your Next Bike Tour', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'asheville-airbnbs-perfect-for-your-bike-tour', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2020-11-17 15:27:59', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2020-11-17 20:27:59', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'https://www.diybicycletours.com/?p=1094', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 3 => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 536, 'post_author' => '3', 'post_date' => '2020-03-09 16:40:26', 'post_date_gmt' => '2020-03-09 16:40:26', 'post_content' => 'Let’s be honest, we ride bikes to eat and drink. Of course there is also the sense of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, and wonder that you also experience from the saddle but when it comes down to it, we ride bikes to eat and drink. Most of our favorite tour locations, France, Italy and Western North Carolina don’t disappoint in that arena. We wanted to share our favorite food and drink on an Asheville bike tour with you so you can maybe be inspired to take an adventure in this backyard of ours that we love so much. When we ride, we ride all over Western North Carolina. We’re going to highlight restaurants and breweries in Asheville and beyond so you can get a true taste of the area. Food and drink in Asheville, North Carolina

In Asheville, we highly recommend stopping at Wicked Weed Brewing, Cúrate and The French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

If you start at Wicked Weed Brewing, you won’t be disappointed. Although it is a very popular joint, it has earned its reputation honestly. There is beer for everyone, no matter your taste. We particularly love the Napoleon Complex. It’s a hoppy pale ale that is perfect for a summer afternoon post-ride. You can also get food at the main brewery in downtown Asheville. No matter what you order, it’s well worth the ride. Trust us. Just up the hill from Wicked Weed Brewing is our favorite restaurant. You really need to plan ahead for this one – make your reservations as soon as you have your Asheville bike tour dates. Cúrate, run by nationally acclaimed chef, Katie Button, is a true treat. The tapas restaurant feels cozy and fun yeah the food you get it anything but a joke. Katie makes magic out of some of the most humble dishes that you might make at home for a family reunion. We particularly love and suggest the piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish goat cheese. The perfect ending to the perfect afternoon of eating in Asheville is topped off with none other than the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Conveniently located just around the corner from Curate, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge can make your chocolate dreams come true. From truffles and specialty candies to cakes and tastes, you’re sure to find something you’ll love. We’re partial to the Strawberry Balsamic Truffle ourselves. As an added bonus, the folks at the chocolate lounge are committed to responsible, sustainable and local sourcing. Asheville is internationally known for its food and drink scenes so it has a tendency to be a bit more crowded. We love riding our bikes a little outside of downtown to get a quieter, yet just as delicious, taste of Western North Carolina. Food and drink in Asheville, North Carolina

Outside of Asheville, we highly recommend stopping at Sierra Nevada Brewing, MagPie Meat and Three, and Ecusta Brewing.

Sierra Nevada Brewing is a beer drinkers dream. Foodies won’t be disappointed either. Their menu is true farm-to-table style with much of their food grown on site. Their beer is simply amazing. You’ll find a lot of their nationally sold beers on tap but you’ll also find several small brews that you can try. Their brewmasters often try out new ingredients and new styles that you can find in the taproom. We particularly love the buffalo wings and pretzels with beer cheese. It’s hard to go wrong with this amazing grub! We often stop at Sierra Nevada when we plan tours in WNC because it’s too good to miss! Riding just a little further down the road, you’ll find Brevard, a cyclist’s dream town. It’s got a beautiful small town feel with hundreds of miles of trails and road for you to immerse yourself in. MagPie Meat and Three is a can’t-miss in this gorgeous mountain town. Amazing pulled pork, out-of-this-world deviled eggs, a stellar beer line-up and amazing desserts. It’s a truly spectacular find! Our last mention is by no means our least favorite. The Oskar Blues Brewery has done an amazing job of creating an atmosphere for post-ride camaraderie, reliving stories from the trail or the road and enjoying an ice cold beer. They usually have a food truck with a knock-your-socks-off burger, the Chub Burger. Absolutely. Must. Try. There are plenty of other amazing food and beer options that are equally awesome to enjoy after a day on your Asheville bike tour.', 'post_title' => 'Food and Drink on an Asheville Bike Tour', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'food-and-drink-on-an-asheville-bike-tour', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2020-06-10 17:47:25', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2020-06-10 17:47:25', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'https://www.diybicycletours.com/?p=536', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), ), 'post_count' => 4, 'current_post' => -1, 'in_the_loop' => false, 'post' => WP_Post::__set_state(array( 'ID' => 1124, 'post_author' => '4', 'post_date' => '2021-01-27 12:25:29', 'post_date_gmt' => '2021-01-27 17:25:29', 'post_content' => 'How the Blue Ridge Parkway Compares to the Tour de France The Blue Ridge Parkway is famous for its spectacular views, handcrafted stone features, vibrant history, and, of course, cycling. The Tour de France route varies, but always boasts some of the most difficult and scenic routes in the world, with visitors traveling near and far to watch cycling legends pedal nearly the entire country. While the Parkway is used for recreation and Tour routes are used for racing, it’s interesting to compare our most popular Parkway climbs with some of the Tour’s most infamous mountain routes. Let’s jump in.

Parkway vs. Tour de France Distance

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles of road between Virginia and North Carolina. The Parkway traverses the southern and central Appalachian Mountains, including parts of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah Mountains, which are some of the world’s oldest peaks. Cyclists typically complete the Parkway in 5 to 10 days, with the fastest time recorded at 29 hours and 36 minutes. This user-created map of the Blue Ridge Parkway features important stops and points of interest along the way.

The Tour de France

Unlike the Parkway, the Tour de France route changes every year. The 2020 Tour covered 2,156 miles of the country, with the winner finishing in 87 hours and 20 minutes. Some aspects of the Tour remain consistent; for instance, the route always includes the massive Pyrenees Alps mountain ranges, with climbs like Alpe d\'Huez, Mont Ventoux, Col du Galibier, and Col du Tourmalet gaining legendary status (and hundreds of thousands of spectators). Tour De France Map The 2020 Tour started in the city of Nice and ended in Paris’ Champs-Élysées, as it has since 1975. Check out this interactive map for more route details.

The Takeaway

  • The Tour’s route is considerably longer than the Parkway, and therefore requires more stops and planning
  • The elevation profile of both the Parkway and the Tour will vary depending on which direction you start and finish them in
  • Both routes require considerable planning and training
  • Neither route should be attempted by inexperienced riders

Parkway vs. Tour de France Elevation

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway varies greatly in elevation, with its lowest point at the James River measuring 670 feet and its highest point at Mt. Mitchell reaching just over 6,000 feet. Either direction you ride it, you’ll gain roughly 48,600 total feet in elevation. The highest climb is the Mt. Mitchell section of the Parkway. Measuring 24.1 miles with over 5,100 vertical feet of elevation gain, this section has earned the title of one of the 30 hardest hill climbs in the world by Bicycling Magazine. The longest single climb is in Virginia, where the Parkway climbs from 670 feet to 3,950 feet for a total elevation gain of 3,300 feet in a mere 13 miles. The steepest climb is Waterrock Knob in North Carolina, which covers 2,500 vertical feet in 5 miles, topping out at 5,820 feet.

The Tour de France

In contrast, the highest climb ever reached in the Tour de France topped out at 9,193 feet on the Cime de la Bonette loop road in the Maritime Alps. Much of the higher elevations reached in the Tour are in the Alps, like Mont Ventoux, which is one of the Tour’s most iconic climbs. Mont Ventoux traverses 13.4 miles to its 6,263-foot summit for an elevation gain of 5,000 vertical feet. At 8,668 feet, Col du Galibier is the eighth-highest paved road in the world and frequently one of the highest peaks in the Tour de France. This climb stretches 21.9 miles and has an elevation gain of roughly 6,300 vertical feet. Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees is the most-climbed pass in the history of the Tour. With a base elevation of 2,312 feet and a peak elevation of just under 7,000 feet, riders amass about 4,600 vertical feet in 11.7 miles.

The Takeaway

  • The most popular climbs in the Tour tend to be higher than those on the Parkway
  • Overall, the most popular mountain sections in both the Parkway and the Tour have similar elevation profiles
  • The Parkway is very protected by its tree corridors and stone tunnels
  • The Tour’s mountain sections are very exposed, providing zero protection from the sun and weather

Parkway vs. Tour de France Grade

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Parkway isn’t as steep as many other mountainous highways, with its grade generally maxing out at 6 to 8%. But just because the Parkway’s grade is moderate doesn’t mean its climbs are easy; in its Asheville section, Mt. Mitchell maintains a 4% grade for over 24 miles, while Mt. Pisgah sustains a 3.7% average grade for over 13 miles.

The Tour de France

In contrast, the average grade for many of the Tour’s most difficult climbs is between 7 to 8%, with the steepest, Mont Ventoux, maxing out at 12% and covering 13.3 miles. Most of the Tour’s hardest climbs, like Col de la Loze, Col du Galibier, and Mont Ventoux, average about 12 miles with a 6 to 8% grade.

The Takeaway

  • The Parkway’s hardest grades are equivalent to the Tour’s average grades
  • The steepest climbs on both the Parkway and the Tour are similar in length
  • Elevation is a major factor to consider when comparing grades, adding an extra layer of difficulty to Tour routes

Parkway vs. Tour de France Traffic

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Because the Blue Ridge Parkway uses short side roads to connect to other highways, there are no direct highway interchanges along the route, meaning no cross-traffic. Still, the Parkway was primarily built for motor travel (it’s called “America’s Favorite Drive” for a reason), and its narrow roads don’t have bike lanes. Cyclists should exercise extreme caution when riding on the Parkway by wearing reflectors, helmets, and high-visibility clothing, and staying off the road during periods of low visibility. The most-traveled time period on the Parkway is from mid-May to mid-September, so if you’re planning a cycling trip, you may want to hit the Parkway in early spring or late fall.

The Tour de France

During the Tour, it’s typical for roads to close to vehicles a few hours before riders are scheduled to pass through a specific section. If you’re cycling an old Tour route, expect vehicle traffic to fluctuate depending on whether you’re traveling through an urban area or a remote part of the countryside. The most popular time to visit France is in the summer, therefore we recommend planning your cycling trip in spring or fall. Want to experience the excitement of the Tour this year? Join other riders & non-riders from around the world this July for our annual guided Tour de France spectator tour.

The Takeaway

  • Always follow proper safety precautions
  • Check weather conditions ahead of time and get off the saddle if you fear motorists can’t see you
  • Traffic will fluctuate with the seasons, therefore you should schedule your trip accordingly
  • Before riding in Europe’s mountains, be sure to check mountain pass closures, as many passes are closed during the winter and even through the spring and fall. Some passes don\'t even open until early June!

Parkway vs. Tour de France Scenery & Attractions

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is highly regarded for its 200+ scenic overlooks that provide cyclists with sweeping views of the aptly-named Blue Ridge Mountains. Many overlooks have picnic tables, trails, or other amenities to enjoy along your ride. The Parkway also butts up against some larger urban areas including Asheville, Charlottesville, and Roanoke, providing plenty of opportunities to explore these cities. When cycling the Parkway, be prepared to ride for long stretches between developed areas. In its entire 469 miles, there are only 4 lodges with restaurants located on the Parkway. These offer a nice reprieve from sleeping on the ground and eating Ramen, but they are too far apart to rely on as a sole source of shelter and food. Therefore, we recommend you pack plenty of food and water, and plan on roughing it at the numerous campgrounds along the road. If you have time to detour into a town or head to a lodge, that’s great—but having everything you need to go it alone will provide peace of mind and allow you to ride at your own pace.

The Tour de France

Tour de France cyclists compete against the backdrop of some of the loveliest scenery in France. While the Tour’s route changes each year, the route always passes through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps and finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Cycle any of the Tour’s past routes and you’re bound to enjoy idyllic views of France’s countryside, coast, and rugged mountain ranges. As an added bonus, you’ll have the chance to see cobblestone streets and Gothic architecture in some of the country’s most historic towns, like Amiens Métropole, featured in the 2018 route, and Privas, featured in the 2020 route. For the athletes who compete in the Tour de France, there is no stopping to enjoy French cuisine along the way. For the rest of us, however, following a past Tour route will offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy the country’s authentic food and culture. 2020’s Tour started in the city of Nice, which is a large coastal city known for its Baroque architecture and delicious food. While along the coast, make sure to try some fresh oysters, which thrive in the Baie du Mont St-Michel, and enjoy hand-pressed cider and homemade baguettes while riding through the countryside. But despite the draw of delicious new cuisine, you should still plan on packing your own food and water, as cycling the length of a country will undoubtedly keep your metabolism up—even if you are stopping for pain au chocolat every chance you get. It’s also common for businesses in smaller villages to close as early as 1pm.

The Takeaway

  • Plan your stops ahead of time, but leave some wiggle room for detours
  • Enjoy the food and amenities along your route when you can
  • Pack your own food and water, even if you don’t think you’ll need it
  • Camping is more convenient than finding lodging, but you’ll probably want at least one night in a bed

Planning an Asheville cycling trip? Let us do the heavy lifting

What’s the best part of planning a cycling trip? Trick question—it’s not the planning. Our comprehensive DIY bike tour package includes hundreds of miles of rider-approved GPS cycling routes around Asheville (including the Parkway), tips on where to eat and drink, our favorite outfitters, and so much more. Our tour packet also includes world-class riding on less-traveled roads off the Parkway. Contact us today to learn how you can enjoy all the perks of a self-guided bike tour without the hassle of planning. Plus, stay tuned for our Provence bike tour, coming soon!', 'post_title' => 'How Do Blue Ridge Parkway Climbs Compare to the Tour de France Climbs?', 'post_excerpt' => '', 'post_status' => 'publish', 'comment_status' => 'open', 'ping_status' => 'open', 'post_password' => '', 'post_name' => 'how-blue-ridge-parkway-compares-to-the-tour-de-france', 'to_ping' => '', 'pinged' => '', 'post_modified' => '2021-01-27 12:26:02', 'post_modified_gmt' => '2021-01-27 17:26:02', 'post_content_filtered' => '', 'post_parent' => 0, 'guid' => 'https://www.diybicycletours.com/?p=1124', 'menu_order' => 0, 'post_type' => 'post', 'post_mime_type' => '', 'comment_count' => '0', 'filter' => 'raw', )), 'comment_count' => 0, 'current_comment' => -1, 'found_posts' => 7, 'max_num_pages' => 2.0, 'max_num_comment_pages' => 0, 'is_single' => false, 'is_preview' => false, 'is_page' => false, 'is_archive' => true, 'is_date' => false, 'is_year' => false, 'is_month' => false, 'is_day' => false, 'is_time' => false, 'is_author' => false, 'is_category' => true, 'is_tag' => false, 'is_tax' => false, 'is_search' => false, 'is_feed' => false, 'is_comment_feed' => false, 'is_trackback' => false, 'is_home' => false, 'is_privacy_policy' => false, 'is_404' => false, 'is_embed' => false, 'is_paged' => false, 'is_admin' => false, 'is_attachment' => false, 'is_singular' => false, 'is_robots' => false, 'is_favicon' => false, 'is_posts_page' => false, 'is_post_type_archive' => false, 'query_vars_hash' => 'b5033e427ccce979de57f32551407420', 'query_vars_changed' => false, 'thumbnails_cached' => false, 'stopwords' => NULL, 'compat_fields' => array ( 0 => 'query_vars_hash', 1 => 'query_vars_changed', ), 'compat_methods' => array ( 0 => 'init_query_flags', 1 => 'parse_tax_query', ), ))