Well we just returned from a week of riding from our base camp in Table Rock State Park which is located in Pickens, SC. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great place to get in some early season riding. Table Rock is located pretty much on the North Carolina/South Carolina border right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We were there the week after Easter and the temperatures ranged from low 10 and rose to a high of 26 as the week ended. If you are looking for somewhere flat to ride this isn’t the place as any direction you go you will climb and climb a lot. This is the most cycle friendly place I have ever ridden, cycling is a big part of the local economy and you see groups of riders heading in all different directions. In most places cars want to get by you as quickly as possible without much concern for your safety; that is not the case here. Many of the roads have bike lanes and for those that don’t people in cars are not in a rush to get by you. Often the roads you travel up or down have constant switchbacks and drivers are happy to wait until it is safe to pass. The strangest thing is that it is not uncommon for cars to follow for quite a while, then as they pass, pull up beside you and give you a wave or a friendly honk of the horn. It definitely makes the riding much more enjoyable. Our rides tended to range between 90 – 120k and you don’t worry about how long it takes to cover the distance. You are going to be slower than normal as the climbs tended to range from what we would consider big hills in Ontario right up to 20k or so. This is my second year heading down and I am looking forward to going back next year. You will definitely improve your climbing ability as well as your overall bike handling ability. Nothing like a long and winding descent at 45kph to help you understand your limitations. It was great that we had a number of really strong riders to watch their line and get a lot of tips from. It was also nice to know that on climbs they may go up faster but they hurt just as much as the rest of us do.
It is also a very inexpensive place to stay. We rented cabins which slept between 4 and 6 and it cost about $170 per person for the week and the drive is just under 14hrs if you keep your stops to a minimum.
It is a great place to ride but leave your Tri Bike at home, you will want the handling that a road bike provides with the amount of climbing and technical descending you will be doing.