December, 2020 Archive

myptdtqd

Another Opponent to FirstEnergy Bailout

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Mark Reider for the Toledo Blade:The Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition, a local bulk power-buying group formed by 11 area communities, filed an objection Tuesday with federal regulators to block a pending rate hike by FirstEnergy Corp.The coalition submitted a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to intervene and comment on the proposed increase that would guarantee profits over the next eight years at four power plants operated by FirstEnergy, the parent of Toledo Edison.The Lucas County commissioners said the purchase power agreement under review by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio would equate to a $3.9 billion bailout for the utility and an unjust rate hike on businesses and residents.Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the commissioners, said the hike would cost $800 to $1,000 extra a year for families in northwest Ohio.“This bailout is not good for northwest Ohio. It is mostly good for one company,” she said at One Government Center.The increase would add a fee averaging about $3.25 on every residential customer’s bill for the first year of the plan to subsidize the four plants until such time as energy prices rise and the plants are profitable again. Then the fee would either remain on bills or turn into a credit if the plants begin to make money, the utility claims.Coalition files to block FirstEnergy rate increase Another Opponent to FirstEnergy Bailoutlast_img read more

Read More

dwhpsbmc

South Korea moving forward with offshore wind projects

first_imgSouth Korea moving forward with offshore wind projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Renewable energy development behemoth Macquarie is eyeing a floating turbine project in South Korea as interest in offshore wind grows across the Asia-Pacific region.The developer is reportedly partnering with South Korea’s Gyeongbuk Floating Offshore Wind Power for a 1-gigawatt project located around 30 miles from Pohang and Ulsan. Robert Liew, senior analyst for Asia-Pacific at Wood Mackenzie-owned MAKE Consulting, said the lack of details suggest the project is still in its early planning stages. “It would be more likely to see the light of day if the developer announced it had received permitting for the project, as getting local consent is a major barrier for offshore wind,” said Liew.The potential Macquarie project is part of 4 gigawatts of offshore wind currently in the pipeline for South Korea. The largest of these developments is a 2.5-gigawatt wind farm called Southwest, being built by Korea Offshore Wind Power, a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Corp., the national utility.The first phase of Southwest is a 60-megawatt test site comprising twenty 3-megawatt Doosan turbines mounted on suction bucket and four-leg jacket foundations.Elsewhere, South Korea’s first offshore wind farm, a 30-megawatt project off the coast of Jeju, an island south of the mainland, has been operational since 2016. Most other offshore wind developments in South Korea are still in the initial planning phase, Liew said. However, he noted: “The government has set an ambitious target of 18 gigawatts of wind capacity by 2030. And the only way to achieve this is via offshore wind, given its scale.”More: Asia’s offshore wind sector diversifieslast_img read more

Read More

bmseebkt

Solar installations surge across Australia

first_imgSolar installations surge across Australia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Sydney Morning Herald:For Amit Narang, an IT expert working for NSW Health, the choice to put solar panels on his roof was partly to cut carbon emissions but mostly because the financials had become conclusive. By his calculation, the family’s annual electric bill will dive from $1400 to $400, a compelling enough case that has two colleagues looking to take a similar plunge into PV. And why not? With power prices doubling in a decade, and with few signs of retreating and panel prices sinking, “you’d be mad not to put solar on”, said Renate Egan, an associate professor at the University of NSW. “It’s become super-competitive.”Last month saw a spike in installations in Victoria and NSW, with both overtaking Queensland. All three topped 35 megawatts of new capacity. Nationwide, the 158MW of rooftop solar added in October eclipsed all previous months and ensured 2018 would easily top other years.“There are records falling everywhere,” Warwick Johnston, managing director of SunWiz, said.Adding in large-scale solar farms that are springing up across the nation, Australia connected 1560MW of PV in the September quarter alone. That total exceeded the capacity plugged in during all of 2017 – itself the previous record year – according to Dr Egan.Consumers are also gearing up systems with an eye on future purchases of batteries – to store excess electricity rather than export it to the grid as feed-in tariffs dwindle – and electric cars. As many as 17 per cent of PV owners now include batteries, pushing storage orders nationally towards a record 30,000 units this year, SunWiz’s Mr. Johnston said.By the end of 2018, about 2 million households will have panels and huge potential remains. Just 29 per cent of suitable homes in NSW have PV and 27 per cent in Victoria, according to SunWiz.More: ‘Records falling everywhere’: solar panel demand goes through the rooflast_img read more

Read More

hothmgxz

European development bank plans to end coal financing

first_imgEuropean development bank plans to end coal financing FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times:The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, one of the world’s leading development banks, is expected to vote on Wednesday to adopt a “no coal, no caveats” financing policy and slash lending to oil exploration and production projects as the organisation seeks to combat climate change.The move, if approved as expected by the bank’s board of directors, is set to bring into sharper relief the activities of Chinese and other development banks that finance huge numbers of coal and oil projects around the world.“We are planning a no coal, no caveats policy,” said Nandita Parshad, EBRD managing director for energy and natural resources. She added that the only circumstances under which the bank would finance upstream oil projects would be to reduce emissions by, for example, installing equipment to cut flaring gas from oil wells.The 38 countries that the EBRD lends to include some of the most polluting countries on earth. Poland, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo and Mongolia all derive at least 70 per cent of their energy from heavily polluting coal-fired power stations.Ms. Parshad said the EBRD would continue to lend to gas projects which, although a fossil fuel, was an important source of energy and a low emitter of carbon. The focus of the bank’s lending in the energy sector would continue to be renewables, such as wind and solar power plants, that made up 34 per cent of the bank’s portfolio between 2014 and 2017, she added.More: Development bank to halt coal financing to combat climate changelast_img read more

Read More

bmseebkt

Dallas expects city to save $80 million over 10 years with renewable power

first_imgDallas expects city to save $80 million over 10 years with renewable power FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:Dallas’ municipal government is to reap savings in the tens of millions by powering all of its buildings with clean energy over the next decade.The US$472.6 million deal with electricity firm TXU Energy will see the Texan city slash energy costs by almost US$80 million over 10 years, compared to existing arrangements.TXU Energy was selected through a reverse auction that pitted retail electricity providers against each other. The firm will begin by supplying Dallas with power from Foard City Wind Farm in West Texas and follow with further solar and wind projects elsewhere in the state.City of Dallas authorities explained they are particularly keen on North Texan projects, which will be prioritised by TXU going forward “if possible at no additional charge.”Describing the contract as a “great deal for Dallas”, Errick Thompson, a director of building services, said the city has secured 10 years of “budget certainty” at a “very market-competitive cost.”More: Dallas government to save US$80m via full renewable shiftlast_img read more

Read More

gthulqmz

U.K. renewables topped fossil fuel electricity generation in third quarter

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Ars Technica:The third quarter of 2019 saw the UK’s renewable generation pass that of fossil fuels for the first time, according to an analysis by the climate and energy policy group CarbonBrief. The shift is driven by the completion of several enormous offshore windfarms and has been accompanied by a near-elimination of coal on the UK grid. And it comes only four years after the very first day in which renewables outpaced fossil fuels.CarbonBrief performs regular analyses of the UK electrical market based largely on government figures but also incorporating off-grid sources like combined heat and power facilities. In general, its results have been within 3% of the final quarterly figures for the last several years, but the numbers for 2019 are close enough that it remains possible that the first quarterly landmark will have to wait until 2020.That said, the organization estimates that renewables produced 29.5 TeraWatt-hours in July, August, and September, while fossil fuels only produced 29.1 TW-hr. The news for carbon emissions is even better, as the UK is well on its way toward its goal of eliminating coal-fired generation—almost all of the fossil fuel generation was in the form of natural gas, which has relatively low emissions. The report estimates that less than 1% of the UK’s electricity came from coal during the quarter.Coal was planned to be eliminated from the UK grid by 2025, but the implementation of a carbon tax has hastened its decline. As a result, the UK now regularly goes weeks without using any coal. Nuclear provided nearly 19% of the UK’s electricity; if nuclear and renewables are lumped together as carbon-free generation, the UK is on track to have fossil fuels fall to under half its generation for the entire year, as had been predicted by its National Grid.Among the renewables, solar provided 6% of the power during the quarter, while biomass accounted for double that. Wind provided the biggest contribution at 20%, and CarbonBrief ascribes this in part to the opening of new offshore windfarms. Earlier this year, a 600MW farm opened, and this month has seen the completion of Hornsea One, a monstrous 1.2GW offshore farm. Those join 2.1GW completed during 2018. The report also notes that contracts are already in place that would more than double the UK’s 8.5GW of offshore wind over the next five years.More: UK renewables out-generate fossil fuels for an entire quarter U.K. renewables topped fossil fuel electricity generation in third quarterlast_img read more

Read More

nhmuezlj

Solar prices fall to new record low in Saudi-led bid for 900MW Dubai project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:A consortium led by Saudi Arabia-based ACWA Power has reportedly lodged a world record low price bid of $16.953 ($A25) a megawatt hour for a 900MW solar park in Dubai.The bid – reported by infrastructure journal IJGlobal – is one of two record low offers made by the two consortia still competing for the right to build the fifth phase of the huge 5GW Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum solar park in Dubai. According to IJGlobal, the bid offered by a rival consortium comprising Masdar, French energy giant EDF and China’s Jinko Solar, also beat all previous bids with an offer of $US17.25/MWh.The tender is being run by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), which had already attracted world-record low bids for previous phases, including a then record low of $US24/MWh by ACWA for the fourth phase of the solar park, which will combine solar PV and solar thermal technologies.Dubai has often set record lows for solar power thanks to its low cost of finance, cheap labour and excellent solar resources, and intense competition from the likes of ACWA and Masdar, who have been rivals in numerous tenders in Dubai and across the Middle East and in north Africa.ACWA won the first tender for the Dubai solar park just four eyes ago with a price that then shocked the solar energy world – $US58/MWh. The new offer is less than one third of that price.More: Solar PV prices fall to record lows in tender for 900MW solar park in Dubai Solar prices fall to new record low in Saudi-led bid for 900MW Dubai projectlast_img read more

Read More

dwhpsbmc

Bankrupt coal giants hand unwanted mines to unknown firms

first_imgBankrupt coal giants hand unwanted mines to unknown firms FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享E&E News:GILLETTE, Wyo. — For years, the coal companies operating on the high plains here were among the best known in the world: Peabody Energy Corp., Rio Tinto, Arch Coal Inc. But as the coal industry contracts, the former giants are being replaced by a different brand of mining firm: virtual unknowns.A pair of bankruptcies this year opened the door for two little-known mining companies to take over five mines in the Powder River Basin, the rolling, resource-rich plain that covers eastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. Together, the five mines supplied 11% of the U.S. coal market in 2018.The newcomers’ arrival on the Wyoming prairie signals a new chapter in the decline of the U.S. coal industry. It’s transitioning from an era of well-known, highly capitalized companies to smaller operators of lesser known means. Their appearance raises a host of questions for local and state officials, as they attempt to navigate the fall of an industry that has served as the foundation of Wyoming’s economy.Local mine suppliers, already burned by previous bankruptcies, are wary of extending credit to firms they do not know. State and local tax collectors face the prospect of declining tax revenues. Looming over it all is the question of whether the new companies will be able to afford hundreds of millions in reclamation costs needed to clean up some of the largest coal mines in America.“It tells you a lot about the coal industry right now,” said Robert Godby, an economics professor who studies the industry at the University of Wyoming. “These large mining conglomerates have been replaced by what some people call vulture capitalists. They have less experience; they have less transparency. It used to be what was in minerals’ interest was in Wyoming’s interest. Now, given where the coal industry is, Wyoming has to be careful about protecting itself.”Wyoming’s coal industry has witnessed a dramatic downsizing, decimated in recent years by declining domestic coal demand brought on by increased competition from alternatives like natural gas and renewables. There’s also mounting concern over climate change. Peabody Energy, America’s largest mining company by production and a mainstay in the Powder River Basin, is a case in point. In 2011, it was valued on the stock market at roughly $20 billion. Eight years and one bankruptcy later, it is worth $1.2 billion.Yet Peabody still looks like a veritable giant compared with recent arrivals here. Navajo Transitional Energy Co., which purchased three mines out of bankruptcy from Cloud Peak Energy Inc., is an arm of the Navajo Nation and previously operated a solitary mine in New Mexico.Many analysts had not even heard of FM Coal LLC before it acquired the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines from bankrupt operator Blackjewel LLC last month.A spate of coal bankruptcies in recent years have left local vendors and officials feeling spurned. Mining contractors have been forced to eat unpaid invoices while local officials have fought to claw back a portion of the taxes owed by the companies.More: Bankrupt giants hand unwanted coal mines to unknown firmslast_img read more

Read More

dwhpsbmc

Costa Rica’s electricity generation was 99% renewable in 2019

first_imgCosta Rica’s electricity generation was 99% renewable in 2019 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Costa Rica generated 99.15% of its electricity with renewable energy sources in 2019, according to the latest report by the National Centre for Energy Control (CENCE).Gross power production in the Central American country totaled 11,312.85 GWh, of which only 95.64 GWh were generated by thermal power plants.The renewables share rose from 98.6% registered in 2018, while the total production from these technologies increased by 0.18% year-on-year.National demand for electricity grew by 1.97% to 11,334.11 GWh.In terms of gross production, Costa Rican government-run power company Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) was the market leader with a share of 63.72% in 2019. ICE increased production levels by 4.2% year-on-year to 7,208.03 GWh thanks to geothermal sources. The state-owned company also operates the largest portion of installed capacity in the country — 2,437.29 MW, or 68.34% of the market.As of December 31, 2019, Costa Rica had 3,566.453 MW of total installed capacity between all technologies.[Sladjana Djunisic]More: Costa Rica’s renewables share hits 99.15% in 2019last_img read more

Read More

wfdiotjv

Pedal Eat Sleep: Guide to Bicycling the Blue Ridge Parkway

first_img Blue Ridge Parkway peleton. Photo: Patrick Cavan Brown Bryan Hill was on his bike climbing back to the Blue Ridge Parkway after spending the night in Boone, N.C., when he realized his youngest brother was asleep. Hill was in the middle of a Blue Ridge Parkway traverse, riding captain on a three-seater bike with his 12-year-old brother Sean in the middle and his six-year-old brother Kevin pulling up the rear. “I looked back and Kevin’s head was against his chest, but his little legs were still going,” Hill says. The trio rode nearly 500 miles together in 12 days in the summer of 2007. “He’s such a little guy, he had six-inch crank arms for his pedals. He did his best, but it was like having another 40 pounds strapped to the back of the bike.”Hill later traversed the Parkway on a solo bike in half the time sans siblings, but for him and so many other cyclists, riding the Parkway isn’t about speed. It’s about the experience, the accomplishment. It’s about setting one week of your life aside to do nothing but pedal, eat, and sleep.Backpackers have the Appalachian Trail for this sort of life-changing experience, but bicyclists have the Blue Ridge Parkway—a 469-mile ridgeline highway that follows the crest of the Southern Appalachians from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is arguably the most iconic road in the United States, dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive,” and has the honor of being the most visited national park unit in the country (15 million visitors a year). Most of those visitors are in cars–the road was initiated in the ‘30s to tap into America’s burgeoning car culture—but every year a few hardy individuals pedal the entire Blue Ridge Parkway on a bicycle. To embark on a thru-ride is to submit to a week of long climbs, fast descents and endless views, all of which is laid out before your front tire on a manicured ridgeline road.“Riding a bike on the Parkway, it’s as if you enter a completely different world,” says Mark Archibald, two-time Parkway thru-biker. “When you’re cycling, you see, hear, even smell the trip in a way that you simply can’t if you’re driving the road in a car.” Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway. The viaducts of the Blue Ridge Parkway offer amazing scenery.center_img PARKWAY TOURING 101DISTANCECyclists typically knock out the Blue Ridge Parkway in five to 10 days. According to the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association, the end-to-end Parkway record belongs to Chris Boone, who rode south to north in 29 hours, 36 minutes. You’re going to want to travel a little slower. Realistically, aim for 50 to 60 miles a day, with at least one rest day in the middle. Most cyclists settle in at a 10 miles-per-hour pace, which will put you on the bike for roughly six hours a day. Overall, you’re looking at a 10-day trip.The Parkway is full of expansive views, cultural waypoints, and natural wonders. Click here to view a map of the highlights.CLIMBINGThere are very few flat stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As a rule, if you’re on this ridgetop highway, you’re either climbing or descending. Though the climbs can be long, the road never exceeds a grade of eight percent, so they’re never too steep to tackle.“Sometimes, you’re pedaling uphill for two hours,” says Jon Livengood, who rode the length of the road in 2009. “But climbing is part of the Parkway’s charm. And after a climb, you’ve got a long, awesome descent, which is never too steep. You can do all the downhills without braking.”Tip: Keep an eye out for the Parkway’s two most infamous climbs.The longest single climb is in Virginia, when the Parkway stretches from its lowest point, 650 feet at the James River, to its highest point in Virginia, 3,950 feet, at Apple Orchard. You’ll gain 3,300 feet in 13 miles.You’ll find the steepest climb in North Carolina, as you work your way up to the visitor center for Waterrock Knob, which sits at 5,820 feet. To reach this lofty peak, you’ll climb 2,500 vertical feet in five miles.FOOD AND LODGINGThe Parkway is easier to plan logistically than some other tours. It’s just one road, so you don’t have to worry about picking a route. After that, you just have to figure out where the food is and where you’re going to sleep at night.There are four lodges with restaurants located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Their locations and clean digs make them must-stops for cyclists, but the lodges are too far apart for most cyclists to rely on them as their only source of shelter.Tip: Camping simplifies things. A network of campgrounds is situated on or near the Parkway for its entire length. If you’re willing to camp for at least half of your nights, you can avoid dropping off the Parkway each night for lodging. Camping gear adds significant weight to your touring rig.Whether you camp or stay in hotels in nearby towns, plan early and be realistic about the mileage you’ll be adding to the beginning and end of each day by seeking more comfortable digs.“Do your research. The lodges along the Parkway fill up months in advance, and nearby motels take more effort to reach than they’re worth,” says Mark Archibald, who spends a year planning his family’s annual bike tours to ensure all major details are accounted for. “A hotel that looks like it’s only a mile off the ridge, could actually be a 3,000 foot drop, which isn’t much fun to climb the following morning.”As for food and water, it can be scarce on the ridgeline. “You can’t disregard your need for food and water on the Parkway,” Archibald says. “Know where your next re-supply points are, and carry extra calories and water just in case.”Here are the four must-stay lodges on the Parkway:Peaks of Otter Lodge (MP 86) The only year-round lodging on the parkway, Peaks of Otter has dining, trails that climb to ridiculously good views, and a lake. 800-542-5927.Pisgah Inn (MP 408.6) South of Asheville, N.C., this ridgetop inn sits at 5,000 feet, with broad views from its balcony. 828-235-8228. THE BIKE Ideally, you’ll pedal a rugged but light bicycle designed for touring with a relaxed geometry and eyelets ready for racks and panniers. But don’t get too hung up on finding the perfect bike.“I rode a used Schwinn World Tour with toe clips and wore my Saucony running shoes. I paid $100 for the bike and did 85 to 90 miles a day,” says Stephen Janes of his 1998 thru-ride.PANNIERS or TRAILER? You’ve got two options for carrying your gear and food if you’re doing a self-supported Parkway tour: tow a sleek trailer off the back of the bike, or strap racks and panniers to the frame. Jon Livengood, Parkway thru-cyclist, veteran bike tourist, and co-author of the Mini Adventure Road Cycling guidebook series weighs the pros and cons of each system.Trailer: I did my Parkway ride with a trailer. The plus side is you can carry more gear and more food, which could be handy if things go wrong when you’re on the Parkway.Rack and panniers: Now, I tour with panniers. You’re more limited in what you can carry, but the bike handles much better than when you’re towing a trailer.Winner: Rack and panniers.THE BEGINNER’S PARKWAYThe 105-mile Skyline Drive runs through Shenandoah National Park, sticking off the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Some cyclists tack on Skyline as part of their thru-ride, but it’s a legitimate tour in its own right, and can actually serve as a primer for cyclists not ready to take on a 470-mile multi-day journey.The climbing can be just as daunting as on the Parkway, but wayside restaurants, rest stations, and lodges are placed at easy-to-knock- off 25-mile increments, so the only thing you’ll have to worry about is riding your bike. Better yet, the scenery is nonstop, with overlooks every few miles.Give yourself two days to tackle the road, with an overnight at either Skyland or Big Meadows Lodge, and you’ve got yourself a picture-perfect cycling tour built for first-timers. nps.gov/shen.DAY RIDESDon’t want to knock out the whole 469 miles? Check out these two choice sections, perfect for a day ride.James River to the Peaks of Otter 44 miles round tripThis section includes the longest climb on the Parkway, but since it’s an out and back, that means you enjoy the longest downhill when you’re headed back. In between the 3,500-foot ascent and 3,500-foot descent, you cross the James (MP 64), get stellar views from a nearly 4,000-foot mountain (Apple Orchard, MP 76.5), and have the option to check out a 200-foot waterfall (Apple Orchard Falls, MP 78.5). Your ride “up” the Parkway will end at Peaks of Otter (MP 85.9), renowned for its majestic setting. Save some energy to hike the Sharp Top Mountain Trail, which leads to mountaintop bluffs and boulders with a 360-degree view. Fuel up at the lodge’s restaurant, then see how fast you can bomb the Parkway back down to your car.Pisgah Inn to Black Balsam 24 miles round tripYou’re climbing most of the way to FR 816, which leads to the Art Loeb Trail and Black Balsam. But along the way, you’ll have a chance to check out Yellowstone Prong Falls at Graveyard Fields (MP 418.8), see Looking Glass Rock in the distance (MP 417), and hike the quick trail to the top of Black Balsam (MP 420), a rocky Southern Sixer with one of the best views in the Southern Appalachians. After snapping some pictures at the peak, hop on your bike and enjoy the long downhill back to Pisgah Inn (MP 408.7) for a bite to eat.THRU-RIDE GUIDEPaul Wood is the owner and operator of Black Bear Adventures, the leader in guided end-to-end rides of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Black Bear guides half a dozen trips each year on the Parkway, and Wood guides most of the trips himself. It’s possible that this veteran cyclist has ridden the Parkway end-to-end more than any other biker in the country.How did you become the go-to Parkway bike guide?Wood: I was a mechanical engineer, working for an apparel company in the 80s and 90s, chasing cheap labor. I finally quit, spent some time in a cabin in the mountains and saw an ad from a mountain biker looking to start guided trips. I offered to help. That was nine years ago.How many times have you ridden the Parkway from end to end?Wood: I participate in each tour. We average five to six full traverses a year with lots of other shorter tours that use the southern portion of the Parkway. I’ve led 35 full traverses in nine years. The experience is so remarkable, 30 percent of our clients are repeat cyclists. One guy has done it seven years in a row with me.What makes the Parkway ideal for cyclists?Wood: The beauty of the Parkway is that it’s a linear national park. It’s a driving park, but go during the week, on an isolated stretch, it feels like a bike path.Have you ever had a client show up for a traverse on a beach cruiser?Wood: I did have one guy show up on a mountain bike. He wouldn’t even consider putting slicks on it. And a couple of people have wanted to do it on tandems. I try to talk them out of it, or to bring their single bikes too. There’s going to come a time during the week when you’re not going to want to ride the tandem.What’s the best town on the parkway?Wood: Asheville. That’s the jewel of the Parkway. It’s such a vibrant city. The cycling around the city is world class, and the food is amazing.Do you have a favorite mile?Wood: The Parkway is like a crescendo. It just builds and builds. It’s all nice, but the bigger, more dramatic mountains are my favorites. I like the stretch coming out of Blowing Rock, crossing the Lynn Cove Viaduct–that’s pretty spectacular. But if I’m picking a favorite, it’s the stretch between Black Balsam and Richland Balsam. You’re surrounded by Pisgah National Forest. It’s remote and scenic, and we typically won’t see anyone. It’s just us riding our bikes.Best advice for would-be Parkway cyclists?Wood: Be prepared to be in the saddle for four to seven hours a day, several days in a row, and riding a consistent pace of 12 miles per hour. It’s up and down all the time. There are no flats. You climb for two hours and descend for five minutes, then do that again, all day long.It’s hard to get lost on the parkway. Why use a guide?Wood: Because it’s your chance to be a pro. Ride to the rest stop, hand over your bike to a mechanic, sit in the chair we set out for you, and eat the lunch we prepared. You get to relinquish all responsibility, all decision making, and just enjoy the vacation.HARD OR HARDER?Want to ride with Wood? You’ve got two Parkway traverse options. The Epic is a five day tour that averages 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing a day. That’s like riding the Assault on Mount Mitchell five days in a row. The Standard is eight days of riding with one rest day in Blowing Rock, averaging 70 miles a day. blackbearadventures.comSee a slideshow of Black Bear Adventure’s signature 10-day tour of the ParkwayTHE SIDESHOWYou could keep your head down and pedal all 469 miles without diverting from the Parkway, and you’d probably have a blast. Or, you could occasionally drop off the Parkway and hit some sites worthy of a diversion.“My only regret is that we didn’t stop enough,” says Sally Archibald, who pedaled the length of the Parkway with her husband, Mark, and their three sons last summer. “We should have hiked more, played in the creeks more, and seen more of the towns along the way.”Here are four side trips worth your time and energy. Lake Swim (MP 16)The 24-acre Sherando Lake sits inside George Washington National Forest, flanked by steep mountains, and offers a cold-water respite from the heat on the Parkway. Take Va. 814 west for 4.5 miles.Mini Winery Tour (MP 160.9)Two mountain wineries (Appalachia Winery and Chateau Morrisette) sit within a mile of each other on the outskirts of Floyd, Va. Combine a mini winery romp with a bluegrass show at Floyd’s Country Store, and you’ve got a rest day to remember. visitfloyd.orgNatural Water Slide (MP 412)Drop off the Parkway on US 276 for several miles to Sliding Rock, a 60-foot waterfall over bedrock that forms a perfect waterslide. It’s crowded on weekends, but it’s worth it.Brewery Tour (MP 388.5)Scoot over to Asheville via US 25 and hit half a dozen breweries within the city’s downtown area. There’s a reason why Asheville has been dubbed Beer City, USA three years running.brewscruise.comThe viaducts of the Blue Ridge Parkway offer amazing scenery. Pedal Power: Tavis Cummings rides the Blue Ridge Parkway near Pisgah. Photo: Patrick Cavan Brownlast_img read more

Read More