Northeast - Biking Skyline Drive
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My friend and I are planning a fall adventure. We are casual cyclers at best, but good endurance athletes. I was hoping someone could advise re: the feasibility of completing the full distance (105 miles) in 1-2 days. (A brief but important aside, we would only attempt if a 3rd friend would be willing to provide support via vehicle.)
08-16-11, 11:07 PM
I hadn't heard of this route, so I Googled 'bike skyline drive' and found some helpful stuff, including some Bike Forum threads. Sounds like a neat challenge.
08-17-11, 09:22 AM
Sure you can do it in 2 days. Lot's of maybe's:
- Are you currently training on hills ?. Go do a route profile - Ride with GPS.com, or some other. Skyline Drive and the Blueridge Parkway are very hilly, with relentless ups and downs. Front Royal to Big Meadows is 51 miles with +6100 ft of climbing as example, and that's a lot of climbing for the distance. I'd be doing hill repeats for training.
- Are you camping, thus self supported, carrying full loads ?. Or doing it unloaded with car support ?. Makes a difference lugging 40-50 lbs of gear up the hills.
- Can you do 55 miles now in hills ?. It's not running, but your current fitness level would probably allow you to do it, just slowly.
How you do this ride, camping or cars support makes all the difference in terms of effort.
I'd also re-post on the Touring forum, as there are occasionally trip reports as well as others their who've done this ride. As well on RoadBikeReview.com in the Commuting/Touring section
08-17-11, 09:30 AM
It depends on if you're used to the climbs or not. It's not mega-challenging, but it's not nothing :)
I've done the entire length in one day 4 or 5 times. I've more frequently done half or more in one day, sometimes as part of a larger loop such as the "SkyMass" route that goes down into Luray, up over Massanutten, and then back via Fort Valley.
Since I didn't have the luxury of a support vehicle, what I do when I ride the entire length is to start in Big Meadows (about halfway.) Then I head either north or south, turn around, and then spend the night in Big Meadows. Then the next day I do the opposite half.
Going south and back from Big Meadows is about 112 miles, I believe.
It's a really great ride. Unless you're going in peak leaf-peeping season in the fall, traffic isn't an issue.
08-18-11, 02:41 PM
I know folks (randonneurs) who have done the out-and-back, full-length ride of Skyline in one day, starting in Front Royal. If you have good bike lights and the time, it's quite possible to pull off.
Otherwise, picking either the northern terminus in Front Royal or the southern terminus in Waynesboro is a good way to go, as well as Jim's suggestion of using Big Meadows. Both Waynesboro and Front Royal have many lodging and dining options to fit budgets and tastes. Another in-park option would be Skyland (highest point on the drive, has cabins and a nice tap room).
08-19-11, 01:04 PM
I just drove home from a wedding up on Big Meadow. My van's brakes gave out so we got another night at the Skyland hotel and I limped the thing down to Harrisonburg. It was Sunday, so I figured on needing to overnight somewhere. I had my xtracycle all loaded up for touring and thought about riding back up to Skyland rather than camping out or crashing at a friend's.
I'm not exactly out of shape, but between the crazy ascent to the Rt. 33 intersection and the ongoing windy hills on the actual drive, I thought better of it. If it had just been one segment of the Skyline Drive, I might have gone for it. I saw about a dozen cyclists on the route, and had much respect for all of them. Doing the whole thing in 1 day? I don't know if I could- and I did a century with 4400' of climbing in 6h10 of riding time.
The support vehicle is a great idea for an undertaking like that.
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