I don't usually post ride reports because I'm normally with other posters and everyone who would read it is with me to begin with. But I'm sort of proud of what me and a friend accomplished this past weekend and while drinking beer and camping I wrote this out and figure I would post it:
After last week’s Knott’s Island Century, when everyone else had gone to bed and only 3 of us remained awake drinking beer, my friend troy mentioned that some things had changed and he only had 1 free weekend left for the summer. This meant that most of our planned events/riding trips for the summer would have to be cancelled or rescheduled. It also meant he only had 1 weekend left to get a good trip in. We both looked at each other and immediately knew where we would be going “Skyline Drive”
We had attempted to ride the entire Northern leg (Front Royal to Thornton’s Gap) of Skyline last fall during one of our trips to the mountains of Virginia but poor planning, and some unforeseen circumstances cut the ride short and we only made it to Hogswallow Flats Overlook before turning around and heading back to Front Royal. We still managed 31 miles that day and had a killer weekend of camping and hiking but we felt like we had left something on the road, so we set this weekend(Troys last free one) for a return to Skyline. This trip would be part redemption and for me part preparation for the upcoming French Creek Iron Tour, Masochistic Metric, Mountain Mama, and possible Bridge to Bridge rides I have planned for this year.
The original plan was to just redo our failed attempt from last fall. We would park one truck at Thorntons Gap, drive the other to Front Royal and ride up to the top and follow the drive to the other vehicle 31 miles away. But the plans changed the night before when we decided we should start at Thornton gap and just ride North to Front Royal from there. We would then turn around and come back South as far as our legs would take us and if need be we would call our third friend to come get us in the other truck when our legs gave out. Well the morning of the ride we were both slow to get moving and the plans changed once more. We were now going to set off from the campground at Mathews Arm(mile 22) ride North down to Front Royal, then turn around and come back to Mathews Arm making the trip 44 miles. However, we left it open to try a possible attempt at the full loop metric if we felt ok.
So off we went. The ride didn’t start well. We were hit with 10% grades leaving the campground, and this shook our confidence just a bit, but we trooped on. A mile or so later we hit the actual Drive and headed North to the Front Royal Entrance. The climbs in this direction weren’t too bad mostly 4-5% and we spent most of them sitting up and talking. We had decided that finishing the metric was our top priority and adjusted our riding tempo to fit the plan. Accordingly we tapped out an easy rhythm on the climbs, and coasted the decents, there would be no hammering today.
We made it to the Front Royal entrance without breaks,and took a quick minute or two there before turning around and heading back up the mountain for what would be a 7 mile climb with long steady grades of 6-7%. Once we hit the top, we took another quick break, refilled bottles, looked at the maps, and decided we would revisit the metric discussion once we made it to the highest point of the return leg(HogBack Overlook). 1 climb later we made one more very quick stop at Compton Gap because I forgot to throw out what was becoming a quickly growing pile of wrappers and we took off again. Some time later(around mile 44) we hit the high point of the return leg(Hog Back) and we both decided to go all in for the metric but we would need to make a stop at Elkswallow for real food and bottles. A couple of boxes of lunchables, a huge soft pretzel, and some potatoe chips between us strengthened our resolve. We had 20 miles to go, 18 would be rolling/flat with only small pitches over 3-4% before the last 2mile 7% climb back to Mathews Arm. The rest of the ride was uneventful, we didn’t make any more stops but did see a bunch of Bear, some deer, a few wild turkeys and a whole lot of bad drivers. Six and a half hours after leaving the campground we returned (ride time was 5:30). It was a tough ride but because we had ridden within ourselves and didn’t push the pace at all we both finished strong, no cramping, no soreness. Mission accomplished.
My nutrition plan was as follows:
4 bottles of Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem so 1 bottle every 1.5 hours.
5 hammer gels (1 every hour at the half hour marks and the final one before the last climb up to the campground)
3 bars ( 1 clif toffee peanut butter, 1 Honey stinger, and 1 bonk breaker PB&J)I ate ½ bar every hour at the full hour marks.
Troy’s was the same but substitute Accelerade for the perpetuem.
Heres the mapmyride.com of the route so you can see the climb stats. I dont use Garmin connect but here's the data from the software I do use:
Total Duration: 05:32:19 (Clock) 06:28:05
Total Distance: 63.43 miles
Average Speed: 11.45 mph Max: 44.45
Average Pace: 05:14 /mile Max: 01:20
Average Cadence: 83 rpms Max: 212
Calories: 3636 kcals
Average Heart Rate: 135 bpm (Z1.9) Max: 160
Average Power: 235 Max: 907
Total Climbing: 7968 ft
Please remember we purposely kept below our thresholds(Power and Heartrate) for the entire ride and only coasted the decents so that we could make the metric so that is why the numbers may seem artificially low.