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Old 07-16-08, 01:02 AM   #1
JimF22003
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Skyline Weekend

This past weekend I did a ride I've been planning for and working towards for most of the summer. I wanted to ride Skyline Drive in Shenendoah National park (twice) over two days. I've ridden sections of it before, including a 101-miler in the center a few weeks ago, but I had never ridden the southern section.

My plan was to start in the middle, at Big Meadows. I booked a room at the lodge for Saturday night.

I started the ride from there about 7:15 in the morning, and headed south. The first stop was at Loft Mountain, about 30 miles. The turnaround was at the southern entrance of the park, at mile 105. Unfortunately there's not anything to see at that end without riding on into Waynesboro or Afton, so I just turned around and headed back after having lunch beside the entrance station. That meant the only food and water I had for the middle 50 miles or so was what I had with me on the bike. I had plenty of food, but was cutting it close with only two water bottles for 50 miles.

I ended day 1 clocking about 110 miles. I saw numerous deer, especially early in the morning, a small bear, and a couple of wild turkeys (I think ). I had a bit over 8 hours of saddle time, plus about an hour total off the bike rest time.

I got into the lodge about 5:00. I had big plans to go for a hike and wander around, but I was just too beat. Had a nice dinner in the old lodge dining room and hit the sack early.

Sunday I was up early again, and checked out by 6:00, and was on the road before the sun was completely up. The weather was kind of strange -- very dewy and humid, windy, but fairly warm. I was afraid it would be a cold start, but it was really very pleasant. My legs didn't feel pleasant though. I was really stiff and dead feeling for quite a few miles.

Although Sunday's ride was shorter, at about 102 miles, I think the riding was harder. Either that or my legs were just fried. No it was harder. The elevation went from a high of 3680 feet at Skyland, about ten miles out of Big Meadows, down to under 1000 at the entrance at Front Royal. And then I had to climb back. The second day's major climbs included a 5.5 mile stretch at the entrance of the park, and a 3 mile stretch (both directions) up Hogback. Both kicked my butt, frankly. I've done them before and did fine, but that was not on day two of a long, long ride!

I took almost as long to ride 102 miles on Sunday as I did to ride 110 on Saturday. The weather was threatening thunderstorms most of the afternoon. About ten miles from the end the fog and clouds descended on the mountain. It was extremely cool to see the clouds just DROP and ROLL down onto the road and then back up again. It got down to about 68 degrees at one point. But the rain held off -- until I was about a mile from home base at Big Meadows (of course.) At that point a huge thunderstorm opened up and I ended up doing the last mile completely soaked, standing up the long steep section back to the start. But it was great!

I was pretty beat on Monday morning, but now I'm thinking about doing it again
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Old 07-16-08, 05:31 AM   #2
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Old 07-16-08, 06:06 AM   #3
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What a fabulous ride

Did you take any pictures along the way?
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Old 07-16-08, 07:26 AM   #4
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great ride! Next time, you should book a room in Waynesboro... ride Front Royal to Waynesboro (and eat dinner at Scotto's) the ride from Waynesboro back to Front Royal. We do that pretty much every year (we call it the 'Tour de Skyline'). I have done it with as many as 35 people, with sag support (to carry clothes to Waynesboro), and with 2 others self contained.

I agree the northern half is tougher. A friend researched and found that the 2 day total exceeds 20,000 ft of climbing (includes dropping into Waynesboro and the climb back out).

you have done one of my favorite rides

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Old 07-16-08, 08:56 AM   #5
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Sounds like a good ride.

However, I think there should be a new rule in the 50+ forum: pics or it didn't happen.

We need that visual stimulation for vicarious living.
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Old 07-16-08, 01:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimF22003 View Post


It got down to about 68 degrees at one point. But the rain held off -- until I was about a mile from home base at Big Meadows (of course.) At that point a huge thunderstorm opened up and I ended up doing the last mile completely soaked, standing up the long steep section back to the start. But it was great!

I was pretty beat on Monday morning, but now I'm thinking about doing it again
"But it was great!" is my favorite part of the whole story. 212 miles, millions of miles of climbing, getting soaked a the end. "But it was great! I was pretty beat on Monday morining, but now I'm thinking about doing it again". What is wrong with us that we think this is fun?
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Old 07-16-08, 04:08 PM   #7
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BRPW and Skyline drive are national treasures and great biking roads.

I wonder if the "Cookie Lady" is still around just south of Afton, she use to hand out free cookies to cyclists.
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Old 07-16-08, 05:47 PM   #8
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My favorite pic from our 2007 climb out of Front Royal, in April (COLD, WWIINNDDYY, COLD).
I travel to Maryland from St. Louis quite a bit. Try to take the bike and do a 20 mile out and back when I have time to stop on the way. I've got 40 miles to go- when I get done, I'll have done the entire lenght twice. I can't imagine doing it in one shot- or two.

At one point, we were pedaling hard just to keep moving- DOWNHILL.
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Old 07-16-08, 05:58 PM   #9
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My favorite pic from our 2007 climb out of Front Royal, in April (COLD, WWIINNDDYY, COLD).
I travel to Maryland from St. Louis quite a bit. Try to take the bike and do a 20 mile out and back when I have time to stop on the way. I've got 40 miles to go- when I get done, I'll have done the entire lenght twice. I can't imagine doing it in one shot- or two.

At one point, we were pedaling hard just to keep moving- DOWNHILL.
Several times I took off from Swift Run Gap up to Skyland in early April or late March and got snowed on as I approached Skyland. I always loved that ride.
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Old 07-17-08, 02:54 AM   #10
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Thanks for the comments everybody. I'm still sort of "high" from it.

I know, I know on the pics. I just have never brought a camera along on a ride. I figured there were plenty of other pictures of Skyline Drive available. Maybe I should have stolen a couple

Buelito: thanks for the advice. I was thinking of doing something like that. Do you have a hotel to recommend? What was the group providing SAG support? I'd love to do something like that. If you don't mind somebody tagging along on your next group ride, let me know! I have a friend who travels to Staunton fairly frequently, and I was thinking of having her drop me off at the southern end, and riding to Front Royal, and taking a room there.

Does anybody know of a decent route for riding from Front Royal to Purcellville (where I can catch the W&OD to DC?) 55 from Front Royal to Marshall seems a little hairy in parts.

Mojo: I think I'm getting crazier as I get older.

cyclinfool: last I heard the Cookie Lady was having health problems, and was getting donation to help with her health care. Haven't heard an update.
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