Wind & Fire
We had some horrendous wind on Friday, with gusts up to 60 and 70 miles an hour. In addition to putting a bunch of schmutz on the road (branches, leaves, other unidentified detritus) it caused a lot of roadside fires.
Yesterday, I went to ride Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. I didn't think to call ahead for the road conditions, but when I got to the park I found that the road was closed.
It turns out there had been a bunch of roadside fires, and the road was closed to vehicles. Luckily they were letting bike riders and hikers through. So the bad news was the fire, but the good news is I had the road almost entirely to myself except for an occasional park service ranger or fire truck.
Had to be very careful though because of the "schmutz" issue. Mostly it was just lots of branches, but there were some downed trees that were covering most of the road.
It looks like the fire damage wasn't too bad. Mostly it was just the underbrush, but there were some burned large mature trees as well. The fire was from about milepost 9 to 14, so it went on for a long ways. The smell of smoke was still in the air, and at one point I actually saw some puffs coming from a burned out area, which I reported to the rangers.
The rest of the ride was uneventful. It got warmer and warmer, though still a bit windy, as the afternoon went on. I ended up with about 72 miles, and close to 7K of climbing. Luckily I had a beautiful tailwind on the way back. I needed it too, because I was really gassed!
It's not spring yet, but I can see it from my house. Lets hope we can have it without the wind and the fire though!
Glad you had a nice ride free of cars. Something similar happened in the Northwest a few years ago, in addition to branches and trees on the road, we had to contend with downed telephone/power lines.
Having the road to yourself... making the best of a bad situation. Nice ride and climb. We're seeing a few glimpses of Spring in these parts as well.
Great ride Jim! I long for the day when I can do 7000 ft of climbing again.
Were the fires caused by cigarettes????
Interesting time of year and weather conditions to have a fire. It looks like a fire deliberately set to improve the forage for deer. If fire, as a natural part of the life cycle of a forest, is excluded, then the shrubs get too tall for the deer to eat, and the ground vegetation changes from sun loving plants to shade tolerant species.
Wether natural, or deliberately set by the rangers, this fire will be an improvement to the park. Watch it green up in the spring ad see if the large trees survived.
That's how the BRP is when it's closed to cars. You have to be very careful, especially on the descents not to run over something and cut a tire. The cars keep the road clear but I'll take the trade off and ride around some debris to have the road to myself.
This is our fire season in the Southeast. The atmosphere is usually very dry and the winds can desiccate the leaves left on the ground from the Fall. Add to that human carelessness and it's very common to have wildfires.
Originally Posted by skilsaw
I never found out what caused the fires. I assume it was related to the winds, but I don't know if it was from a cigarette, or from lightning. I doubt they would have been intentionally burning the undergrowth in those winds though! There was no serious damage to the woods that I could see, unless it was well off the road. It should clear things out nicely for the spring growth.