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Shenandoah Valley?

Old 05-05-13, 06:24 PM
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Shenandoah Valley?

I'm thinking of riding Skyline Drive in Virginia. I've posted previously about the chances of arranging a shuttle ride back to my starting point.

Then I had a crazy (d'oh!) idea: what if I rode back to my starting point along a different route?

I'm considering riding Skyline Drive north to south (Front Royal to Rockfish Gap), then riding north along the nearby valley. I'd go from Rockfish Gap to Waynesboro, then north thru Luray (I remember the caverns there fondly, and they're big enough for tourists that I'd be able to find a motel) on my way back to Front Royal. Google is suggesting a route that's based on US-340 N.

Comments from those who have tried it -- or considered it and decided against it -- would be welcome.
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Old 05-05-13, 08:02 PM
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I haven't biked Rt. 340, but have driven it plenty of times. It's perfectly bike-able, but can be busy as times as it's the main N-S route through the valley on the east side of I-81. It has rolling hills, but none that even come close to what you'll do on Skyline Drive. It follows the Shenandoah River for much of the route you will be riding, and I recall that there are several campgrounds along the route (from memory). There are a few motels in Luray, a bunch in Front Royal, and likely ones scattered about along 340.
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Old 05-06-13, 04:07 AM
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I don't have a complete route mapped out in the valley from Waynesboro to FR, but it should be easily doable. You shouldn't need to ride on 340 the whole way. Also parts of Route 11 are OK for riding.

This includes Waynesboro to Harrisonburg:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/1508635

I do the section from Edinburg to FR all the time as part of the "SkyMass" route which you can google for. I highly recommend riding up Fort Valley.

But you can also ride up past the west side of Massanutten. From Edinburg take Stony Creek over to Back Road and follow that:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/2320359

I wish I had exact routes for the middle section from Harrisonburg north. I know I've ridden from Harrisonburg to Broadway before but I can't find a mapped route for it.
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Old 05-06-13, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by JimF22003
I highly recommend riding up Fort Valley
+1

Should you take the highways back north and you end up in Luray, from there take VA 675 (Bixler's Ferry Road) northwesterly over "Cat Back" mountain to intersect with VA 678 (Fort Valley Road) to join the second map of Jim F's links. A stiff climb out of Luray but gorgeous country roads all the way back to Front Royal
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Old 05-06-13, 06:44 AM
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340 is absolutely awful for cycling. Years ago, a friend & I biked down Skyline Drive to Swift Run Gap from Front Royal, then back up to Front Royal on 340. Never again. Lots of fast moving traffic, and a lot more hills going back north than we expected.
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Old 05-06-13, 07:27 AM
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Perhaps someone at Bike Virginia could help you with a route. Bike VA had a week long ride in that area a few years ago, and I know that we rode through Luray at one point. All of the roads we took were scenic and lightly traveled.
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Old 05-06-13, 09:17 AM
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I rode from Front Royal to the end of Skyline Drive plus the Blue Ridge Parkway to Buena Vista last July. Then I cut further west and came back north in or near George Washington National Forest. It was a great ride, nice scenery, little traffic. I found a map series that covered the entire trip in 4 maps and planned much of the route sans Skyline and the Parkway on the fly. I got the maps at REI.

Long story short - go futher west than 340.

You can park your car at the Front Royal Fire Department and they'll keep an eye on it for a small donation.
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Old 05-06-13, 11:41 AM
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not sure i would bike 340. Skyline has a low speedlimit and there are bikes up there all the time but 340 it narrow and has a much higher limit. Plus there are a lot of cars that use it as a main drag.
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Old 05-06-13, 12:34 PM
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The back roads in that area are terrific for cycling, although they're hilly enough that they'll punish you with a fully-loaded bike. You can patch together a route through various back roads that will be much less busy and more scenic than 340 or any other main road. It's an incredibly beautiful area, and one of my favorite to ride in. I've been hoping to make time for a bike tour down to Harrisonburg sometime this summer.

On the ride north, try riding through Fort Valley (just find it on Google Maps - near Front Royal). I haven't been through there, but I want to include it next time I do some riding in the area. Looks like a really cool, secluded little area between two mountains.
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Old 05-07-13, 10:54 AM
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I have done the skyline on a credit card tour stayed in Big Meadows Lodge and Front Royal and then turned around and went back to Big Meadows and back to the car- 4 days. I know most people don't like out and backs, but it was a good trip , in fact i have. reservations to do it again in a couple of weeks. Each day is about 5000 feet of climbing and the day out of Front Roayl to Big Meadows is the toughest. The waysides and the lodges are spaced out perfectly for meals and water. Like I said it was a credit card tourand I didn't carry much. Great trip love the Skyline drive, but watch out for the rangers they are tough - you need lights and to stay single file.

Whatever you do have fun!
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Old 05-07-13, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jeneralist
Google is suggesting a route that's based on US-340 N
Just for the heck of it I clicked on the "US 340 N" option on Google Maps bike directions. I followed it's mapped route north from Waynesboro to find that it indeed follows an intricate network of country roads avoiding US 340 entirely all the way to Luray. It's a typical Google bike route that in reality would be hard to follow with all it's twists and turns, but it sure looks like it would be fun to try if you have the time. I checked a few random locations with "street view" and it looks nice.

I see only one short jog on US 33. All the rest of the way to Luray it is county and state roads. From there to Front Royal it follows 340. You could take the "Cat Back" mountain option I mentioned in my first post to connect to Fort Valley back to Front Royal. Warning: I called Cat back mountain a "stiff" climb. It's been over 40 years since I've ridden it but I remember it more as a "brutal" climb with switchbacks!

Google Route is 80 miles, Fort Valley would add some to that.
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Old 05-08-13, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by BobG
Warning: I called Cat back mountain a "stiff" climb. It's been over 40 years since I've ridden it but I remember it more as a "brutal" climb with switchbacks!
I've never heard it called that, but I assume this is the climb over the first ridge of Massanutten Mountain after the turn from Egypt Bend Rd. Yeah, that's a serious climb for anybody, even on an unloaded road bike. Not mega-long, but it's very steep. Some of it is 12-15% for a good ways. It's worth it to get into Fort Valley though
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Old 05-08-13, 03:07 AM
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That's the one! You can see the cat's backbone from the satellite photo.......

https://goo.gl/maps/0WgPI
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Old 05-17-13, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by BobG
That's the one! You can see the cat's backbone from the satellite photo.......

https://goo.gl/maps/0WgPI
Wow! That 675 (Fort Valley Rd, Camp Roosevelt Rd) looks seriously impressive! I've never seen indigo on one of the elevation charts on MapMyRide before!

If I start up at Front Royal and skip Luray, I could get onto Fort Valley Rd at its northern end (at Strasburg Rd), When I get to the end of Fort Valley, I could cross over at Edinburg Gap Rd into Edinburg, or keep heading south along Camp Roosevelt, Hickory Lane, and Moorland Gap Rd into New Market. Suggestions?

And thanks, O Assembled Friends -- this looks like it's going to be good.
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Old 05-18-13, 01:39 AM
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You'll have lots o' fun! The climb over Edinburg Gap from Ft Valley is not bad at all. It's harder going WE than EW.

I use Camp Roosevelt to get to the route I posted over Massanutten, but haven't ridden further down to New Market, so I don't have personal experience with that. Should be fine though.
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Old 05-18-13, 04:27 AM
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Although most traffic is is now out on I 66, VA 55 (Strasburg Rd) is somewhat of a highway. Rt. 619 (Rivermont Dr becoming Mountain Rd) will take you to Fort Valley on back roads all the way from Front Royal with just a short hop on US 340 in FR. Follow Jim F's cue sheet in reverse from mile 78.9 to 70.2 if you're doing your valley ride from N to S.

Last edited by BobG; 05-18-13 at 04:33 AM.
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Old 06-23-13, 04:00 PM
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I've was on 340 last year for about 60 miles. The local drivers are some of the most aggressive I have seen. I felt I was in danger many times and was yelled at and honked at every few minutes. Yes, this was a Friday afternoon, maybe 3 ish but, come on. The pick up trucks were the worst.
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Old 06-23-13, 07:13 PM
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I've never been on Skyline Drive. I ride out-and-back day rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I like it; I get a chance to see stuff on the climbs that were a blur on the downhill in the other direction. I never feel like "boring--I've already seen this."
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Old 06-23-13, 11:30 PM
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The Appalachian Trail runs right through those towns so if you're into backpacking and can take the time you could possibly hike back.

Or just hitchhike. Hitchhiking in that area is really easy since they're used to backpackers.
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Old 06-24-13, 05:10 AM
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To throw another wrench into the mix: you could also ride the east side of the Blue Ridge. Others here seem to have good info for the Valley; all I can say is 340 doesn't sound fun but I know there are goo roads out there. Usually either up against the Blue Ridge (parallel to 340) or over the next hill into the Alleghenies.

But back to my original comment: on the east side of the Blue Ridge, you follow 810, a lovely road, all the way to 33. From there, you have the option of crossing back over to the valley, or going to Madison and 231. I've never ridden 231 so I can't comment on its suitability for cycling. Finish off with 522, which is four lane but with a decent shoulder, I think.

I can provide more details if needed.

When are you going to do this?
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Old 06-24-13, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Pedaleur

When are you going to do this?
Um, two weeks ago.

Trip report went up over in Clydesdale section: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/894705-Ride-Report-Vacation-in-Shenandoah
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