Day 5 or the 28th of August started in Roanoke with plans of making it to Rocky Knob, and we almost made it. The thing is that the climb turned out to be as hard as the day before, which we did not expect, and Tuggle Gap appeared as a beautiful oasis and perfect stopping point. We were both willing to keep on riding and it was only a few miles more but we would have had to camp and we did not have much food. Tuggle Gap on the other hand had a restaurant, hotel and just looked like the right place to stop. If ever do this ride again, I will make sure that I stop here again.
Link to map and additional info: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161742359
Started the day off crossing the James River at the lowest part of the Parkway and headed up to the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia. This meant a long slow climb but it ended up being not so bad, well….. at least not so bad until we ran out of food. We had stopped several times on the climb to eat but at about 5 miles from our next food stop we ran out of food. This meant sugar low struggle to get to the Peaks of Otter lodge, which had a great restaurant and deli. When we arrived we attacked the deli first and then took a table at the restaurant. We spent too much and at too much but it felt good and tasted good.
After eating too much and a little rest we headed for Roanoke, which was mostly down hill. We arrived late in the day and there was a ton of traffic so instead of searching for a great campsite we just settled for camping off the road back in the woods. Other than some strange noises and a not very flat camping area the night was good.
As usual, you can check out a map of our route for the day and other information here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161670151
Day 3’s route was from Waynesboro to the James River campground, which made it the longest day distance wise, but it turned out to not be the hardest day. Find a link to a map of the route here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161661027
We stopped early on at an overlook and met 2 guys, Doug and Craig who were getting ready to do some rock climbing. We asked them where and they simply said right it had Raven’s Roost overlook. They showed us to the start of the climbs, let Bill jump on a climb they already had set up and gave us directions for a nice little climb that we did in 3 pitches with our short 55 foot rope.
Because we spent 2 hours climbing we made it to the campground around dark. It was an ok place, with a fire ring with wood in our campsite. We cooked up some country ham we had been carrying for a few days over the fire and fell asleep after a full day.
The day started great in the Big Meadows campground. Not only is it a nice campground with showers and laundry it also has the Big Meadows lodge which has a great breakfast.
The ride for the day was pretty easy since the day before we did all the climbing and this day we mostly went down hill. A link to maps and more information about the climbs etc.. is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161649707
At the end of the day we stayed in an ok hotel called the Colonial House just off the parkway on the way into Waynesboro. At the hotel we met 2 women from the Northeast who were finishing up there ride across the US. They had started in Northwest been all across the US in more states than I can count and were few days from finishing up. They made our little ride look like nothing. Super impressive!! I wish I had taken their picture.
Day 1 was an all day climb from Front Royal to Big Meadows on Skyline Drive. We did not know it at the time but this would be our hardest day with over 50 miles of riding and 8000 feet of climbing. The day was hard but Bill was strong and had to push me along a few times. We were not managing our food in take very well and I kept bonking. At one point we were pretty much out of food and had no energy left but lucky for us at the bottom of the food box was a tube of agave and maple syrup. We downed it like some sort of power gel and it worked wonders to get us to our destination.
The weather was great minus a little rain that stopped right after we got our rain gear out. The heat and humidity had already soaked us, so the rain was nice.
We carried a lot of water but for the most part there were several good places to get it all along the way. The facilities on Skyline are great. The Blue Ridge Parkway also has nice facilities but they are much more spread out.
Our campsite at Big Meadows was wonderful. It had showers, laundry, bear boxes etc…. There is also a very nice lodge there. We saw a family of bears as we entered the area which was exciting. Also along the way we saw very tame deer on the side of the road and we had a small snake climb on to Bill’s wheel trying to escape the heat of the road.
All and all a good day but hard. Attached is a link to MapMyRide where you can see the details of ride on a map. The time it took and the exact mileage may be a little off. http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161642599
I am glad to say that this summer’s sufferfest is over and I survived. My old friend, Bill Irving had this great idea to ride all of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our original plan was to do it with a group of people and a sag wagon but when that didn’t work out we set out on our own. Without the sag wagon we decided we wouldn’t have time for all the parkway but we could at least make it to Asheville to pick up a rental and head back north. At the last minute while packing we decided to throw in some climbing gear just in case we got the urge to do some climbing. Well the climbing ended up becoming a great distraction.
Our total trip was around 14 days and we did a little over 500 miles or 800 kms, we climbed on the loaded down bikes over 59 thousand feet or 18 thousand meters and managed to do 8 different rock climbing routes.