But everyone was busy this weekend, so it was time to suck it up. I thought about Ironman Ray's weekend jaunts to Skyline Drive, and thought, well, if he can do it, so can I. Because? I'm MENTAL! So I sent out an RFP to Ray for some advice. And he proposed this:
...start at the Dickey Ridge visitor center – milepost 4.5. This takes out the initial climb, but that’s all good [I'LL SAY IT'S ALL GOOD!] because you start at a nice facility (with a bathroom!) as opposed to a roadside nothingness.I WAS SO IN!
From there, pedal (or crawl as it may be) to mile 21, a high point, and then turn around and come back. I’d guess you’d be between 2:30 and 3:00 depending on how long it takes to get used to the hills [NOTE: I'M BACK AND I'M STILL NOT USED TO THE HILLS].
A general rule of thumb for Skyline drive is take your average speed and multiply it by .6-.75 to figure out how long it will take ya.
Finally, yup – perfectly doable by yourself. Most of the park traffic doesn’t really start rushing in until around 9:30-10AM, and even then it takes a while to make it in the park since the speed limit is 35MPH and people are stopping all the time to go to overlooks.
Skyline Drive follows the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles. But I thought the actual Drive itself was, you know, on top of the mountain. Like first you DRIVE up the mountain in your CAR, that thing with an ENGINE, and then hop out and ride a few hills.
My little car putt-putt-puttered on the way up-up-up into Shenandoah National Park. I wasn't sure it would make it.
But it did, and after scaring myself silly by driving a bit of the course, I parked at Dickey Ridge, pumped up the tires, donned the helmet, clipped in at 8:00 a.m. sharp, and set off on the most perfect summer morning, with bright blue cloudless skies and an empty park. I honestly didn't think I could do this, but told myself I could always bail (again with the positive self-talk. It's an art, people.)
Here's the elevation map:
Miles 1 to 16.5: 2 hours (to Hogsbreath Overlook, or whatever it's called)
Miles 16.5 to 33: 1:10!!!
Holy downhill, Batman. Sparks flew outta my brakes on the way down I was gripping them so hard. My hands ached. My life passed before me. I saw God.
But the way up was much easier than expected. Partly because I wasn't riding for time, and i wasn't trying to keep up with anyone. So yes, I rode 8 mph on the way up. But I never walked, never stood, and didn't fall over. Go me.
Up. Why is everything named after hogs?
Guess what? UP.
I have arrived at the Promised Land! Hogsbreath!
Wildlife that I managed not to kill. It was going faster than I was.
Me, courtesy of the friendly gent who offered to take my photo. Holding camera backwards. Um, fail, but it's kinda funny.
So to recap:
1) I can't wait to go back.
2) I can ride hills.
3) I can ride by myself.
4. I actually LOVE riding by myself.
More photos here.