The Perfect Ride – 50 miles on the Skyline Drive

5 04 2010

12.8mph average.  That hurts the ego a bit.  But despite the bruised ego my Sat. bike ride was spectacular!  This was our first trip up to the Skyline Drive to bike.  When we lived in Roanoke it took us 20 min. to get up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and we could ride for miles and miles without stopping.  There were a few sections that got a bit heavy – traffic wise, but overall it was my very favorite place to ride.  Then we moved to the valley and I was forced to start biking on beautiful, but twisty-turney back roads.   Not the same as my beautiful top of the world Blue Ridge Parkway biking.

I bought my year-long entrance pass onto the Skyline Drive in October when I was on my son’s school field trip to Big Meadows.  I’ve been itching to get up there for some cycling, but the weather hasn’t really been within my comfort zone for top o’ the mountain riding.  Finally, 70’s and sunny was the forecast for Saturday!  Yippee – that’s biking weather!!

Getting all geared upT

We packed the kids up and dropped them off at my parents’ house (thanks Mom and Dad!!) and drove up to the Rte. 33 entrance to the Skyline Drive.  I drank a 2 scoop bottle of EFS, and threw down a 1 oz. shot of Liquid Shot since it was 11 am and I knew my stomach was going to start to get grumbly for some lunch soon.  On the way North to Skyland (our turn around point) it seemed like we did nothing but climb.  Nothing too steep, I think our max grade was 6%, but the 2 – 5%’s just went on and on.  I was thrilled when we reached Skyland right at the 25 mile mark and I felt great.   And I was sure the entire trip back was going to be down hill – so I was really excited!

Lounging at the Skyland rest stop

The view from Skyland

Nice wild hair sticking out of my helmet!

We grabbed some water at the Skyland gift shop and I mixed another 2 scoop bottle of my EFS (I had 1 2 scoop bottle over the first 25 miles, along with one bottle of water) and filled up my water.  I might or might not have also enhaled a bag of Peanut M&M’s, I’ll never tell.

So it turns out that 1. It’s not downhill for the whole way back and 2.  There a ginormous head wind on the way back that somehow you don’t get as a tailwind while heading North.  I was at times ducking my head and pedaling in my big gear downhill and only going 16 mph.   That was rough.   But hey, it’s those hard and suck it up kind of rides that we remember when it gets tough on race day so huray for suck it up hard riding!  By the time we finished we had covered 48.8 miles in just under 3:45.    Not the speediest ride every, but certainly one of the most scenic and memorable!

Check out that view!

I think I liked riding on the Skyline Drive even more than riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Traffic was very, very polite.  The speed limit was 35 for a lot of the ride, but the max was 45, so cars weren’t zooming by.  There was quite a lot of traffic since it was a holiday weekend and the weather was just gorgeous, but if that’s as bad as the traffic gets I’ll take it!  My goal for the year is to ride 1000 miles on the Skyline Drive.   We’ll see if I have the time for that, but I will definitely be up there every chance I get!




One response

5 04 2010

Wow. Awesome pics. Definitely nice enough scenery to justify going a little slower than usual. 😉

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