Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Skyline Drive: Two Days, 160 miles, 18,000 feet of climbing

Our last big training ride before our vacation was this past weekend. We rode Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park from Front Royal to Loft Mountain on Saturday, a distance of 80 miles, with over 11,000 feet of climbing. It was hot, with temperatures in the 90s. The park was busy and drivers were pretty impatient, unwilling to wait the ten seconds for oncoming traffic to clear before passing. But wildflowers were blooming all along the side of the road and there were lots of butterflies. When we entered the South District, we left the hard climbing and the traffic behind. The very end of Saturday was a struggle since I got a bit dehydrated, but we did it.

We camped at Loft Mountain and Sunday morning, got up and rode back to Front Royal. Eighty more miles and 7,000 feet of climbing. Sunday was even hotter than Saturday, but I had a pretty good day. There was less climbing and more importantly, less traffic. Pedaling along in the south district before people started coming into the park was about as pleasant and peaceful as it gets. Just south of Skyland, we were lucky enough to see a bear turning over rocks in the woods beside the road. Overall, it was a great ride in spite of the heat and a few impatient drivers.

Pictures (click to enlarge):

Lilium superbum (Turk's Cap Lily) along the Drive.
Old Rag from Pinnacles Overlook, 35 miles into Saturday's ride.
A meadow full of flowers near Big Meadows, with Old Rag in the distance.
My bike in front of the meadow.
A butterfly on Monarda media (Purple Bergamot)
The last 15 miles to go on Saturday.
Sunday morning from an overlook in the South District.
Looking north from one of the last overlooks in the south district. The haze made for a very pretty view.
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's Lace)
Final mileage at the car.

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