Sunday 19 August 2007

Skyline Drive Out and Back Do-it-Yourself Century Ride

50 miles out and then back, up and down

Taking advantage of the absolutely superb late summer weather today, Jeff, Tim and myself (Riders of Predominantly Black Bicycles) headed back to the Shenandoah National Park to do a serious ride on Skyline Drive. The start of the ride is around an hour and fifteen minutes from downtown DC.

The campaign begins in front of the park gates

Our plan to go from Front Royal, Virginia to Big Meadows was a great success. We rode 164 km (just over 100 miles) in 7:05, with around 3,600 m, or 11, 800 feet of climbing. As usual, Tim set up a pretty fast pace at the start of the ride but I was unprepared for our arrival at the first big summit, Hogsback, 23 miles into the ride. This was by far the best time I had ever done for this segment of the Drive, covering it in only 1:40! We were cooking. Of course later we would be cooked!

Tim climbs up to Hogsback

The weather was excellent, a bit on the cool side. This marked the first time Jeff and I had managed to get farther than the Skyland visitors' centre, which is actually the highest point on Skyline Drive at 3640 feet, and where the road is the oldest section of the Drive. We discovered that the nine miles between Skyland and Big Meadows are not flat in the least and we knew that coming back up Hogsback from the south was going to hurt a whole lot.

Gazing out at the Shenandoah Valley far below

We brought some Hammer Gel and Clif bars with us, and added to the sports drinks when we stopped briefly at Elkwallow and Big Meadows. So doing a century does not require much infrastructure or food stops. In addition, there was no need for cue sheets as it was pretty well impossible to get lost: enter the park in Front Royal, go 50 miles and then turn around!

"Bicycling" says riding the Blue Ridge is the best cycling in America--they might be right

I forgot to bring my camera, but Jeff has taken the pictures that you see here, and Mr. Garmin supplied the impressive elevation profile. We really needed our submarine sandwiches and beer at the end of this ride. My computer indicates I consumed 6,500 Kcal of energy during the ride!

Lost Boys on the Roll:
Sprocketboy and Tim/Sprocketboy and Young Jeff

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