Skyline Double - Northbound - Part 1
November 16, 2014
I'd love to start this off with "And after a good night's sleep, getting back on the bike was easy," but that wouldn't be true to what happened.
So I settled off to bed around 10ish...
.. And then the curse of being The Most Hydrated Man in America hit.
One issue I've had since losing 100 lbs is that all my guts and internal organs didn't shrink. Part of dealing with my diet, and being a fat guy in a skinny body, is I drink a lot of water instead of eating something. Instead of grabbing say a fig newton, or a handful of peanuts, I get a glass of water, or a Vitamin Water, or a coffee instead. Well, with all the water I had yesterday, that I didn't sweat out, had me waking up about every 90 minutes from my sleep to stumble in the dark into the hotel bathroom to get rid of it.
I really hoped this wasn't going to be setting the tone for the day; it would be pretty awful if I were having to stop every hour for a natural break.
After a breakfast consisting of oatmeal, eggs, and some bacon, I got semi-dressed and we loaded up and checked out of the hotel.
We drove up Interstate 64 up to the base of Skyline Drive. Again, I fully kitted up in a parking lot, this time at a small pull off. The difference for today's ride was that the wind had come up with a vengeance as compared to yesterday's fog-fest. I wore leg warmers today, arm warmers, and my Castelli jacket. It was chilly with the wind.
I found Mile Marker 105 that I missed yesterday.
I showed my newly minted parks pass at the gate, and then settled into the 5 mile climb up from the start.
After a nice downhill, there's this neat flat at Beagle's Gap -- It looks like you're headed into a tunnel of trees:
First stop was the same spot as yesterday's last stop; Moorman's River Overlook, a mere 13 miles in. I was supposed to ride up out of town, but since we got a later start than yesterday, we bypassed the big climb out of Waynesboro, as a 7-8 hour ride might not finish before sunset. This constraint added a sense of foreboding that I might not finish and we'd end up having to put the bike on the back if I couldn't. This never entered into my head yesterday; I was confident and so sure, I never once thought about the sunset.
Next stop was Dundo Picnic Ground. I was using the walkie-talkies to let my wife know what mile markers I was passing, and I passed her at some point, and though I called it out, she had left the FRS unit inside the car while she and my daughter stretched their legs.
So when I pulled into Dundo Picnic Grounds, I had not heard a word back from my wife. I tried to send her a text, but as I expected there as no cellphone reception. On the local bike forms, someone said that there was ample coverage; this was a lie.
So, I waited a bit. Used the restrooms to kill some time, and thought of my friend Phil, who had walked the entire Appalachian Trail.
This was just to be a restroom stop, so I did, and left, still trying to radio her, but I couldn't wait anymore if I was going to finish before sunset. Time lost: 10 minutes.
The next stop was just a few miles up the road, at the Big Run Overlook. I stopped, not to take pictures, but to text my wife, since I got a sliver of coverage. I finished the next 3 miles and stopped ant the scheduled bathroom break at Loft Mountain Wayside. My wife was still incommunicado. Now I was starting to worry if she or my daughter had hurt themselves at one of the overlooks. No coverage. One bar, no data, and I could not complete a call or send a text.
After using the bathroom, and buying a couple souvenirs, I finally heard my wife on the FRS. Seems that really these things have less than a two mile throw in the mountains. She told me that they had driven again, all the way back to the entrance and didn't see me. Then they stopped at Dundo, and I wasn't there, and eventually they caught up. After watching my daughter while my wife used the washroom, I got back on the road. Time Lost: 25 minutes.
Just up the road, we stopped at the Ivy Creek Overlook, supposedly a don't miss overlook.
I ditched the jacket at this point in time, the temperature was up and the wind, though still solid, was less cold than before. I still kept the leg warmers, and the arm warmers. Settled on the cycling cap instead of the thermal cap.
14 miles later, we met for lunch at South River Picnic Area. A wonderful meal of a PB&H sandwich and a Bison Pie spent with the family.
The leaves here were in prime color.
Though the worry was I was wasting time, there is no wasted time in the presence of this face. I would rather suffer the indignity of having to put the bike on the back of the truck than miss out on this experience.
Much fun was had playing in the leaves and sharing a meal. Time Wasted: None. Even though time was pressing, this was more important.
To make up the time, we ended up bypassing Lewis Mountain Store -- I was not in need of the restroom so close after stopping for lunch.
As I rode up towards Big Meadow and the visitors center, the traffic was increasing; I wasn't the only one who took Friday off to ride on Skyline drive. These visitors though were all on 4 wheels. So I radioed that we would not stop again, since Fisher's Gap was just 2 miles past... And I wasn't going very fast.
At Fisher's Gap, it was major refueling. I think this was the only time in the trip, both ways, that I was near the bottom of my second water bottle.
As we were standing talking about how I was doing and how my daughter was handling day 2 (she was currently asleep), we were treated to the second and last sighting of deer on the trip.
There were a couple more does at the exit of the overlook, so I radioed back so that my wife would go slow and not hit them.
Spitler Knoll Overlook was just a couple miles down the road.
But still, it was 2:30pm, and I was still 50 miles from the north entrance....
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