Thursday, May 27, 2010

Front Royal, Virginia

The elevation profile for our ride today. You can see how steep and how long that second climb was.

The same people who told us about the mountains between Elkins and Petersburg also said that it was all downhill to Front Royal, our next stop on this trip, I don't know what roads they were taking but they definitely weren't the ones we were on today.  Another 5000 feet of climbing later (Close to 20,000 feet in 3 days) we arrived in Petersburg, Virginia, our last night before heading to D.C. in the morning. After starting out the first 20 or so miles on pretty flat territory in a pretty tight paceline with a few of the riders things went up hill quickly. Pete and I got out front of the pack on the first climb and stayed in front all day, not even seeing anyone at the lunch stop where we took about a 30 minute break which never happens. It was a lot of fun to ride for four hours with one of my best friends on this trip and personally challenge myself to stay on his wheel as he is one of the best climbers I've ever met.  Their was really only 2 mountains between the two towns but one climb I'll remember forever occurred right at the border between West Virginia and Virginia.  4.5 miles, 30 minutes and a 9-10% grade the entire way had me questioning my ability to continue to move forward multiply times on the way up. I was dripping with sweat and breathing hard when I took those last few peddle strokes at the peak. We had a little celebration at the top as the support van was parked there and with the state border sign right there it was a great photo op. The descent was awesome, lasting about 5 miles with some pretty sharp turns but it started to pour as we began our way down so it felt like we were being pelted with tiny pebbles the whole way.  We went through some rolling hills and fought a pretty strong head wind the last few miles into Petersburg but still managed to arrive right around 1 pm.  During the afternoon we headed to yet another national park, Shenandoah National Park, home of skyline drive, a 105 mile winding road that rides the crest of the blue ridge mountains it's entire distance.  Due to some pretty crappy weather we only got to experience the breath taking views to about 1900 feet before we ascended into a cloud and couldn't even see the cars in front of us on the highway.  I'll definitely have to come back again some day to get the real deal because the small glimpse I got was awesome, and I can only imagine the beauty in the fall when the colors come out.  We all went to dinner at an old mill in historic downtown Front Royal before calling it a night to prepare for our big ride into Washington, D.C. tomorrow. Can't wait to make it to 'Merica's national capital! No Chain!

Not a warning sign you like to see

Pete Descending

Our winding road through the valley

Not my picture, it was too cloudy, but it gives you an idea of how awesome Skyline Drive is.

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