After checking into the motel on my last riding day, and taking a quick shower, I walked across the street to a local pizza place. I ordered a pizza to go, and while waiting for it to cook I sat at the bar and sipped a beer.
Lesson #1: Don't drink alcohol immediately after riding your very first century, and before eating! I could barely walk straight. :-))
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderful cycling route. I only spent one day on the Parkway, and I definitely plan to cycle the rest of it someday. The scenery is wonderful, with enough variety to keep it interesting. Traffic, at least on the one day I spent on the Parkway, is very light. On the other hand, the Parkway does present some logistical challenges. Food sources and camping directly on the Parkway are spaced for the convenience of motorists, not cyclist. Since the Parkway follows the ridge line of the Blue Ridge Mountains, any time you have to go off the parkway entails a downhill run away from the Parkway, and therefore a tough uphill slog to get back onto the Parkway.
The Shenandoah Valley, too, is a wonderful place to tour. There are many points of interest I didn't visit during my trip. The valley is famous for its caverns. If you harbor an interest in the Civil War, even a casual one, then there will be much to keep you fascinated as you travel through the valley. While I did have the one unpleasant experience with an automobile driver while in Fort Valley, I found drivers in this part of Virginia to be wonderful for the most part. Sometimes people would be so reluctant to pass me that I had to wave them by in order to avoid having them following behind me for the rest of the day.
Some people had warned me about the dreaded RV's driving on the Skyline Drive. I rode from Front Royal to Big Meadows, the most heavily visited portion of the Drive, on a Sunday. While there was plenty of traffic, including camping trailers and RV's, I never had a problem. I think perhaps the key to getting along with these drivers is communication. I assume that the driver behind me hasn't a clue as to how to share the road with a cyclist, and try to position myself on the road in such a way as to clearly communicate my intentions and expectations. Whenever these large vehicles were overtaking me in an area which was unsafe to pass, I took clear possession of the lane until I felt it was safe for passing. Then, and only then, did I move over to the right. I never had a problem with impatient drivers. I like to think they understood what I was doing.
On the other hand, you must be careful in the tunnels. While there are signs telling drivers to turn on their headlights, most don't bother. Make sure you have a taillight on your bike, and don't depend on your reflectors to make you visible while going through the tunnels. I used a VistaLight attached to the back of my rack, and also waited until I was sure whatever car was approaching from behind had seen me before I started into the tunnel.
Contents © Copyright 1997 Allen F. Freeman