Weather: Upper 60s to start. Upper 80s to end.
There was fog first thing this morning. Not terribly thick, there was just enough to obscure the mountains and kill the sunrise shot (sorry, will have to get that next time). There was also enough for the rider leader to be concerned about riders’ safety, so Mike headed out to check the first 10 miles up to the Parkway. After a 20 minute delay, we were off!
There was a 7 mile rolling warm-up before we hit the climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then it was 3 miles of 7-8%. It wasn't exceptionally steep but it was certainly steep enough to get our attention and slow us down. Once on the Parkway, we had this silly notion that the climbing would settle down a bit. It did in terms of grade but we kept going up for the better part of the first 30 miles. A rough rule of thumb is that if you are averaging 100’ of climbing per mile, you are definitely working. Our SAG stop was at mile 27. In those first 27 miles, we climbed over 3700’. I think it’s safe to say that we were really definitely working. Final cumulative vertical climb today was about 5400’. Nearly all of that climbing was completely in the first 40 miles. The benefit of this was a mostly downhill run for the last 18 miles. Milk shakes earned with climbing and wahoos shouted on the descent. Not bad at all.
Besides the climbing, we had more beautiful views today. We were back up on the Parkway after 3 days of rollers in the Shenandoah Valley. Vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys below meant more stops for photo ops. We even found a barn or two up near the Parkway so our barn-o-holics could get their fill of pictures too. There was a rumor of a waterfall at one of thepull-offs. Unfortunately, it was on a downhill stretch and I think the riders were having too much fun descending to stop. We did find the 20-Minute Cliff overlook. This cliff was (is?) used by farmers in White Rock as a time piece of sorts. In June & July, when the sun hits the cliff, folks knew that dusk would fall on the valley below in 20 minutes. The sign states it was used by those out in the field “choppin’ corn.” That was our local fun fact du jour.
A left off the Parkway and it was downhill into Waynesboro. We had our last group dinner and said our formal good-byes tonight. I’m sure there will be lots of hugs tomorrow. This tour has gone by so quickly. It is “only” 12 days long but 12 days with lots of climbing. I think some legs will be happy to take a day or two off the bike but not until after tomorrow. Tomorrow we ride into Charlottesville and close the loop.