Tuesday, August 6, 2013
I can’t believe it’s the 2nd to last day already! The day started with a little light rain, so it was nice that breakfast was in the hotel breakfast room again. We got on the road a little after 7 am again, and the rain stopped after less than an hour, although the skies remained overcast for the whole day, We were on busy Rt 33 heading out of town, approaching Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the last tough climb of the tour:
We crossed the Shenandoah River at the 14.5 mile mark:
and the road gradually turned up as we began the climb toward Skyline Drive. The climbing got steeper as we entered Shenandoah National Park, but of course the scenery was gorgeous along the way.
Another 2.5 miles of strenuous climbing, and we were at the top – the Swift Run Gap entrance to Skyline Drive:
Then it was one last exhilarating, winding descent through more forest:
before the rode gradually leveled out into more rolling Virginia countryside:
This first section of rolling hills seemed very tandem-friendly, and the miles passed quickly. After the first rest stop in Stanardsville, we left Rt 33 for some smaller roads, passing through Wolftown, where we recognized this convenience store from a couple of DCR brevets – we’re on some familiar roads again:
We also passed by James Madison’s Montpelier home:
We had a bit of confusion getting to the 2nd rest stop in the town of Orange – the signage wasn’t very good, and the cue sheet was a little confusing, but we escaped with only an extra couple of blocks, thanks to Veronica. Some other folks got pretty lost, so we lucked out there.
We noticed a lot of kudzu swallowing trees along the way:
Maybe these goats could help with this problem – goats eat anything, right?
We ran into some pretty heavy traffic in the town of Louisa, but made it through to the lunch stop in a park in Mineral – sloppy joes today with cake and coconut pie for dessert, yum!
We passed through Buckner, and another store that we use as a control on Lynn K’s fleche every year:
Shortly after that, as we were passing through Bumpass (great name, eh?), we had some excitement with a dog that had apparently broken its chain, and ran into the road right in front of us, barking menacingly. John and I were both yelling, at the dog, and at the owner to come get the dog. We both got off the bike, in order to keep it between us and the dog, and I squirted some Gatorade towards it. That seemed to do the trick, it ran away after that, the owner caught it, and we were able to continue on.
We were stopped for a short while by a train that arrived just as we got to the tracks:
Our last rest stop was shortly after that, and then it was only 20 more gently rolling miles to the finish. We stopped briefly to let Veronica use our pump on her flat:
and then finished the last few miles to the Hampton Inn in Ashland, VA, for a total of 122 miles for the day. Everyone seemed to be in great spirits as we finished up today – I think we’re all excited that we’ve almost finished this transcontinental bicycle journey, but also a little sad that the adventure is ending.