Monday, August 6, 2012

The Weekend Double

I actually got out for not one, but TWO rides this weekend.

Imagine that!

I only took pics during one ride, so you'll just have to trust me.

Saturday morning I was faced with a dilemma. Hubby was still under the weather. He caught a cold en route to San Diego and had pretty much been coughing and sneezing all week. Coughing and sneezing is no fun under normal circumstances, but it is REALLY inconvenient when wearing a full-face helmet. So he didn't want to ride.

He said I should go without him. I felt guilty abandoning him, but he said he would've felt bad knowing I'd stayed home because of him.

Who am I to make the poor guy feel worse? So off I went.

I had enough sense to leave early since it was supposed to be hot. Again.

I had not planned a route. With the impending heat in mind -- it was already around 80 F (26 C) as I was leaving town -- I decided to head toward the mountains.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ― John Muir
All I could think of was finding shady roads. Then I remembered that my national parks pass was still good through the end of August. And Skyline Drive, which is in Shenandoah National Park and pretty much traverses mountain ridges for 100+ miles, is always cooler than the valley. So that's where I went.

Knowing I'd to get to ride US-211 through Thornton Gap was an extra-added bonus.

Because 211 is one of the few highways crossing the mountains, it does have to handle all sorts of traffic, such as trucks, campers, buses, etc. Fortunately, the road widens to three lanes on both sides of the summit, with two lanes for ascending traffic and one lane for vehicles on their way down the mountain.

Which is good, since so many American drivers are complete boneheads and cannot (or will not) comprehend the concept of Keep Right Except to Pass (KREP). They think the left lane is the "fast lane" and believe that their speed, no matter how fast or slow, is just fine. Even when climbing mountains and the right lane is specifically designed to accommodate slower-moving traffic, you get asshole drivers like this guy from Ohio...

... who is not only going slower than me, but is also having a hard time negotiating the curves and keeping to his lane.

That's dumb. Not to mention unsafe.

Wouldn't you rather stay as far to the right as possible to give opposing traffic, which could easily be careening downhill out of control, the widest berth possible?

Lucky for me, I got around him.

And before I knew it, I was at the park entrance. There was a line -- boo! -- which really sucked in the sun. But I only cooked for about five minutes.

And then I was greeted by this happy gal.

I love US Park Service rangers.

I hopped onto Skyline Drive headed south. Elevation at the gap is about 2,300 feet. From there, the road starts climbing immediately, but gradually, to about 3,400 feet.

The higher I got, the cooler it got. I was a happy girl.

I'll take blue skies and temps in the mid-70s (20-25 C) any day.

Alas, mountain weather is fickle.

What's that I see ahead and to the left? Clouds?

Yep. Thems definitely clouds.

It actually looked quite interesting. Blue sky everywhere else except for this one mass of clouds rolling in. They didn't look like rain clouds, but it was definitely getting cloudy.

Check out the view from the next overlook.

Looking a tad to the right, I could still see a bit of blue sky.

But not much. Weird, eh?

Temps dropped to about 70 F (20 C?) for a while, which was fine by me. Cool chicks like me do what we can to maintain our coolness.

But, soon enough, this is what greeted me...

Can't complain about that!

I really like that riding into the sky image.

There was lots of shade, too. But the big, blue sky shots are more-interesting. In my opinion.

As an aside... I'm trying to decide if I should adjust the helmet cam more so as not to catch any windshield in my picture. Some shots are better without the windshield. For some, the windshield lends that rider-point-of-view feel. I can always crop the windshield out, as I did in many of the pics in this post. But that just means more editing time required.

What do y'all think?

With windshield?

Or without?

This is the exact same image as above, but with the windshield cropped out.

I kind of like how the crop makes the image feel really wide.

Decisions, decisions...

Do let me know what you think.

Once I hit US-33 and refilled my gas tank, I'd hoped to hop over into West Virginia across that 7.6-mile stretch of US-33 I told you guys about previously...

View Larger Map

...which is our new favorite stretch of road on the planet.

But the Weather Channel told me, via the smart phone, that thunderclouds covered that stretch of road. Adding another couple hours of riding to get to wet roads just didn't sound like a great plan to me. So I headed for home. The ride south along Skyline Drive was so lovely that I turned around and came back the exact same way.

Both of those decisions were good ones. Because in the valleys, it was HOT. So hot, that once I came down off the mountains at Thornton Gap, I took the speediest route home.

After stopping here, that is.

I just had to investigate the "Complete Restroom."

What a letdown! It was completely unremarkable. And teeny-tiny. But at least the place had A/C.

It was only about a 30-minute, high-speed run that was highway all the way (four-lane [two on each side], not interstate) to get home. Upon arrival, my head was drenched in sweat. Yuck.

I wasn't exactly comfortable in the jacket, but enough air moved through the mesh to make it tolerable.

Sunday, Hubby was feeling better, so we both left the house early enough that we did about 80 miles, stopped for lunch, and still made it home by about 1:00 PM. Which is good, because it had started getting hot again.

Yes, it's good riding if you plan properly, but am I ever looking forward to Fall!


SonjaM said...

Can you hear me shouting my Ah's and Oh's? What a lovely outing. Bummer that hubby was down with the sniffles, but sneezing in your helmet... not fun. Glad he's feeling better to join you on the second ride.

VStar Lady said...

What a terrific ride. And about cropping the photos, both ways have their pluses; the windshield kind of gives the photo a frame of reference, the cropped photo is scenic. I enjoyed them both. Thanks for sharing.

bluekat said...

Fantastic scenery and what a road!
I like both types of pics. Sometimes you just want the scenery, but sometimes it's good to add a windshield, or other portion of the bike for perspective. Nice job!

ToadMama said...

Thanks for the comments, ladies. This really is a pretty area. Skyline Drive isn't my favorite road, mainly because of the 35 mph speed limit which is hard for me to maintain, but it was nice and cool. I may just leave the camera as is and crop the windshield out when I need to. You can always take away, but adding back in is really tough!

Fuzzy said...

33 is awesome :)

I go through the same thing with the GoPro shots. I think i like seeing your dash because it is like a visual cue that I'm "riding along with you" and it helps me relate to the picture better.

Kenny and I once had a cop on Skyline nearly spontaneously combust on us for speeding. They have ZERO sense of humor. Now i just avoid it each time, which is a shame because it IS a nice ride. Just too tempting to ride over the limit. Even if you were doing say 50mph - you aren't FLYING but it would be a hefty ticket. No thanks.

Trobairitz said...

Beautiful pictures. You sure live in a lovely area.

I like both pics and I think having some of each in the post is a great mix. It adds perspective to have the dash in there, but as you said it looks wider without it too.

What is it with people thinking the left lane is just there for them no matter the speed? We ran into this a lot going to Seattle this weekend on the Interstate. Luckily we were in the car, but it is still frustrating.

Hope hubby is all better now.

bobskoot said...


seems that we have the same idiots here. I like the law where you have 3 or more cars behind that you have to pull over. we also have those cagers stay put in the fast lane when they are not going fast, or are just travelling the speed limit. What ever happened to "slower traffic to the right lane" signs I used to see.

Nice to see you out on the road enjoying your 2 wheeled freedom instead of locked up inside to escape from the heat

Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

anusha bizconn said...
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ToadMama said...

Fuzzy, I've never been stopped. And I can't go 35. It's just impossible. I'm not flying like a crock rotchet, but 40 or 45 is so much easier to maintain. As for the pics, I guess I've decided to keep it as is. I can always crop the windshield out, but it would be a real PITA to add one in.

ToadMama said...

Brandy, those left-laners make me CRAZY. Hubby is better, but now I got the cold. UGH. Summer colds SUCK.

ToadMama said...

Bob, I like that law, too! People don't realize what a danger they are creating by blocking that lane. Middle-laners might even be worse. I still see those "slower traffic..." signs, but am convinced everyone just thinks, "Slow? I'm going 2 miles over the speed limit, that's not slow." Or something like that.