My latest adventure down the west coast is now over. Posts are listed by date on the right. In a departure from previous years, I am not asking for donations. Instead, I will be making a sizable donation on behalf of my father-in-law, father, and all the wonderful people who have supported me over the years.

My rides will continue to make a difference in the lives of families fighting lung disease and to increase awareness about the importance of lung health. Follow along … Together; we are improving life, one breath at a time.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway: Days 1 - 2

Sorry for keeping you waiting ... internet and cell coverage/availability was pretty scarce in the Virginia mountains.  Finished day 3 today.  200 miles and 18,000 feet of climbing done.  On to the show ... here is Day 0 - Day 2:

Day 0 - Friday, May 4th

Jeff and Aila made it to Maryland around 1:30 after a traffic free drive from Connecticut. After a brief tour of Idlewhile, we were on our way south to Waynesboro to meet up with Joe and Karen.  Pretty smooth sailing past Harper's Ferry and Winchester before getting on 81.  A visit to this area is not complete without a stop at Dinosaur Land in White Post, Virginia.  The picture below was from my training day last week on Skyline Drive.

Dinosaurs on Bikes - Jeff and Mark?
The most exciting part of the drive was just after Mount Jackson, VA when we heard this loud thud on the top of the car.  Jeff and my heart skipped a beat as both of our bikes were on the roof rack.  I am not ashamed to admit the first thought through my head was "Please ... let it be Jeff's."  Thankfully, it was neither.  One of my bike tools had fallen out of my front storage bag.

Shenandoah Mountains and Mount Jackson Water Tower
We met up with Joe and Karen at the Days Inn, which was also home for the night to around 30 other cyclists.  The Reston (Virginia) triathlon club was doing their annual round trip on the Skyline Drive.  115 miles each way ... quite the work out.  Bonzai Sports provided the SAG support.  We had good conversation with several of them during check-in and at breakfast on Saturday. We had a nice dinner at a local Italian restaurant before turning in early.

Great Friends Ready for a Great Week

Day 1 - Saturday, May 5th

The Blue Ridge Park stretches 470 miles and ascends over 48,000 feet from Waynesboro, VA to Cherokee, NC.  Elevations range from under 1,000 feet (by the James River) to almost 6,000 feet (Mount Mitchell).  Our SAG extraordinaires, Aila and Karen, dropped us off with the sun shining.  That would be about the last time we saw it.

The SAG Team ... Thanks Aila and Karen

Jeff is Already Climbing
The Start to a Long, But Rewarding Day ... Note, Peak in Background
It turned misty, foggy, and then just plain wet as the went on.  The theme of the day was climbing and lots of it.  We really pushed ourselves mileage wise too.  All told, we rode 86 miles and climbed almost 8,300 feet.  My Garmin battery is loose and is turning on and off, then back on a lot, so the data is off by a little bit.

Click Here to See My Route and Data -- 05/05/12 Blue Ridge Parkway - MP0 to MP86

Lots of great overlooks with views of the Blue Ridge (when they were visible).  As expected, Jeff and Joe pushed up the climbs faster then me, but like they promised, they always waited for me at the top.  When the road turned downward, I often led us down the descents.  We all took it relatively easy with the wet conditions and limited visibility.  I still hit 50 mph at one point (Karen ... breathe).

The "Ridges"

Misty and Foggy, But Still Great Views
That's Me on the Big Climb
After a big 3,500 foot climb, we enjoyed a nice descent into the Peaks of Otter.  This is one of only a few full service lodging and restaurants on the Parkway. It was well worth the extra miles.

Peaks of Otter Lodge

Day 2 - Sunday, May 6th

Wonderful sunny skies greeted us for day 2. Another 6,100 feet of climbing in 68 miles (Garmin on/off/on lost about 2).

Click Here to See My Route and Data -- 05/06/12 Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 86 - 154

We passed through the Jefferson National Forest, past Roanoke, and up Roanoke Mountain before staying on the ridge for some "mountain rollers".  These are not like regular rolling hills where you get to stay in a higher gear and power over the hill (using the momentum from the previous descent).  Instead, you must shift down and climb, often several hundred feet.

Some highlights of the day ...

Titanium Jeff

Iron Man Joe

Amazing Scenery at Every Turn

I am Done for the Day
Love that Helmet Hair
The Good News and the Bad News
Our plan was to cover 68 miles (MP 86 to MP 154) and head to Floyd, VA for a hotel, but Karen and Aila overheard someone at one of the visitor centers raving about the Woodberry Inn just off milepost 174.  When I finished one of the climbs, Joe greeted me with the good news (a nicer hotel with it's own restaurant) and the bad news (another 20 miles of riding).  After two intense days of more than 150 miles and almost 15,000 feet of climbing, I voted to just bump ourselves (via car) up the road to the inn.  Jeff and Joe pushed on another 8 miles ... my body thanked me for 8 less miles and a couple climbs.

Day 3 was a walk in the park compared to the first two ... I'll post more on that tomorrow.

Good Night Moon ... Good Night Parkway ... Good Night Climbs ... Good Night Family ... Good Night Friends ...


  1. Sounds like you are enjoying the trip,also looks like it is very intense. For someone who is a little out of shape you are doing good and being smart. You go safe and say hello to Joe and Jeff and the girls. We thank them for their support......the old folks!!!

  2. Continued success on your trip. Hopefully you are not riding today...rain is everywhere in Blue Ridge. Please say hello to with him at IBM in Raleigh, NC area. Carol Carson..