Day 5 - Big Meadows, Skyline Drive, Virginia

Panorama (28K)

Today was the day of horrors. You know that rain that went through last night? It was followed by a day of frigid blasts of howling winds from the north. I'm way up here on Skyline Drive, and every time you get to a peak, the freezing wind almost blows you off the road. I feel like I'm skiing. I have to change clothes at the top and bottom of each hill. Sweat management is very important.

I am preoccupied with sweat management. I worry that all my clothes will be soaked with sweat and I will die of hypothermia. So at the bottom of a big hill, I take off a couple layers. Otherwise they will get soaked during the climb. At the top, I put the layers back on so I don't freeze on the descent. I have a set of clothes that I have decided under no circumstances will I wear them while riding. They will be dry so when I stop I will be warm until I get the tent set up and am safely in my sleeping bag.

It goes without saying that it's been massive hills all day. Today had 10000 feet of vertical climb. We're talking time in granny gear measured in hours. I can deal with that, except I go 4.5 miles per hour up the big hills. So I barely got into camp before dark. The standard Skyline Drive hill goes up 400 feet per mile. The first four miles are the first hill. There are a bunch more. Front Royal is at 700 feet. Big Meadows is at 3900 feet. There are lots of gaps where you go down and back up again.

Oh yeah, about Big Meadows. Due to the storm, there is no power. No showers. Allen's cell phone is dead, my cell phone is dead. I'm huddled in the tent, in the sleeping bag, freezing my fingers as I write this. Expected low tonight is in the lower 30s, the winds are still blowing, and it's about 40 now. Inside the sleeping bag is really nice. I am really loving my new REI +20 degrees down sleeping bag. If only I wasn't totally clammy due to no shower.

Also, I got no dinner, since the cafe is closed, due to now power. I had a late lunch, though, at the Skyland Taproom, and a two breakfasts at the cool Fox Diner in Front Royal. So I should be OK, assuming the power comes on and I can get breakfast. I have very little food with me at the moment.

This weather has to be an aberration. At every wayside, people offered me their sympathy. Here is a picture of me at a typical overlook, trying to look like I'm not freezing my ass off.

OldRag (42K)

And here is the actual route traveled.

Actual05 (241K)