Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

As earlier stated, I decided to take the drive to Fort Knox for my summer internship a little slowly by stopping in the mountains in western Virginia for some hiking/cycling/running.

It was a very good decision.

I left Friday morning and made the four-hour drive to Buena Vista, VA, where I hiked the Appalachian Trail up and over 4054′ Mt. Pleasant. It was a great day weather-wise and the scenery was immaculate.

There weren’t that many people out, but I did pass a southbound thru-hiker. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but he must have left Maine crazy early; SOBOs wouldn’t normally be passing through the area for another couple months, to say the least.

I did about four hours of hiking out-and-back, drove in to Buena Vista to scout out where I could leave my car the next morning, and then drove back into the George Washington National Forest, where I found and followed an obscure gravel path into the mountains.

About five miles later, I came across pretty much the perfect camping area, right next to this bridge.

There was on other family there, but things were pretty quiet initially. After killing the time reading by the river, I fell asleep wicked early. Around 4:30 am, I woke up and decided I didn’t really want to sleep anymore (perhaps the other family did too, as they had a raging bonfire going at that hour…), so I packed up in the dark and drove into Buena Vista, catching the sunrise along the way.

After waiting for it to become light enough, I abandoned the car in a grocery store parking lot, prepped the bike, and started cycling up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Easier said than done.

Getting to the Parkway from town meant cycling four miles uphill with an eight percent grade. It was probably the toughest part of the day, but that way it felt like I’d earned the views once I got up there.

I did about 20 miles out and back on the parkway. It was mostly downhill on the way out, and mostly uphill on the way back. Turned around where the parkway goes over the James River.

Traffic was quite light due to the early hour; in fact, I probably saw more cyclists than cars. The parkway is definitely something of a cycling mecca: low traffic and speed limit, even road surface, and nice descents and climbs.

Once I got back to Route 60 and got off the Parkway, it was all downhill to Buena Vista. In fact, I think I averaged 35 mph without pedaling once. Quite the exciting ride; lots of twists and turns and I was pretty much going the speed limit, so I just took the lane and cruised. Very nice.


The four Adventure Cycling Maps that I ordered have come in, so I’ve been able to get an initial look at where August’s St. Louis to Newport News, VA bike tour will take me through.

Having to plan my own route between Sag Harbor, NY and Durham, NH for my first bike tour took quite a bit of time, so I’m glad I can ride the Adventure Cycling Association’s TranAmerica Trail for most of this ride.

I wasn’t really sure what these maps would contain (besides, well, a map), but they manage to pack quite a bit of information into a small package.

On one side, you have the section of the route (which is typically around 300-400 miles) broken into 30-40 mile chunks, with a corresponding map and set of directions for each chunk.

On the other side, you have a guide to services (food, camping, bike shops, libraries, etc) in each area. You also have a “field notes” section with some historical and geological information about the region. Finally, at the top, you have an elevation profile for that map’s section.

So that’s what’s contained in an Adventure Cycling Map, if you were wondering.

Anyway, I’ve bought four maps, which span from Girard, Kansas to Yorktown, Virginia. I’m starting from outside St. Louis, not Girard, but I should meet up with the route within 100 miles (at the most). I’ll figure out that route at some later date. The specifications of that addition will determine the exact final mileage for The Grander Tour, but it looks like we’re looking at about 1,250 miles.

Some towns that you may have heard of that I’ll be going through: Carbondale, IL; Owensboro, KY; Berea, KY; Damascus, VA (where the route intersects with the Appalachian Trail); Charlottesville, VA; Williamsburg, VA.

It’s still a long way off, but it’s nice to have something to pore over. Getting reacquainted with the road bike now that I’m home. It was a pretty busy spring and I haven’t really been on it.

The Grander Tour: Maps

Posted: May 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Bought maps 9-12 today.

The Grander Tour?

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last week I found out that I’ll be spending the months of June and July interning at Fort Knox, Kentucky. It’s a pretty cool opportunity that I’m looking forward to, but I’m also excited about another thing:


Last summer, I had five days between the end of my employment on Long Island and when I needed to be at UNH.

I rode my bike. And I called it “The Grand Tour.”

This August, we have “The Grander Tour.”

Here’s the thing: the car I’ll have for the summer will need to end up in St. Louis, where my dad is residing at the moment, and I’ll need to be at home in Newport News, VA to prep for traveling to New Zealand. So what makes more sense then driving the car from Fort Knox to St. Louis and then riding my bike home?

To paraphrase my dad: “Well, I never would have thought of it, but I can see why you would.”

I know I need some endurance challenge, some feat to define my summer and provide many a day’s worth of motivation. I thought about trying to run my first 100 miler, because I think it would be cool to do one become I turn 21, but I’m really liking this idea right now, given the amount of time I have. Things are only in the very basic planning stages, but everything has to be at that stage at some point.

The route above isn’t exact; it’s just for illustration purposes. Realistically, I think it would make sense to ride south from St. Louis until I hooked up with the TransAmerica Trail, one of Adventure Cycling’s Route. I could take that through Kentucky and Virginia (it happens to end in Yorktown, VA, about 20 miles from my house). The entire trip would probably be in the neighborhood of 1,100 miles – nothing to shake a stick at.

I enjoy the challenge that is fitting in various crazy feats while still being a functional member of society. I like to see that balance between work and play. When I rode from Sag Harbor, NY to Durham, NH last August – a roundabout route of about 375 miles in 4.5 days – it was seriously one of the best stretches of my life. I want to do that again.

I think riding from the Mississippi to the Atlantic would be a pretty solid reprisal.

For more info on last August’s tour, here’s the links. You can read about how much McDonald’s I ate, the sketchy New Hampshire town where I camped next to a cemetery and how I ate ice cream with a 2:33 marathoner, among other things:

5.18.10: The Grand Tour?

8.5.10: The Grand Tour: I Bought a Yak

8.10.10: The Grand Tour: The Experimental Overnight

8.18.10: The Grand Tour: Route Planning

8.21.10: The Grand Tour: Day 1

8.22.10: The Grand Tour: Day 2

8.23.10: The Grand Tour: Day 3

8.24.10: The Grand Tour: Day 4

8.25.10: The Grand Tour: Day 5