We had a delayed start today because of the weather. The Park Service won’t let cyclists ride the parkway in dense fog and that’s what was up there at 7:30am. Mike drove the van up there to verify it, and when he came back he told us all to have a second breakfast or a quick nap. Our new departure time was 8:30am. Randy, Beth and I bounced around the hotel room and took our luggage down to load into the cargo trailer about 15 minutes early. We did pull out of Lexington as soon as we could and started out for a big day of climbing. There were two extended climbs — the first was up Old Buena Vista road up to the on-ramp for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The second one was after we were on the parkway for a bit. That climb took us from the lowest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway (~700′) to the highest point, ~3,400′ (in Virginia, that is). On the way to the first climb, David came across a sign in front of a senior living center that confused, concerned both of us. Clearly we won’t be staying there when we get older! The fog was still hanging around as we rode up to the Parkway. There were some big trucks out there, but the drivers in Virginia have been extremely patient with us and generally wait behind us until it is clear to pass. Of course, it would be pretty dangerous to pass us since the roads are very windy and with all the trees in the way, they often can’t see very far in front of us. Nothing like Colorado where cars hardly ever wait behind a cyclist. Maybe we need to plant more trees in Colorado. 😉 The bridges up by the parkway are very ornate rock structures. The trees that lined the on-ramp were being smothered by Kudzo (sp?). That stuff is EVERYWHERE! I was careful never to stop for too long for fear it might start doing the same thing to me! There were very few cars on the parkway. Commercial vehicles are not allowed and with school back in session, there weren’t very many summer vacationers around. I loved the climb. All my senses were stimulated on the ride. There was a very rich, earthy smell of decaying leaves and other organic matter. There were birds chirping and the sound of trees brushing against each other and of water falling from their leaves. We were riding up a 6-9% grade most of the way but I was enjoying my surroundings so much at times, I forgot I was even pedaling. By the time we were a few miles from the summit, the fog started to get rather dense. My super-duper rear blinky light was on as was the front light I used when I rode to work in the dark. I was as visible as I could be. I took a shot of a couple or riders who were ahead of me. Their lights weren’t quite as super-duper as mine. I love my lights!
Mike almost pulled us off the parkway at one point. Lucky for all of us that the fog situation got markedly better about that time and we were all allowed to continue on to the top and then down the other side to our destination, Peaks of Otter Lodge. Great view of the mountain lake from our room, beautifully kept grounds and there was a musical duet playing by the bridge when we rode up. All very cool.