A Page of Page

Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park, on a summer day

After the hottest July on record, it seemed prudent to spend the first Saturday in August biking at elevation. Skyline Drive!

My theory was to ride from Sperryville over Thornton Gap to the Page Valley for the morning, then return in the afternoon via Swift Run Gap and the Drive. The beauty of riding with a map but no cue sheet is, theories change. After hugging the west side of the Blue Ridge for 10 miles, I hooked east at Kite Hollow and climbed the switchbacks of Red Gate Road — part paved, part gravel — for nearly six miles up to Skyline, and a different season.

With temps in the 70s, the ridge was enveloped in mist so thick that I got rained on under every tree, from the condensation dripping off the leaves. There was no visibility to the east, whence the winds blew, and only occasional peeks into the Page Valley as I made my way south from Big Meadows. Beautiful as it was, it was a little tedious: the fog took away the vistas, leaving me savoring only the pleasant temperature. So I descended at Swift Run Gap west to Elkton, rode across the South Fork of the Shenandoah, crossed again at the town of Shenandoah and continued east, hard by the range back toward Thornton Gap. Up top, the ridgeline was bathed in sun. But to the west, clouds were gathering for rain later in the afternoon. A hundred miles and change, averging 12.0 mph: It was a lovely afternoon for climbing.

The pics are here.

Willow Grove Mill near Luray, a piece of the "breadbasket of the Confederacy," burned by Union troops in October 1864

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