By "solo" i mean practically by myself! I had a truly fantastic, unhindered ride along the scenic, twisty, curvy, BRP & Skyline Drive. I honestly cannot imagine it happens very often that you get this road to yourself. Sure, OK- maybe the folks who live in the area and ride it all the time get some moments. But us schmoes who are passing thru? No WAY. I got lucky. VERY lucky. It was AMAZING.
The "back story":
I have an elderly relative (82 YO) whose wife (96 YO) recently died. He lives near our original family home outside Raleigh, NC. I'd had a big run of work, and figured I'd kill two birds with one stone- blow some cobwebs out on the year's last "big" ride, and take care of some family bizness, all in one fell swoop... I'd ride the Mighty K12RS from my home in south Central PA to see my old cousin. I'd take the scenic route down & back, and make it back in time to drive the cage north to Vermont, for Thanksgiving with the GF's family.
Going down, I rode down I-81 a ways to get a good jump on the day's travels- then off I went, into the hinterlands of Virginia- eventually finding my way onto US 15 S down into the Raleigh area- no biggie, and no pix. Bam. I barely stopped for lunch. A hot 400+ miles, 7-8 hours. All told, a pretty sweet day's ride.
For my ride home, I thought I'd head west and noodle up through the mountains. As a bonus, I'd take my time, returning sometime on Monday, rather than hot-footing it to get back Sunday late. This would let me stay pretty much off any major roads- tho I did take the freeway west for a bit Sunday morning.
With no real "plan", I headed west on I-85 towards Greensboro, then hopped up on US 220 towards Roanoke. That much was a given. From there it was fuzzy, but I figured I'd sort it as I went... Suddenly, as I got nearer to Roanoke, it made sense to take the BRP north. Rather than leap-frog north on a succession of various hiways & by-ways, Iwould simply take one road up, a road I KNEW would keep me in the mountains the whole way. Tho I've ridden bits of the BRP around the Appomattox/Lynchburg area, I never had the chance to do an extended run along this oh-so-scenic roadway. Time wasn't really a factor, because I'd chosen to take my time and get home Monday anyway. A no brainer? I GUESS!
I wound up having an amazing couple days of riding. Not certain what time I finally got up on the BRP near Roanoke, but it had to be around 1:00 PM, on Sunday Nov. 18. I pretty much had the road to myself! Sure, I passed some cars going south, and yeah there were vehicles parked at some of the trail heads and stuff, but NOT A SINGLE CAR got in front of me all afternoon! Yes, I had a couple vehicles behind me after dark, as I made my way towards the exit at Luray that evening. But I had a MAGIC ride that day. The next morning (Monday Nov 19) was no different, as I finished the northern stretch of the Skyline Drive. Nobody home. WOW. It was truly wonderful.
Of course I saw plenty of wildlife Sunday & Monday- 3 buck deer (one of them the absolute biggest buck I've ever seen), and numerous does, two black bears, a barred owl and several hawks, and a couple big pileated woodpeckers being the notables.
I gassed up near the I-64 crossing late Sunday afternoon, and called Cynthia to check in. She told me that a good friend - who had just become our new next-door neighbor- had died of a heart attack the night before. Dude was 36! Needless to say, I did some soul searching and had a meditative last couple hours in the saddle that afternoon/evening.
Here, in no particular order, are some pix I took with my iPhone 4 during this magic ride.
Leaving the Skyline Drive at Front Royal I took US 522 North to US 30. Not certain exactly where I was headed, I figured I'd pick up the PA Turnpike and rocket home.
BUT when I got to US 30, I recognised where I was, so picked up PA 75 just over the mountain at Fort Loudon, and took 75>274>74>850>944>114>I-81>581 to the house- these PA highways being some of my favorite local roads! (522 was pretty darn great, too!)
Got back to La Casa with just under 1100 miles on the clock. Sure, it was a bit cool out, but never below 40 degrees at any given time. Of course, I was well prepared and did NOT "suffer".
All in all, a SUPERB late autumn ride.
Cheers, y'all! Eat dessert FIRST- you just never know.