Author Topic: How difficult is Skyline Drive?  (Read 536 times)

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Offline KathyE

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How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« on: June 17, 2021, 11:31:18 pm »
Is Skyline Drive a good option for a novice? How many miles per day would be realistic? Or is it dependent more on lodging? Has anyone done some or all of it and have any recommendations? Wow - I just realized I asked a lot of questions, didn't I?
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Offline ray b

Re: How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2021, 12:48:36 am »
I was last on Skyline Drive a couple of years ago. Some locals might have more fine-tuned thoughts and recommendations.

My initial response to your question is that this ride is not for cyclists who do not like climbing or who are easily intimidated by motorized traffic. There is quite a bit of climbing and during peak season,  such as when leaf peepers are peeping, one might get tired of pulling off the road to let the line of cars by. I should note that for the most part there is no shoulder.

Although speed limits is low, there are a few blind curves and hills that might create some tension for a novice.

That ssid, if you are not pressed for time, it's a beautiful ride, and should present no issues for someone with low gears and a liitle patience.

I should note, the Drive has been part of guided tours, and I believe the NPS maintains a list. Those groups might be the best source of information and recommendations. I know Lizard Head has included the park in the past.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2021, 01:14:24 am by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline KathyE

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Re: How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2021, 12:38:42 am »
Luckily I've got plenty of time but you bring up some good points. I might look into guided tours, especially if they are supported. I think I should consider this when the weather is cooler, too. I don't mind hills but climbing sounds like a challenge.

Kathy
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Offline BikePacker

Re: How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2021, 08:54:17 am »
Maybe consider this approach to The Skyline...
Do a 'weekend dip your toes in the water fun test' by moteling in Front Royal and ride not fully loaded into The Skyline a few hours and turn around. 
Next day, by car, take your bike and you to where the 2 of you got to the previous day and do the same thing. 
Head home and think about it all?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2021, 09:53:05 am by BikePacker »

Offline staehpj1

Re: How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2021, 09:12:07 am »
Maybe consider this approach to The Skyline...
Do a 'weekend dip your toes in the water fun test' by moteling in Front Royal and ride not fully loaded into The Skyline a few hours and turn around. 
Next day, by car, take your bike and you to where the 2 to you got to the previous day and do the same thing. 
Head home and think about it all?
Probably a good idea if close enough that it is a reasonable option.

I have driven a lot in the area and ridden some.  I found the portions I rode to be a lot of climbing but doable while I was on the drive itself.  Some of that was at the end of riding the Trans America so we were pretty road hardened and it still wasn't easy.  The climb up to the drive was crazy steep and that is typical most places..  The thing is that often to get to any services you need to leave the drive.  If you do that you will need to descend a lot and very steeply.  The ascent in the morning can be crazy hard.

It can be a great ride, but don't take it lightly, especially the climbing up to the drive.

Offline KathyE

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Re: How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2021, 03:48:51 pm »
I appreciate all of the feedback. I think this might be something better to plan for in the future, or perhaps camp and do an up and back on one of the less hilly sections. I know it's a beautiful area to bike, hike, or even drive and will keep it in mind when I think I can make it up the hills without stopping too much. Thank you!
Kathy
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Offline Pat Lamb

Re: How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2021, 09:17:28 am »
ACA has run the supported Blue Ridge Bliss Tour on the northern 200 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.  (Though I'm not sure how they did that this year with ~45 miles of the Parkway closed around Roanoke!)  When I rode it, it was run south to north; after four days on the BRP, Skyline Drive was quite rideable.  We camped at Waynesville on the southern end of Skyline and Big Meadow the next night, about 50 miles apart.  That's probably doable with a load (we had luggage trucks and a caterer!) if you're in shape; if you had three days you might want to plan two 25 mile days and then a 50 miler to enjoy the downhill.

Services on Skyline were better spaced than on parts of the Parkway, IMO, and the pavement was better on Skyline (too many congresscritters don't want to spend money on necessary repairs on the BRP, while SD has entry fees to help pay for upkeep).  Aside from the ravens, the baby hairy woodpecker that was probably eaten by a bobcat, and the bear that likely caught a fawn just over the rise from where we were eating breakfast, it was an uneventful ride.  We rode through Skyline on weekdays (Thursday and Friday) in June, and traffic was not a problem.

Offline KathyE

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Re: How difficult is Skyline Drive?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2021, 11:14:36 pm »
The ACA trip sounds great and I will look for it next year. Thanks for the information.
Kathy
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Sending good vibes to 'A'