It's confirmed. The most gnarly, steep, ugly gravel-laden stretch of roadway on this trip is....my own driveway. It was all I could do to bounce & skid my way up the hill in ultimate granny around 2PM this afternoon. Molly was approximately where she was when I left two months ago, which is to say, lying down on the porch. The hay needs cutting, everyone else around here seems to have already done their last cutting of the year. This isn't the first year I'll be making late hay.
The Blue Ridge was overcast this morning at first light. Here I am back in civilization (almost), and for the first time in a long time my weather radio can't quite lock in on a signal, and neither can my cell phone. I've been hearing rumors about a hurricane churning around off the Carolina coast, rumors of stiff northeast winds and rain. There were light southerly winds where I was, I figured I might as well get on up the Parkway.
The cloud cover had kept the temperatures from dropping very much overnight. I did the initial 3 mile descent, one of the nicest anywhere, without getting chilled, even though I had not had time to get my legs warmed up. There were places where the sun broke through the clouds, I stopped a few times to shoot pictures of the North Fork Tye River valley.
The ride up to Raven's Roost overlook got my legs warmed up. The view of Torry Ridge and the Sherando Valley was completely obscured by fog. Two women drove up and started unloading photographic equipment. They are shooting the rocks below the overlook as part of a film whose subject reaches far beyond Raven's Roost.... We engaged in conversation, they have the honor of being the final set of en-route strangers with whom I shared my bicycle trip.
There's a wonderful 10 mile descent (with a few minor ups) from Raven's Roost down to Rockfish Gap, where US250 and I64 cross the Blue Ridge. I pulled into the last overlook before the gap and shot an image of western Nelson and Albemarle counties partially enshrouded in mist.
As I pulled out of the parking lot fellow cyclist and aventurer extrordinaire Michael Doyle rode up to join me on my ride in! This was very cool, we had a great ride & visit over to Crozet where we stopped for fuel, and on to Millington Road. Michael was very accomodating of my Slow Train to China, for the first time on this trip I actually had a wheel to follow! Michael's frame does s fine job of running interferance with the wind, I'd tried to get him to fly out to South Dakota and do some training rides out there (in front of me) but for some reason he never took me up on it. Better late than never.
I'm back in Albemarle County!!!!
After Millington and its awful hill things were getting close. This is well within range of weekend rides from home. At Free Union I stop at Maupin's and buy the final bottle of Gatorade.
Just down the road from the Chestnut Grove Church I have a red Corvette in the mirror, hanging back courtiously as I go through the curves. A deer runs up along my right side, at first I think it's a dog, then leaps across the road right in front of me. I'm moving along downhill at 18mph or so, just clear the thing. The guy in the Corvette's shaking his head, I wave & take the turn toward Advance Mills.
In Advance Mills I stopped and photographed the bridge over the North Fork Rivanna.
Then it was just a matter of cruising up the little hill (not), over to US29.
view from cyclist Robin's at the top of the ascent
I don't know whether they've done something with the traffic on 29 in my absence, but there was none there when I arrived, and I cruised across without unclipping or breaking my pace. Now it's down to 5 miles....down into the valley leaning into the curves, over the railroad bridge, past my overgrown hayfield, I'm home.
Over the coming days, weeks and months, I'll sort through all the images I've collected, write captions, and fill out the journal while it's still relatively fresh in my mind.
This has been one of my greatest life adventures so far, I have a sincere interest in helping other people who are considering a tour by bicycle. I've learned a lot of useful stuff.
Now that I'm back into the realm of (sort of) regular internet access I'll be able to better interface with the guest book on the crazyguy site, or you can email me st nickonthebike at gmail dot com.
Best regards to all, this has been a great trip.