Solo on the BRP
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". :laugh
All in all, a SUPERB late autumn ride. :dance
Cheers, y'all! Eat dessert FIRST- you just never know.
I have been on short distances the parkway with no other traffic on the road on a couple of occaisions. It does have an almost magical quality when it's like that.
The parkway is special at all times, in all seasons.
Nice pics with your phone. the colors were much better than I expect from a camera phone,
Nice pictures. Glad you got to ride the BRP when it was virtually empty. Rides like that are not about dropping the hammer, but finding that "zone" where you and the bike roll effortlessly through the turns in a great setting. Sounds like you had one of those runs. Thanks for posting.
The BRP and Skyline in the winter are probably my favorite rides. About as serene as you can get. I LOVE that ride! Nice pics and glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks guys. The iPhone takes pretty decent photos, despite its limitations. Obviously, the operator must aim the thing and set the photo up, but it is a decent camera, all things considered. That last pic was enhanced, slightly, in Instagram, all others appear in their "natural" state.
Agreed that this wasn't about flogging the bike. I set the CC at a couple points over the posted limit and tried to flow as smoothly as possible. There are a few points where I felt the need to brake but for the most part, the speeds I rode were plenty fast enough. The few miles I rode beyond nightfall WERE a bit slower! Fortunately, all wildlife I saw was in pure daylight.
It really was one THOSE rides- yet another ride of a lifetime.
Awesome 'bonding' with nature and the road!
Your photos are top-notch........... they belong in a magazine.
Glad you're enjoying riding thru life. :thumb
[QUOTE=bmwrider88;838641] Time wasn't really a factor, because I'd chosen to take my time and get home Monday anyway. [/QUOTE]
Sometimes, when we just kind of let things happen...good things happen.
Hey thanks guys. I appreciate your compliments on my pix!
If you'd like to view more of my photos, check my Tumblr site-
Down near the bottom right are some small icons. Mouse over them to find "archives"- open that to view all the pix on one page rather than scrolling endlessly. There are a few shots along the way which I plucked off the 'net but most of them are mine. I took them with my phone, iPad, and camera. Also, there some writings/musings I out with from time to time, when so inspired.
Very nice report and pics. I'd love to have that road to myself.
I'm planning on attending next year's RA rally in Asheville just to have a chance to ride that road again, in addition to the other roads there.
I have lived adjacent to either the BRP or "The Drive" all my life. They are treasures not to be missed. Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am to have these roads to ride so close to home. Also... Nice pics.
Great write up of a wonderful trip.
It is a wonderful gift to find the parkway abandoned and just enjoy mile after mile of it.
Thanks for sharing that with us.