Skyline, Pork and Penguins

Today was (and still is) a busy day.  We were on the road shortly after 6AM for the first Skyline Ride of the season.  For those not familiar, Skyline Drive is a long 100 mile road that rides along the ridgeline of Shenandoah National Park.  It’s all climbin’, all the time.  Up, down, up down with very few flat spots.  But it’ll make ya an incredibly strong cyclist.  I’ll be there virtually every weekend until summers end.

We arrived about 75 minutes after we departed and headed up to Dickey Ridge visitor center to start from there (4.6 miles into the park).  Eventually I’d backtrack to the entrance to get that first 1,000 foot 4.6 miles climb in though.

V0000009This time of the morning there wasn’t anybody around except the ranger opening up the bathrooms.  So we quickly got set and headed on out.  Unfortunately my rear race tire developed a flat over the week, and I didn’t catch it till yesterday…and I was too lazy to deal with replacing it with all the glue mess (tubular tires).  So I used the normal stock wheels today.

V0000010 From there it was time to climb.  And within about half a mile I saw my first animal of the day – a deer.  Woot!

V0000013 Then it was back to climbing…

V0000014The trick to a long ride on Skyline is simply getting in your easiest gear and spinning up.  All my long rides are in Zone 2, so that’s really the only way to roll (easy gear) and still keep a high cadence.  Which means my levers pretty much looked like this the whole day:

Oh…more up and up.


V0000032 Eventually after a long while I found my turnaround point – just beyond the only tunnel on the drive through a mountainside.  So I quickly hopped off my bike and took a few pictures.  Unfortunately, my camera completely spazzed out and I lost a bunch of the ones I took, so I’ve only got this salvageable one from that area.

Then it was back through the tunnel again.  I really dislike the tunnel. Not so much the second time going back since it’s downhill – but the uphill section going out sucks because you’re slower than traffic and have to be super careful with no lights.  It’s only a hundred yards or so – but it feels like forever.

V0000039 From there I cruised down a steep curvy descent section before kicking it along some of the rolling flats in the middle of the below picture.  Flats are all relative of course…


Eventually I came across another dear:


And then a short bit later…Yogi the Bear!

V0000053 It’s the black splotch in the middle of the photo.  He started running away cause some dumb dude got out of his car and starting running after him to try and get his picture.  So my picture in turn sucked.  Personally, I wish the bear would have ran after him.  That would have made for a much better picture.  My total animal count for the day ended up at:

1 Bear
5 Dear
2 dead squirrels, many more alive
3 dead snakes, none alive
1 Bunny
A few hawks


I get back to the car..but all is not done yet.  I have to actually go back down the hill to the entrance first…and then back up the 1,000 feet of elevation gain I just cruised down at 41MPH.  Hence the whacky drop/up at the end of the elevation chart above.

So  short 35 minutes later I’m finally done…well…with the bike anyway (63.25 miles & 6,135 feet total of climbing). 

Time to run, brick style!  Which starting off making the brilliant mistake of thinking it would be ‘fun’ to run downhill a bit.  So I started off by running down the mountain without actually taking into account the fact that I’d have to run my ass back up again.  Note that this is an elevation drop off over 200 feet in only a third of a mile.


So, up I went back up the hill again (I didn’t really have a choice in the matter).  Upon finding the top of the hill I wandered around on some flatter forest service roads for a total 5Kish run in a touch over 20ish minutes. 

Then finally, for the second time today – I found the car- woohoo!  This time I got to stop!  The girl was also hanging out there waiting for me, as she had a bit of a shorter ride.

After cruising home at a reasonable hour it was time to get to work on food items.  We’ve got a BBQ tomorrow at my place with lots of goodness in the pipeline.  Starting with my pulled pork (I’ll post my recipe with the final pics later this weekend). 

Here’s some of the prep work though.  Two full pork asses* – a total of 20 pounds of pork.  Sweet!

*The type of meat used in pulled pork is either the Boston Butt cut, or the Pork Shoulder.

In an attempt to give you scale, I put the normal size bananas off to the side.

Then I applied some of Bad Byron’s Butt Rub, which will set overnight tonight.


Meanwhile, the girl is busy making the most creative cupcake creation ever attempted in the house.  Here’s a sneak peak:

And after I finished up with the pork, I moved onto a dessert involving 1.5 pounds of fresh raspberries…and a hell of a lot of sugar.

IMG_7984With that, I need to head to bed.  I’ve got a 2-mile open water swim ‘race’ tomorrow. But it’s just a training swim with no time/place goals, simply finish and get home.


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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nice ride. It reminds me that it’s time for me to be getting back up in the foothills much more regularly. Good luck with the roast!

  3. Sounds like a nice ride! One of these days i’ll get over to Skyline Drive to ride and kick it like you do!

  4. Man, that looks like beautiful territory. And by the way, it’s never “just a race.”

  5. Definitely need to hit up Skyline. I’ve been getting in some good local hill work near my house (40 miles 2800 or so ft of climbing), but there is nothing like the consistency of the hills they have at Skyline.

    Have a good bbq – we’re also putting the final touches on our food works for the day.

  6. Yesterday I rode the Savageman course (but mostly in zn 4). I feel your pain! I haven’t been out to skyline drive yet – looks like fun.

  7. just saying hi! it’s great you got to spend some time outside in the gorgeous weather with your girl :) hope the BBQ was fantabulous!

  8. Sounds like a fun ride! How were the quads at the end of that?

    Mmmm…butt rub!

  9. Another great training and cooking day for Rainmaker!

  10. brilliant ride, gorgeous photos. i love skyline drive!

    it looks like your gear thing-y is giving that hill the finger.