Adventures of Day One
Adventures of Day Two
Day Three dawned after another wonderful night in a hotel room with air conditioning and a comfy bed with sheets. Oh yeah and a running shower. I didn't have any difficulty sleeping after my cocktails and dinner last night. I woke up refreshed and ready to climb onto my mighty steed and get moving. Oilburner was ready, but I still chuckled at his groans of soreness.
Forecasts were predicting chances of rain today. We didn't take that seriously for the morning hours that had a very low percentage. We were more concerned with the evening hours when the percentage was nearing 70% at home. So we left the hotel with a light heart and light clothing under the armor. We quickly became aware of the error of our ways since the ridge road we were on was shrouded in a cold, damp fog.
Either way, we stopped and climbed into warmer gear.
Our biggest dilemma for today was defining what it meant to "ride the BRP". We had ridden a large portion from the bottom up last year. did we just need to ride what we hadn't ridden to say we have "ridden" it? or did we need to ride the entire BRP in one shot to claim that victory?
Technically speaking we only needed to ride a handful of miles now to reach the spot where we had turned around last year. We could do that and then do whatever we wanted. But we were a mere 180 or so miles (290 km) from the end. At yesterday's average we should be able to do that in 4 hours. (Then home would be another 2 1/2.) Or...we could just stay on the Parkway however long we felt like it and get off when we wanted.
Funny. We were both still on our high from the twisties yesterday and really wanted to say we had ridden the entire BRP on this trip.
We will not go into my stubborn insistence that I don't really feel like we can say we rode the entire BRP this time. I mean there is an 18 mile (29 km) section that was closed for renovations that our tires have not touched before. Can we, in all good conscience, say we have "ridden" it? I think it might be a different in definition. Legally we were not allowed to ride this section. Which is very different from choosing not to ride it on our own accord.
I took "riding the BRP" seriously and would always backtrack us to the location we exited from. And my strict nature still wonders about the 20 to 50 foot (6 to 15 meters) difference of where my tire turned to leave versus where it was when we re-entered. Yes. Sometimes I can be very exacting. hehe.
The bragging rights won out and we thrilled at the prospect of riding the entire BRP in two days. As I asked last year: Can the BRP be ridden in an extended weekend?
Why yes. Yes it can. IF you don't dawdle with all that sightseeing stuff and are willing to ride a teensy bit faster than the posted speed limit to make up for all the times you are stuck behind someone going far below it.
We had a few slow drivers. But generally the Parkway was quite empty since it was mid-week. What really slowed us down was the fog. We encountered some wispy fog that just blew across our path.
Strange how our eyes have a more difficult time penetrating the fog, identifying objects, seeing, than the cameras do. The pictures don't do justice to how much [human] visibility was impaired. We had been crawling along with our flashers on. This was my first time in fog. What an interesting experience. I discovered that I had a tendency to hover near the center line simply because I could not see the right edge well. (The BRP doesn't paint a white line on the edge of the road.) We can also attest to the light reflecting quality of the newly painted center stripe on a section that was recently repaved. Much easier to see!
After squinting to see I remembered we had amber lenses and we had to stop yet again to install them. Hopefully someday I will figure out to do these all at the same time. I can also attest to the beneficial difference an amber lens makes for visibility in fog. I was able to make out more looming objects in the fog than before.
We rounded a mountain into an unexpectedly clear zone allowing a glimpse to an adjacent peak still shrouded in fog, with a dense field flowing down into the valley. I stopped at the next overlook to see if we could capture it.
What can I say? The remainder of the trip was perfect. Aside from a few people that refused to let us pass, it gave us the chance to slow down and look around. Otherwise it was a perfect trip carving some twisties. In our ever ongoing discussions of riding technique through the helmet communications Oilburner reminded me of another "form" of connecting with the bike for better turning. It had been on my mind the day before, but I wasn't sure how to go about implementing moving my tush across the seat into a lean. He gave me a pointer of not "moving" but at least "shifting" the weight to that cheek a little. WOW! Huge difference that made me feel a more solid connection with the bike. I was able to lean and turn into the curve without any handlebar input. Then, if I felt I was coming in a little hot and fast I still had full use of the handlebars to push down and steer a little more into it. It instantly transformed how I felt with the bike through curves. Much more solid and stable.
Talking about it over lunch I was very aware of the thought processes behind this that could lead someone into trouble. While I had much more confidence in the turns and was taking them at speeds I had only dreamed about before, I was completely conscious of the fact that I didn't have the experience to recover from a road obstacle at those speeds. So don't think that I am getting a swelled head and will be running the Dragon at 60 mph or anything. I will fold this new knowledge slowly into my arsenal and practice, practice, practice.
And Yes, we did ride the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. :)
More images available on Flickr.