Skyline Double – Southbound – Part 2



Getting out of Rt 211 was the second roughest stretch of road of the day.  Basically 4 miles at 6%, with peaks at around 9%.  Not all that hard when you think about it, but after going out a little harder than I normally do on a century, this climb hit me a little harder than I was expecting.

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But one of the coolest parts of the climb is the Mary’s Rock Tunnel.  Even with a headlight, and three blinkies, it was still pitch black around me.  Because of this all I could see was the light at the end of the tunnel, and it felt very disorienting, but exhilarating.   There were quite a few tourists parked after the tunnel taking pictures of cars (and me) coming out of the tunnel.

Slightly after the tunnel, the clouds starting rolling in, bringing some misting drizzle.  It wasn’t that bad, and didn’t seem to be constant.  After finishing the climb, it was stop #2 at the Pinnacles Picnic Ground.  Yet again, my wife thought I rode more slowly than I did.  I had passed her along the way without her noticing, and she went all the way back to US211 before catching back up with me at the Picnic Ground.

20141016_113510Now the normal stop.  In the Xterra, I had a couple of 2.5 Gallon containers of water.  Each stop I refilled my two water bottles to the top.  I kept one bottle with Skratch, one just water.  Normally I swap back and forth with 1 bottle Skratch, and then 1 bottle water.  The only time I go Skratch with both bottles is when it’s very hot and humid.  But in this weather, I alternate otherwise I get a bloated feeling from just too many electrolytes (It’s got what a Cyclist Craves!).

When I ride out on these long rides, I follow some advice I got early on; When riding endurance, drink on every 15 minutes (10 minutes if it’s Hot).  Also, drink when you feel you need to.  And if I don’t get a breakfast, eat every 45 minutes, but if I get breakfast, eat at the top of every hour (elapsed on the ride, not on the clock).  At rest stops, refuel a bit, but don’t overdo it.  So this being a normal rest stop, I made sure I still had 2 gel packs, and a couple of rice balls.  And man I make good Gorp.

I didn’t need to use the rest room, but it was getting a little chillier,  and there were some possible rain, but I eschewed the Showers Pass jacket, and I hopped back onto the bike, and headed out.

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Over the next 45 minutes, the clouds blew in, blew over and it spat a bit more on me.

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I radioed to my wife and had her stop at the next overlook so I could put on the rain jacket.


The problem was, it still didn’t get all that rainy, just spitty.  And it was still a lot of climbs to reach Skyland.  So needless to say I was overheating – Base Layer, Jersey, Long Sleeve Jersey, and Rain Jacket.  Ugh.  So I toughed it out (by unzipping just about everything and flapping wildly in the wind) until we got to the next stop, at Big Meadows and the Byrd Visitor’s center.


At the Visitor’s center, I paused for a selfie with the CCC engineer.  Also, with the variable nature of the weather, I erred on the side of not overheating, and took off the jacket.



But that would be a bad decision I would soon find out.

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Skyline Double – Southbound – Part 1

I was not expecting things to go smoothly, so at least I set my expectations high.

I did however, expect to complete both legs of the trip, so I had that going for me.

Watching the Weather was forefront on my mind during the week before.  I had three tabs open in my browser; Front Royal, Waynesboro, and Home.  I kept fretting as it was showing a 35% chance of rain at 8am for  Front Royal, with a 50% chance in Waynesboro.  Plus the temperature forecast had dropped 10 degrees.

My normal method of pre-big-ride schedule is to spend the night before obsessing over what to wear; which kit I should wear (I brought 6 jerseys… oh boy), what I need to bring nutrition wise, should I bring a bag to store things if it gets too hot or cold, basically all the things you need if you don’t have panniers.  But tonight I had two differences: My wife and daughter in the sag wagon (good), but my daughter needed to get to sleep early, so I didn’t get enough time in my mind to obsess over what to do/wear/bring.

After my daughter dropped into unconsciousness, I spend 2 hours prepping.  Filling my water bottles, getting Skratch mixed in, setting out my clothing, food, nutrition, etc.

I had two kit bags, so I sorted one as bike parts / gels, the other with clothing.  I put my helmet, shoes, bike pump in the first bag, arm warmers, leg warmers, socks, etc, in the second.  This way it would be quicker to get kitted out at L’Dees before the ride.

Finally I was able to relax my mind and go to sleep. …And the alarm went off at 5:30am.

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Mountain Anticipation

In getting ready, I had that huge list, but there were still things we needed to do.

First was printing out the Cue sheets.  With much research I put together two separete tracks, downloaded the TCX files Igenerated from RideWithGPS, and made some hand-created cue sheets in Excel.


Next we had to make the tasty treats out of the Feed Zone Portables book.

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Prep Work for My Skyline Drive Double

Throughout this year’s ups and downs, I’ve realized that I need a lofty goal to aspire to if I’m going to stick to a strict training schedule. It’s that little extra bit that gets me up at sunrise for sprints or some zone 4 work, rather than rolling back over and missing my opportunity to ride.

Last year’s big goal was, well, 100 pounds.  And along the way I had to keep upping the mark to ensure I stuck with it.  So this year I set 3 goals:  Ride 12 centuries in the year, get to 4 watts per kg, and The Skyline Drive Double.

So far I’ve ridden 6 centuries, with the probability of getting to 10 by the end of the year.  I got up to 3.87 w/kg, which is more of a function of weight loss instead of power increase.  I got as low as 178.2 lbs (81kg).  I’d probably need to be 171.6 lbs to hit 4w/kg.

But oddly, the easiest goal for the year is the Skyline Drive Double.  It’s just a full lap of Skyline Drive, one of the most scenic rides in Virginia.  Skyline Drive is 105 miles from end-to-end, and is the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Starting from Front Royal, VA, Skyline Drive finishes where it intersects with Interstate 64, becoming the Blue Ridge Parkway which winds south through Virginia and North Carolina, finishing just north of Cherokee, NC.

The Double consists however of riding from Front Royal to Waynesboro on Day 1, and then the next day ride from Waynesboro to Front Royal.  I understand that there are redondonnerus who would scoff at a mere 368km in two rides, but the added complexity to the ride is that over those 225+ miles, there’s over 22,000 feet of climbing.  If I’m ever going to do the Haute Route, I need to determine if I can even handle two back-to-back long days of climbing.

So Day 1:

And Day 2:

The normal issue with this type of trip is logistics; where to get water, where to get food, how much stuff to carry, but in this I’m lucky; my awesome wife is going to be my sag wagon.  So instead of panicking because I’m out out water and it’s 15 miles to the Byrd Visitors Center, it’s a simple call on the phone to fill up at the next lookout.

Now it becomes a logistics question: What do stock the Sag Wagon with?

So far I’ve come up with:

  •  Floor Standing Bike Pump
  • 4 Spare Tubes
  • 1 Spare Tire
  • Hex Wrenches
  • Pedal Wrench
  • Brake Cable
  • Derailleur Cable
  • Brake Pads
  • Crimpers
  • Crimp Ends
  • Chain Tool
  • Chain Links
  • Spare Spokes
  • AAA Batteries
  • Chain Lube
  • Rags
  • Super Glue
  • Spare Cleats
  • Zip Ties
  • 2 Spare Kits
  • Cold Weather Gear
  • Inclement Weather Gear
  • 5 Gallons of Water
  • Snacks
  • Lunch

If you’ve seen the past 4 posts, you’ll see some of the road food I’m considering — Sweet Cream Grits, Chocolate & Sea Salt Sticky Bits, and Honey and Fig Rice Cakes.  I’m not sure which of these I’ll end up making, as it’s just as easy to go buy some packages of Fig Newtons.  I’ve also made some Gorp, using Peanuts, Pistachios, Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins, M&Ms, Almonds and Coconut Flakes.

For Lunch, I’m thinking either Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches, or  Beef & Sweet Potato Pies.  Protein, Fiber and Carbs.

Any suggestions will be gladly appreciated.


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Beef & Sweet Potato Pockets

Beef & Sweet Potato Pockets
Recipe type: Pie
Cuisine: Cycling
Tasty Beef Pockets for Quick Mid Ride Snacks
  • Pie Crust:
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup cold water
  • Filling:
  • 8 oz grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed (~1 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups organic brown rice, cooked
  • ~3 cups organic chicken stock (for cooking rice, instead of using water)
  1. To make the pie crust: Pulse together flour, salt and cinnamon in a food processor. Add butter and blend until butter pieces are no longer visible. Transfer mixture to large bowl and add cold water gradually, using hands or spatula to turn the dough and mix. Add more water or flour, as necessary, until dough takes shape. Divide dough into 12 portions, forming into balls. Wrap dough and chill (30 minutes in the freezer, or at least one hour in the refrigerator.
  2. To make filling: Cook ground beef over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess fat. Cooked cubed sweet potato in microwave until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Combine beef and sweet potatoes in a bowl and add soy sauce, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, kosher salt, and cinnamon. Mix until evenly combined and then fold in rice.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat muffin tin with canola oil.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out each ball of dough, on a lightly floured surface, until it is big enough to fit in the form and fold back over the filling. Transfer dough to muffin forms, gently pressing into place and letting excess dough hang over edges. Place enough of the filling mixture into the dough pocket to be level with the top of the muffin tin. Fold excess dough over filling and gently press together to form a seal.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust turns golden


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Chocolate and Sea Salt Sticky Bits

Bitter Chocolate and Sea Salt Sticky Bits
Recipe type: Rice Balls
Cuisine: Cycling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
Small Rice Ball Bites
  • 1 cup uncooked sticky rice
  • ½ cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate (chips or shaved)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons shaved bittersweet chocolate
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Combine oats, rice, and water with a dash of salt in a rice cooker and cook.
  2. Let cool to the touch.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cooked rice and oats with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir to incorporate the flavor throughout the sticky mixture.
  5. Press into an airtight storage container or shape as individual bites.
  6. Sprinkle with chocolate and salt.
From Feed Zone Portables Cook Book P.223
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Bite Calories: 101 Fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 20g Sodium: 197mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 2g


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Honey Rice and Fig Cakes

Honey Rice and Fig Cakes
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Cycling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Small Rice Cakes for Cycling
  • 2 cups uncooked calrose rice or other medium-grain “sticky” rice
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • brown sugar (optional)
  1. Combine rice and water in a rice cooker.
  2. To toast the nuts: Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast 8–10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, pecans, and figs.
  5. Add the honey and stir thoroughly.
  6. Press mixture into an 8- or 9-inch square pan to about 1½-inch thickness and sprinkle with brown sugar, if desired
  7. Cut and wrap individual cakes.
  8. To make a more compact rice cake, place the rice, pecans, and figs in the food processor and pulse the mixture several times to combine.
From Feed Zone Portables, p.95.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Cake Calories: 268 Fat: 10g Carbohydrates: 41g Sodium: 20mg Fiber: 3g Protein: 6g


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Creamy Grits


Creamy Grits
Cuisine: Cycling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Pocket Fuel for Rides
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked grits
  • 3 egg yolks, lighten beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Lightly coat a muffin tin or ramekins with nonstick cooking spray
  2. Bring water with a dash of salt to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.
  3. Add grits, stirring frequently for 3 - 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add egg yolks.
  5. Return to heat and simmer on low until mixture thickens, then stir in raw sugar and vanilla
  6. Pour cooked grits into muffin cups or ramekins and let sit for 10 -15 minutes to firm up.

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Cycling Bucket List

After last year’s amazing trip to the 100th running of the Tour de France, and with the sudden issues within my extended family over the past 6 months, I figured it was time to write up a bucket list of places I want to ride my bike before I can’t ride anymore.

As I said, it’s a bit morbid, but I’ve seen my Grandfather go from getting around on his own to being wheelchair-bound in 9 months, and my uncle being a day from dying and stuck in bed with a colostomy bag in the span of 3 weeks, it’s been weighing on my mind, and I felt I needed to put words to the feeling of unease that comes with truly knowing you could and will be there at some point in time in the future.

So what better than a bucket list. And with my rekindled love of cycling, I want to see and experience these places on a bike, rather than on a browser or in a car.

I’d put Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux on this list again, if I lived in Europe and would have ample ability to get to all these places, but since I don’t, I’d love to go back but I’m not sure I will.

  1. The Passo del Ghisallo in Italy. At the top of the climb is the Madonna del Ghisallo and the Chapel with it’s museum of the Giro d’Italia
  2. The Passo dello Stelvio in Italy.
  3. The Poggio – Part of the longest of the spring classics, Milano San Remo.
  4. The Cipressa Also part of Milano San remo.
  5. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada
  6. From Salzburg to Zell am See, Austria
  7. The Col du Tourmalet
  8. The Col du Galibier — We were supposed to climb this when I was in France, but due to bus driver scheduling, I was unable to do so. Instead we rode Villard Raymond and Les Deux Alpes.
  9. The cobbles of the Arenberg Forest
  10. The Paterberg
  11. The Koppenberg
  12. Mount Diablo
  13. Monte Zoncolan
  14. Mauna Kea in Hawaii
  15. Edelweissspitze
  16. Mount Palomar
  17. Mount Baldy
  18. Col de la Madeline
  19. Cycling the Great Wall of China
  20. Sky-Mass in Virginia
  21. Mount Lemmon in Arizona
  22. Ride Across the US
  23. Cycling the Munroes in Scotland
  24. Cycling around Lake Louise in Canada
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Vacation Cycling Part 2

The next day I hand-wrote out a cue sheet. It’s one of the hidden things you have to remember how to do…Write in long-hand clearly enough to read while coasting down the road. I had wanted to ride back out again to Macabuca, and then to Popagallos, and then to Hell, and lastly go see what boats were in by the yacht club.


Well, everything went well, until I got to Hell.

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