Unicycle Skyline Drive - Shenandoah National Park, VA

Thought I would make a post to see if there would be any interest or future interest in this ride:

I think it would be cool to complete the skyline drive on a unicycle (shenandoah national park, VA). I have always wanted to do this, but never got around to it. Skyline Drive is a 105 mile road that goes through shenandoah and it is curvy and has rolling hills (probably a lot like nova scotia will have).

Four options for skyline drive are:

  1. completing the 105 miles in one day (this would be very very tough considering the elevation profile)
  2. bringing a backpack and packing a lightweight sleeping bag and bivvy sack and doing about 60 miles the first day and then sleeping in a 3 walled wooden shelter that are found in the park.
  3. cheating and having my sister act as a support driver so we wouldn’t have to carry a sleeping bag or food during the ride.(probably the safest bet) This way, we would still camp out in between riding days.
  4. same as #3 but maybe staying in a motel or lodge somewhere halfway.

#2 or #3 would definitely make for a fun adventure, and I could probably get a friend or two to join on a bike.

My sister just moved out down to Fishersville VA which is close to Shenandoah, and another unicyclist, Phil(PDC) lives out near some part of the park as well. My guess is that I could stir up some interest in the ride and make it happen. The sooner the better since it is getting colder outside.

The plan would be to go in on the North entrance and come out the South entrance on Skyline Drive. I would probably drive down from the DC area and park somewhere by the north entrance, and then have my sister or someone else pick us up at the south end of the park.

Anyway, this is all tentative(I am sort of just looking into it now), but it would definitely be fun and good training for Ride The Lobster. I would need some time to plan and look into where on the map the free shelters and the lodges are and some time to secure my sister as support.

Possible unicyclists that I can think of that might be interested(let me know):
me, Nick (MD), Frank from Richmond, Phil from central VA, and maybe other riders(PA, NC, etc) if I get interest.

other riders:
possibly my friend on a bike.

my sister

I am going to look into this, and see what weekend would work best. It would probably be too short notice to have people come down this weekend, so possible weekends would be: oct 27th-28th, Nov 3rd-4th, Nov 10th-11th, or …later? The weather is perfect right now so the sooner the better. Also, things to consider…if instead of riding on sat/sun, we did fri/sat or sun/mon, there would be a lot less traffic to deal with on the ride, this is harder to do though since people would have to take off work.

For those that are interested:

What weekend would work best for you, and what option would you prefer? Also, could you take off a Friday or Monday sometime (to cut down on traffic on Skyline Drive).

Also: If you are interested, but don’t think you will be able to complete the full distance let me know as well. Things might be able to be worked out to accommodate this.

Another link I found with mile by mile info/pics:

I’ve driven that; it’s a nice drive.

You might not need a bivy if you are doing the lean-tos. I don’t know what’s available (the AT goes through there too).

You should easily be able to keep your pack weight way down. You could bring no-cook food. I vote for #2!

If I can make one of those weekends work, then I’m definitely down for it. I’ve been taking the coker to work lately, just a 7 mile round trip, but it’s a pretty hilly commute. When I did the C&O towpath, I wrapped a little one person tent around my sleeping bag and strapped it under the seat, some pictures here.
Once you got used to the weight distribution, it wasn’t much of a burden. Course, the C&O was flat, so that probably made a difference. But if your sister is willing to be support, that would be cool. #2 or #3 is fine with me.

Unless I ask off, I just get two random days off each week (not necessarily the weekend), so it doesn’t really matter what particular days I ride, but the first week in November would work best so I can give enough notice.

I go to college in Texas, but I’ll be coming home to PA in in early December. If you don’t get the trip together until then, I’m definitely in. The cold doesn’t bother me :slight_smile:

It’s too bad I’m not still at Shenandoah University in Winchester. Woulda been perfect.

I would like to join in (am in NC) but too short of a notice. Can you take a uni on the AT?

Nope, except for a very short section around Harper’s Ferry, WV, cycles aren’t allowed on the AT, and probably for the better.

Cool, yeah that first week in November could work. I can probably take off a Friday or a Monday depending on how much work I have, but otherwise I am free on Sat and Sun for sure. I will wait and see if anyone else would be interested and what their schedules are like, then I will finalize the days with my sister and friends (if they want to bike with us).

Yeah, a lightweight sleeping bag shouldn’t be too heavy, and if we stay in the basic shelters for free we wouldn’t need a tent. They also have fire pits there so we can have a fire at night.

Don’t forget to stop off at the Luray Caverns. Cool place to visit.

i live in nc also and would love to ride part of the parkway. I live in boone and would be more than happy to make a ride here in nc if we can get enough people.

Pretty sure I am going to shoot for the first weekend in November (sat/sun). My sister said she can definitely drive whomever back to the north entrance after we finish up on Sunday. She is unsure about camping with us and carrying supplies though, I will know that later. Also, my friend Zach definitely wants to join on his bike.

Frank - I will give you a call in the next few days if I finalize this and plan it out.

If anyone else wants to join in, let me know shortly. Hopefully this will be going on Nov. 3rd and 4th and will definitely count as a Ride The Lobster qualifying event for those interested in that as well.

First day of riding looks like it will be at least over 50 miles of riding and at least 5501ft of climbing. Should be fun!

Sorry man, I couldn’t get off next weekend, some else already asked off. Sucks though, I really wanted to go.

touring with people on bikes?

hey, James, and everyone else,

Some of my friends are thinking of doing a weekend tour on Skyline Dr. Do you have any ideas weather it would be likely for a cokerer to be able to keep up with bicyclists? We would all be carrying a light camping load, but all are pretty fit cyclists.

The idea right now is that we’d park some cars in Front Royal, then carpool down to the Loft Mtn. campground @mile 80. We’d ride 30 miles north to Big Meadows, camp there, and then ride 50 more miles to Front Royal. In terms of mileage, it seems like it should be totally doable on a 36er. I know that there’s a lot of climbing, and probably more importantly, a lot of descending. I know i won’t be able to keep up on the descents by any means. To make things harder. i’m pretty sure they’ll all be riding geared bikes. Is it possible in general, to beat them on the uphills, (hopefully enough to even it out overall)? If i have a brake, do you think 125’s would be a good crank choice?

I realize that a lot of these questions depend quite a bit on me, and on te people i’m riding with, and i should probably juist go for a hilly ride with them to figure out some of them.

Also, if/when this happens, would anyone else be interested in joining us?

I would use 140mm cranks, but if you don’t have those, 150s are going to be a better choice for you. I used 125s for some sections of Skyline drive and they were pretty nice, but for that first 15 miles out of Front Royal…125s are not going to feel great unless you have a lot of experience climbing steep roads with 125s. As far as beating the bikes uphill…it is possible, I went faster than my friend, but he didn’t have a road bike and wasn’t experienced. I was going faster than one other bike on an uphill, but as you said, they will blow past you in the decline. It won’t even out, the bikes (if they are experienced cyclists) will be much faster than you, but 30 miles sounds like it is doable on the first day. You will probably be dead after 30 miles of skyline drive with camping gear on a coker though. The next day sounds rough.

A Brake is very important to have on this ride. I did my first ride (~30 mi) at Skyline without one, and every downhill I was wishing I had one.

This trip sounds fun, but I will probably not join. I am staying away from riding with extra weight on my back and doing long distances for now (still paranoid about my knee injury).

Hey, I’ve been thinking about coming out, too… it’d have to be in the future, though, becasue I’d need to first make some money and then get myself a plane ticket. $230 looks like it’ll do the trick for me to get there and back. I’d spend $130 in gas to get to Northern Cal and back to do a coker ride here and there, and… that road looks beautiful as hell, so $230… methinks I could do that.

I’ve been all lonely out here with no geared 36ers I can ride with. Going 9-11 mph for four hours doesn’t really cut it anymore, and the roadies out here are still about 4 mph too fast for me with a 1.54 gear. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d vote for carrying only what food we can fit in our jerseys and saddlebags, and just cranking all 105 miles in the first day… it’d be tough as hell, but it’d be pretty epic. I know I’d be dead… 100 flat miles with a little headwind was enough to do me in on my first geared coker ride. Add in 10,000ish feet of climbing… that’d be an undertaking, to say the least.

Is this still on, though? How are your knees working out, James? What if we went in early 2009 or something? I might be able to schedule my classes to get four day weekends :-D. And by then your knees might be good to go. If we did all 105, not only would it be a pretty crazy awesome day, but we wouldn’t have to carry anything but food and maybe 50 miles worth of water (about a camelback, or 4 bottles of water).

What’ddya think?

Hey, yeah it would be awesome if you came out here. You’d definitely have a place to stay.

I still really want to do all of Skyline Drive, it is on my life long unicycling goals list. I would hope my knees(well really just my right knee) would be better by early next year, and I am sure with enough warning my sister could help out and meet us halfway to bring food/sleeping bags. She is out in Harrisonburg, so it wouldnt be much of a drive for her to meet us halfway and make it a semi-supported 2 day unicycling tour. Two days is far more doable than one, but still very difficult. 3 days is probably ideal (to enjoy Shenandoah National Park while riding), but takes more effort to organize. One day - as you said would be crazy epic.

As it is now, I am not doing any long distance unicycling with the ungeared 36. I am giving my knee as much time as I can and I don’t have any pain now, but I am just paranoid that I will aggravate it, so I have just been biking to work instead - about 2 times a week to maintain my muscles and hopefully help out my knee. I am still doing muni, because for some reason, I have no problems with my right knee at all when riding muni.

So I am giving myself a bit more time, and I really don’t want to do any long distance riding till I get my KH/Schlumpf hub back from Florian (I sent it in 5 months ago for upgrades). Corbin thinks we should be getting our sent in hubs back pretty soon since new ones are going out now.

But yeah…$230 is a pretty cheap flight price, and you could hang out in the DC area and have a place to stay after the ride. I’ll see how my knee feels once I get my KH/Schlumpf hub back, and we can hopefully organize something.

Wow that sounds like such an awesome epic! I wish I had time to join y’all! In stead I’m planning a far easier 100 mile epic closer to home next month when I’m through with this semester. Riding all of the Silver-Comet / Chief Ladiga Rail-Trail from Atlanta, GA to Anniston, AL. Not too far away for me and I’ll have some two-wheeled company. When I do finally get my KH/Schlumpf hub outfitted in my KH24 I’m going to do an epic ride out in Lake City, CO this summer that I’ve been dying to do for years…

You’re putting your hub in a 36, right? I think I remember you saying you were going to build up a KH36 a while back. And oh, five months! WOW! You must have sent it in in June? I only went without my hub for one and a half months, and it felt like an eternity. And yeah, going back to ungeared just wasn’t the same. :frowning:

That really sucks about your knee, but it’s good you’re keeping on the bike. Moreso than the uni, because pushing 102 or 114 cranks on a singlespeed 36 just isn’t the same as munching down on 150s with a gear. I think the geared riding is much easier on things like knees, if only because of the extension from teh longer cranks. (Maybe that’s why your knee doesn’t hurt doing MUni or while cycling, but still does on the coker?) Get better soon!

Actually I think it has been closer to 4 months than 5.

Yeah I am definitely putting it in a KH36, I have all the parts sitting in my room waiting for the hub. I also think that the short cranks are affecting my knees more, and yeah biking should be more like riding a geared 36 with 150s, so hopefully it won’t be a hard transition. The geared 36 seemed a lot easier to ride than the geared 29 when I tried yours out, so I am sure I won’t have a problem adjusting. I just have to be carefull not to overdo it right away and watch my knee.