Sometimes, your inner roadie needs some mountains, too. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how many flat miles you clock; you just need some altitude. Sometimes, you want to climb for 15 minutes solid. Sometimes, you need to leave Northern Virginia to get these rocks off.
Shenandoah National Park encompasses the Blue Ridge Mountains along western Virginia. Of note is Skyline Drive, a scenic roadway that runs along the ridge of the mountain system. The roadway is administered by the National Park Service and is damn fine. The northern end of Skyline Drive starts in Front Royal, Virginia, an hour and change from my place. I had been meaning to check it our for a year or so, but I hadn't been in such “roadie need” until now...
It got out there in late July, so, in the interest of beating the heat, I got on Skyline Drive by 8:30am. The Park Service administers the roadway and you have to pay for a week pass or an annual pass. I think the week pass was $10-$15, give or take a few. The mountains were very cool. The morning air was rather cool, and some of the earlier descents were borderline-frigid. The roadway has tree cover in some sections and is in open sunlight in others. However, for a morning in July, the temperature was very comfortable.
The views were pretty nice. There are pull-over spots every few miles for motorists and they offer some decent views of the surrounding valleys. The photos in this album range from mile markers 0 through 33 or so. Got in a good 65 mile ride, with mountains, many thousand feet of aggregate climbs, and some uncomfortably fast downhills.
These mountain curves were so fine that I called off work and went out there again several days later. Hot dang, what fun.