The view from my motel on Tuesday evening.
I-81 is flanked by frontage roads here. The one on the far side is Bike 76.
Traffic was pretty heavy heading east on US 250 at 9 AM in the morning, but there was a good shoulder so it wasn't much of a problem. 250 runs from Charlottesville to Rockfish Gap - where the Blue Ridge Parkway goes south and Skyline Drive goes north - and then a few more miles down into Wanyesboro VA where I planned to head south on US 340. 250 runs for 13, reasonably flat (800 feet of climbing), miles and then climbs another 1000 feet in three miles. Traffic was bad for the first half a dozen miles - till 240 splits off of 250 - and then it was just a pleasant, pretty semi rural road. The climb wasn't easy - a sustained 8% grade - but the scenery was nice.
I stopped in Waynesboro to snack - Yohoo and honeybun - and then headed down 340 S. I had ridden 340 N from Waynesboro, but only driven the section going south between Waynesboro and US 11. 340 N is very nice riding from Waynesboro to Bentonville, but dangerous between Bentonville and Front Royal. 340 S isn't as nice - it is 4 lanes with moderate traffic down to Stuarts Draft - but it was OK. When I got to US 11, I stopped for lunch (at another Subway ;-}) and then headed south on 11. 11 from 340 down to where it crosses I-81 just before Lexington, is simply great riding! Today it was near its peak fall beauty.
Looking back north from midway on this part of 11 - this is a 'rearview mirror' image
I just wheeled my bike around in the road to take this shot after seeing it in my rearview mirror
Even on the Parkway, the views don't get much prettier or the riding much better than on this stretch of US 11!
Getting through or around Lexington is a bit of a pain. 11 gets both busy and very hilly there. The 20 miles on 11 from 340 to where it crosses I-81 again have about 700 feet of climbing and the next ten miles have about 1000 feet - that is as hilly as the Blue Ridge Parkway - or almost three times as much climbing per mile. Traffic was heavy on the four lane section of 11 going from I-81 into Lexington. Taking the bypass, which means not going through Lexington, requires crossing the exit lane going into town. I had to wait a while before I could get across that lane.
There is a lot of descent coming into Lexington and a lot of climbing going through it or around it. After US 11 and Bus 11 come back together, 11 heads south through a pretty, and hilly, region on its way to Natural Bridge. It is 12 miles to Natural Bridge and 24 miles to Buchanan where I plan to spend the night. I stopped for supper at the Fancy Hill restaurant a few miles before Natural Bridge. Supper was good, if a bit over priced and the service was excellent.
The highest part of the Parkway in Virginia is on the other side of this ridge behind
The little 'bump' on top of the ridge - you can see a cleared area leading up to it - is a large radar dome.
The Parkway runs below it on the other side at about 4000 feet. It is close to 3000 feet higher than Natural Bridge.
US 11 becomes part of I-81 a few miles after Natural Bridge, but the old 11 is still rideable. It is part of Bike 76 so. by following the Bike 76 signs, you can make your way south along I-81 till 11 appears again at Buchanan.
While the old 11 is fairly gentle. Bike 76 crosses over I-81 and runs along the other side, which is much hillier, for the last few miles to Buchanan. I always enjoy those hills, even after a hard day of riding on my loaded bike, but, if you are truly exhausted, you may want to stay on the old 11 till you get to the exit just before Buchanan. Then you must cross because the old 11 runs into 81 rather than into Buchanan. There is a motel up on the hillside above I-81 at that exit. Since I want to ride up to the Parkway from Buchanan tommorow. that motel is a good place for me to stop tonight.
85 miles with 4500 feet of climbing in seven hours of riding.