After riding the Parkway for six days and after covering an average of 90, very hilly, miles for the last two days, I was tired. So, instead of riding Skyline Drive, I rode into Waynesboro and then north on 340 which parallels Skyline Drive in the valley to the west. Boy was it great to ride flat roads! I stopped at a Dollar Store just outside of Waynesboro to buy a cheap flashlight - another advantage of being off the Parkway - and was chased by a fierce dog (on a highway?) - a disadvantage of being off the Parkway. The ride from Waynesboro to Elkton was great! Nice road, light traffic, a little bit of a tail wind and no hills.
I stopped in Elkton to eat and to make a call to Stanardsville (33 miles away on the other side of the Blue Ridge) to arrange a visit for my return trip. I put my quarter in the phone in front of the 7-11 store and dialed the number. The computer voice came on saying please deposit $2.75 for the first three minutes! I hung up, went inside the store and bought a phone card that cost 30 cents a minute no matter where in the USA that I called, and came back outside to make the call. Then I rode on north towards Luray. I stopped for a coke and snack break near Newport where the river is right next to 340. A beautiful spot.
After leaving Newport I rode on towards Luray. The road was good, traffic was light, and it was a great day for riding. The number of hills had increased, but compared to the Parkway it was still very flat. I stopped at a Pizza place in Luray for a second lunch and headed on towards Front Royal. 340 got narrower, the traffic increased, and the hills got steeper. Here is a shot I took near Benton. The ridge above the road in the picture is the Blue Ridge and I could see Skyline Drive.
Unfortunately, riding conditions really deteriorated after Benton with no shoulders, narrow roads, sharp curves, and steep hills. I was actually blown off the road, fortunately into a grassy area, by a semi that passed a foot or so away from me - I was on the very edge of the road - at 60 mph. Not fun. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't ride that stretch. On the other hand, I did get cheered by a car load of folks coming the other way as I neared Front Royal! Of course that may just have been for have the courage (or stupidity)to ride that particularly bad stretch of road.
Arriving in Front Royal I couldn't resist detouring slightly to the entrance to Skyline Drive. Then I rode on through town to an inexpensive motel on 340 near the river. I'd covered over 80 miles, but had a pretty easy day compared to the Parkway.
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