Any views/advice on biking on Skyline Dr in Shenandoah NP?
1) Is this safe? I read something that basically said - don't do it. But it appears that there are organized cycling tours that include skyline drive in itinerary so clearly someone is doing it.
2) If yes, any advice? Or ideas for other routes in that area?
I am camping down there next week and the current plan is to bring the bike. Appreciate any advice.
My girlfriend and I competed in the Luray triathlon this past weekend, and on the trip back to DC yesterday (Sunday), we drove the the northernmost 25-30 miles of Skyline Drive. There were a ton of cyclists out on the road (probably about 40). It's hilly and there isn't a shoulder of the road to ride on, but the pavement looked smooth and the scenery is simply stunning. Given the number of cyclists (perhaps more so than usual because there was a supported cycling tour going on) cars probably got used to seeing bikes on the road. On the other hand, the cars really do have to swing into the other lane of oncoming traffic to get around the bikes which could potentially be a bit dicey with the many turns in the road. Still, I'd give it a try.
I've biked Skyline Drive before and I've never felt unsafe. The road are nice and the drivers are very patient and respectful of cyclists. Usually, they're enjoying the scenery and aren't in a rush so they don't mind waiting a little for a safe opportunity to pass.
If you do want to cut down on traffic, try to ride early in the morning. You can ride into the park before it opens and there will be fewer cars.
For other rides, I know that there is a loop you can do that starts on Skyline Drive, then heads west, then back north on another road and then back over to Skyline. I think it's call SkyMass and Potomac Pedalers has a cue sheet.
I've biked 48 miles of Skyline - 24 coming from the Front Royal entrance, and then back down. It was magnificent! I did it with 2 other cyclists and we felt totally safe. Like other posts, people are generally not in a hurry there and traffic is quite light if you go in the morning. Hopefully you won't have a near run-in with a black bear lumbering across the road like I did!
I agree with all the posts above. I've done it by myself and with others. Definitely better earlier in the morning. Just know it's pretty tough, so if you are camping be sure you have a water source for afterwards.
Definitely plan for additional water. I did a solo century last year on Skyline (from Big Meadow campsite down to the southern entrance) and ran out of water/Gatorade. I was expecting the southern entrance to be closer to civilization but the guards told me the nearest place to get something was the restaurant I had passed 20 miles earlier. Fortunately they had a cold Gatorade that they offered me (my guess is I am not the first cyclist to run into that problem).
Cars are not much of a problem. On some parts they may be slowing you down as the speed limit is only about 25-30.
The only thing I have to add is that Skyline Drive becomes VERY busy during the fall season with the changing of the leaves. That's the busiest time of the year for the road and you're bound to find cars everywhere. Fall is the most popular time to drive the road, and October weekends are considered the high season.
1. go early in the day the earlier the better, less cars, less chance of angry drivers to pi$$ off.
2. never ride 2 abrest on the road. only ride single file as far right as safely possible, ie the 3-4 feet closest the right side. If you can't hold a straight line practice before going on this ride. There just isn't the room on this road.
again, RIDE SINGLE FILE. its the one thing you can do to cut down on angry drivers.
3. bring plenty of food and water, there are very few water stops up there.
4. bring a compact crank or triple or a 25 gear in the back at the least. If you start from the entrance and don't have any of those for the first 4 miles, you will wish you had one of those three if not two of them. Of course if you can climb like Contador then all you need is single speed schwinn and you will be fine. LOL
Super helpful. The bike is definitely coming w/me. Thanks!
Starting at Front Royal, if you go early in the morning, Dickey Ridge visitor center will still be closed, so no available water there but then again you won't need it yet.
At Elkwallow at mile marker 25, you can get water & there's a shop for snacks. There's a free potable water tap on the backside of the restrooms, facing the gas pumps. (It usually takes me over 2 hours to get to Elkwallow and my avg speed on a relatively flat ride woud be 16-18 mph.)
The rest area around mile 30 also has a water fountain.
Skyland lodge is around mile 41 and has water, snacks, a restaurant.
That's as far as I've biked on Skyline.