Monday was an unusually warm day for the end of January. It was in the upper 50's by Noon. It happened that my day off from work was the same day. Sunny warm day and no work equals bike ride! The mountain bike was out of the question. Heavy rains on Sunday had soaked all the trails. So I decided to pack up the road bike and head to the Parkway. I drove out 501, through Big Island, to the James River Park. On the bike, I began the long 13 mile ascent of 3350' to the highest point on the Parkway in Virgina, Apple Orchard Mountain. I was very warm with my Underarmor shirt, short sleeve jersey, and regular riding shorts.
After passing Petite's Gap, I saw the gate that closes off this section of the Parkway during the winter. Of course I went around it and continued on. Another mile or so up and saw a rider ahead of me. I gaining quickly. After catching up with him and talking a while, I found out that he was from Amherst and was riding after a 6 mile run earlier. He was probably in his mid 50's. Very impressive. I said goodbye and pulled away. Soon I was nearing the Thunder Ridge overlook. Snow was still piled along the edge of the road. Around one curve, there was a huge boulder, about 8 feet in diameter, in the road. It had broke free from the hill side and crashed through the payement. I would hate to be the road crew that has to remove it.
Finally I got to the turn-around point. The entrance to the radar station on Apple Orchard Mtn. Since I had brought a camera, I decided to climb another 250 feet up the steep access road to the station. Once on top I found a group of rocks that would be the highest point for many, many miles in any direction. After taking pictures, I realized that as the sweat from the climb was evaporating, I was getting very cold. As I hopped on the bike and started down the access road, I was beginning to shiver. The temperature was probably in the mid to upper 30's at best. Now for 13 miles of decending. I really believe that hyperthermia was not far away. Luckily the air was getting warmer and warmer the further down I went.
Overall it was a great ride. I had considered climbing it twice, but after getting so cold, I was done after one.
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