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It was supposed to be so easy. Long, but easy. After a nice sleep in Floyd, we were to hit the Blue Ridge parkway and from there to Skyline Drive and Northwards to Tyrone, PA.
However, we were too slow the day before, so we skipped the last part of the Blue Ridge (which in itself is a reason to return, so I've few complaints) and headed up the interstate instead. It was a good move, if a little scary for Marina. Not too busy, it allowed us to make pretty good progress and before too long, we were in Waynesboro where you pick Skyline starts.
In terms of riding, it's basically the Blue Ridge parkway remixed. The scenery is very similar as it crosses the ridges of the Appalachians. The hills are starting to get a little smaller though, and the trees seem to be closer in, more claustrophobic. Ultimately, it feels a slower road and the posted speed limits suggest that should be the case. But, as with the Blue Ridge, it's very quiet and you can make progress.
Having learned the lessons of yesterday, we rode the same way but this time named our meeting points. Separated, we made our way to Big Meadows and there chewed the fat for a while with some other bikers. Few sportsbikes here, it seems to mainly be cruiser town.
Onward, to Front Royal and the end of the Skyline. Not much else to add. It's a superb road, great fun and needs to be ridden at least once, especially if you are heading that way. It's a relaxing road, too me, at least after all the adrenaline of the previous few days. I doubt you'll get your knee down, but I also doubt you'll be disappointed.
At Front Royal, it's now time to gun for points north. Ultimately, it's not a great ride, but we lose time south of Winchester, VA. The skies are turning grey, then black and purple, bruised as a boxer. We stop at a gas station to change visors and don rain gear. The safe option is to stop and see, but we've become gamblers and the we need a good hand to beat the odds so we push on. Mistake. When you don't know when to stick, the cards go against you and in this case, the heavens opened to point at which we couldn't see. This is no time to be on the I-81 so we hit the nearest donut store, parking the bikes under the awning of a gas station.
We get reports of hail to the west and the sky is alive with lightning. We're depressed. Tyrone looks a long way away at this point. Coffee is drunk (by me). Sandwiches and donuts are eaten (by me) but the rain isn't letting up. No-one can give us a forecast. An hour later, it starts to let up. We're gamblers again, double or quits and wet rain gear is peeled back on and we set out.
This time, we are lucky. There's some minor rains along the way but nothing to be afraid off, but we are still wet and it's getting colder as the sun fails to come back out and eventually sets. Still onward and progress is made. The 522 would be lovely if we could feel the bars, but it eventually gives way to the US220/i99.
After some hairy, scary moments on the I-70 (truck central) in the dark, we're more rural again and with the road mostly to ourselves. By th time we find our B&B it's pitch black, and 10 minutes after walking in, it starts to rain again. It seems the storm was chasing us, but we beat it. This time.
Our lodgings are the very paragon of hospitality. Hearing of our plight, our innkeeper had stayed up to make us dinner, a very welcome accomodation indeed. The beds were comfy and the ambience relaxing. Just what we needed as we fell asleep to the pounding of the rain.