Our grand dreams of honeymoon tandem touring all the way down Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway came to a loud end on Tuesday morning. MG’s bottom bracket — a Phil Wood, no less — gave out a loud crack as we neared the top of the climb from Wintergreen Resort back to the parkway after staying the night before. It had been making some noises and we were planning to get it checked out up the road in Lexington, but we came up about 30 miles short.
We jumped off and pushed the bike up to the parking area, and it was clear there was no way to ride on. The crankset wobbbled when MG tried to pedal and the bracket made hideous noises.
Two bike shops, one pickup truck rental and six hours later and we were in no better shape. The first shop in Waynesboro gave its mechanic the day off on Tuesday, and the other in Harrisonburg hemmed and hawed and finally told us they wouldn’t touch it until Wednesday.
Meanwhile I tried to get the crank off and rounded the self-extractor bolt. It was mostly out and could have been removed, but then we’d need an exact replacement to re-install the crank because it was a part specific to the crank due to a previous shop stripping the threads.
We were beyond tired at this point and concerned about our honeymoon slipping away hanging around in Harrisonburg, so we dashed back to D.C. with the tandem, grabbed our hiking shoes and other gear, and drove back with the rental and our car to Waynesboro the very next morning. We changed our hotel reservations to match our new schedule, got a hiking guide book and have been driving and hiking ever since.
All in all, it may have turned out for the better. There is something romantic about a bike tour, but possibly not honeymoon-romantic, what with all the hours in the saddle, getting up early, and sticking to a timetable and seeing only a little strip of pavement the whole way. We were pretty bushed after just three days of riding — Skyline Drive was harder than we expected.
Since getting back on the parkway we’ve had a grand time driving two or three hours every day and getting in some big hikes — 10-12 miles with massive elevation changes of 1,000 feet or more. There is incredible hiking right off the parkway. So far we’ve hiked at the Peaks of Otter area, Rocky Knob, and Bluff Mountain, and our legs are as tired as if we rode a hilly century every day (without panniers!).
Tomorrow we’re going to hike Mt. Mitchell if the weather permits and then finish up with a night at the Pisgah Inn. Our interest in tandem touring the parkway is as great as ever, though. We’ll be back sometime next year for some riding on the BRP.
Photos to come when we get back. Right now we’re off to dinner here in Little Switzerland in North Carolina at our humble Skyline Village Inn motel. Cheers!