Three Days and a Switch to Hiking

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!

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6 thoughts on “Three Days and a Switch to Hiking

  1. The two of you have just made my short list of heroes. First, tandeming for your honeymoon. Then breaking a Phil Wood BB! That is one of those Breakage of Legend. And THEN turning lemons into lemonade. Truly, the randonneur spirit is strong with you.

    Congrats and enjoy the rest of your honeymoon and the rest of your lives together!

  2. Good redirect! Jan says you’ve turned your bikeathon into a hikeathon. A thousand foot climb in the Shenandoahs is one heckuva climb!

  3. Good switch–hiking in this area is rewarding, but I am sure you are scouting out routes for more cycling. In April I rode from Little Switzerland to the top of Mount Mitchell and back, a most enjoyable trip, and a good challenge for a tandem.

  4. Except for the day hunting mechanics and detouring to DC it sounds great! The BRP is a great ride, though I did it credit carding on a single so that was probably easier :-p

    If you make it a group thing next year I’d be interested.

  5. What do you mean, no way to continue? Ed’s bottom bracket still worked, right? That’s why a tandem has two sets of pedals — redundancy. Clearly the captain just needed to push a bit harder on the pedals.

    I’m a pretty weak tandem captain, and my stoker only makes about 3 watts peak (next year when she turns 8 I’m demanding 5), yet I have no problem at all dragging her up the mighty 1.5% slopes of the famed W&OD Trail when she completely runs out of gas. So I’m not sure why a professional tandem captain like Ed can’t pull a professional tandem stoker like MG up a nice scenic road like the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    But, hey, hiking’s fun too.

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