2016 ElMoto 4Corners - Blacksburg, VA to Fairfax, VA
On the 100th anniversary of our National Parks it is only fitting that the culminating ride of my summer-long journey is on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. It was an incredible day of riding filled with adventure and natural beauty!
I began the day in Blacksburg, VA (near Virginia Tech) and rode to Roanoke, VA through some fog to charge up at the Wasena Tap House. The views were mystical as the fog rolled over and around the mountains. At the tap house, there was a special card they had at the bar to unlock the charger. I called the toll free number, but it wasn't useful at all because nobody was working at that time (8am on Saturday).
Fortunately, Adam the bartender, appeared out of nowhere and, seeing me attempting to charge, offered to help. I got the charger working (twice, because my supercharger tripped the circuit breaker the first time) and headed out after about 30 minutes.
Then it was onto the Blue Ridge Parkway for a beautiful morning of riding. The winding parkway is one of my favorite roads in North America to ride. I enjoyed it today, that's for certain!
There were two long stretches today without any charging options between the ones I had carefully mapped out. Fortunately there were two factors on my side: low speeds, and mountains. The speed limit on the Blue Ridge Parkway is 45mph and on Skyline Drive it is 35mph. It makes sense that slower speeds improve range.
But going through mountains has helped my range throughout this entire trip, and that seems counterintuitive. Don't I use more range going uphill? Yes. Then I go downhill.
The basic idea is that I don't use more extra electricity going uphill than I save going downhill. For example, I strive to use energy at 100Wh/mi while riding. If I use 200Wh/mi going uphill and coast downhill (using 0Wh/mi) then I will break even. However, I actually use 150-175Wh/mi going uphill and coast downhill, making my average 75Wh/mi. What a bargain! So I travel farther in the mountains than on flat land on the same amount of charge!
My first long ride is successful and I make it to the Sugar Tree Inn without getting too close to 0% battery. The owners, Jeff & Becky, are incredibly welcoming and friendly (as I had previously read on Plugshare.com). That charge got me 30 more miles to Waynesboro where I charged at Sigora Solar while eating at a nearby restaurant.
Then the long ride up Skyline Drive was upon me. The first part of the ride was great! Perfect temperatures, partly cloudy, very little traffic even though it is Saturday. However, it began to sprinkle so I put on my rain pants just in time for the downpour! And I mean downpour! I think this was the hardest rain of the entire trip!
The rain penetrated my outer layers for the first time and I rode in it for about 10 minutes before pulling into the Loft Mountain information center soaking wet. The rain didn't last long, but the damage had been done. I was considering riding up to Front Royal, which would add about 2 hours of time to my overall trip, or exiting at route 211. Now that I'm soaked, I will definitely exit at route 211.
One exciting situation that occurred is that I didn't know exactly how to get to the next charging station and there was no internet service atop Skyline Drive. So I rode down the mountain pass to the first town in which I could get reception and hoped that I hadn't passed the charging location by too much. It turns out that I was only 1 mile away! Yippee!
The Washington Inn had a reputation on Plugshare of not allowing anyone to charge unless they stayed there. However, they let me charge up as soon as I asked, so it worked out well for me. I even had a nice chat with Liam, a valet, about Elon Musk and building his own electric vehicle.
Once that charge was finished I was home free to make it to my freind's house where dinner was waiting! after an incredible day of riding I had 2 days of rest and visiting friends to look forward to before heading up to New Jersey on the final leg of my journey.
While in the DC area, I met up with members of the DC Electric Auto Association and the MD Volt group. We had a fun meetup in Bethesda, MD and had a delicious brunch. Also, had to buy a bolt to hold on my rear rack because mine had popped out somewhere on US 66 in Virginia. Yikes!