We decided to cap our biking year last weekend with the Back Roads Century ride, doing the 29-mile route. The ride looked like it would have pretty scenery and the course was described as “moderately hilly,” so we didn’t think it would be too bad…especially since we did 50 just a couple weeks ago.
The ride starts in Berryville, VA, about 60 miles from our house, so we got an early start. The day started out on the bad note when we were just 15 minutes from home and the “check engine” light went on in Andrew’s car. We debated for a minute, then decided that it would be bad if we were off in Berryville and the engine conked out. So, we turned around and moved all of our stuff to my car.
We got to the start point in pretty good time, though, and took off after re-filling our water bottles. The scenery was very pretty…once I learned to ignore all the road kill. In fact, the ride could almost be called the “Road Kill Century.” Oh well, look up, not down, because this is far better to look at:
This is also horse country, so there were loads of horses at all of the farms along the way. For a while it seemed that they were all shy of the road, though, until we came upon this pair:
Note the home burial plot in front of the horses. I really wanted to take a closer look at the gravestones, but refrained – I wasn’t sure how the homeowners would take it if they were to see me stomping around.
Around mile 12 there was a beautiful rest stop at the Burwell-Morgan Mill. We actually kept a fairly good pace on the first 12 miles – there were hills on the way, but most of the uphills were immediately preceded by downhills that allowed a little momentum into the uphills. At the rest stop There were snacks and a Charlie Casabona’s Trio, a trio that included a hammered dulcimer. We stayed a little while to refuel and rest.
After the rest stop, though, things got ugly. There was a scary downhill, which I rode the breaks on (because I couldn’t see the bottom and it was very steep). Of course, this was later followed by an equally scary uphill. I made it about halfway up the hill and then walked the rest of the way.
Yeah, and there were more hills, and bigger hills than were on the first leg of the trip. And then more hills, and then more, and then more. I made it up a few of them, but not up all of them. The second, and last, really big one was killer. Several bikers were walking up it, so I wasn’t alone.
After Andrew and I stopped for some water and caught our breath, we went on again…and I had a flat. Yup. Flat, flat, flat. Turned out that there was a small piece of glass in my tire. When we pulled out my spare inner tube, it appeared to be the wrong size. So, with the last few electrons in my phone, I called the roadside assistance, and we waited.
It took a while, but the roadside car came, and the guy fixed up my tire very quickly. Then we were an our way again. There weren’t any more really big hills, but by this time my legs were pretty much spent. I made it up a few hills (very slowly), but I also walked up a couple…I just couldn’t do them all.
When we made it back to our starting point, there was a big picnic. We picked up our t-shirts and water bottles, and then grabbed a well-deserved lunch.
I wore my helmet camera for the ride (and only missed a small part of the trip due to not turning it on), and made a time-lapse of our ride:
Yup, we took a bike ride to celebrate our sixth anniversary! Wonder why?
This is where we were on our honeymoon:
Aren’t we cute? We’ve come a long way since then…both on the bikes and off. Best six years of my life so far…any moments that weren’t best (such as finishing my thesis) were made better by having Andrew in my life. I love you, honey.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but Andrew and I have been training since March to do a half-century bike ride. For those of you unfamiliar with biking “lingo”, a half-century is a 50-mile bike ride. This is a huge jump from last year’s longest ride of 30 miles, so we knew we had to train for it. Previous years we’ve just noodled around, adding a mile or two to our ride each weekend, but not seriously training. As a result, the 30 mile rides nearly killed us…okay, not really, but we were exhausted after them, staying in our jammies the day after those rides.
So we decided to train for this ride, and we have trained since April. Since then, I have put in nearly 950 miles between the real bike and the stationary bike in our basement. I’ve done 300 miles on the real bike alone. We started to find that 30 mile rides were no problem…much more than that was still a lot of work. We trained up to a 40 mile ride, which we did 3 weeks ago.
From the beginning, I wanted to do the entire length of the W&OD trail for our ride, but it’s only 44.5 miles long, so we had to add a little on. The plan was to take Metro to East Falls Church, which lies at mile 5 of the W&OD. From there take the trail to mile 0, then out to 44.5. The little extra getting to the Metro and getting from the Metro to the trail would take care of the extra 0.5 miles. Read more…
This was the first time I’ve done an organized ride. We tried to do the WABA ride several years ago, but it was cancelled by damage from Hurricane Isabel. Each year since then we have had some conflict with the ride. I was excited that this year’s ride worked out for us…excited and a little nervous. I’m not exactly the fastest rider on the planet, so one of my biggest fears was that we’d get “swept up” before finishing the ride. I knew I could do the 19 miles that’s actually a couple miles short of what our long ride should be this weekend for our training schedule…I’m just not as fast as many other riders.
I wasn’t certain about the weather, since I’d woken up a couple times in the night to hear downpours and thunder. We got up at 5:30 and checked the weather reports one said 10% chance of rain until about 11AM when it would go up to 40-50%; another site said 90% chance for rain going up to 100% at 11AM. Hmmmm….they could not have been more different. We decided to at least head downtown, and if it was raining hard, we could always bail.
We had to be on the first Metro train out of the station in the morning so we could check in at registration. I’d been hoping to be one of the first riders out, but the 7AM train didn’t get us into DC until about 7:40. We checked in at the Registration at Freedom Plaza downtown and got going on the ride a bit before 8AM.
The route brought us right by the White House.
Then we went into Georgetown along the Whitehurst Freeway. It’s a little sad that this freeway is usually occupied by cars with drivers who probably don’t enjoy the view, because it was quite lovely. From there we crossed the Key Bridge and hopped onto the GW parkway. Part of the Parkway was closed off for the ride. It started drizzling a bit on this stretch of the ride, but it wasn’t bad. The route was a bit of a bear, though, because it was uphill, it seemed, for about 1.5 miles. Coming back down? Fun!
The next stop was a trip around the Iwo Jima memorial.
Then it was on to the Air Force Memorial. It was a huge uphill trip from the main road up, but worth it for the view. It was also my first time at this memorial.
From there it was just a few miles to the finish in Crystal City. And I didn’t get “swept up”! We arrived around 10:30AM, so 2.5 hours for 19 miles, photos, and a pit stop. Mostly I had fun the only questionable part was that uphill on the GW Parkway, but hey, it’s in the bank, right?
You can see the rest of my pics from the ride here: Bike DC
My officemate is complaining that I haven’t updated this blog enough. Of course, he could just talk to me, but that’s too much trouble.
So here are some random bullets of stuff that I’d thought about writing at the time, but never got around to:
Yes, we’ve been biking this summer. We don’t have a clear goal like we have the past couple of years. I’d rather work on getting my speed up than shear distance, but it’s hard to figure out how to make myself go faster. It should be easy to measure if we’re going faster or not, but how do you make yourself go faster without wearing yourself out completely? It would suck to be 10 miles from the car without enough energy to get back.
Anyway, Andrew wrote a cool little applet that I’m trying to work into my blog sidebar so y’all can keep track of how much biking we’re doing. I’ll let you know when I have it working.
We went to Montreal over Mother’s Day to see Andrew’s mom. I’d heard about an exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on “Inspirations of Disney” running this spring, so we decided to go. We stayed in Montreal and visited McGill campus and the Redpath Museum, the McCord Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts. We also walked around Old Montreal, and stopped at the Montreal equivalent of Build a Bear to get outfits for “the girls”. And we spent Mother’s Day with Andrew’s parents, taking them to dinner and driving up Mount Royal.
The trip had some fun quirks, though. The trip out was fun because we ended up sitting on the airplane on the tarmac for 2.5 hours. They then brought us back to the terminal so we could get dinner (and the plane could refuel) before we finally got underway. The trip home…well, let’s just say that I was up in the bathroom the entire night before. Fortunately I slept for the plane ride, but it was a bit scary, if you know what I mean.
If you look at my Flickr stream at all, you’ve probably noticed that I’m uploading loads of old pictures. I’ve decided that I need a back-up of my pics somewhere, so I’m going through all of my old pictures and putting copies up on Flickr.
Andrew started his new job a couple of weeks ago, and he seemed much more content. Now if we can iron out our scheduling bugs. He gets home much later than he used to, so I’ve had to take over some of the cooking duties. It’s not that I can’t cook, it’s just that I don’t like it as much as Andrew does. (I don’t hate it, I just find it annoying to have to do it day after day after day after day after day after day.) Then again, I’ve warned him that my schedule may get wonky once I start writing my thesis.
We had a yard sale a few weeks ago, and I set up a table with my scrapbooks and jewelry. I sold one of my bracelets, and lots of people “ooo”ed and “ah”ed over my scrapbooks. I think that if I could get enough stock to get a table at my work’s craft sale this fall I could do pretty well. The problem with selling on Etsy is that people can’t pick them up and look at them — the pictures just don’t do justice to the work that goes into the books I do. The problem at the yard sale was there was a bit of sticker shock, since people were looking for bargins, rather than full-priced items.
Speaking of Etsy, I made my first sale to a complete stranger last week! One of my blanket bears is on her way to a new home in California. Yay!
I think that’s it. I don’t promise to be better about posting – my heart just isn’t in it right now, but I’ll pop by from time to time.
For the first time since I got my bike over 4 years ago, I’ve had a bad bike ride. Andrew and I have biked in 100-degree temperatures, put up with asshole cyclists, and pushed ourselves further on the bikes than I thought possible. But up until now, I’ve enjoyed those rides — the 100-degree day was still fun, because we were exploring some residential streets near our house that we’d never been down before. In fact, those streets were hilly, and even in the heat, I was able to navigate them without hopping off my bike and walking. The long rides we took last year zapped my energy for the rest of the day, but I really felt good about the day in general.
This morning seemed like the ideal biking morning – the sun was shining with a few clouds in the sky and the temperature was in the lower 60s. We set out at around 9AM, sans sheatshirts or jackets, in anticipation of the the temperature warming up a bit as the morning wore on. Silly us. Our first destination was a huge yard sale about 8 miles away, just off the W&OD trail, and by the time we got there, the temperature had dropped, the wind picked up, and clouds had taken over the sky.
Instead of turning back after purusing the yard sale (and picking up a couple books for our Halloween give-aways), we pushed on to Reston, just another mile or two down the W&OD. The hope was to spend a bit of time in Reston, where they were having a “Pet Fiesta”, rest up and then head back home.
By then, though, I was getting a bit cranky, I was downright cold, and just wanted to get home. We made it back into Vienna, but I was feeling iffy about whether or not my legs would be able to pedal all the way home. In Vienna, we had to part company with the W&OD trail, but still had 3 miles to get go before we were home. Just after we got off the trail, I got a raindrop right in the eye. The rest of the trip home there was a bit or rain, still windy, and just not a fun ride.
I actually did make it home under my own power, but I was completely wiped out. After a shower and lunch, I snuggled up under my covers with two cats for about 3 hours. I’m still a bit out-of-sorts.
I suppose that spring has been in the air for a while – it’s supposed to be crappy, odd, oscillating weather in the spring, right? But today was beautiful.
We started with a 13 mile bike ride. We took the W&OD trail from Vienna in toward DC. Just after the Falls Church Metro station, there is a small park where I had to stop and play on the swings.
After lunch, we stopped at the garden shop and picked up some mulch, flowers and herbs. I spent the afternoon mulching the front yard and planting flowers in our deck’s flower box. I’ve told Andrew to place bets about how long I’ll be able to keep those pretty, pretty flowers alive. I’m guessing they’ll be overrun by weeds by early June. Any takers?
For the second time this summer, we’ve done a 30 mile ride! Yay us!
This time we drove the bikes out to Ashburn, where the W&OD trail crosses Belmont Ridge Road. I thought this was the location of the convenience store that we’ve often biked to from Herndon, but turned out to be the next crossing out. Good thing, though, because our goal was the end of the trail, in Purcellville, and back, and I’m not sure I would have made it even the extra couple miles.
Today was very, very humid, but the temperature wasn’t too bad. On the stretches of trail with lots of tree-cover, the ride was very pleasant. However, on the few stretches without any shade, it got to be opressive especially on the ride back when I was already reaching seat-intolerance.
It was a lot of fun to get back out to Purcellville again, though. We stopped in at Final Draft Books, browsed for a little while and picked up some well-earned drinks and snacks. Then we walked down the street to the cool toy store we discovered on our Honeymoon. There, I found an awesome toy for my brother’s birthday (can’t say what it is, just in case he stumbles upon this entry). All-in-all we spent about an hour in Purcellville before bopping back on the bikes and returning.
I have to say that 30 miles, after several weeks of too-hot biking conditions, being on travel, and pathetic rides, was perhaps a bit too much. I mean, yes, I made it, but a muscle in my right leg started hurting around mile 20 and I reached seat-intolerance at about mile 25. As long as I didn’t do any real damage, though, it does feel good to push myself.
Despite the perfect biking weather today, we still had some trouble getting out of the house for a ride. So, we decided on just to tool around Vienna. We headed up to a nearby cemetery that we’ve been meaning to see, and then just putzed around the back streets of Vienna. It was a short, short ride, but it was good to get out on the bikes finally.
Trip miles: 6.2 miles Weekend miles: 6.2 miles Season miles: 242.5 miles
We finally got out on the bikes again today. Yesterday it looked like rain in the morning, so we decided to scrap our biking plans, catch the farmer’s market in Vienna and finally see Superman Returns. It was wet outside this morning, but the sun was out, and despite weather.com’s report that we had 80% humidity, we decided to brave it. As it turned out, it wasn’t that bad for biking. The temperature wasn’t too high and there was a bit of a breeze which helped with that humidity. The clouds returned for a while and we felt a few drops, but all in all not bad weather for biking.
And Andrew finally got to try out his new biking outfit we bought him over a week ago. I’d been raving about how much I loved my biking clothes the padded shorts, the water-wicking material, and of course, the fashion statement it makes.
Our destination was Hole in the Wall Books. We’ve biked there several times, but usually we drive the bikes up to Vienna and bike from there. Today we just biked from home. That adds about 6 miles to the round trip total, and, actually, without that the ride has become almost too short for us now.
When we got to Falls Church, we biked up Broad Street a bit to a statue Andrew had seen on his last trip to the doctor. He had thought it was a man with a bunch of dogs. What was it really? A disturbing statue of a farmer feeding slop to a bunch of pigs. WTF? The statue is outside Don Beyer’s Volvo, and apparently Don Beyer Sr. was the one who commissioned the statue. Just weird.
Trip miles: 17.2 miles (or so – my bike computer keeps resetting itself at random, even while I’m in the middle of biking) Weekend miles: 17.2 miles Season miles: 236.3 miles