This past weekend, I enjoyed the most beautiful bicycle ride of my life in the Virginia countryside.
The Potomac Pedalers put on a fantastic event. The ride was all I had been promised (thanks Rootchopper!) and more. We lucked into one of those perfect fall days with crisp air and warm sun.
We rose at 4:30 a.m., applied coffee and loaded our bikes in the Honda Element. Side rant: WHY did they stop making these? We saw about 100 of them at this event.
We navigated our way to Berryville, Virginia. Even in my half-awake state I took notice of the lovely hamlets we were passing through.
|Drew, Dave, me and Hubz at the start. It was a wee bit chilly at 8 a.m.|
Three of our ultrarunning friends were also riding. Marti was representing at the full century on her sleek new Trek Madone. Drew and Dave were riding the 50 despite not having trained for the ride at all. It didn't show.
Hubz pumped up our tires while I got my bike shorts and chamois cream situated and dithered about how many layers to wear. I only have two pairs of bike gloves: fingerless and lobster, so I grabbed a pair Smartwool socks to put over my fingers. That worked, kind of.
|Rootchopper and the Mule sighting|
We rolled out on gloriously flat, smooth blacktop road. Right away, Drew and Dave were cranking. I did my best to hang on for the early miles, and then thought better of it and settled into my own pace. Hubz dropped back to ride with me, but I think he was a little bummed that we couldn't all stay together. Sorry honey, and yes, I need to do more strength work ...
|At the Burwell-Morgan Mill rest stop. You thought I was kidding about the harp, didn't you?|
We rode on, admiring handsome barns and Civil War era stone walls, stopping occasionally to snap photos of especially lovely scenes. We cruised along quiet, tree-lined country roads, basking in the warm sunlight. Everything felt right with the world.
|Hubz riding his Novara Element, a cyclocross bike. He doesn't own a road bike.|
|We saw horses, sheep and alpacas. Yes, I failed you because I didn't get any photos of alpacas.|
|There's Signal Knob on the left, in the distance.|
There were plenty of flat stretches, for which I was grateful. There were lots of rollers too and that kept it from being leisurely. Hubz likes to keep his heart rate up, so he was happy as a clam.
|Hubz was strong on the hills. I am getting passed yet again.|
|Drew and Dave ride past the "White Post" for which this place is named|
|More scenery that doesn't suck|
I had expected more daunting hills, so I was extremely happy not to encounter any mean ones until close to the finish. Even then, they were either steep or long, not both. However, I must register a formal complaint against the headwind which seemed to change direction every time we did.
We made the right call in choosing to ride just 50 miles. Our necks and shoulders were happy to be done but our legs were eager for more. Always leave the party while you're still having fun.
We stood around stuffing out faces at the post-ride barbecue, talking about how much fun we'd had. We marveled at how much less endurance biking hurts than running, and debated about what distance in trail running compared to how we felt after 50 miles of road cycling.
The exhilaration of the ride and the camaraderie of friends was intoxicating; we were already talking about doing another.
I'm definitely planning to return to ride the full century next year!