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A Fortuitous Metric Century

Longhorn cattle. Apparently they're shy.
Rootchopper and Little Nellie with Longhorn cattle

I've been meaning to go on a long bike ride with my friend Rootchopper for ages.

I had met Rootchopper (whose real name is rumored to be John) at Friday Coffee Club a couple of years prior. Besides riding some serious miles just by commuting to work by bicycle, he posts photos and blogs about weekend rides in lovely places. He tells some pretty amusing stories and is good conversation. I was really looking forward to riding with him.

I said I'd love to do about 50 miles, and he had offered up a 43-mile route he'd done at The Great Pumpkin Ride last fall. Close enough. I could always do a few more miles on my own if I felt like it afterward. I figured that would be pretty unlikely.

At the start of the bike path in Warrenton
Obligatory selfie at the start

The weather couldn't have been better. In keeping with our unusually cool August this year, we had low humidity and pleasant temperatures. Though the sun made a few brief appearances, we were happy for the cloud cover.

The ride began with a lovely downhill grade on the Warrenton bike path. Then we popped out onto a two-lane country road. Confession: I had never done a road ride outside of the DC area that wasn't a part of an official event. While I am perfectly comfortable riding in the craziest DC traffic, I was a little tentative about riding country roads with their curves, hills and absence of any real shoulder. But there was no time to dwell on it.  We were well-lit, had ample reflectors and once we were pedaling through the serene countryside, my trepidations were mostly forgotten.

Rootchopper had kindly printed me out a map of our route which I promptly tucked away and lazily allowed him to navigate. The turns all followed yellow arrows which were still plainly marked on the pavement. How easy was this? 

We rolled pleasantly along through verdant woods and past open fields. There were cows and tractors and hay bales and even a tiny dog at one farmhouse who gave chase. I don't think he could have reached my pedal.

Riding through some lovely woods
Through the woods

Past green fields
The "Welcome to Stafford County" sign was our first clue that we might be a little off course. Right at 50k into our ride, we stopped to check the map against our smart phones. 

By "we" I mean I sucked down some Whole30-compliant beet and sweet potato baby food while he did all the work.

Hmm, I don't remember this ride going into Stafford County ...
I don't see this road on our map.
Turns out we were more than a little off course. I was kind of excited that we'd be getting a few more miles out of this picture perfect day.

On we pedaled to rejoin our planned route. We stopped at a couple of country corner stores. I haven't seen stores with that little on offer in awhile. They had cold water, soda and iced tea, baked beans and other canned goods, a few bags of chips and some local fruit. That was about it. 

@ultrarunnergirl at a food stop
Me and My Precious at Grove's Store in Somerville. Photo by Rootchopper.

As we were about to ride away, a young couple emerged from the store. The woman stammered, "Excuse me - this road, can I ask you -- this road --"

She seemed unable to get it out, so I interjected,

"Just so you know, we don't live around here, so we probably won't be any help, but go on."

"I mean, this road, we saw some other people on bicycles earlier. Well, it was another road. But no, it was you! I mean, is it safe to ride here? I'm, you're just, I'm so INSPIRED that you're out here riding your bikes in this beautiful place. I really am!"

The guy never said a word.

Once we recovered from all that, Rootchopper assured her it was quite safe.


We continued our ride, and the hills started to show up a little longer and more frequently than in the first half of our ride.  But the scenery was so lovely, I could hardly hold a grudge. I had to employ the crazy low granny gear on my Surly Long Haul Trucker at least five times.

  Soy. The GMOs, they are everywhere.

Thankfully, Rootchopper proved to be a true friend because every time I fell off the back, he let me catch up again.

Mid-ride selfie.
Bike Selfie. I might be getting a bit loopy at this point.
He had warned me at the beginning that the last section would be uphill. We joked about how marathon spectators always tell you lies like "it's all downhill from here" and "you're almost there."   

Metric Century Elevation
Yep, it felt totally like this in the final miles.

I was thrilled to see the bike path once again, and also to see 64 miles on my watch as we pulled up at my car. My first metric century!

Thanks, John. That was a fantastic ride, and the company was top notch. Let's do it again soon.

See Rootchopper's Ride Report and Photos.

Metric Century Route
Our route.