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Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Adventures in Hiking and Snowshoeing

Fall is the perfect time to slow down and relish things more fully.

I make it a habit to hike and snowshoe as much as I can. It's a winding down of the running season.  It's a nice change of pace (literally).

Pass Mountain trail in Shenandoah National Park near Sperryville, Virginia

The Appalachian Trail near Linden, Virginia

Nicholson Hollow Trail in Shenandoah National Park

Stream crossing on Nicholson Hollow Trail in Shenandoah National Park

A fortuitous early snowstorm led to a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip to Whitegrass

Any adventure is more fun when shared with good friends

View of the pipeline and Weiss Knob

We weren't the only ones out enjoying the snow

Relaxing at Mountain State Brewery, a bar with an open fireplace and outstanding beer.

Great Pumpkin Ride + Coffeeneuring

My Precious Surly LHT and me in my tutu

I've been looking forward to the Great Pumpkin Ride in Warrenton ever since Rootchopper and I rode a metric century there in August.

It was a chilly, sunny morning, perfect for a coffeeneuring ride. Every fall, I look forward to Mary G (@coffeeneur)'s wonderful coffee-fetching-by-bicycle challenge. I had been planning to visit Red Truck Bakery since I read Rootchopper's account of it last year.

I talked my friend Boots (@bootsni), a fellow ultrarunner and bicycle enthusiast into coming along. She's always excellent company, and a strong athlete who is up for anything. I knew we would have a fun day no matter what transpired.

Boots and I had arrived early (in fact, I was the first to arrive at the parking lot. This is unprecendented). We gave ourselves plenty of time to linger over a hot caffeinated beverage.

I had mapped out a route designed to get at least two miles of riding, but my sense of direction handicap got us a little extra. Already the laughs were plentiful and we hadn't even started the official ride.

Coffeeneuring #2: Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, VA

Coffeeneuring #2: Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, VA
A few of the many offerings at Red Truck Bakery
Destination: Red Truck Bakery
22 Waterloo St, Warrenton, VA 

Date: Oct 25 

Distance: 2.4 miles

Drink: half-caf drip for me, full caf for Boots 

Bike Friendly? No real parking, but there was space to lean your bike against the wall. 

Notes: The renowned orange and cranberry muffin did not disappoint!

Our bellies full of hot coffee and delicious baked goods, we meandered back to the parking lot and found John (@Rootchopper) and Lisa (@ramblingrider). They were only planning on riding the 43 mile ride, though, so we took off as it was past time for the longer riders to start. 

We promptly missed the turn for the 70 mile ride and when we realized that, we quickly accepted that fate had dictated a shorter route.

The first refreshment stop was at Old Bust Head Brewery about 10 miles into the ride. They had samples of two of their fine beers for us. I am signing up for this ride every year.

Delicious beer samples at Bust Head Brewery

They also had a spread of food you would not believe. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin whoopie pies. Pumpkin soup. Bananas. Granola bars. Candy.

They even had a few GLUTEN-FREE options! How great is that? While I have the luxury of indulging on occasion without too serious repercussions, it's wonderful to have choices for those who can't (or are doing a clean eating challenge). Kudos to the Fauquier Trails Coalition for this and everything else they did to make this a truly wonderful ride. 

The weather gods smiled down on us and suddenly we had a glorious warm fall day. The foliage was hit or miss along the route but when the colorful leaves were framed against the cobalt blue of the sky, it was stunning. What a fantastic day to be out riding in the Virginia countryside!

I particularly enjoyed this ride because the vibe was friendly. No one seemed enraged to have to pass us in their cars, and the police were at intersections directing traffic just as they would be during a running event. When I thanked them for their help, they smiled.

This was in stark contrast to the Back Roads Century where the police made it clear from the start that you were on your own at high speed crossings, they were only there to issue tickets to those didn't come to a complete stop. Fair enough, but did that require scowling too? Perhaps that ride field is just too large. Or maybe they need to figure out a way to provide a greater economic boost to the community so the inconvenience is worth it.

A particularly lovely wooded stretch
Those thoughts were soon forgotten in the warm sunshine. Crisp leaves fell steadily into the thick carpet of the woods and crunched under my wheel. It was a captivating, delicious music to my ears.

Boots got a ton of compliments on her awesome lobster hat.
The theme of our ride was "Soaking up Vitamin D" and it was apt. If you didn't know, Vitamin D deficiency in our age of sunscreen is widespread and has serious effects on health and well-being. Getting some exposure to sunshine provides an incredible amount of benefits.

Boots and I soaking up Vitamin D
As the ride came to an end, my right knee was getting tender on the inside. I was glad to be done and my stomach demanded we go straight to Molly's Irish Pub for a beer and hot food. The beer was delicious and it went straight to my head. The burger hit the spot. Later, we joined John, Lisa, Reba and her husband Robert at their table and chatted until it was time to head home. 

A good time was had by all. See you there next year!