Cap to Cap to Cap

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

It was a most beautiful day. Tim and I drove to Richmond and parked at the Great Shiplock Park which is about one mile from the Richmond Main Station. We rode to the station and waited.

Tim and the Great Shiplock Park

If only someone knew how to run a train. Sigh. A woman greeted us (nice) and told us the train was running late. Still under pandemic protocols, most of the large open station was closed off so people had to be in one area. The doors to the outdoor platform where one could breathe fresh air were locked.

Entrance to Main Station, Richmond

When the train arrived and arriving passengers disembarked they could not open the doors to get into the station. And we could not leave to get to the platform. Finally (maybe no more than two minutes but for some people, it probably seemed much longer), an employee came and opened the doors.

Great Shiplock Park (viewed from Amtrak)

Tim and I rolled our bikes onto the platform. The conductor said he had a bike rack in this car and “back there.” I guess I took this one and Tim went back there. We went to separate cars.

My bike aboard the train (ready to disembark)

The rack had one hook and I tried to hang my front wheel but the hook didn’t like a deeper rim that I had. I was able to turn it just right and hang it. I then saw an instruction sign that said to remove the front wheel. Not sure how that would have worked. I didn’t have my tool to remove the wheel readily available.

That also tells me Amtrak is not accommodating of many bikes. They must anticipate quick-release skewers which have been replaced by through-axles. Depending on the bike you may need a special tool to remove the wheel. I use a mini-rachet which I did not have with me. For an emergency, I could get to one in a tool kit inside my frame. As for bikes with bolted-on front wheels, they would be out of luck too. Amtrak can do better if they want to.

About halfway through the ride I put the bike in a luggage area. It fit better. I actually through we were approaching Williamsburg and was getting ready. But we weren’t.

Williamsburg, Va.

Once in Williamsburg, we rolled down through Duke of Glocester Street in Colonial Williamsburg. Very slowly. If Tim wanted a faster average speed today I killed it in Colonial Williamsburg.

Governor’s Palace, Colonial Williamsburg

Rather than take John Tyler Highway directly to Jamestown to meet the trail, my mapping took us through some residential areas. They were very pretty but I’m not sure about the benefit. The highway did have a bike lane for much of it. I think the only section it did not was where we finally picked it up.

Williamsburg

We passed a Taco Bell and grabbed a not-so-quick bite to eat knowing that food options were limited on the ride. It was 11:30 a.m.

Taco Bell, Williamsburg

The trail in Jamestown was easy to find. The Virginia Capital Trail is a paved and boardwalk trail that follows the Rte. 5 corridor. While next to the highway almost all of it has a strand of trees between it and the road. When there is no traffic going by one does not see the road and it appears it is a trail in the woods.

Jamestown Settlement

There are not many provisions on the trail. I had forgotten there was a very nice-looking deli restaurant at Mile 2.5 (Spokes + Art Provisions Co.). At Charles City, there is Haupts gas station which has some good fried chicken. Also in Charles City, there is Cul’s Courthouse Grille. And then northing until Mile 48.

The long bridge at MP1

We had a wonderful headwind most of the way. But it was 72º and it was great.

A deer is outstanding in his field

At Kingsland Road we left the trail as I opted for some back roads which added two to three miles. Tim was okay with that because he wanted to make sure we rode a metric century (100 km or 62.14 miles). The mileage would do that. These were roads used in the Climb to Conquer Cancer that I have ridder before. And I approved.

Chickahominy River

We stopped for water when we got back to the trail, around Mile 48 . There is a new 7-Eleven opening soon but was a store across the highway as well. Tim got water for the last five miles and we began the nice mostly downhill ride to Richmond.

Chickahominy River

I don’t know what picture I had painted of Libby Hill but I think Tim was picturing Mount Washington and not Libby Hill. When we got to Rocket’s Landing I could see the monument atop Libby Hill and pointed that out to Tim. I think he was relieved to see that it wasn’t far away and it wasn’t very high.

Richmond in the distance

I wanted Libby Hill. Twice I raced it as a timed climb in the Climb to Conquer Cancer. Both times I finished at 0:53. Three weeks ago my time was good enough to win the 65-69 age group at the event. The problem for me is they had a 60-69 age group. I never saw official results and could not easily determine on Strava who I may have lost to but the most important person I am racing is me. And I wanted a good race time today.

Church, Williamsburg, Va.

We came to the gated entrance (no vehicles permitted) and I showed Tim the climb. He thought it might take him four minutes. I pointed out that even if he went half as fast as me he’d still be there in under two minutes.

The trail

I was hoping for one second. I hit the climb from a dead stop. The bike started to bounce. I made the hard left onto the climb and felt the rear wheel slip on the wet cobbles as here there is always some runoff or drainage across the road. It’s about 6″-12″ at best (worst).

One of the boardwalk bridges on the trail

My helmet, which I thought was tight, was moving as were my sunglasses. I never looked at my Wahoo Live Segments to see if I was ahead or behind my PR pace.

Near Great Shiplock Park, passing underneath the train tracks, Richmond

Halfway up is the sharp right-hander. Once I turned it I got out of the saddle. Three weeks ago I tried standing here and the bike bounced so much I sat back down. Today I stood and let the bike bounce.

Strava showed me 0:47. Strava disagreed.

I’m not sure if I was out of the saddle the rest of the way or if I sat. But I went across the top and saw the time – 0:47.

Horses in Williamsburg

I killed it. I destroyed my previous best time. Then I saw Tim was coming and I was encouraging him as well. And in his first time, he came in 1:33. Excellent! Being his first time he now has a marker for a PR for the next time as well.

I beat Libby Hill. Credit: Tim

Officially, Strava would record my time as 0:48. I still destroyed it. And maybe the next cancer climb, a 0:48 would be good enough for the 60-69 group. (They should align with Strava’s 65-69 group but that’s a different discussion.)

The top two times were done on trainers and not actually at Libby Hill

We descended back to the car. Tim saw a parking lot that looked promising to cut through although we didn’t need to. But it had two bridges which led to Stone Brewing. When we exited we were in the outdor cafe area of the brewery. Oops. Let us ride between your tables. We went through the parking lot and were back on the trail only 400 meters from where we parked. In all we rode through three of Virginia’s capitals through history, Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Richmond.



WEIGHT: 170 pounds

Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA

I did not have a good feeling about this weekend. Tires, like most bike parts, have been in short supply since last year. It caught up to me on Monday when I had a flat on my front wheel.

Rocktown Bicycles, Harrisonburg, Va.

I bought replacement Schwalbe tires and installed them on Thursday. On Friday I rode to Fosters in Manassas. While I was eating the rear tire went PFFFFFFT. That was strange for a new tire but I pulled out my repair kit, put in a new tube, and was ready to roll.

Rocktown Bicycles, Harrisonburg, Va.

The tire held well despite only 40 psi. I stopped at home, brought the pressure up to 90 psi, then finished my ride. After I put the bike back the rear tire went PFFFFFFT. I changed the tire and one hour later the third new tube went PFFFFFFT. Well, it was time to learn my lesson. I inspected the wheel and saw there was a hole in the rim tape. It was 7:00 p.m. on Friday and no place for repair. I would travel to Harrisonburg with a wheel needing repair.

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Yesterday I went Rocktown Bicycles in Harrisonburg. This is a very nice shop and Sean greeted me. I told him what I needed and in 10 minutes I was out the door and ready to roll.

Maybe move the post two feet? Harrisonburg, Va.

As the top fundraiser for the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project, I was invited on a private ride at noon with how to write a essay about myself go kjell stensson nolvadex admission essay writing service ca comparing two cars essay best essays ghostwriters websites uk go to link albany institute of history and art admission essay pastillas cialis 20 mg precio picture of a cover letter amerimedrx coupon code https://zacharyelementary.org/presentation/homework-questions-section-2-answers/30/ go to link https://www.elc.edu/school/cambridge-essay-samples/53/ viagra best buy online review what is a essay questions scholarship essay for highschool students https://library.citytech.cuny.edu/podcast/article.php?publish=anna-hazare-essay-about-myself community service papers essays essay on golden temple in punjabi see url 00000151 htm kakalikj kbas people wcsu edu project test viagra levitra struthers aquinas 5 ways essay outline national merit essay https://tffa.org/businessplan/example-essay-dream-house/70/ college graduation speech essay majora wrath female viagra watch https://thejeffreyfoundation.org/newsletter/thesis-author-box/17/ https://ncappa.org/term/high-level-english-essay/4/ billigste viagra coupon Jeremiah Bishop. But my phone decided to bring in every single saved email and put it in my phone’s inbox. With thousands of emails, I could not find the one about the ride info. I tried unsuccessfully to contact someone about the ride.

Early morning registration

My alternative was that I went to Brothers Craft Brewing and then the Hotel Madison, two locations we had used in the past. No ride. Since registration was at 2:00 p.m. and I decided to ride around town. And that was OK because I did not need a 30-mile ride before the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo.

Robert Hess and Barry Sherry line up first for the roll out

I stayed in town at Tru by Hilton. Who uses alarm clocks? Well, the guest before me, that’s who. At 5:00 a.m. the alarm went off. I was not ready to get up. And I didn’t know how to turn off the alarm. I unplugged the clock and started my day with one less hour of sleep than planned.

The starting line – my vest was in my back pocket for the photo

I drove to the venue after thinking I would ride there. But U.S. Rte 11 looked sketchy (curb to curb, no shoulder). Once I arrived I got my timing chip and then heard my name being announced as the top fundraiser. I went to the mic and told my “secret” to raising money. “You have to ASK people.”

The choice today was 78 or 100 miles. These are the same routes except for the addition of a 22-mile loop. At the start I wasn’t “feeling” 100 miles. I got my bottles ready, grabbed some food, and went to the starting area. It was 48º. I put on a vest and arm warmers.

Robert are you in there?

We rolled out of town. Once we turned on Switchboard Road I let people pass me. The road is crowded and it’s tight. I just don’t trust the big group. And I had a bigger goal. At 10 miles into the ride I would “celebrate” 1,000 consecutive days of riding at least 10 miles. I didn’t want to be taken down in a crash which almost happened beside me when a rider clunked his gears, came to a start, and was almost rear-ended.

Our fan section

Also, further back was Robert Hess. I pulled over to wait for him. I didn’t see him so I continued. But when we came to At Whitmore Shop Road I waited for him to arrive. We chatted for a few minutes and then he went left and I went right. I already let the main group gain 4-5 minutes on me.

Proud Grandfather

I told Ashley and Bryan they could expect me to roll by at 9:00 a.m. And at 9:00, I saw them up ahead on a pull-off area just before George Washington National Forest. They had signs cheering me on. I stopped for about five minutes, gave the girls a hug, and told them I would see them at the top.

Chickens on High Point

I hit the climb which is a timed KOM segment. After four or five minutes I looked at my Wahoo computer. I was only eight seconds behind my all-time best which was 10 years ago. I had no idea.

Another minute or so and I was only down six seconds. I started to think that maybe I could get a PR. I was 10-12 minutes in when I saw I was ahead by two seconds. And I was catching people. I was feeling good. Every previous attempt I was trying to count the distance to the top. Today I didn’t even notice. Everyone up the road was just a new target to reel in.

Volunteer at the rest stop in Brandywine, WV

In all, I caught and passed 11 people on the climb and did not get passed by anyone. Of course, I was almost dead last when I started so who was left to pass me? I was up 1:02 when I reached the top. A PR! I was very excited.

Rest stop at Sugar Grove, WV. Rocktown Bicycles provided the bike support.

At the top, the girls were waiting for me. My day was made. No matter what else happened I PR’d Shenandoah Mountain and I saw the girls on course. It would be a great day. When they told me that they would be in town in the afternoon I decided I would do the 78-mile ride so they could see me finish.

Sugar Grove, WV

I bombed the descent on Rte 33 to Brandywine. I made it over to the rest stop which is at the base of the climb up Reddish Knob. After a short break and a small can of Coke, the climb began. I don’t know what happened but almost immediately I was 40 seconds behind my best time. But the time began to come down. And I was catching and passing people. The Live Tracking on my Wahoo stopped working and I would have to wait to find out if I set another PR. (I did.)

Start of the climb up Reddish Knob

I passed two girls from the Miller School of Albermarle. I had been chatting with them at the rest stop and they were pulled over. I really admire these young kids. Since they weren’t in immediate distress I continued on but decided when I reached the top I would turn around and go back to shepherd them up the climb. I passed the KOM finish but realized it was about a half-mile short of the Strava segment. So I had to keep going to the end when I could turn around. In all, I passed 10 riders on this climb. I was passed by no one.

Flying down the mountain

Going back down I met the girls then turned around. One of them had to stop to take on a gel. But other than that they were riding well. When we reached the summit we started down Reddish Knob. I warned them the pavement was crap but they did not heed the warning. They flew! At first, they gapped me but I eventually caught on. They were taking too many risks for my liking as I hung on.

Flying down the mountain

As the road started to level out, we slowed down and just chatted. As we left the steeper part of the mountain which was mostly traffic-free, I went to the front and they stayed on my wheel until we reached the next rest stop together. They told me they were riding the 78-mile route.

The Amish near Dayton, Va.

Actually, I was feeling good enough now to ride the 100 but had the granddaughters waiting for me in town. I texted them that I would finish between 2:30 and 2:35.

Beaver Creek

In the valley I saw lots of Amish, at one point maybe more than 30 buggies pulled by horses. I passed one buggy, announcing my presence as loud as I could so I did not spook the horse. I waved at very single one that passed me in the opposite direction and almost all waved back – and smiled too. The time was 1:45 and they appeared to all be headed to a 2:00 gathering.

Near Dayton, Va.

Most surprising to me was a young Amish man passing me in the opposite direction. I waved but he couldn’t wave back as he had one hand on his handlebars and one hand holding a cell phone to his ear. It appeared to be a flip phone, not a smart phone.

Jeremiah Bishop and Barry Sherry

The last timed climb was Mole Hill. I wasn’t sure I would have anything left but saw that I got a PR on it too. And there were three more segments on the way back into town. I PR’d them all.

1000 Days 1000 Rides

At 2:32 p.m. I came to the finish. The grandkids were waiting. I was introduced to the crowd but without anything that I had written on my application. We took a family photo and I hung out for a while.

My riding partners down the mountain

After they left I checked Strava. PRs on the three timed climbs and all three I was in the Top Ten Age Group. Then I checked to see if there were any times better than mine in that list for today. And there was one. I found a guy who beat me by 2:00 on Shenandoah; 1:00 on Reddish, and I beat him by a minute on Mole Hill. So he got me by 2:00 total and I knew I was not the KOM for my age group. But I did finish second in my age group in the climb. And this year a sprint was added. I finished second there too. Maybe there were only two of us.

High Knob 33 is Shenandoah Mountain

But I was happy. My best times were 10 years ago and who would have thought I could PR at my age? I am not a climber and this improvement was very satisfying. I accept that there are better climbers. I had a great day on the bike and a better one off the bike with my granddaughters.

Everyone (that knew the Tour de France) loved this sign Ashley carried

Note: At the beginning, I was right behind a safety bump and was not clipped in to start. I awkwardly pushed off with my feet losing a couple of places and forgetting to start my Wahoo. This file is missing the first 0.4 miles.

Climb to Conquer Cancer

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

I came to Richmond wanting to set a PR on Libby Hill. And if it was good enough, maybe win my age group (fat chance). I failed. I tied. Ugh.

Parking at Great Shiplock Park in Richmond

The Climb to Conquer Cancer is an event run by Amy’s Army of Cancer Warriors benefitting the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. I first did this event two years ago. In that event, I climbed Libby Hill three times, one pre-race, and twice during the race. Today I climbed it to get to registration and then during the event. I also did the climb once when I rode from Williamsburg to Richmond. So this was my sixth time.

Timing Chip – Climb to Conquer Cancer

In the COVID era, some events haven’t come back (Livestrong-Austin is canceled next month). Others are modified with smaller fields. This was an extreme modification. They offered no rest stops. None. Nada. I would have to carry everything I needed with me or stop along the route.

Survivor Bib – Climb to Conquer Cancer

Unlike past years where there was a small ceremony, National Anthem, then a police-escorted roll-out, today was “show and go.” For me, it meant not forming up with any other riders.

Registration Tent

I left the house around 6:15 a.m. which was a little late. My ETA was 7:45 which was later than I wanted to arrive. I parked at Great Shiplock Park which is convenient enough. I had iced my bottles and took Skratch mix with me. Added that to one bottle, poured ice water in both. Grabbed two packs of entry chews from Skratch and one gel. And that would be my nutrition and hydration for the day.

Libby Hill Cobbles.

I rode up Libby Hill, even stopping to take a picture of the cobbled route. It is much bumpier than I remembered.

Monument Libby Hill Richmond

Registration was giving your name and being handed a timing chip plate for the bike. With one zip tie, it never fit well on the bike. I should have forced the issue and used two ties. There were “bibs” for survivors, in honor of, and in memory of. But there were no Sharpies to write names on them. And there were no safety pins to attach and wear them.

Was this Amy?

I signed up knowing this would be a “lite” version. I was OK with not having support. But I wasn’t prepared for not having a Sharpie or safety pins. I had those in my car. I would have taken some to registration. But this was a major disappointment.

James River, Richmond

On a cancer ride, there is great community among the riders when they wear the names of others or even themselves. These are talking points. Connecting with others. And today, this ride missed that.

Battlefield Park Road

It was a beautiful day. The temperature at registration was 65º. There were some riders milling around and I wasn’t sure if they were waiting to register or not. I leaned my bike against a tree and registered. Then I rolled out by myself.

My Wahoo GPS seemed slow in drawing the route for me so I navigated from memory, a little, before it picked up the track. I only missed one turn but knew it right away. And then I was off and riding.

Virginia Capitol Trail

I had marked a number of segments, most were in the first half of the route, that I would compete for PRs. And they started coming just one after another. And each one was a PR. I caught and passed some riders. Twice I was passed by a paceline but it was actually once. After having been passed the paceline took a break at the 7-Eleven while I kept going.

Osborne Turnpike, Richmond

I rationed my food and water and never stepped off the bike. I put a foot down in the first block at a traffic light, then again crossing Rte 5, and finally, I took a natural break on a deserted side road (in the woods). No riders went by. I literally was by myself all day long only occasionally seeing riders up the road and passing them.

East Main Street, Richmond

Around Mile 50, with no additional food or hydration, my Wahoo tempted me with GO! I decided not to contest any more PR segments, waiting instead for the finish. I came to Libby Hill. There were a couple of volunteers at the base. I turned onto the cobbles.

Looking down Libby Hill

I have a bike better equipped for climbing the cobbles this year than I did two years ago. And I have a body better equipped. I should have set a PR. I looked for the gutter where I could ride the concrete instead of the cobbles. When that ended I turned the last corner. I saw a photographer so I naturally stood because standing photos are so much better than seated. But I quickly took a seat. It was too rough to be standing.

Finish line on Libby Hill

I finished. I asked about the timing chips and was told I could keep mine. There was nothing at the end. I wanted to take a photo of someone finishing. No one came. I left.

Capitol Trail coming back into Richmond

Other than Libby Hill, I’d say there are no hills on route at least after the first five miles. It’s a rolling country route, mostly roads but some on the Virginia Capital Trail. It’s neat to finish on Libby Hill. And it’s a good cause. I hope they can get back to a fully supported ride. With safety pins.



I don’t know about the timing on the climb. I sort of trust Strava uploads more than the chips on our bikes. I do not know what triggered the start of my climb. I did not see any timing mechanism at the start, only at the finish.

I don’t know what age groups the event has. If they use what Strava (and Mount Washington Auto Road Hillclimb) uses, I would be in the 65-69 age group. I was 9th overall, all-time, in my age group and five of those were done on Zwift in the comfort of their homes. And no one today was faster. But there may be someone who doesn’t use Strava. Or timing – maybe mine didn’t record for the event. I don’t know. And maybe they use a 60-69 age group and I can’t see the 60-64 age group. But it does look like maybe, just maybe, I won that age group today.

Overall, of people who uploaded to Strava, I was 16th out of 40.

Lunch with Texas Friends

LINDEN, VIRGINIA

Planning for this day began weeks ago, accelerated last week, then almost blew up today.

Welcome Texas 4000

At 3:00 a.m. my alarm went off. I ignored it but never really got back to sleep. I had offered to provide lunch today for the Texas 4000. With everything in place I received a text at 10:00 p.m. last night that the location I worked hard to secure would not work because the satellite view showed there was not enough room to turn their van and trailer around.

Ready to roll with a pocket full of Twizzlers

We would leave the house without knowing where we would be setting up. All of us, lunch providers and the Texas4000, would have to be very flexible about where we met.

Apple butter cinnamon donuts from The Apple House Restaurant

Cheri and I left home around 7:00 a.m. to set up the lunch stop. Our destination was Linden which was around Mile 75 of their 150-mile day. We were still on the road at 8:15 a.m. when I got a text that the first group was way ahead of schedule and would be in for lunch at 9:00 a.m. It was “lunch” because they ate at 3:30 this morning in preparation for a 4:00 a.m. rollout.

My Texas 4000 Stem Cap

Rather than take Interstate-66 to Linden, we took Watermill Road which is a beautiful backcountry road as I knew the roads they would be riding today. I didn’t know how many groups were on the roads (I figured three or four – answer: three) and whether they would be ahead of us or behind us on Watermill as they came down Mountain Road.

We came upon four riders for the T4K. I have a T4K jersey that I bought in 2016 and we gently passed going wide very lightly tapping repeatedly on the horn. Cheri waved the jersey out the passenger window. We heard a shriek. “That is so cool!!!”

As we continued to drive on Watermill we came upon a second group. Again, a gentle pass of the group with a multiple light horn tap, enough to let them know we were friendly and that they should look. This time it evoked a louder reaction. Both groups would say that was a real pick-me-up as they were already on Mile 50 of a 150-mile day.

Still unsure of where we would meet them and set up lunch, we stopped at the Apple House restaurant in Linden. I would be quick and left my wife, my phone, and the keys in the car as I went inside for donuts. The manager had promised that they would donate donuts but since I was unsure of who was working, I grabbed my Texas4000 jersey as a way of explanation.

Austin, Autusa, Kirsten, Morgan

Aaliyah, the cashier, disappeared for a second and went to get two dozen donuts. I opened the door to the restaurant and motioned for my wife to come in “but leave the car unlocked” and she did. The car had power-locked behind her. A sick feeling instantly hit me.

The keys and my phone (which could unlock the car) were in the car. We were at least one hour from home and our extra key and no way to get there. I felt sick to my stomach. Minutes earlier I had been texting with Adrian from the Texas4000 about where to meet and now my phone was in the car.

Austin, Autusa, Barry, Kirsten, Morgan
And there is my Texas4000 jersey

Still in my hand, I hung my Texas4000 jersey on the rear of the car facing James Monroe Highway (Rte 55). Almost immediately Lindsey and Serena from the T4K popped in driving one support vehicle.

Texas 4000 van and trailer

Shortly thereafter the van and trailer with Adrian came into the lot. Adrian had been my point of contact the past month and we were looking forward to meeting. But I felt like crying. All the food was locked in our car. Striking out on calling a locksmith, Aaliyah suggested calling 911. Cheri did. We only needed to have a child, pet, or life-saving medication in the car which needed extraction. So we did.

Deputy sheriffs from Warren Co., Va.

Two deputy sheriffs from Warren Co. showed up within 6-7 minutes. While it seemed like hours, they were able to get their super coat-hanger into the car and press the unlock button.

Riding through beautiful downtown Front Royal

With both support vehicles of the Texas4000 and still nowhere to go, I went back into the restaurant and got permission to use their picnic tables. And we hurriedly started setting up.

The rest stop was short since the riders were on a long day. A Challenge Day they call it and today would be 150 miles and about 15,000′ of climbing. And most of the climbing was in the second half of the ride.

Austin, Kirsten, Autusa, Morgan (crashed by Barry) at the Skyline Drive entrance

Two groups came and went while the third, “The Renegades” were still on the road. What I had hoped to do initially, I finally could. I jumped on my bike and rode east for almost two miles until I found them so I could bring them in. I had hoped that we would be set up early enough I could ride against their route for 20 miles then bring them to the stop. Two miles would have to do.

I rode until I saw Austin, Autusa, Kirsten, and Morgan. As soon as they passed I did a U-turn and took them to the lunch stop. Once refueled, they got ready to ride. They invited me to roll with them. I had some cleanup to do but told them to go ahead and I would catch up.

Morgan

Once I was rolling I wondered if that was a good idea to send them ahead. Maybe I messed up. But after 4-5 minutes I saw their orange and white jerseys up the road.

Morgan told me that their hosts almost never rode with them and they really enjoyed having new people jump in. And she added, “especially a professional.” If I had milk in my mouth I would have spewed it all over her laughing.

We had to cross through a closed construction area

I was able to ride with them until their first rest stop in Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive. I would have ridden all day in a perfect world but my wife was up the road waiting and I wasn’t going to ask her to leapfrog with the T4K all day just for more miles for me. She had done enough preparing and setting up the lunch stop for which I was grateful.

Austin, Autusa, Kirsten, Morgan

To my new friends of the Texas4000, thank you for your fight against cancer. Be safe and godspeed as you continue your ride. #fightingcancereverymile


Mayberry to Mabry

MOUNT AIRY, NORTH CAROLINA

Mayberry. The home of Sheriff Andy Taylor. Aunt Bee. Opie. All on the Andy Griffith show. Andy Griffith grew up here in Mount Airy and I came for a bike ride. I had no expectations and had done very little research. I just arrived.

Downtown Mount Airy

My ride was planned from Mount Airy, Riverside Park, to the famous Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I found a ride on RidewithGPS by user, Adrian, and downloaded it to my Wahoo bike computer. Adrian elected to keep his profile private so I cannot publicly thank him for the suggestion.

At the Hampton Inn, Mount Airy

Although I was to ride north out of town, I was close to Main Street and started out by going into downtown Mount Airy. That is by going UP into downtown. It was quite a sizeable climb although probably no more than a quarter-mile.

Downtown Mount Airy

The downtown was only a few blocks long but was very vibrant. Not so much at 9:00 a.m. but by 1:30 p.m. it was teeming with people. It was hard to see an empty parking space. Many of the store fronts had a Mayberry theme from Floyd’s Barber Shop to Barney’s Cafe.

Barney’s Cafe

Although I should have headed out of town then I swung by my car to pick up some cycling food (gels) which I had forgotten to put in my pockets. And then I headed north.

Floyd’s Barber Shop

It was eight miles on a two-lane road, no shoulders, to the Virginia state line. And then it was about four miles to the turn up the mountain. The course profile was not complicated. Go straight until Rte 614, Squirrel Spur Road. Then turn left and be prepared for climbing. What a great road this was.

Going north – Virginia state sign. There was no North Carolina sign going south.

It was six miles to Blue Ridge Parkway and three of that was on a steep portion with switchbacks. The pavement was good but there weren’t many great vistas. But at one, on a sharp curve, there was a picnic area. I really enjoyed this climb.

Rough surface on the BRP

I came to the Blue Ridge Parkway and jumped on it. I left behind the beautiful pavement of Squirrel Spur Road and picked up a very rough chip and seal road on the parkway. It was quite rough. Not potholes, but just a rough-riding surface. Or a “heavy” road in cycling terms.

At U.S. Rte 59 in Meadows of Dan

The parkway is a two-lane road, signed for 45 mph, so no traffic takes it for speed. On a chilly November morning, there were only a handful of cars that passed me in either direction.

Only yesterday in a weak attempt at “research,” I read that Mabry Mill closed for the season five days ago. Was it worth riding to it if it wasn’t open? I decided it was. I could still get a photo op and would not take advantage of the amenities like a gift shop.

After a brief stop, I would have normally just retraced my route since this wasn’t a loop ride but an out-and-back (or an up-and-down). But in the tiny hamlet of Meadows of Dan I followed the Wahoo and took the Squirrel Spur Road which is parallel to the parkway. I was greeted with beautiful pavement instead of the rough chip and seal on the parkway. I was also greeted with screaming downhills and leg-killing uphills. The parkway would have been easier, much easier, but in tourist season this alternative makes sense. Today, I wish I would have stayed on the parkway.

Mabry Mill – the non-photographed angle

The descent down Squirrel Spur Road through the switchbacks was great. But I was facing a pretty strong headwind. I was also running on empty. The climb up Mount Mitchell yesterday left me a little tired. And while I remembered to stop at the car in Mount Airy for food, I forgot my Skratch drink mix for my water bottle and was only drinking water.

Downtown Mount Airy

Uncharacteristically, I changed Wahoo to display miles to go on the computer. And I was counting them down. When I reached zero I decided I would go to Barney’s Cafe for a quick bite before my long drive home. It would have so much easier to go through a drive-through anywhere and get food to eat in the car. But I was in Mayberry and that deserved to sample the local cuisine and atmosphere.

Downtown Mount Airy

It was a good ride. But with yesterday’s effort, I was tired.

Barney’s for lunch

Distance: 53 miles
Average Speed: 13.2 mph
Weight: 167

Alpine Loop Gran Fondo – Virtual

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA

An annual event that I look forward to attending is the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in Harrisonburg. But with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in full force, the Gran Fondo was canceled as an outdoor event but it was still run as a virtual event.

The event itself would normally feature a ride, some friendly climbing competition, and food. The outdoor ride was off. The food was out. But the friendly competition was on.

Unfortunately (for me), it was a Zwift competition. If you had an indoor trainer and the Zwift app, you could compete on certain courses and post your time versus others. The problem for me is I do not have a trainer. I ride outdoors – period. Outdoors is free.

But they also introduced a quasi-outdoor competition. It involved Strava and local KOMs or PRs. And I was on a roll. I had snagged some KOMs in northern Va. after going years with none. And, not to be underestimated, I had changed age groups. Moving on up.

Bib 1 – Alpine Loop

September was a good riding month. I had snagged a couple of KOMs and lots of PRs. And to be sure, I was certainly aided by weak participation. While I embraced the outdoor competition, I am sure many did not and some may have participated only in the Zwift competition.

The Minnieville KOM. I am most proud of this one.
Former had been 5:23 and I smoked it in 4:56. No one has been close since.

One thing going in my favor is that Strava KOMs including climbing and sprinting or sprint/climbing. I will never be a great climber. I am built more like a sprinter. But this competition fit my strengths whereas being first up Shenahdoah Mountain or Reddish Knob never will.

Polka-dot jersey for the 65-69 year age group, Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

At the end of the competition, I was announced as the KOM for the 65-69 age group. And that earned me a polka-dot jersey. A virtual polka-dot jersey. Wait, the jersey is real.

The Awards Ceremony. I am recognized at 21:40 in this video.

A New BlueRidger

MARSHALL, VIRGINIA

Oh how Strava Live Segments change everything. I came to ride the BlueRidger Proper (counter-clockwise). The weather was mostly sunny at the start but with a strong wind which would be cross-head or just a headwind for much of the ride. The temperature was 70°.

A few weeks ago I had ridden on Rectortown Road and found a segment I liked: Frogtown Road to Atoka Road. My goal for today: PR on that segment.

Rokeby Road, Upperville, Va.

I am loving my Live Segments but not every segment I sat seems to show up on my Wahoo. Once it’s there it stays but I never no until the next time I approach a segment if it will be a Live Segment. I rode off into a very strong headwind. Part of me said to just pedal through it while another part said to go for it. I listened to the bad me.

It did not show up as a Live Segment. Nor do I think that it would have done any good. I changed my time display to see elapsed time and went passed Frogtown at 8:48. As I approached Atoka Road I could see I was around 11:24. I knew I needed 2:24 and not 2:36. I was way off. And it was the wind. Well, at Atoka a woman looked at me and pulled out right in front of me causing me to sit up. I didn’t have to brake but I could no longer keep the pedals moving. So I settled for 3rd best of my time which was really tied for the second-best of my times. But way off the mark.

General Store at Airmont

The rest of the ride was uneventful. On Rectortown Road the road “bottoms out” as it crosses Goose Creek. I wanted to hit 40 mph here and I did. And then I got a Live Segment – GO! This was for Rectortown Test Climb. And even though I was riding into a strong wind, I decided to see if I could PR it. I was happy when 3:53 (New PR!) popped up. Old PR had been 4:15. Then I could rest the rest of the way.

House on Snickersville Turnpike near Bluemont

Fighting the wind, I averaged 16.1 mph out to Airmont. Without doing a deep search, I found a ride from 11 years ago where I averaged 18 mph on this part. But that was in a group; I didn’t fight winds in my face; and I was 11 years younger.

Bluemont, Va.

Passing through Bluemont, it appeared to me that some new construction has taken place since the last time I rode through here. There was a building on the left and then I saw the E. E. Lake General Store. Apparently it is a welcome center but has the old General Store facade.

General Store, Bluemont, Va.

The climbs were pretty much as I remembered them. Moderately hard. There is a steep climb out of Bluemont on Snickersville Turnpike. It has a 180° switchback at the top and is flat over to Rte. 7. Rte 7 has a wide should as it climbs to the top of the pass. This is the easiest of the three sections here. And turning on Blue Ridge Mountain Road is a pretty steep climb with no end in sight. I still don’t know where it finally ends and dips down.

Ashbys Gap, US Rte 50, Paris, Va.

The ride off the mountain is nice. When I got to U.S. 50 I found it was too windy to descend without braking. That may have been the first time I rode here using brakes. But there were cross-wind gusts hitting me making it hard to control the bike.

Paris, Va.

Once on Leeds Manor Road I expected and received, a Live Segment for Naked Mountain. Once it starts the Wahoo displays the elapsed time, a contour map of the climb, your estimated time, and your PR time. My PR coming in was 9:06. Today I went through in 7:44.

Ashby Inn, Paris, Va.

There is pavement on this road but it is rough. I wanted to descend faster but didn’t trust the pavement. Rounding a corner on a downhill the road turned up and a GO! appeared. This was for Naked Mountain Winery. It’s a short climb but I had no legs. Pretty much left everything I had a few minutes ago on the Naked Mountain climb. Wahoo disagreed. My old PR was 2:21 and I lowered it today to 1:41. I would like to see what I could do when I didn’t fight the winds.

Naked Mountain Winery

The last 10 miles from Markham I had great pavement and crappy pavement. I thought I had a tailwind but my speed was only 16 mph – the same as the first 20 miles into the wind. Maybe my legs were fried at this point.

I wanted to beat four hours and came in at 3:47. Goal accomplished. It was a good solo ride fighting the winds. Wish I could do better but Strava thinks I had a good day.

Strava PRs


Distance: 55.2 miles
Time: 3:45
Average: 14.7 mph
Weight: 180

KOM: Minnieville Spriggs to 234

WOODBRIDGE, VIRGINIA

I’m old. I have more bad days than good days. Generally, I am not going to compete for a KOM (King of Mountain) segment on Strava.

My “Montclair Loop” often includes a two-mile segment on Minnieville Road from Spriggs Road to Rte 234 (Dumfries Road). The road itself is a four-lane divided road, curb to curb, no shoulders. It is signed for 45 mph. Beside the road is a bike / multi-purpose path.

It looks like I never rode it for time before this year. My times in February through May were 8:00 – 10:00. It wasn’t until June 4 that I broke 8:00 when I finished at 7:34. Then on June 16, I broke 7:00 (6:54). It wasn’t until July that I lowered it to 6:32.

There are two problems with this as a segment. First, at 1/4 mile in there is a traffic light at the Howison soccer fields. One must hit this light green. Many times I started well but then hit the light at which time I simply soft-pedal the rest of the segment.

The second is the bike path. There are seven transition segments from bike path to street as it crosses. Not all are in a straight line. One must be careful to find the transition pad. In addition, there are walkers and the occasional dog. It is hard to ride fast on the bike path, and one may suggest, that we shouldn’t with this mix.

On July 31, I lowered my time to 6:09. And I was sitting 11th all-time. Not too shabby. I started looking at top ten. The KOM was 5:23 – a time I knew I could never match. But I could get in the top ten.

Sometimes I take the bike path all the way. But I realized I need to take the road for the best time.

On August 15 I broke 6:00 coming in at 5:52. I was in the top ten. Four of us were tied for 8th. Maybe I was still 11th. The ride was almost perfect. I took Minnieville Road for the first mile then switched to the bike path as there is a climb on Minnieville Road. There are also those transition segments. And walkers. And dogs.

I was happy. I held the age group #1 and knew I wasn’t going to improve by much.

Five days later, the next time I rode, I went through in 5:52. Damn. Same time.

I was disappointed because I thought I was 2-3 seconds ahead of my previous pace. Actually I was so I gave it away on Minnieville Hill. But it also made me realize that if I had the same time twice that I could probably improve on that by a few seconds.

I had been tied for 8th overall with three other riders. One second and I would have sole possession of 8th.

I set out this morning for a quick ride. We had a party to go to and I didn’t have lots of time. The past two days I rode my gravel bike so it was fun to get back on the Domane.

I rarely take Minnieville Road from my house to Spriggs, generally using some side streets or just the bike path. Today I stayed on Minnieville. Coming out of the neighborhood I check the oncoming traffic. If it’s heavy I just jump on the bike path. Today I saw no cars when I started.

Conditions were perfect. Cool (about 70°). Overcast. But most importantly, it was a weekend morning with little traffic. I was first in line in the right lane at Spriggs when the light turned red. This is before the segment starts.

I started out well. The segments doesn’t begin for a couple hundred meters and then the GO! command came on my Wahoo. There is a hill going up to the traffic light and I held my lane. The light was green and I was four seconds ahead of my PR.

It was the first day of soccer season and I should have been supervising referees. A pickup truck pulled beside me and the soccer dad had some words for me as he turned into the fields before saying words to our refs. That fired me up.

I didn’t say anything to him but thought what a jerk. I picked up the pace and was “on the limit” down Minnieville. I knew a PR was in sight.

Approaching the climb I had a decision to make. Stay on Minnieville or jump off onto the bike path. I have never ridden this section on Minnieville Road since they made it four lanes. But today, traffic was light, it is a four-lane road so there is a passing lane, and I held my ground, staying the right lane. I was 30 seconds ahead of my PR time.

I kept my pace up and started thinking about how far I could move up in the rankings. My memory had the KOM at 5:05 (but I messed that up). Then I saw 40 seconds. I was looking at 5:12 or so. Just a little more.

All 1s

The last I saw was 40 seconds ahead. Luckily, I had a green light approaching 234 which meant no brakes and full gas to make the turn. I turned. I looked down and there it was – KOM – 4:56.

I had taken almost one minute off my previous PR. And when I got home I see I was badly off regarding the previous KOM. It was 5:23 not 5:05 which I thought I needed. Smashed the KOM by 27 seconds. Holy Wow!

This one feels real good. I’m getting older, not younger. I’m getting slower, not faster. Except for a day.

Conditions were perfect today. Weather. Traffic. And, oh, I did this before breakfast without eating and didn’t even have bottles on my bike today.

Distance: 12 miles
Average Speed: 18.1 mph
Weight: 183

Skyline Drive to Big Meadows

THORTON GAP, VIRGINIA

Two weeks ago Tim Casebere and I were riding out near Remington when we ran into another cyclist. The cyclist, David Thatcher, is from Gainesville and we exchanged numbers for a future ride.

Tunnel

Yesterday David texted me and told me he planned to do a 40-mile ride on Skyline Drive and invited me to join him. I agreed.

Old Rag Mountain

The only hiccup in our plans was where to meet. David said first parking south of the US 211 entrance at Thorton Gap. I saw the area known as Panorama or the tunnel overlook. When I questioned him he told me it was Mary’s Rock Trailhead, “within 1000 yards of 211.”

Looking west

I entered Skyline Drive and passed Panorama and went to the tunnel overlook. Didn’t see David or Mary’s Rock. I knew I went too far so I turned around. I figured I would go back to Panorama and ride by myself if that was the case.

Skyline Drive at Thorton Gap

Somewhere outside of Warrenton all cellular service is lost. I doubted I would be able to contact David by text. But returning to Panorama, which has a very large sign, is a small sign or Mary’s Rock Trailhead. I was in the right place.

Looking west

We hadn’t ridden together except for a little bit in Fauquier Co. near Remington. And he was on a bonk that day. I did not know what to expect from David.

Big Meadows

It was a perfect morning, probably 65°. If I would have been riding on the flats I probably would have opted for arm warmers. But knowing there was a climb immediately, I went with nothing additional. We started out of the parking lot. I was matching David’s pace but after half a mile or so, he was about five meters in front of me. We went through the tunnel, stopping at the end for a quick photo, then continued up the hill.

Same tunnel – different view

I stayed with David early on but he was clearly the stronger rider going uphill. Using my friend, gravity, I was the faster rider going downhill.

David Thatcher

Our first climb lasted about 4.5 miles followed by a three-mile downhill then a three-mile uphill, passing Skyland, the high point on the trail. There was construction in this section which actually made riding more pleasant. The pave was perfectly smooth asphalt.

Looking west

Four of five times we came to a flagman where we had to stop and wait for a pilot car to come by and lead us, and waiting cars, through. We just tucked onto the back behind the cars. And even going uphill, they held all oncoming traffic until we cleared. No oncoming traffic. No following traffic. It was a beautiful ride.

Skyline Drive Tunnel

Other than a garter snake sunning on the new asphalt, I didn’t see any wildlife. No deer. No bear. But plenty of beautiful vistas.

The distance wasn’t far but we had more than 100′ of climbing per mile. Arriving back to our cars I congratulated David on winning all the hillclimb points on course. He said that’s what he does best. And he did well today.



Distance: 40.1 miles
Average Speed: 13.0
Weight: 183

A Most Satisfying Ride

POOLESVILLE, MARYLAND


Until November 2019, I was running the Garmin 510 bike computer which was not one of the newer ones capable of live Strava segments. I bought the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt and slowly made a transition to running the Wahoo.

There was a learning curve for advanced features although the basic stuff of speed, time, and distance, were ready immediately. I rode through spring and then in late spring, upgraded to a paid subscription for Strava.

Before subscribing, I would check known segments after each ride. Sometimes I would set a new PR (personal record). Usually not. Nowhere was this more evident than in the summer of 2019 when I was chasing a segment in Prince William Forest Park.

Each day I would go to the segment and go full out for 45-50 seconds. Sometimes I thought it felt good. Other times I knew I didn’t have it. Then one day I got home and uploaded my ride and found I had the KOM.

Live Strava Segments are just that. As I approach a segment I am notified. Then the big GO! appears on my screen. Throughout the segment, I can see my progress.

Looking back on those Prince William Forest Park segments, I always went as hard as I could. So seeing that I was one second down may not have been enough to find that one second. But when I’m on the 3-5 or 10-minute segments, one can find the energy to push it a little harder to match the last time when you are getting feedback.

Live Segments have changed the way I ride. I do a lot of LSD (Long, Slow, Distance) rides. I also know that interval training is necessary to improve. Live Segments give me those intervals that require me to go hard.

Nowhere was that better shown than today’s ferry ride. The W&OD was crowded but I came to the Kincaid Climb just before Leesburg. I was worried about getting a good time here because there was a slight headwind and there were lots of people. If I had to slow while waiting to pass I knew I was toast. But bad luck avoided me and my computer said 1:38 which was down from my previous PR of 1:55. My actual Strava time was 1:39.

Without Live Segments, this is one I would normally just roll through with no effort. In fact, my last ten rides, before today, were: 2:27, 2:17, 2:43, 2:28, 1:55 (old PR), 2:18, 2:24, 2:31, 2:44, and 2:23. I went hard and was rewarded. It’s not great – I am 33rd overall but that’s out of 16,292 athletes. So in that regard, this old cyclist is in the top 99% – 99.8% to be exact. And I am number one in my age group.

I even hesitated to go for a PR on Kincaid. Part of me wanted to save myself for the next climb. And that, too, is the beauty of Live Segments. Had I seen that I was down even 5-6 seconds I probably would have just sat up and soft-pedaled to the end.

I was expecting to compete for four segments today. The ones that show on my Wahoo are the ones that I have selected (starred). I was on the shoulder of US 15 North when I got the GO for Sprint to the SHIP and don’t get TRUCKED. Instant feedback – I went through in 2:01, lowering my time from 2:12 three weeks ago. My Strava time was actually 2:02. But I was two for two. I was on a roll.

A family exiting the ferry

I came today to improve my time on the climb after leaving Whites Ferry. Three weeks ago I did this climb and had a PR (9:17). I waited at the top for my friend, Tim Casebere, at what I thought would be the “finish” line. I was actually short of the finish which was located over the top of the climb and about halfway down the next dip in the road.

When I got home I saw that I was second on the day – beaten only by Tim by three seconds. I laughed. I guess the clock was ticking while I waited. So I knew that if I simply didn’t stop at the top today I would improve my time on Climb Outta Whites Ferry. I went hard, saw that I was 45 seconds up, and then saw the PR on the screen (7:25). Wow! Almost two minutes. Note the “official” Strava time was 7:26 – I’ll still take it.

Climb Outta Whites Ferry

I was happy. I was riding well and I headed next over towards Edwards Ferry then back into Poolesville. There was one segment remaining, that I knew of. It was a climb on Martinsburg Road. And I was three for three and drenched with sweat. And it felt great.

I made my way over to Beallsville and decided if Rt 28 was closed five miles ahead (there was a bridge out at the Monocacy River two weeks earlier when I rode it) that I would take the road which now would be less traveled. It was closed ahead and as I hoped, I had no traffic for the next two and 1/4 miles to the turn onto Martinsburg Road.

Immediately I was smacked in the face with a GO! I was on Power Station Hill Sprint. I could see it wasn’t long and went through in 0:39 – down from my previous best, 1:07. (Actual Strava time was 0:38). I was four for four.

I turned on the beautiful concrete Martinsburg Road and again, GO! I got into a big gear and watched my advantage over my PR increase. I went through the Concert Grind up to Wasche Rd. in 2:28, lowering my PR from 3:14. (Actual time was 2:27.). I was five for five and knew at least one more segment remained.

Martinsburg Road

The reason it was one more is that three weeks ago the Martinsburg Rd Spring Climb popped up while I was riding with Tim. My PR was 1:01 that day and I knew it was ahead. But would I have anything left after going five for five in previous segments?

These Live Strava segments have been wonderful but not perfect. Some that I have starred and are supposed to show up on my Wahoo, haven’t. And I had starred some segments before today and they did not show up as race segments. Yet. So I knew one remained but thought there could be more.

I hit the downhill portion of Martinsburg Road pretty hard then started up the climb. Then came the GO! and I dug deep. I finished in 0:45 which surprised me. And now I was six for six.

It was a good workout and I was prepared for more segments. I didn’t know how much more I could find if there were more segments to pop up. But that would be it.

Without Live Segments, I probably would have ridden “medium-hard.” But I never would have dug deep for six segments on this ride. I can’t see not being a premium member of Strava simply for this benefit. It has changed my riding for the better.

In the end, I had 17 PRs on this ride. For some of those I wasn’t even aware of but I got them because I went hard on the segments. Because of Live Segments.

The Remaining PRs

Trailside School to Catoctin Circle (17:47)
N. Kind St. from North St. (2:16)
1/2 Sprint to the Ferry (3:37)*
Jerusalem to Darnestown (6:46)
109 to Dickerson on 28 (6:34)
Martinsburg Road (11:56)
ElmerSchoolRd2 – Whites Ferry (6:38)*
Run to Whites Ferry (3:36)*
Whites Ferry Last Sprint (2:37)
Come to Think of it I Did Just Get Off the Ferry (5:58)
Belmont Ride to Clairborne Bridge (2:49)**

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*These are starred segments in Strava but did not show up on my Wahoo to race. But I still did OK.

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**I didn’t know this segment existed but two dicks went flying by me at the light at Catoctin Circle. It was a red light that another cyclist and I was waiting for. Just as it turned white (for pedestrians and cyclists), they had a head of steam and went flying by us dangerously close. I thought what dicks but then I caught them. I wanted to follow but they passed a couple of people dangerously close. When it was finally clear, I went by never to look back at them. I kept my speed up simply to get away from them. No one likes to ride near dicks.





 

Miles: 43
Average Speed: 16.5 mph
Weight: 194