Dead Legs

CATHARPIN, VA

The last day of Bike Virginia, I had to decide to ride with my cousin, Kay Walborn, one last time, my friends, John Dockins or Vince Amodeo, or something different. Initially I thought I’d roll out with Bike Virginia until the 50 mile mark then head home and ride another 60 miles. In the end I decided to just ride home – a distance of 70-80 miles, depending on which roads I took.

The Bike Virginia folks rolled out starting at 7:00 a.m. and at 7:44 a.m. I got a message from John:

   “Major crash. Road closed. Car hit bike.” 

   “Very somber ride today. People have seen chest compressions on the biker.

I was glad not to be in the group today. I can ride comfortably as one or one in the 2,000. I took the roads I knew and ended up on Kabletown Road. I was surprised when after pulling over to check the message from John a Bike Virginia rider pulled up and asked me if she was on the right road. She must have left at 6:00 a.m. I assured her she was.

Kabletown Road was part of the Bike Virginia route but not until their Mile 40 or so. I simply took a short cut from Ashley’s place over to it to get me home and expected to see no one today since that would put me far in front of the event.

With today’s route one could not get lost. Headed south, you are bordered on the east by the Shenandoah River, on the west by Rte 340, and on the south by Rte 7. Either 340 or 7 takes one to Berryville, the ending location.

But that should not be an issue. Bike Virginia had perhaps the best signage of any supported event I have been on, except perhaps Livestrong-Philly. Up at 4:30 a.m., volunteers were placing signs and cones, and even using some flagmen (and flag women) at dangerous locations.

I continued on, passing the rider, and was first to arrive at the last rest stop of the ride, Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm.

Moss Apple Christmas Tree Farm

The owner was a retired teacher from Fairfax Co. He has 25,000 trees planted. And sells some stain glass and other crafts on the side. It’s a real neat place. I even passed a turkey going in.

At 8:45 a.m., I was almost two hours ahead of the planned arrival and they were surprised and honored me. They took pictures of this rider. Number One!

I stayed for close to an hour, almost feeling that I had to stay until other riders showed up. Within an hour one did, then another, then my friend John. After a few more minutes it was time to go.

It was bittersweet that I was leaving Bike Virginia. I turned off the route and was now unsupported.

Note to self: The two mile section one has to ride on Route 7 eastbound is very scary. I’m thinking Rte 9 may be safer, especially once the new bypass is in and most of the traffic is off it.

I followed Rte 7 to Snickersville Turnpike and don’t remember a rougher time climbing. I had dead legs. They weren’t sore or didn’t ache. They were just dead. No power. And Snickersville is not flat. It has lots of steep drops and steep climbs. Ugh.

I thought I’d try Rte 234 – Sudley Road and that wasn’t the best option either. No shoulder and 55 mph traffic. At 52 miles in, I heard something break and immediately stopped. It was a spoke on the rear wheel.

With nowhere to go, I could not repair it, I called a cab for the final 27 miles. And fell asleep in someone’s yard.

EPILOGUE — The cyclist died.

The cyclist, a Corning, N.Y., man taking part in the Bike Virginia Tour was in critical condition at Winchester Medical Center Wednesday afternoon after having a heart attack while bicycling through Jefferson County, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. He died at the Winchester Medical Center late Wednesday night.

It is a somber reminder that this sport that I love is inherently dangerous. And there, but for the Grace of God, go I. Hit by a car with an awkward fall on Saturday, I could have landed badly and died. And faced with what must have been a slow speed crossing of those tracks, it was a freak accident that his awkward landing may have induced his cardiac arrest.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Mark Hogan.  🙁

Live each day to the fullest. And enjoy the journey.

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