(Or is it Manassas? Or Woodbridge? No one knows for sure. Somewhere in Prince William County.)
This section is 0.36 miles (or 580 meters – a little more than six football fields stacked together). It is on Va. Rte 234, aka Dumfries Road. It starts right beside an orange/white utility marker and goes through a traffic light with a slight downhill at the end.
This is a ride I have done many times. According to Strava, 277 times. As of this writing, I am the “Local Legend” with 27 segments in the past 90 days. By my recollection, since Strava introduced Local Legends, I have held the title for every day but one. On the day I was notified I had lost it I went out and rode and got it back. Held it ever since.
There is a bike trail next to the highway. IMHO, if one is serious about a good time on this climb, one must take the road. The trail has a short but steeper climb at the start. It appears to climb higher before leveling off.
The only tricky part is if one takes the road. Since it is signed at 55 mph it is not advisable to be on the road itself. But there is a wide shoulder. And the shoulder is full of crap. In the past year I have changed no less than six flats I have gotten by riding on the shoulder of 234.
The tricky part is the traffic light. The road goes straight but intersects with Warm Springs Drive to the left. If the cars have a red light and one is on the shoulder which goes straight, can one legally stay on the shoulder and keep going without stopping? I do not know the answer to that. I know in Switzerland I saw a similar intersection with direction to the cyclists not to stop. Cars from the left are not turning onto the shoulder.
I did not plan to ride here today. I began the day in Hillsboro and planned to Harpers Ferry (WV) loop. But it was cold this morning. I decided to wait until I go home at 5:30 p.m.
I grabbed my Checkpoint which is a gravel bike. It does not have the top gear my Domane has. But it’s fun to ride and I was just out for a pleasurable ride. But then it happened. The stars aligned.
I was second all-time on this segment at 0:49. I thought the KOM was 0:45 and was thinking I needed four seconds. I was also thinking it would not be on this day with this bike. Some days I am on the trail and just ride leisurely up the trail with no concern for time. Other days I find myself on the shoulder of 234. Often the decision is based on whether there are other users on the trail at the time.
Today I was on the shoulder and I looked down and saw that I was doing 32 mph. I knew that was a good amount of speed to be carrying into this uphill segment. So when I hit the GO/start “line” I kept max effort to the pedals to see how long I could stay ahead of my pace.
And I saw I was one second ahead, then two seconds. And I saw something else. My Garmin Varia radar light was displaying an empty road behind me. Without hesitation I moved from the shoulder onto the right lane of 234. The pavement is so much better, if for no other reason, an absence of crap be it stones and pebbles or nails and glass.
And here I got another break too. The light up ahead was red. I was preparing to dive hard to the right to the shoulder to get past the cars when the light turned green. And just before I caught the rear car, they had pulled out. It left me on the highway itself. I was at three seconds and giving my all. I was hoping for four seconds but never saw it.
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That displayed on my Wahoo. In the past two years, Wahoo has seemingly changed the display. In the past that would have come with a PR designation. Today it was just 0:46. So I knew I had a PR. And was one second away from a KOM.
I gained confidence. I thought that if I got a 0:46 on my gravel bike that I could do better with my Domane. I was happy. It was a good ride.
I uploaded the ride and then I saw it.
The Crown is Yours!
Actually, that puts me in a two-way tie for first with Ryan who did the same time six years ago. That’s a long time for a segment to be out there unchallenged. And Ryan and I are now tied. I thought I would only get it if I beat him. Sort of like first to the time gets the crown and keeps it until someone else is better.
But I am quite happy with it. At the same time, I will not rest with this at 0:46. I will try to lower it. It may take me another 277 attempts but I will try to be the sole leader on this segment.