Cook Forest River Ride


My fundraising for the Keystone Country MS-150 in July bagged me an unexpected bonus: Entry in the Cook Forest River Ride.

Disaster struck as I went to get dressed. I grabbed the only clean bib shorts I had and discovered they were the ones with knee covers. It was chilly but not enough for those.I thought about wearing a dirty pair but that would be gross. Better to be too warm. I had gone out to the car to check to make sure those were the only clean ones remaining on this trip. They were. My fashion choice also slowed me down on leaving the hotel.

Last night I checked the time and distance to the start and determined it was a 30 minute ride from the hotel. This morning it was a 42 minute ride. Not sure what happened but I came into Cook Forest running a little late.

I went to registration, passing my cousin, Kay Walborn, briefly saying hello. Got my swag (t-shirt) and took it back to the car. Riders were queued up. I went to the back of the group but lost Kay. I just couldn’t find her.

I started dead last then started making my way through a couple hundred riders trying to catch Kay. I stopped for a couple photo ops but generally kept going.

The course follows the Clarions River for 17 miles and some riders would do a 35 mile out-and-back. We turned across the river then started climbing. I saw a rider up the road and didn’t think I was gaining on him but eventually passed him. On the top I was by myself.

At Mile 30 I pulled into a rest station. And Kay was getting ready to roll out. She waited for me to grab some water and 1/2 banana. She was shocked I was behind her. She thought the entire time I had taken off ahead of her and she was trying to catch me.

We had been hammering the route trying to catch the other. We were probably never more than 3-4 minutes apart on the road at any time. We rode well together. I had a big advantage in going down hills (weight) while Kay had an advantage going up the steepest hills. One topped out at 22% according to my Garmin. I could not hold her wheel on that climb.

We passed a rider struggling and I told him he had just been passed by a 69 year old woman. She was kicking his butt. Mine too.

Back at Cook Forest they has served up a nice luncheon for us. We ate and then headed back home.  Not sure I would do this ride again but it was quite nice. And great weather today. Kay said that was a first.


A Double Triple


After being struck by a car I wanted to go home yesterday but ended up getting a wheel repair at the local Trek bike store. At no charge. That always helps.

The newly trued wheel rolled well and I was thankful for the coolness of the morning air to ride. But I also thought of the bike and remembered that a carbon fiber bike must be checked out before being ridden again after a crash. While I was thankful the local Trek store fixed my wheel I wish the mechanic would have asked to check out the bike. I was in no frame of mind to think to ask him to do that.

Trek Guy checking the bike

Arriving in Berryville, I found the on-site Trek guy who checked out the bike and was able to reposition the shifters. He gave the bike a clean bill of health. And he gave me peace of mind.

I felt as though I was the last to leave Berryville and instantly began to catch and pass everyone. It would be one of those days where I would pass everyone and not get passed. Period.

After making my way through the first group of riders I passed five riders stopped along the side of the road, all supervising some poor schmuck trying to fix his bike. I asked if they needed one more person to watch and they said yes. So I stopped.  Poor guy had a broken chain and other than making a phone call (for SAG support), I couldn’t help, but by then all those slow, old (my age) people came rolling by so I let them pass then worked my way through them again.

When I passed a rider named Karen, she jumped on my wheel and followed me. She announced her presence and stated that I was the right speed to follow. And she did. For a while. Then she admitted I was too fast but I backed it off and we rode together and picked up some other riders as well.
At Rest Stop Number 1, I saw a family with young children in cycling gear. How cute. As they were getting ready to leave I talked to them. I told them I saw a family down at River Ride on the Northern Neck about five years ago who had a triple Co-Motion bike with dad and two daughters on it while the mother pulled a — “Burley Trailer,” everyone pretty much said in unison.

“That was us,” replied the mom. The family is from Front Royal, Virginia.

My memory of that day was seeing this extremely cute family pull in and the youngest girl was sound asleep — head over folded arms on the handlebars — with her feet clipped into the pedals going in circles.

The older daughter said “yep, that was Kylie.  She can do that”*

But now there were six. They’ve added to their cycling family. Three on dad’s bike and three on mom’s. How very cute. A double triple.

They left the rest stop before I did and although I caught them on Kabletown Road, I didn’t see them the rest of the day. Hopefully I will see them again.

The route would zigzag around Charles Town on some of the roads I had ridden down to Berryville to the start. I was almost getting dizzy going in a circle. Like yesterday, my cousin, Kay Walborn, started earlier than I could, and from Berryville.

Although this was billed as a recreational touring ride and not a place for pace lines, occasional lines formed and it was fun riding just a little faster with other people. Or a lot faster than other people. I had missed out on that yesterday except for the first 10 miles or so when I had jumped in with a group of four.

But today I rode with a woman and her dad for a while, and also with Paul from Allentown, Pa., plus Karen from Ashville, N.C. At the lunch stop around Mile 48 (my mile 68) I had caught my cousin, Kay Walborn, and we then rode together the optional 20 mile loop. Near the end of the ride, I was ahead of Kay and her friend, Wanda, on Job Corps Road, when I was left shaken. 

While descending a hill, I was doing about 30 mph and was hugging the white line at the edge of the road. There was no shoulder. Then I heard it. A large diesel pickup truck was barreling down on me and wanting to pass. But there was an oncoming car and hardly room for three of us. He gunned it.

I was over as far as I could get and the truck passed within inches. Kay told me that the truck missed my head by two inches. What is it? Two accidents in two days?

When we finished I had 90 miles so it was easy to get 100 before going back to Bethany’s. 

Barry, Kay, some jerk in the background

Two Days. Two Centuries.

*I’m not sure of the daughter’s name – but let’s go with Kylie.

Struck by a Car


The day started with promise. Attending Bike Virginia, I biked 20 miles from Charles Town to the event’s registration in Berryville, Va. 

Once on the road I reset my odometer so not to remind myself that I had ridden 20 miles farther than anyone else. And it worked.

I was surprised that at a park and swimming pool at Mile 80 near Winchester I ran into my friend Vince Amodeo. I had been chasing my cousin, Kay Walborn, for these 80 miles and had given up finding her.

Vince Amodeo

I said goodbye to Vince and sat down to text Kay. We had been texting at each rest stop and I had no idea I was close. My legs felt like it was 80 miles, not 100, and then I heard her call my name. I had caught her. What a nice surprise. We rolled out together and rode together for six miles before I broke from the route and headed back to Charles Town.

In Charles Town, as I came up Washington Street, a car started to overtake me at an intersection. This is a common occurrence and I didn’t think much of it. As I went straight the driver got just far enough in front of me then she whipped the car to the right and made a right turn. Into me. The classic right hook. 
I tried to evade her by turning sharper but I couldn’t. She hit me and sent me flying.

I remember nothing after being contacted by her car until I was on the ground. My shoulders and back seemed to take the worst of it and I lay on the street in pain with my bike on top of me, still clipped into the left pedal.

I had ridden 115 miles, my farthest ever, and combined with the heat, 86 degrees, and the effort to get up the rise before the intersection, I was breathing heavy. Laying on my back I was afraid to open my eyes. I was scared.

I was breathing very heavy and heard the woman who hit me scream at me. “DIDN’T YOU SEE MY SIGNAL!!!” “DIDN’T YOU SEE MY SIGNAL!!!”

I paid her no attention and within another minute a passerby stopped her car and came to my assistance. If I had any idea of getting to my feet she made sure that I was to remain immobile. In fact, she held me around my shoulders so I wouldn’t move. And I was too weak to fight.
Another passerby tried to unclip my shoes. And in the moment, I could not remember how to release them. I was afraid they were going to cut them off. Not my Louis Garneaus!

An ambulance arrived pretty quickly followed by the police and then a firetruck. As the paramedics attended to me the woman who had been attending, also a paramedic, introduced herself to them. I was holding the back of my leg, not because I was injured but because the position I was in, combined with riding 115 miles in the heat, was causing me to cramp.

She told the paramedic crew that I was cramping because I had ridden 15 miles. “115 miles,” I corrected her, and I threw water on her.
They extricated me from my bike and moved it next to a building. They helped me to my feet then checked vitals, checking to see if I was dizzy. I could move everything but was sore from the crash. I had some road rash but it wasn’t bad. I refused a trip to the emergency room in the ambulance.
My handlebar tape was torn and the shifters were out of place. I was able to forcibly realign one mostly. Against the wishes of, well, everyone there, I decided I would keep on riding.
As I got close to Bethany’s I noticed the front wheel was wobbling. More damage which I hadn’t seen.
I was shaken up and really just wanted to go home. End my five day Bike Virginia trip after one day.

I set a new personal best for miles ridden in one day: 119.2, and would have gone farther except for the crash. But my bike and I were sore and beat up.

Bethany reminded me that there was a bike store in Charles Town and I took my bike there. It was Three Points Cycle and the manager/owner on duty couldn’t be nicer. He looked at me, still walking in a daze, listened to my story and told me he grew up in Woodbridge. He attended Gar-Field H.S. He took my front wheel and trued it. No charge. I started feeling better.

But I was still shaken.

It sucks to get hit by a car.