I left the house at 4:30 a.m. to drive to Kilmarnock for the 2nd Annual River Ride. We met at a YMCA Camp and I was on the road at 7:45 a.m.
At 7:46 a.m. the phone rang. It was a referee wanting to know the rules for his U10 matches at 9:00 a.m. Now maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad but yesterday I included in my weekly message to referees not to contact me for answers you can find yourself. I explained to the referee the rules, briefly, and then instructed him to find and print the rules himself. Just one day to myself with referees or coaches calling. Is that too much to ask? Grrr.
This ride was much different from the Blue Ridge Extreme Challenge. That ride had a mass start at 7:30, this one did not. Actually, I learned later there was a mass start at 7:30 for those who wanted it. I just couldn’t get there in time. But it wasn’t required. Riders after 7:30 departed when they wanted so we all straggled out on our own. And I was there by 7:30 but certainly didn’t see much of a mass start.
One bank clock displayed the temperature in Kilmarnock as 48 degrees although it was in the mid-fifties when I was ready to go. I had on a jacket and a backpack (Camelbak) so I could remove the jacket later. Just before I started I noticed a young lady in a tank top. I thought if she could go sleeveless, I surely could get rid of the jacket. I took off the extra clothes and went out in just my bike jersey. It was chilly but not too uncomfortable and it would warm up into the high 70s during the ride.
I rode the first 10 miles solo then stopped at the first food stop at Shiloh. I needed to keep my energy level high although hated to use the time to stop. This ride was to be important to me. I am still experimenting with nutrition both before and during the ride and needed to monitor what I ate.
Funny thing about these rides. If you catch someone, you are, by definition, faster than them so you probably don’t want to ride with them. Likewise, if someone catches you, they are faster and you normally wouldn’t ride with them. But I had three high school kids go flying by me and in an instant I decided I would “catch their wheel.” I accelerated and fell in behind them and then there were four of us.
They weren’t too skilled in using pace lines as one guy seemed to do all the riding up front. Eventually I went forward to take a turn pulling. And one needed to. It was a gorgeous day but very windy. On the flat terrain it seemed we were always going into a head wind (someone explain that to me someday) and the leader up front works about 30% harder than the following riders.
We rode together for about three miles when three other guys went flying by. They were probably in the early 30s. I couldn’t believe it when the high schoolers jumped on their wheels. I almost got left behind by the quick acceleration but soon there were seven of us in a line just loving life as we past a scores of riders.
Image I wanted to capture but couldn’t: Seven riders in a straight line and I was on the rear. I could only see the guy in front of me but the low rising sun made for a beautiful silhouette of seven riders on bikes. What great shadows. I would have loved to have sat up and been able to snap a photo but obviously couldn’t.
We rode together for about 10 miles when one of the teens dropped off. As they were discussing whether or not to slow and wait for him, another dropped and then the third. And I thought they would drop this old guy! I was disappointed because I thought I might ride with these guys for most of 90 miles. I saw them briefly at the next rest stop (Heathsville, Mile 28) and then never again.
I rode solo most of the way to the next stop. I passed a few guys along the way and was in visual contact with a rider from Kenya. Not too far from the Morattico rest stop (Mile 50) I was passed by three guys in a line riding hard. I decided not to chase them and then a woman went flying by and said “those assholes are going so fast.” I said “you can ride on their wheel if you want, I’m not.” I think she was with them and was upset they were dropping her. But within a half mile or so I was riding on her wheel and we went into Morattico together.
 Morattico was very pretty. It’s hard to believe that the Rappahannock River here, which it borders on, is the same river that flows through Fredericksburg. Here is it quite wide just a few miles before it runs into the Chesapeake Bay. The rest stop was at a town museum. I visited the very small, and quaint, post office. The postmaster saw me and said “we don’t even have a bathroom here. We have to go next door.” I guess she saw a stranger in bike clothes and assumed I wanted to use the restroom. I didn’t. Since I work at USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., I enjoy meeting some of our workers.
The run in to Morattico was a stem, one of two on the day, and I only saw about six riders on their way back out. But when I left I saw a number of riders going to the rest stop. I must have been ahead of most riders.
The routes weren’t well-marked. I say that because if I have doubt that I’m on the right road then they’re not well-marked. At some intersections there were small arrows pointing direction. The ride consisted of four loops, and depending on which ride you had to choose the right arrows. If you didn’t carry a course map, and I didn’t, you had to remember that we started with pink then went to green, then red, then orange, then red, then green, then pink. Easy.
In other words, if you came to an intersection that had both green and red arrows, you had to remember which one to take. They weren’t marked “Century – right” and “Metric – left.” Sounds confusing although now once I’m home thinking about it a simple way for century riders was every time we came to two colors, take the new one. Of course, that worked only if you could remember which one you were on. Sounds simple now but it wasn’t so much out on the road by yourself.
I was on my own after Morattico and turned down a two-lane highway. The pavement was great but I couldn’t see anyone in the distance or behind me. I started doubting that I was on the right road and pondered just packing it in for the day. After 10 miles on my own I came to an arrow and saw a sign for a ferry. I had remembered this as a feature and gladly rode to the ferry. When I arrived they were loading. It held seven bikes and two cars. There was a water stop there and I was told they were finally glad to see some riders. I was only the 12th rider to come by out of 150 or so registered century riders. Everyone really was behind me.
The road leading in was Ottoman Ferry Road and the ferry crosses the Western Branch of the Corrotoman River. It has to be one of the shortest rivers in the world but it is pretty wide where we crossed. It was a treat to take the ferry to the other side. This marked 63 miles covered.
Ottoman Ferry
Two riders went ahead, one visited the porta-john, leaving four of us together. We began a climb, described as a three-mile climb but after Blue Ridge Challenge, I can’t remember anything other than a slight uphill. A husband and his wife were in front (in the picture above on the ferry), followed by Thomas, then me.
I first started talking to Thomas on the ferry. He had been behind me and I was surprised he made it to the ferry when I did. I found out that he lives in the Virginia Beach area but was originally from Kenya. Thomas was good at sitting on people’s wheel and he gladly rode the third position in our line of four.
It was windy and it’s always hard to set the pace for the freeloaders behind. After a while I rode to the front and told the husband that I would set pace for them since he had been doing all the work. I fought the wind and kept going. After half a mile I came to a new color and we turned. I was surprised to see that I inadvertently dropped the husband and wife and was pulling just Thomas. And we would ride together the rest of the way.
Mostly I pulled but Thomas took some turns up front as well. We were a team. We stopped at Irvington (Mile 80) not realizing this rest stop was only two miles from the lunch stop at White Stone. We didn’t spend long at lunch, the live bluegrass band helped encourage us to leave sooner, and we headed for the last 24 miles.
A large portion of this was out on the peninsula to Windmill Point where the Rappahannock empties into the Chesapeake. It was very windy out here. On our way out we had passed a family coming back and we did overtake them after we turned around. This really was a highlight. The father piloted a 3-seat Co-Motion tandem with his two young daughters aboard. They looked to be about 5 and 3 years old. The younger one was slumped over sleeping, her head across her folded arms. But her feet were clipped in and her legs were still peddling. Priceless. The mother rode behind and she pulled a Burley trailer with a one year old inside. Sleeping.
At 100 miles, my century, I came in at 5:58 riding time and an hour more total stop time for rest breaks and the ferry crossing. My average speed was 16.7 which is what one needs to ride a 6-hour century. The total distance on the day was 104 and I could celebrate with ice cream at the finish. And a shower at the campground.
I waited for the family of five to arrive to talk with them although I didn’t ask any questions. I should have.
It was a nice ride although I enjoyed the support and terrain of the Blue Ridge Challenge more. This was too flat for my taste although the wind made it a challenge especially when I wasn’t in a line which was most of the day. I think I would rather climb for much of the day than ride on flats in such wind. I don’t know if I would do this one again but it sure was a beautiful route.

NOT MY Cousin Floyd


This does not make sense. The arbitration decision in the Floyd Landis case was just released with a 2-1 decision against Floyd. The panel ruled that the French lab did not follow World Antidoping Guidelines in testing Floyd’s samples. They further ruled that “if the practice is continued that future results would be overturned.”

Huh? So future results by the same lab using the same flawed procedures would be overturned but these ones would be accepted?

To the uninitiated, after bonking on Stage 16 in the Tour de Farce, Floyd rode away to a victory the next day. While he was hailed as having ridden one of the great races ever, the truth was he rode well — but not like Superman. The teams that should have organized early and chased failed to do so which allowed him to open a nine-minute lead on them.

Floyd knew if he won the stage he would be tested. It would be foolish to cheat. Floyd stood up like a man and at every opportunity maintained his innocence, all the way to the Court for Arbitration for Sport. They were especially annoyed that he had the balls to fight the charges and not only found against him on June 30, 2008, but also fined him $100,000. How dare someone questions their authority.

I met Floyd in January 2007. He came away as believable to me. For full disclosure, I have to mention that I am a genealogist. I trace some of my ancestry to a Landis family in Lancaster Co., Pa. in the 1700s. Floyd, of course, is from a Mennonite family named Landis in Lancaster Co., Pa. However, I have traced some of Floyd’s lineage and have yet to make a connection. Cousin or not, I believe him.

A real analysis of the data is at Trust But Verify. Another good blog is Free Floyd Landis.

AUGUST 17, 2010 — Well, aren’t we all the fools? In May at the Amgen Tour of California, Floyd, after being denied entry into the Tour, followed through with his blackmail threat and claimed that he and Lance Armstrong were dopers.

In January 2007, Floyd made his rounds proclaiming his innocence and asking for money from people like me. And I gave. Twenty-five dollars to attend his stupid Evening with Floyd event. Then $50 and $25. And I bought his book. And it was all a lie.

Floyd – I want my money back.

Floyd and Barry, Arlington Draft House, Arlington, Va., January 2007

FEBRUARY 29, 2012 — It continues. And it’s going to continue.

I don’t want my money back. Floyd lost his best friend, his wife (who may have been his best friend), his family, his house, his money, his integrity. He can keep my money.

I have my own theory. I believe Floyd was innocent of using artificial testosterone as he was charged. I suspect when he heard he was caught he thought “oh crap” but when he realized it was artificial testosterone, he fought that. In the end, they wore him down and he eventually confessed to being a doper – at least using blood transfusions.

Unlike Lance, he was not a good liar. It was his good Mennonite upbringing. In his first press conference after the initial doping allegations, Landis was asked flat out: “Have you ever taken performance-enhancing drugs before?”

After a pause, he replied: “I’ll say no.”

I think he speaks the truth about doping in the peloton but he lost his credibility by not confessing when he had a chance and down is discredited at every chance.

And we have found no genealogical link between us. Floyd is not my cousin.

EDIT/EPILOGUE – Ten years after the race, I had the chance to talk to one of the inner members on Floyd’s team, Team Phonak. Floyd bonked on Stage 16. But then, apparently having lost the Tour, he drank a bottle of Jack Daniels (which would be part of his convoluted defense). His team was pissed at him for drinking that night.

The team member put together two lists. And at three in the morning, woke Floyd up screaming at him. He said he had two lists: Why Floyd is the biggest A-hole in the world and Ways Floyd could regain the time he lost and still won the Tour. Which did he want?

Floyd chose how to win the Tour. Team Phonak had a plan. First, Floyd would have to get into the breakaway that sticks. And, no longer within striking distance of winning, the teams should let him go. Second, once in the break, he would have to attack them and go solo. And here was the real plan. Since it was a very hot day, almost 100°, being in a solo breakaway would give Floyd access to his team car. Indeed, throughout the stage one can see Floyd next to the team car, taking on water, often pouring it over his head to keep his core temperature down.

They had prepared 200 bottle of ice water that day. At least 100 would be dumped over his head. Not only would Floyd have access to cold water while riding this day, each bottle would be a “sticky bottle.” At 200 bottle hand-offs, and three seconds per bottle, this was the equivalent of holding onto the team car for 10 minutes. This would be a huge savings of energy. It was also pushing the rules if not breaking them, but much like soccer, you play to the level the referees permit.

Once Floyd got the lead, he held it. My recollection was he did not gain more time on the climbs against the peloton but did gain time on the descents. So when he won that day, his team merely thought their plan worked to perfection.

If Floyd doped, he apparently did it without knowledge of his team. After he had left Postal (USPS Cycling) whatever doping he did was on his own. He tried dirty doctors but found he couldn’t trust them. I don’t recall if he testified that he doped that night with his Jack Daniels or if he was popped for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone because he had doped in preparation for the Tour. Whatever it was, he was popped and the team would lose its title sponsor. Twenty-eight cyclists and support staff were now out of work because of Floyd.

Not my Cousin Floyd.

Getting Buzzed and It’s Not a Good Thing


I did a stupid thing this afternoon. Much of my riding around Prince William County is on the bike paths/trails which follow the new roads in the county, particularly on Rte 234. But I need to take local roads to get there and Waterway Drive through Montclair is one of them.

Waterway Drive is four lanes, two in each direction, with a nice grassy median strip with trees and with curbs — no shoulders. There is no place to move except in the gutter beside the curb. On my way down Waterway towards the stop sign at Avon/Northgate, I was doing 34 mph, just one mph short of the speed limit. Still, some cars insist on flying by so I know they’re speeding.

Just before the road leveled out I was buzzed by a black SUV who got dangerously close – within a few inches. I didn’t respond with profanity or gestures. I just kept going. But as I approached the four-way stop sign, both our through lanes were backed up with seven to eight cars. I quickly came upon the line of cars and was able to move past them on the right to get up to the stop sign. Here the road does open a bit so there is a quasi-shoulder.

I had slowed and as I approached the front of the line there was the SUV. He saw me coming and swerved sharply to the right. But he tried to go all the way to the right and cut me off. I did put out my hand and slap his vehicleto get his attention and prevent him from hitting me. But then, here was the stupid part, I passed one more car then turned around.

Something said not to take this anymore. Clearly, without thinking I went back and pulled in front of his vehicle, basically daring him to run me over. Standing off my bike in front of the driver’s side headlight, I said to him, and his three passengers, “Play nice out here. You have a nice car and future ahead of you (he was probably in his late teens or early twenties and probably showing off for his friends) but if you kill one bicyclist you can be charged with manslaughter, lose everything you have, and spend a few years in jail. Just play nice.

I didn’t yell. I was calm and used a conversational voice.

In retrospect, it was stupid because he could have gunned it and run me down. Except there was a car in front of us. He could have pinned me though. But I sort of felt protected because of the number of cars around. Call them witnesses.

But then came the surprise. He didn’t say a word. I don’t know if anything sunk in or not and will never know. But it was 70° and many drivers had their windows down enjoying the nice temperature. The people in the car beside him cheered me. “Alright! You tell him!” And the driver in the car behind his was cheering too.

For a brief moment, people were glad to see a bicyclist stand up to an idiotic driver. And maybe before he cut me off he also cut them off.

I went through the intersection before he did then wondered what would happen when in the next 200 yards when he got his chance to pass me for a final time. I didn’t give him that chance. I turned into the next driveway simply to let him pass without confrontation before resuming my ride.

It’s tough out there. I do not ever condone confronting a driver. They may be angry. They may be imparied. They have a big machine and they may use it. Heck, they could be armed. I rarely react to anything but on this day I did. And while it worked out OK, I am aware that it may not the next time so hopefully, there won’t be a next time.

Charles Town WV


It was eight and one-half years ago that we first drove Bethany to Shepherdstown, West Virginia to tour Shepherd College. The trip to Shepherdstown and neighboring Charles Town seemed so far. But it would become a trip we would make many times as both Bethany and Ashley attended Shepherd College (now University).

We had a picnic at Bethany and Andy’s place today. For the second time this year, I decided to bike to Charles Town instead of drive. It is getting lighter later and I couldn’t leave home until almost 7:00 a.m.

My route took me up Minnieville Rd to Delaney Road where I sprinted and reached 42.3 mph crossing Neabsco Creek. I always have to break 40 mph there. I followed Delaney to Ridgefield Rd then to the Prince William Parkway. I took the Parkway to Manassas then followed Sudley Road past Manassas Mall and Manassas Battlefield. After passing the battlefield I turned right on Gum Springs Rd which immediately enters Loudoun Co. I followed Gum Springs Rd to Braddock Rd then turned left on Braddock Rd.

Braddock Rd becomes a washboard dirt road in the woods for about three miles. It is very rough riding. One of my water bottles flew off here causing me to stop for a minute. Braddock Rd connects with James Madison Hwy (US Rte 15) which, thankfully, I only had to ride for one mile to Gilberts Corner. At Gilberts Corner, US 50, I turned west on 50 and followed it about a mile and one half past Aldie.

After Aldie, I turned on Snickersville Turnpike a delightful almost traffic-free country road that cuts a neat northwest diagonal. This is the shortest way to Charles Town.

Maybe traffic was lighter than normal because the Hibbs Bridge is out. On the run in to the bridge I reached my high speed for the day – 43.1 mph. I was flying. But the bridge was closed and I had a decision to make. Turn around and take a 10-mile detour or ford the Beaverdam Creek with my bike. I was able to carry my bike over the creek and continue on. I went as far as Airmont then turned north through Round Hill where I went under Rte 7. I followed the road north and came to Cider Mill Rd which connected with Rte 9 west of Hillsboro.

Route 9 is a major road and connects Loudoun Co., Virginia with Jefferson Co., West Virginia. It is two-lane, 55 mph road which crosses the Appalachian Trail at the state border but with no shoulder. I had no problems on Rte 9 and climbing the mountain was painless and quick. I like this route because the descent into Jefferson Co. features some very technical curves. On the first set I rounded one at 41 mph. There is a second climb before a second descent which then crosses the Shenandoah River.

Total mileage was 70 and took me just under 4 1/2 hours at an average speed of 15.5 mph. I arrived at Bethany’s and was able to “relax” by jumping in their pool. Sweet!