A Different Father’s Day Ride


Two years ago I set out from Woodbridge to ride to Charles Town for Fathers’ Day. Dark clouds were in the air and the metaphor was obvious.  

Today there were dark clouds, and even a little rain, but no metaphors.  

There was a Potomac Pedalers “CC” ride out of Marshall, the Blue Ridger, and I first thought that I would drive to Marshall and ride with them to Rte 7 and then break off and head to Charles Town. But the more I thought about it the more I knew I didn’t want to join them.  

Their route would be in the traditional counter-clockwise direction which means they would put in 25 miles before they do any climbs. I wanted to climb Naked Mountain and Mount Weather.  

I watched them take off at 8:40 a.m. and I was on the road six minutes later. In the opposite direction. My route choice would let me do the climbs.  

It’s been a while since I climbed Naked Mountain in this direction. It kicks up to 17% on this grade. From Markham it’s a 3.5-mile climb to the top and from Rte 17 at Paris, it’s a five-mile grind to the high point on Mount Weather.  

My descent to Rte 7 got me to 47 mph. I could have gone faster but had to stop at the bottom of the hill. This is also where I met the Potomac Pedalers group. I left six minutes later and traveled 30 miles and climbed two mountains including 8.5 miles of climbing on two slopes in the time they went 25 miles and had no climbs. That was a slow ride and one I was glad not to be a part of.

And to be fair, they may have had a 20-minute rest break at the general store in Bluemont. I’m not a fan of long stops either.

At Rte. 7 I turned left (west) and headed down to the Shenandoah River. Following a new route, I took Shepherd’s Grade Rd to Wycliffe then Kabletown, before finding Old Cave Road.  

I never unclipped or put a foot down for 50 miles from the start until I got within a mile of Ashley’s place. At a railroad crossing that was blocked for repairs, I had to walk my bike over the tracks.

Old Cave Rd., Charles Town, WV

The uncertainty of what lies ahead weighed deeply on my mind two years ago. Today I thought of my life as a survivor. A much different Fathers’ Day ride.

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