One thing about distance riding is that you have plenty of time to let your mind take over and absolutely enjoy the peace and solitude on a bike. But when things aren’t going so well it can be too much time fighting the cycling demons.

While it sometimes felt that I have made this 70-80 mile ride a hundred times, in truth I have made it less than 15 times. The distance is nice but it’s also a dangerous ride with up to 10 miles on some hi-speed two-lane roads with no shoulder. It’s a matter of pick your poison depending on which of two major routes to take.

Having a family gathering at Bethany’s, it was a perfect day to bike. It was 32 degrees when I left the house. I was kitted up and was toasty warm. I rolled out of the house towards Manassas. I wasn’t concerned about time and thought it was a good thing because in the first 10 miles I seemed a little sluggish.

In Manassas I came to a road closure for their annual Christmas Parade. It took me down to Wellington and then over to Ashton Ave. I hadn’t gone this way, even in a car, but realized I was parallel to the very busy Sudley Road and was thankful that even though it was a mile or two longer, I have found a safer way through Manassas.

After a stop at the visitor center at the Manassas Battlefield Park, I headed west on Sudley Road. This is a dangerous two-lane road with no shoulder. Coming to the Aldie Market, I stopped and bought two Snickers bars. I was sluggish.

After crossing US 15, I stared ahead at Bull Run Mountain. I got on Mountain Road but was thankful this road was parallel to the ridge and I would mostly be going around the mountain and not over it. At Mile 40 in the town of Aldie, I stopped at the country store and bought a king size Snickers. I was sluggish.

Snickersville Turnpike, aptly named today, is an unmarked two-lane country road which is a beautiful ride. As it approaches the Blue Ridge it may trend slightly uphill but is mostly rollers, some of them pretty steep. It is a continuous ride of up and down.

After 15 miles you reach Bluemont at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountain. And here the road goes straight up. I was worried. I wasn’t feeling it. I was sluggish.

On November 9 I had ridden 50 miles but it wasn’t really a 50 mile ride. I rode to a doctor’s appointment and back and added a little more. That is important because the last long ride I had was on October 21 in Austin at the Livestrong Challenge. I had plenty of short rides but nothing more than 30 miles since.

I felt great that day. After 80 miles in Austin I pedaled faster — I averaged more than 21 mph over the last 20 miles. Solo. Not drafting in a group of riders. And I know that when the body is trained it knows how to release fat stores so that you can ride as fast, or faster, after 80 miles. Today, I was sluggish. And it was always on my mind. 

Even the flattest section, Sudley Road, I struggled to average a pedestrian 15 mph. Actually, I didn’t average 15 mph.

Time dragged on. Every pedal stroke reminded me how unfit I am. The cell phone taunted me. Use it! Call ahead and tell them you can’t do it and come pick you up.

Every mile. Every mile I fought that temptation. I got to the top of Snickers Gap (US 7) and knew it was all downhill. Well, downhill to the Shenandoah River then flat, with rollers, the rest of the way.

Turning on Shepherds Mill Road every little rise in the road gave me trouble. As I passed Moose Apple Christmas Tree farm I pulled in and looked at maybe more than 50 cars parked. Although there was a big line waiting to pay for a tree, I went to the front “just to say hello” to the owner.

Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm

I told him I was there during Bike Virginia and he told me he remembered. He said I was from Woodbridge and worked for the Postal Service. I must be memorable. That good feeling was enough to power me the next five or six miles.

My thought was my next goal – Sheetz. Even though it was two miles from Bethany’s I knew I couldn’t make the last two miles with a food stop.

I stopped at Sheetz. I ordered food. After paying and standing while waiting for my food I didn’t see any seats in the store. I felt too tired to stand and looked for a place to sit on the floor. But I didn’t. I was sluggish.

After eating and resting I got ready for the last two miles. Crossing US 340 there is a slight hill and I struggled to get up it then celebrated as I knew that was the last hill to climb on the day. One mile later I arrived.

I went in the house to a number of concerned family because I was so late. I explained I was sluggish. Although it has been six weeks since my last long ride I explained how quickly one can lose fitness. I blamed the cold as one burns more calories, I think, keeping warm. And pedaling with tights I figured must slow me down some too.

I was almost too tired to put the bike away but I knew I would have to before I could shower and shave the Movember mustache. I had leaned the bike against my parents’ car and now walked it down the driveway. I didn’t think much that it didn’t seem to roll freely. In fact, I had to coax it down the small hill on their driveway.

At the car I went to remove the wheels. Since I had been pedaling in low gear the chain was on the top sprocket and it’s easier to remove and replace the wheels if one moves the chain to the lowest sprocket. I lifted the bike and turned the crank with my hand and shifted gears. The wheel spun. Then stopped. Crap!

I looked at the rear brake and it had somehow been misaligned. The left brake shoe was solid against the wheel. I had just ridden 78 miles with the brake on.

Left pad was snug against the wheel


Of the thousands of miles I have ridden one thing I don’t normally do is check to see if the brakes are misaligned. But they can get pushed or knocked out of alignment and it’s an easy fix to put them back. One thing you don’t want to do is to ride 77 miles with the brake on.

You’ll feel sluggish.

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 in Charles Town. 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 mechanic onsite checking out the Pilot

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

Trek mechanic onsite checking out the Pilot

Since the mechanic took time checking the bike, it felt as though I was the last to leave Berryville. As I rode I 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.

Cute family of six

At Rest Stop Number 1 in Rippon, 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.

Cute family on six

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

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

The oldest 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.

Rest stop at Rippon, Va.

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.

Rest stop in Middleway, West Virginia

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 the 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?

Barry and Kay
Bardane, West Virginia

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

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 rode 20 miles from Charles Town to the event’s registration in Berryville, Va. 

Rest Stop at Bike Virginia

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

Rest Stop at Bike Virginia

I was surprised that at a park and swimming pool rest stop 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 just six miles before I broke from the route and headed back to Charles Town.

Rest stop

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.

The dumbass who hit me

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, 86º, 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 heavily 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.

First responders in Charles Town

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 (is that a thing?) and moved it next to a building. They helped me to my feet then checked my 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 that I hadn’t seen.

Garmin Odometer

I was shaken up and really just wanted to go home. I just wanted to end my five-day Bike Virginia trip after one day.

Trek store in Charles Town

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.

The driver was not charged.

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.

Onward to Charles Town


The last time I rode this route was Father’s Day one year ago. Today’s ride was uneventful. I stopped a lot to take pictures. That killed any average speed I had going.

It was hot. It hit 99 or 100 in D.C.

Cyclist on Pr. Wm. Parkway Bike Path

On the bike path near Manassas there was a couple walking two large retrievers — one a black Lab and the other a Golden. If they had been paying attention they would have seen me coming and made sure I could get by safely at speed. Instead I had to slow to almost a stop. I was nice, thanked them, and then regretted that I didn’t dismount and take a picture. I know, they killed my momentum so I should at least take a picture.

 My route took me on Sudley Road through Manassas and past the Manassas Battlefield.  

Manassas Battlefield Park

The dirt portion of Braddock Road in Loudoun County was worse than I remembered. I am thinking that they recently put down more gravel. There was no place to find a track in which to ride. I was “greeted” by two large dogs. Maybe it was too hot for them to give serious chase. I talked to them while maintaining my slow speed and they never became aggressive.

 Braddock Road, Loudoun Co., Va.

As I rode along I was going slower and slower and felt my rear tire become sluggish. I pulled over to change a flat and then was delighted to see that I didn’t have a flat — it really was that crappy to ride in.

Snapping Turtle on Braddock Road

Once I reached the far end of Braddock Road I flew passed a huge turtle in the middle of the road. I turned around, at first wanting to move it to safety. But I soon decided it could protect itself better than I could.

Country Store in Airmont – A Cyclist’s Oasis

My only stop was at Airmont for a bottle of PowerAde, bottle of water, and a Milky Way candy bar (they were out of Snickers).

Barn on Rte 9

The climb over the Blue Ridge on Rte 9 was uneventful. However, my wife and son passed me, while I was hugging the shoulder, and NEVER SAW ME!!!! I will die on the road some day by motorists who somehow manage to pass cyclists without seeing them.

Jefferson Co., WV

Comparing my stats to last year the biggest difference is in heart rate. Last year I averaged 132 bpm and hit 160+ on a couple of the climbs. Yesterday I averaged 122 bpm and went to 150. I want to believe that I am more fit than last year and I should be. Last year I was battling an e.Coli infection for weeks which led to the diagnosis of cancer. Well, at least that’s gone.

Shenandoah River

Garmin Map and Stats

Just Hanging On


Potomac Pedalers Backroads Century

It was just 48 degrees when I arrived at Clarke Co., H.S. I stayed overnight in Charles Town and didn’t have everything with me that I would have preferred. I knew that I would be cold and I was. My only cold-weather gear was a light riding jacket (windbreaker). The toes, fingers, and legs would have to warm up on their own on this day.

The start time was supposed to be 7:30 a.m. but there wasn’t a mass start. Whenever riders wanted to get on the course they were free to leave. Some, I’m sure, were headed out at 7:00 a.m.

I waited until 7:30 to roll out. There were a number of other riders starting and it was a matter of sorting out who I would ride with. Never in a previous century have I started with one group and stayed with them the entire way. These things have their own dynamics. I just hoped to find one or two riders who rode about the same pace as me and we could work together until the first rest stop. At that point, I might leave in my own and form up with other riders. Or none at all.

I soon found a group of six riders and most of them wore the kits of Evolution Cycling — a racing team I trained with in January and February. They slowed when they realized they dropped a couple of their riders and I slowed with them. It’s better to stay with a group.

We soon formed up and picked up a couple more riders along the way. Despite a missed turn when I was at the front, we organized and averaged 20 mph to our first rest stop at Mile 29. I have never averaged more than 17+ on anything longer than 25 miles. Today I averaged 20 mph for 29 miles.

I was excited. I thought about riding the remaining 71 miles at my pace content with the 20 mph pace which left me drained. But when we rolled out I jumped in with them again. At times I thought I might have to drop out but I matched every acceleration.

I carried a camera with me hoping to capture some nice photos. Shortly after we left the rest area in West Virginia we were treated with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains enveloped in the low clouds. It was postcard quality and will remain that way in my mind.

On any other ride I would have pulled over and took some pictures but I knew the pace I was on was special. And I knew that if I pulled over I could never rejoin the group. So no pictures of the ride.

Here in Jefferson County is the only place in West Virginia where the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River come together. Of course those are mentioned in Country Roads, John Denver’s famous 1971 hit, and the theme song of West Virginia University.

With one exception, there were no hairy-legged monsters in our group. All the guys had shaved legs which indicates that they are serious cyclists.* And they are to average 20 mph on a ride. But it also makes one secure in following closely. That is, until one rider lost his attention for one second.

He lost his attention span and saw that he was 1/2 inch from ramming the rider in front of him. He both braked and steered to avoid him which almost caused all of us to go down in a heap. But we didn’t dwell on it. One rider chastised him briefly and soon we were back hanging on each others’ wheels.

We got back to the parking lot at the school which marked our halfway rest stop. It had warmed up to 65 degrees so I could remove my jacket and put it back in the van. Heck, I was soaked with sweat at that point.

I checked my bike computer and we averaged 19.5 for the first 50 miles. I was at my van and thought 50 miles at 19+ was great and worth calling it a day.

The route was designed as a north 50 mile loop into West Virginia to the edge of Charles Town. The southern 50 mile loop went to Boyce, Millwood, and south of US 50, all in Virginia.

We rolled out and I was with them again. Before our next rest stop our group split. And I made the split. I kept wondering why the heck I was with the front five riders while seven others dropped off the pace. We reorganized at the rest stop and a dozen of us rolled out together.

We had some climbs and here I dropped back with three other riders. I can climb and finish the steep hills but when the young racers hit the 3-4% half-mile grades I can’t always keep their 20 mph pace especially after having ridden 70 miles.

But the key is to remain calm and ignore that little guy, Kazoo, who sits on your shoulder and tells you to let them go and finish by yourself. So three of us rode together although we dropped Mike, a rider who started cramping.

We ignored the temptation on the next flat just to hammer it and catch the lead group quickly. We could have caught them but we would have been toast. Instead, we lifted our pace slightly until we were able to integrate with our main group.

We stopped at a rest area at Mile 75. After five minutes Mike arrived. We waited for him to refuel then took off. Our group had grown to 16 as other riders were talking about our group that was smokin’ it. They wanted in for some fun.

The last 25 miles was really a lot of holding on and getting dropped twice but each time catching the back of our group. The last time I was aided by a train. That is to say that everybody got stopped at a railroad crossing. But Mike was dropped for good. In our run-in to the finish we picked up other riders along the way but ultimately shed them. In the home stretch, we were still standing at a dozen riders.

We pulled back into the parking lot five and a quarter hours after we departed. This was riding time only; it does not include the time sitting at picnic tables at rest areas or standing in line at the porta-johns.

George Muschamp
I ran into George Muschamp, a co-worker, at the finish line. One hundred and two miles. 5:15 of riding time. The average speed was an incredible (for this ancient rider) 19.3 mph. This was two mph faster than any previous ride at any distance. This was the first time I rode a century with the same group from start to finish.

Hey, I can ride with these guys (as long as I hang on and they do most of the pulling).

This was a bittersweet day and ride. I am incredibly excited about my speed for the day but also realize this is probably my last ride for quite some time. Whether I can regain this level of fitness I don’t know.**

*Well, I shave my legs so I don’t know if that alone qualifies me as a serious cyclist.
**Impending cancer treatment

A Father’s Day Ride


This would be a special day — a day I needed on the bike. A 70-mile ride from Woodbridge, Virginia to Charles Town, West Virginia to see my wonderful daughters, Bethany, and Ashley, along with my sons-in-law and grandson.

As I left the house the clouds were very dark with strong winds that would be in my face for all 70 miles. And I am thinking this is a metaphor for my life. I am headed into dark storm clouds. Would the clouds give way to blue skies or would thunder and lightning be in store?

I know my fitness level isn’t where I need it so I decided to take my time. As much as I like to push it on the downhills I decided that I would coast down most hills instead of hammering it. I would enjoy those “whew-hoo” moments. My cadence would show that too as I averaged a lot of zeroes with my 90-100 rpm.

I go the shortest route I know. It also has the least amount of traffic but some roads are still dangerous. I go out through Manassas but Sudley Road past the Manassas Battlefield is a tight squeeze. Gum Springs Road to Braddock Road is okay but Braddock Road is a dirt road in poor shape for about three miles. I ride on U.S. 15 and 50 for a combined four dangerous miles.

After leaving Rte 50, Snickersville Turnpike is a beautiful rolling country road that leads to Airmont and a turn towards Round Hill.

At Airmont, one can see the Blue Ridge Mountains. I take satisfaction looking as far as I can see and knowing that I have crossed all the major road crossings over these summits. Straight ahead is Snickers Gap (Rte 7) and Mount Weather. Further south is Clarks Gap (US Rte 50). To the north is Harpers Ferry and the climb out of the Potomac River Valley. Today’s route connects with a shoulderless Rte 9 over Keyes’ Gap.

I made one rest stop — on Braddock Road where I consumed two energy bars. And that was it. I also consumed one energy bar while on the bike as well as one pack of Sport Beans. When I reached Rte 9 just west of Hillsboro I stopped long enough to down a packet of Hammer Gel.

Eventually, blue skies came out but those gave way to dark rain clouds. Going up Keyes’ Gap I was in a mist which I didn’t mind. It helped me cool off while making it easier to breathe. (There is more oxygen in the air when it is raining.)

The ride was difficult for me. Always a headwind, at times there were wind gusts of 30 mph and no one blocking the wind. These rides are so much easier when others share the lead.

The clouds indeed were dark but nothing bad came of them. Hopefully, that too is a metaphor for my life.

Happy Father’s Day!

Stats and Map

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!

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