I know….I know…It has been a long time since you have heard from me. I wish I had a good excuse, like I was kidnapped by paramilitary guerillas in the jungles of Southeast Asia, or I was whisked away to some exotic location by a new romance, but alas it would all be lies. I was right here in Arlington, Virginia going about my daily business. But just because I was silent for the last few months does not mean the biking and pie making came to a halt; au contraire my friends, biking and pie making has been alive and well.
The Summer months were particularily hot and humid here in the DC Metro area, so the bike to work commuting dwindled to near nothing. Laziness overcame me, and I lost all desire to ride to and from work in 95 degrees and 100% humidity. But I manged to continue with errand commuting and pizza dinners around Arlington. I even upped my Capital Bikeshare rides. I probably bike to Trader Joes at least once a week for groceries. Given my lack of self control in TJs I might need to buy bigger panniers for the bike. I have to stuff items in the bags and balance various sundry items precariously on the rear rack.
September brought about the first of two organized Fall bike rides. On September 9th my friend Caroline and I embarked to Charles County, Maryland where we participated in the Indian Head Ride put on by the Oxon Hill Bike Club. The weather was beautiful, temperature was comfortable, and the skies were clear, you couldn’t ask for a much better day to ride a bike. We opted for the 63 mile route, well marked with moderate rolling hills. Not a great day for me. My legs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds each; every hill climb was a struggle, plus my hard leather seat was making me angry. Needless to say I got a bit grumpy at times. I can only attribute it to not riding enough hills over the summer, playing soccer the day before, and again that terrible, uncomfortable seat. Only I was to blame for my poor performance and that terrible bike seat (I’ve complained about it since I bought that bike seven years ago). I was whipped and not feeling good about the upcoming Shenandoah Fall Foliage Ride that would soon be upon us in October.
So October 19th rolls around and Caroline and I again headed out of town to Staunton, Virginia. I was armed with a new padded bike seat, anatomically made for the ladies. The Howard Johnsons welcomed us, and we met up with others for dinner. Saturday morning arrived with not enough sleep, but with the promise of a beautiful Fall day. The leaves were in spectacular color, the weather was crisp and cool, and the sun was shining brightly. We departed from an old church and started on our 39 mile loop. Caroline encountered problems early on with a broken spoke. Ride support came for her and took her and her bike to the church for a repair. Luckily she got back on the road and was able to instersect our group a couple of hours later. We all made it back to the church for a tasty post ride lunch. All in all I felt great, the hill climbs were steady without too much complaining from my quads.
Saturday night we all enjoyed an Italian dinner (service was super slow, but the wine was good). Discussions about who was doing what ride on Sunday worked its way into dinner conversation. The premier Sunday ride is a beautiful 37 mile loop near some of the fineset scenery the Shenandoahs and Alleganies have to offer, with a stop at the 22 mile mark for brunch in the historic little town of Middlebrook, Virignia. The Fall Foliage ride offers up a handful of various routes, depending on your motivation level. Not having had enough sleep the night before, the 12 mile relatively flat, family ride was sounding like a good option for Sunday. I’m just going to say it, I’m not very rational when I have only had a couple hours of sleep. I finally came to my senses and agreed to join Caroline and Drew for the 37 mile ride, I decision I did not regret.
The ride was spendid; the route took us through the rolling hills of Shenandoah farm country. I was again feeling great. The hill climbs were steady, without much complaining from my legs. We got an early start on a chilly morning, but we were well dressed for it. We determined that downhills are nice, but not when they take place on the shady parts of the road, enough to make your eyeballs freeze. We arrived at the breakfast stop around 10:30 am and enjoyed coffee, juice, pancakes, sausage and eggs. Pefect amount of sugar and protein to power on through the remaing 15 miles.
We returned to the middle school around 1pm, cracked open a Fat Tire beer and sat by the car looking out over the scenic countryside. Probably not proper to be drinking beer on school property, but we are of legal drinking age, weren’t making a scene, and we probably have done far worse in our lifetimes. We got ourselves cleaned up, changed out of our biking clothes and packed up the car for the two and a half hour drive back to northern Virginia. It was a great weekend. If you are looking for a Fall bike ride, with beautiful scenery and wonderful local hospitality this is the ride.
When I returned home I got out my bike maintenance book to research repairing a broken spoke. In the process I learned I have an all important nipple wrench (spoke nipple wrench that is) in my bike bag tool kit. Although, I think truing a bike wheel on the side of the road would be a daunting task. When on an organized and supported ride take advantage of the sag support, and always make sure you are carrying that phone number with you!
A shout out to Caroline whose brand new Honda CRV and hitch bike rack got us to and fro to these bike adventures. I will someday in the near future equip my car with the amenities of making bike hauling more convenient and secure.
I have some riding plans this weekend, and certainly some pie making with the Thanksgiving festivities approaching. I’ll keep you posted!