Sunday, November 30, 2008

Best rides of 2008

2008 has been a good cycling year for me. No crashes. No road rash. Two flats on the roads. Not bad for 11 months so far!!

My goal for 2008 was 5 to 6,000 miles and as of 30 November I have 5435 miles.

I enjoyed several great rides this year. A few rides were less enjoyable.

I rode on Skyline Drive three times compared to around 25 times in 2007 because of high gas prices and other considerations. However, I did see three black bears on those three rides in the high country.

One of my best rides was on Skyline Drive with Stacy. The roads, the scenery, the solitude and the closeness to Nature mixed with the pain and pleasure of riding in the Shenandoah National Park makes the 65 mile loop incomparable.

The Culpeper Century in early October was a big surprise. I enjoyed the smooth roads, the great views, and the companionship of Patrice who biked with me for most of the 104 miles.

On August 9th a group (Trey, Steve, John P, Bill B, Kevin, Stacy, Lou, Dave W. Buster and me ) met in Loudoun County and biked Woodburn Road, Harmony Church Road, thru Lincoln to Snickersville Tpke to Sam Fred to Middleburg. From M' burg we took Zulla Road into Fauquier County and looped back to Airmont, Hillsboro and back to Purcellville where I started. It was a great 81 miles through horse country with outstanding company. What a ride!

The week before I went to NC and biked the TdF with brother Wayne. The Tour de Furniture in High Point raises money for the Red Cross and they put on a good ride through 4 counties. It was a fun half-century with Wayne.

Stacy and I tried a century (he made it, I stopped after 88 miles) on July 12th in Loudoun County. We did the Loudoun Loop and reversed it to get the miles. Other than the hot weather it was an excellent ride.

Weather conditions made the Reston Century and the Rappahannock Rough Ride less fun than the other rides. But to paraphrase Mark Twain, everyone talks about the weather, but we must take what we get. The Reston was hot, windy, and dry, like a sauna, and all of us suffered like dogs, with the exceptions of Buster and Jodie, the RAAM riders. The RRR was like biking in a steam bath!

Looking forward to 2009. Get ready or get dropped!

Keep Spinning.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lance and Greg: Greg and Lance

Have you followed the interaction between Lance and Greg?

At Lance's recent announcement of his return to competitive cycling the first person to ask a question was Greg Lemond, the three time winner of the Tour de France. Greg did not ask Lance a question, but directed several questions to the person who will test and monitor Lance's compliance with anti-doping regulations.

The clear implication of Lemond's questions was to cast doubt on Lance's record. Why?

Lance won 7 Tour de France bike races and numerous lesser races around the world. During his many years of racing Lance NEVER tested positive for any banned substance, yet Greg seems to think Lance cheated.

Where is the evidence?

Much like the French media who despise Lance (the French people love him) Greg seems to be bent on diminishing Lance's record in the TdF. The French media hate Lance because no Frenchman has won the TdF since Bernard Hinault stole the 1985 tour from Greg (they were on the same team).

I think Greg has a severe case of the green-eyed monster. He cannot accept Lance's superior record in the TdF and is determined to undercut Lance's legacy.

So sad.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Culpeper Century -2008

The Culpeper Century
4 October 2008

“Ready to go?” Patrice asked. “We don’t want the “A Team” to get too far ahead.”

“I’m ready,” I answered and headed for my bike parked along the Salem Fire House. We were at the second rest stop of the day. Patrice had joined me after the first rest stop at Mitchells Presbyterian Church. I biked the first 23 miles with a group of four and we ate up the flat roads; Blackjack Road, Algonquin Trail, Zachary Taylor Highway (US 522) which had high speed traffic, and Mitchells Road which took us to the first rest stop. The speed worried me a little since I signed up for the Century and did not want to burn myself out during the first half of the ride. But I took my pulls at the front and at times reached 27 MPH on the flat sometimes slightly downhill sections. It brought back good memories of young legs and the fun of riding in a pace line.

Patrice was a steady cyclist. She had ridden a century many years ago and wanted to accomplish the feat again. Her family urged her to bike and even sent her to France on a biking trip as a present for her 50th birthday. She told me about climbing Mount Ventoux and the famous Alpe d’Huez.

I did not see Cathy when we passed our house on Merrimac. It was 9:47 and we were 31 miles into the ride. I told Cathy to look for cyclists between 10 and 10:30.

At the start a chilly wind hit my face as I flew down Chandler Street. To the left and right was the National Cemetery, the resting place for good folks who served the nation in uniform. I was a mile into the inaugural Culpeper Century and looking for a pace line to join. I knew Patrice was riding but did not see her at the riders meeting. I met Patrice a few weeks ago on my regular loop around the countryside near my home.

I was surprised at the small number of cyclists who signed up for the ride. I expected 200 or so and it appeared we were less than 100. And I did not win one of the door prizes! Great prizes they were: A Cannondale frame, a jersey, a tool kit, and dinner for two at It’s About Thyme (one of the best restaurants in town).

Much of the route would be new to me. I did not know the total elevation gained or how many of the energy sapping rollers I would encounter. For that reason I decided to take a wait and see approach as to whether I would ride the full Century or go for the Metric Century. It depended upon how my body felt. And I had reduced the miles since cycling the Rappahannock Rough Ride in ugly conditions.

“We turn left here. Ahead is one of the best views in Culpeper,” Patrice added. The roads were well marked with arrows indicating turns before a turn, at the turn, and after the turn. It was one of the best marked routes I had ever biked.

“Duncan Trail,” I said more to myself than to Patrice when we turned off Reva Road. A sharp little climb tested the legs, but we soon reached a level road and spun toward Oakland Road. After a bend Old Ragg Mountain with its huge stone formations, outlined in the morning light, stood before us. To the left and right the Blue Ridge Mountains stretched in waves of blue and purple. Closer to us the still green fields surrounded large farms. A brick fireplace dominated a side of a green-roofed white farm house. A walled cemetery, most likely a family plot, was nearby. Fat Angus cows grazed, the crops were in for the most part, and rolls of hay dotted the rolling pastures.

“How do you feel?” Patrice asked.

“Good so far.” I had informed her that I would decide near the second rest stop whether to bike the 101 miles or go for the Metric Century.

Patrice knew the cyclists in the ”A Team” and wanted to catch them or at least keep it close. I had biked with some of them during the RRR including Michelle (see blog post on the RRR) who was riding her first Century. The section of roads between the second and third rest stop was rolling with short steep climbs as we biked to the northeast. We passed Eggsbornville Road, Drogheda Mountain Road, and other roads that led us to cross Route 229. After another tough steep hill I flew down the next descent and saw the sign for the third rest stop at Mount Zion Church. Good, the “A Team” looked like they had just arrived.

Applause filled the air as I coasted up. I bowed from the waist and turned to look for Patrice. More clapping welcomed her. I looked at my computer: 62.4 miles into the ride. I grabbed a hand full of cookies, ate two orange slices, refilled my bottles – both empty. I was taking extra effort to hydrate properly. I filled one with water and one with Gatorade Rain. Then I paid my water bill – always a sign of adequate hydration.

The “A Team” left and we followed shortly. “They were shocked. Did you see their faces?” Patrice laughed.

“Well, we are just biking at a steady pace and making good time,” I answered. “They know your age, but wait till they learn my age,” I chuckled.

“Maybe we can catch them before Kelly’s Ford,” Patrice joked. “Wouldn’t that surprise them!”

We spun a few miles in silence. “Look, someone has a flat,” I said. Sure enough one of the “A Team” was working on a tire change and the others, about 10-12 riders were waiting.

We were caught just before Lakota Road by the pace line. The route turned east and pointed to Remington, the village near the Rappahannock River. At the traffic signal on US 29 we caught Marcel, Patrice’s Dutch friend who was cramping severely. We carefully crossed the RR tracks and took Summerduck Road through flat farm land on a silky road.

The last rest stop at Kelly’s Ford greeted us. More praise from the “A Team” greeted us when we appeared with Marcel. It was my first time at Kelly’s Ford and I was impressed with the large Inn next door. The parking lot was packed with vehicles.

“Almost home,” one of the “A Team” told us. “From here we have the climb after the narrow bridge, a few rollers, and flat or downhill all the way to Culpeper.” We were 82 miles into the ride and if the total was 101 miles as advertised, we were almost home free.

“Whoa. That is a narrow bridge,” I exclaimed after slowing and navigating the tricky approach to the bridge. “Wow, this must have been built for one team of mules pulling a narrow wagon.” I checked across the bridge before starting across. No way did I want to meet a speedster coming the opposite way on this thing!

The pace line caught us before we reached Route 3 in Lignum. ‘Now I know where I am,” I told Patrice. The roads were indeed flat or slightly down hill and we made good time. We caught and passed Marcel who was suffering with cramps again.

“They travel all over the world cycling, Marcel and his wife,” Patrice informed me. ”No kids, so a few years ago they quit work for two years and biked. What a life.”

I love to bike, but I don’t know that I want to spend all my time cycling. If I were younger, perhaps.

Marcel waved to us from the SAG on Batna Road. “Poor Marcel. He was really having a tough day,” Patrice remarked.

“Hello,” a person from a passing car waved and called to us.

“That’s Marcel’s wife. She must be looking for him.”

We inched closer to Culpeper crossing Route 3 again in Stevensburg. We turned left on Greens Corner Road and I knew we were headed for the intersection with US 29 where Eastern View High School just opened this fall. It was the second high school in the county.

I still felt good and I attributed that to eating and drinking during the ride. ”I drank 10 bottles,” I told Patrice.

“What?” she asked. “I only drank 3 bottles. That must be why I cramped.”

Wouldn’t you know it? In Culpeper the longest train in the world blocked the road. We were less than one half mile from the finish and a freight train delayed us. Oh, well. Trains do have their schedules.

At the Bike Stop, Rick, Patrice’s husband greeted her and snapped a photo of us. Patrice thanked me again, for the uumpteenth time for riding with her.

“My pleasure. It was fun and a really good ride. Thank you.”

I checked my Garmin 705:

104.2 miles
6,035 calories burned.
4670 feet elevation gain.
17.0 MPH average
Average Hr 123
Max Hr 148.

Keep spinning
John Dwight Brown
6 October 2008


The Rappahannock Rough Ride

The Rappahannock Rough Ride
Washington, Virginia
13 September 2008

I coasted up the rest stop. ”Wow,” I said after unclipping my right foot. It was as if someone had just turned on a steam bath. I was drenched in sweat.

“This is like Florida heat and humidity,” a woman remarked.

“It sure is,” I answered. I headed for the water and food laid out under a tent. Two young ladies, high school age, I guessed, were seated near the tent.

“Where are your bikes?” I asked with a grin.

"We don’t bike,” they answered together.

“Too bad,” I teased them. They were pretty and looked fresh even in the extreme heat and humidity on this Saturday morning.

It was my first time cycling the Rappahannock Rough Ride. It was a 100k ride through the countryside of Rappahannock County – one of the prettiest places on God’s green earth. I was biking with Stacy, my cycling buddy and friend. We were about 19 miles into the ride and so far it had been fast despite the constant up and down of rollers – hundreds of rollers that taxed the legs and sapped energy in the overbearing heat and humidity.

The mass start was at 10:00 AM. That was late for a bike ride start. Most rides start early -around 7:00- to help avoid the hotter part of the day. We lined up in the street in tiny Washington, Virginia – called Little Washington by most people to distinguish it from the Nation’s Capital 75 miles or so to the north. While waiting to start the ride director gave out the door prizes. Gift certificates for $25 and $50 were awarded. Then the big one came. It was a dinner for two at the world famous Inn at Little Washington. Who would win the coveted prize?

Not I! Not Stacy. So much for that!

Rappahannock County lies at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains with the western border of the county lying at the top near Skyline Drive. Page County is to the west, Warren and Fauquier Counties to the north, Culpeper County to the east and Madison County to the south.

The weather forecasts called for a chance of thunderstorms and rain. I hoped for a dry ride. Then the weather could do its thing. I didn’t realize the heat and humidity was going to produce the same effect as rain!

Stacy and I were old hands at cycling in Rappahannock County. One of our regular rides starts at Massies Corner at the intersection of US 211 and US 522. We bike 8 miles to Sperryville and tackle the 7 mile climb to Thornton Gap and to the Shenandoah National Park. The Skyline Drive is the main road, the only road that travels the 105 miles from Font Royal to Rockfish Gap. We go north to Front Royal and pickup US 522 again for the return to Massies Corner for a total of 65 miles with 19 miles of climbing. It is a tough, but great ride with cool mountain views, great descents, and frequent black bears sightings.

But today we crossed numerous streams flowing from the mountain. Each time I flew down a roller I knew a stiff climb waited on the other side. It was suffer like a beaten dog on the climb only to fly down the other side at 40 MPH to repeat the process again and again.
Rappahannock County does not permit cell telephone towers so I left my cell phone in the truck. The county has stringent rules on development and requires either 25 or 50 acre lots for residential permits. Folks here want to keep the country agricultural and small scale.
We crossed US 211 and I finally recognized the area. The roads to this point had been all new to me. Now we were spinning toward Flint Hill and a rendezvous with Crest Hill Road with which I am too familiar. Can you say ROLLERS?

”Who is that woman?” I asked myself when a young woman flew past me on the first climb on Crest Hill Road. It was not an easy climb. Just the opposite! It had grades of 10 -12 percent and this lady mountain goat soon disappeared from sight. Stacy gave chase, but she found the top first. Wow, I thought. She was in a group of eight cyclists and I latched onto the pace line. Stacy was ahead of us since the young lady had slowed at the top.

A pace line is fun if you can tag along. We maintained speeds above 20 MPH on the rolling road except for the short but steep sections. The same man led the line and it became clear he liked the front. Stacy tried to take a pull but the fellow refused to follow Stacy’s wheel. Strange. Another cyclist pointed to numerous road hazards; potholes, tree limbs, and sometimes to blades of grass. It is common for cyclists near the front to point to objects of danger on the road. This guy overused the pointing, in my opinion.

While drafting near the rear of the group I checked out the female mountain goat. She was small with well developed legs, especially thighs and pale skin (I wondered if she biked indoors). She dropped everyone on the rollers. There was no way my legs could keep up with her on the sharp and short climbs.

We turned left on Leeds Manor Road searching for the village of Hume. Stacy went to the front and I followed him to the turn west on Hume Road. Again, I was on familiar territory since Stacy and I bike these roads frequently. Also, I knew the second rest stop was at Marriott Ranch a couple miles west of Hume. Yet more rollers waited us. On the last roller a bee flew into my helmet and started to build a nest. Great! Just what I need now is a couple of bee stings in the head. I took my helmet off- while still riding – and brushed the bee away.
Ah, cold water!

I dripped sweat. It was too humid for sweat to evaporate so we were soaked. But there was shade along the stone wall that lined Hume Road. I ate a banana, an energy bar, drank a bottle of water, refilled, and drank more water. I knew the road and the rollers that waited for Stacy and me. We were at Mile 43 and had 17 miles to complete in the boiling heat and humidity. We spun past two more vineyards. The vines were bare of grapes, but green leaves still waved to us. I wouldn’t mind some tasty rice and lamb rolled in grape leaves and steamed to perfection. It was years ago that I last had them.

At the junction of US 522 and Hume Road we turned south. I knew we turned right before reaching Flint Hill and looked over Stacy’s shoulder. He was pulling me along at 25-28 MPH. After we passed Wakefield School we hung a right on another new road for us.
I was tired, hot, and wet. One last climb tested my legs. Garmin said 12-14 percent grade and I struggled up the twisting road. Ahead I saw pale skin flashing. Ah, the lady mountain goat scampers home.

“It should be illegal to climb hills the way she does,” I exclaimed when I motioned to the blonde lady. We had torn off the soaked jerseys, replaced the hot cycling shoes with sandals, and had a cold drink at my truck.

“She weighs 103 pounds….”

“How does she do it?” I asked of my parking neighbor who was one of the pace line group.

“Michelle started biking two months ago,” he replied.

“What?” I turned to look at Michelle.

“I have been running for 19 years,” she told me.

“Wow,” I replied. “You sure fly up the hills and rollers like a pro.”

She smiled, “It’s the cross training and all the miles I run.”

”Well, whatever it is, keep doing it.”

Garmin stats
60 miles.
4,000 feet elevation gain
3,600 calories burned.

17.9 MPH average
130 BPM HR average
158 BPM HR max

It was a good ride, but lousy weather conditions. The start should be moved to 8:30 AM or so. I need to win the big door prize!

Keep spinning,


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The 2008 Reston Century - Part 4

One last short climb awaited me on old Route 7 before I reached Clarke's Gap and the mild descent on Dry Mill Road into Leesburg. The W &OD Trail took me through Leesburg, past my crash site of 1996, and into the ever changing countryside - not countryside any more - of eastern Loudoun County.

The hot dry wind blew into my face. I was in a hurry to complete the ride and had decided that the Century was enough for me on this day. I skipped the rest stop at Ashburn. My tired legs spun past Smith's Switch Station - a throwback to the railroad days. The new golf course on Broad Run looked parched despite the sprinklers. Redskin Park was to the left. The miles were slowly passing.

Steve and Stacy greeted me when I pulled into the Pavilion. "How was it?" Steve asked.

"Tough. Hot," I replied "This year was worse than last even though I biked 130 miles last year."

Stacy grabbed my hand and gave it a good shake. The pavilion was crowded with cyclists, some eating, others lolling about with their families. I noticed lots of small children.

I grabbed a cold water and a cold Mountain Dew. I needed a shot!
I sat briefly to gather my thoughts and my balance. Soon other Spiders appeared and we found a table. The food; salad, pasta, bread, and chicken hit the spot.

Stacy decided to ride with me since I was going home. I passed around copies of my biking book, Saved by the Bell. Jody looked fresh despite the heat and the miles. I guess after biking the RAAM a one day ride of 100+ miles was nothing.

After most of the Spiders left Stacy, Kevin and I discussed the ride.

"Look," I pointed across the pavilion.

Lou pushed his bike up to the table and slumped into a chair.

"What happened?" I asked. "I thought you terminated in Hamilton."

"I did, but I had to continue. It is the hardest thing I ever did," Lou said.

"Well, you did great. I didn't think you would make it."

"Good job, Lou," Kevin and Stacy said. Stacy offered his hand. "Way to go."

"Amy met me and brought water and food, so I had to go...." Lou was exhausted.

It was a tough day on the bike. I burned lots of calories, more than 6,000, climbed more than 5,500 feet, averaged 17.3 MPH and traveled more than 107 miles.

Keep spinning.


26 August 2008

Culpeper, Virginia

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The 2008 Reston Century - Part Three

At one point on Taylorstown Road, I reversed course in search of Lou who had disappeared on one of the tough climbs. I was afraid the fast early pace had taken a toll on my son-in-law who was still a novice at riding long distances. The Reston was his first Century and it was not an easy ride. It is long, had little flat roads, tough rollers, and a few nasty climbs. And the day was heating up fast.

Lou informed me he was cooked and for me to remove the fork from his back. He was planning to stop when he reached Hamilton Park after about 60 miles. I rejoined Stacy and we spun our way back to Hamilton. We passed Steve on Hamilton Station Road.

"Don't wait or me," Steve informed us when we passed. "I am cooked and will take it easy back to Reston." There was lots of cooking goin' on today!

As soon as I stopped in the park I noticed the heat. Without the wind chill effect while riding it was hot! There is nothing like rollers and short nasty climbs to heat me up. I wonderered how the South Loop would treat me.

I ate a handfull of cookies - good homemade oakmeal with raisins which I love. I filled water bottles, one with water and one with Gatorade. I also ate bread smeared with peanut butter, two bananas, a few orange slices, and drank a bottle of cold water.

We regrouped at the street. "Hey, Spiders, you did great on Stumptown. We were out there and saw you tackle those climbs without any problems," one of the RBC guys told us. He was directing traffic at the street.

"You saw these young guys, not me," I laughed as I pointed to the group. Most of my fellow Spiders were 25-30 years younger than me.

"Where are you from?" he asked. No one responded since we were from all over Northern Virginia and not really an organized club.

"Spiderville," I said.

"Well, you have the 23 mile South Loop, then back here. Then it's home free back to Reston." Easy for him to say since he was not riding the miles in the heat I thought. And trying to keep up with these young people. I was impressed with Jody and of course Buster was super strong as all RAAM riders had to be to complete that grueling 3,000 mile ride.

"Turn left at Maple, go thru Lincoln and to Snickersville...." He saw me nodding my head. We knew the route, unfortunately.

The wind was desert-like. It was dry just like the weather had been for weeks. Surely it would rain soon and hush the tree frogs who had been advertising dry weather since mid-July. I looked forward to Lincoln Road because it was shaded most of the time. I did not look forward to the rollers of Snickersville and the mad traffic on Route 690.

I hung on by my nails as we flew through Lincoln at 30 MPH. Good Lord, I thought, what will my legs think! The group was in a single file pace line and it was quiet - always a signal of serious cycling. When the rollers started the pack split into two groups with me falling into the second one. Oh well....

Six rollers dominate the miles between Watermill and Route 690. It is up or down with no flat road. I was happy to turn onto Route 690. On one climb traffic backed up behind a group of cyclist and I biked beside a Honda.

"Hey, how about a tow?" I asked the young lady sitting in the passenger seat.

"Sure, grab on," she laughed. I was kidding, of course. In Purcellville Stacy and I passed the main group and pushed for Hamilton and the cold drinks waiting for us. How much water could I drink and still bike I wondered. I was cramping as was everyone. It was impossible to drink enough fluid in the heat and dry wind. I had not paid my water bill in hours or days it seemed. It was not a good sign.

To be continued.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Reston Century - Part Two

The first 30 miles were relatively easy on the flat roads of eastern Loudoun County. I knew once we passed Leesburg the roads rolled and tilted upward and caused sweat to appear in all kinds of places. Woodburn Road tested the climbing legs and the rollers of Harmony Church Road were unforgiving in their up and down repetition. Stacy and I talked of extending the Century to 160 miles for him and 130-140 for me - depending on our conditions after the meal at Reston Town Center (RTC).

We had skipped the rest stop at Ashburn -only 10 miles into the ride. It was too soon to eat and get refills. However, I could have paid my water bill. The next stop was at Hamilton Park. It was packed with cyclists of all types, men and women and a few youngsters. I even saw recumbents and a few tandems in the crowd. I queued for water, food and the toilets (not in that order). There was plenty of cycling food: bananas, orange slices, energy bars, cookies, bread, peanut butter, candy bars, M& M's, and other treats.

I was ready for the break after 31 miles. The next segment was tough. I knew because I had biked it numerous times. Stumptown Road was famous for its short but steep hills and the tricky descent. There were nasty rollers on Loyalty Road of 12-14% grade repetitious in their steepness.

"What is your group name?" a photographer asked me when we re-grouped and moved toward the street.

"We are the ...spiders," I replied after pondering for a moment.
"How about a group photo?" he asked.
"Sure. Hey, spiders, gather around for a photo."
"Spiders, huh," someone in the group laughed.
"Thanks. And have a good ride," he added.
"Thank you," we replied.
"Maybe we'll become famous for the Reston Century," someone said.
"Infamous, more likely," I laughed.

The only comfortable stretch of road on the Stumptown Loop was the 4-5 miles from Clarke's Gap to the turn onto Stumptown Road. It was my opportunity to move to the front and lead the charge into Waterford. Someone up front decided we missed a turn and threw the group into mayhew for a few seconds. Tires skidded, cyclists yelled, guys were off the road and I biked to the front taking advantage of the disorganization. I set a moderate pace into Waterford. The shade felt great in the growing heat. The rest of the Loop was rollers, short but nasty climbs, and a desire to return to the comfort of Hamilton Park gripped me. My HR reached 158 and the Garmin beeped informing me that I had exceeded my top HR limit. No kidding!

To be continued.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Horse Country Circuit

"Wow," I exclaimed as I plunged down the descent of Leeds Manor Road.

I quickly glanced at my Garmin computer and saw: 45 MPH!

The road contorted and twisted as Stacy and I flew towards the village of Hume. Wow indeed I thought. It took only a few seconds to reach 45 MPH and the crooks and turns took all my attention.

Thankfully, there was little traffic as we finished the descent and slowed to 25 MPH. I pulled even with Stacy, "That was quite a ride. Too bad the road is so rough." We were forced to navigate through a series of potholes on the plunge and my bike took a beating. Huge trees shaded most of the road and I knew that winter freezing and thawing played havoc with the pavement.

We were doing a 60-80 mile ride in Horse Country - Virginia - in Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties.

We turned right at the village of Hume and headed for US Route 522 several miles to the west. Our loop took us past The Marriot Ranch, an eastern dude ranch of 4,000 acres. We spun past Oasis Vinyard and later Rappahannock Vinyards as the grapes were being cut from the vines.

On US 522 Stacy pulled me at speeds exceeding 30 MPH to Flint Hill. (Ah, to be young.) Traffic was nasty as cars and trucks zoomed past us.

I pulled into our regular rest stop- a Mom and Pop service station. We watched folks as they prepared for the Labor Day weekend. The pumps were busy with locals chatting.

I drank a Raspberry Snapple, ate a cookie and a pack of toasties. My water bottles were empty. It was 43 miles into the ride and I usually stop at mile 30 or so to refill bottles and eat.

Our return took Crest Hill Road and its numeous short, but steep hills. The accumulated rollers took a toll on my legs. The headwind pushed against us while we tried to maintain our brisk pace.

"We'll finish with around 70 miles," Stacy informed me on a rare section of flat road.

"Good, that's about what I wanted today." I was still recovering from the 107 miles in the heat of last week's Reston Century.

We blazed the last mile at 30 MPH since it was on a slight downhill.

"Good ride," I shouted when we stopped.

I ride my bike because...

I love to bike.

I like the wind in my face (not too strong) and the sound of my tires when they turn fast. I dig the sounds I encounter while cycling; the air as it rushes past my head, the calls of the birds as they flitter in the bushes and trees, the grunts of the tree frogs signaling more dry weather, and the silence of shady country roads.

I like the endorphins that free my body from its normal aches and pains.

I love breaking the barrier that separates normal life from the life on my bike. It is invisible, but there nontheless. My cycling life frees me from daily worries as as I spin along and my mind is able, to use a cycling term, to freewheel (spin freely without brakes) and conjure at will.

I love to set the pace and to ride in a pace line with a set of companions who also love to bike.

Keep Spining.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The 2008 Reston Century - Part One

The 2008 Reston Century and the Spiders

A fire truck and two ambulances blocked the road. Now what I thought as I slowed and unclipped my right foot. The line of Spiders moved to the right and skirted the waiting cars and trucks.

"Move to the right and walk your bikes," a woman shouted as more cyclists slowed and joined the line.

"What happened?" someone ahead of me asked. I thought perhaps a car had gone off the road on the dangerous curve.

"There are two cyclists down. You can walk though, but you must stay on that side of the road," she emphasized with a motion to the right.

Indeed there were two cyclists stretched out on a lawn. Both had backboards and neck braces on and medics were tending to them even as sirens announced the arrival of more medical personnel.

"That is a nasty curve," I remarked to Stacy after we passed the congestion and headed for Taylorstown Road.

"Been there and done that," Stacy replied. Stacy had crashed on a descent in 2002 not far from this spot. Fortunately for Stacy a passer-by found him- unconscious- and called the meat wagon. Stacy had a concussion and a banged-up Bianchi. He was back on his bike after a week or two. The curve where the two cyclists had crashed was not shaped to take at speed and had a curve inside the curve that may have caused the cyclists to crash.

"Yeah, me too," I answered thinking about 1 June 1996 when I was hauled off in the meat wagon.

We were riding the northern loop of the Reston Century with our group of "Spiders". The group included Stacy, Lou, Kevin, John P, Steve, Buster, Jody, Jere, Jay, Bill, Dave, Ira, Rod (?) and me. We were the Spiders because we had no group name and the dark blue jerseys Lou ordered for us read "Spiders". There were tough as nails cyclists in the group; namely, Buster and Jody who has recently completed the RAAM -Race Across America - 3,000 + miles on a four person team in 7 days and change. I knew I was in for a tough day when the ride started fast (for me) and remained fast. I knew my dogs would howl with this pace.

John Peterson joined us at Hamilton Park for our first rest stop. He chased us up and down the rollers of Harmony Church Road. John is training for an Ironman in Louisville hoping to make it to the Big One in Haiwii. He looks forward to a long swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon. Nuts! I wish him the best.

There was a long line at the Reston checkin station. What the heck I thought? All the years I had biked the Reston I never faced a line like this. "Is there only one person checking us in?" I asked no one in particuler. The line wrapped around the pavilion and out into the street where I waited. "The heck with this," I exclaimed and moved from the line. I knew the route, was preregistered, had my meal ticket band, and was wasting time.

To be continued.