The 2009 Reston Century
How much Frost can I drink and still ride my Bike?
23 August 2009
“Where’s Peterson?” I asked. The group was preparing to leave Hamilton Park for the last leg to Reston Town Center. It was our third visit to the park on the ride and I was happy it was the last for this ride.
“I haven’t seen him. Is he here? Bill asked.
“We biked in together,” I replied. I looked around. The crowd was thinner than on the two previous visits.
“I’ll take a look,” Bill said and disappeared. I was holding Lou’s bike while he refilled his bottles. I took another swig of Frost. Steve pedaled up to the group.
“Hey, refill, grab a bite before we head home,” someone told him.
The southern leg just competed – about 25 miles – was full of rollers, the relentless ups and downs which sap the legs and tire the spirit. But we had completed it –in separate groups- the fast young legs ahead of me and Peterson who was worried about his upcoming marathon. Now that Lou and Steve had rolled into the park the group was together again. At least it was not as hot as 2008.
“Look there,” Dave said and pointed .
Sitting in the grass, a solitary cyclist relaxed and took a drag from a cigarette.
“You don’t see that every day,” Steve laughed.
“No, we don’t,” someone added.
“He must be French,” I replied after studying him for a few moments. He looked like a Euro and we all know more of them smoke than Americans.
We were in the park for the first time. Hamilton Park was our oasis with water, food, toilets, and the almighty Gator Aid in various colors: red, orange, yellow, and one color somewhere between blue and gray called Frost. I like Frost. Frost is good. Frost keeps me spinning. Long live Frost!
Another activity in the cycling oasis is watching other cyclists. We look at their kits; jersey, shorts, shoes,, helmet, and their source of locomotion, their legs. Don’t tell me we don’t. Of course, we are kindergarteners compared to our women who make a science of studying other women.
“Gravel,” riders called.
The heavy rains of the previous days had washed sand, dirt, gravel, and other debris onto the roads. We were happy to have the rain, but sand and gravel present a danger to cyclists. I crashed at Clarke’s Gap years ago when my front tire slid out under me on wet leaves. The grandkids love to admire the scar on my left shoulder from that incident.
The group was working its way north on Loyalty Road headed for the first test of the day: Taylorstown Hill. We had company. A tiny blonde woman and another woman and man had joined us as we bounced along the rough road. I was sitting near the back of the peloton watching and conserving energy.
We met in Reston Town Center at 06:45. Although the temperature was projected to be lower than recent days we wanted to hit the roads by 07:00. Stacy, Kevin, Buster, Dave, Bill, John, Steve, Lou, Mitch, new to the group, and I rolled out searching for the perfect bike ride. I had biked the Reston many times since the early 1990s and knew it was a tough ride. The route had been changed from previous years. Instead of using great roads to get us to Leesburg we took the W &OD Trail west dodging foot traffic, other cyclists, and runners. Because of the serious accident on the Stumptown descent in 2008 (one person was reported to have a broken neck) the route had been reversed which increased its difficulty. Most of us learned the previous weekend how difficult the Taylorstown Hill was.
“Why did they change the route?” Stacy asked me as we neared Ashburn.
“I don’t know. I prefer the route from last year through Lansdowne and Battlefield Parkway. It is a lot safer off the trail, in my opinion.”
“Yes, I agree. Well, at least the pace is moderate and we can conserve energy. I will need it for my return trip to Warrenton.”
“Did Lorrie drop you off?” I asked.
“Yes, that way I don’t have a choice. I should finish with around 150 miles.”
“Wow. If I feel good after we return to Reston, I’ll ride with you to Leesburg.” I knew that would add another 18-20 miles to my total.
“Ah, the fun begins,” I said when we turned left onto Woodburn Road. The Woodburn Road climb was short but steep. Once the young fast guys went up the hill I knew I wouldn’t see them until the rest stop at Hamilton Park. Oh well, that is the price of old legs.
The rollers of Harmony Church Road never change. Six or seven rollers and a couple of fast descents took us to the village of Hamilton. I needed to pay my water bill and refill my water and Gator Aid bottles.
Hamilton Park served as the western hub for the Century. We visited it after 26 miles, after the Taylorstown Loop to the north, and again after the southern loop which included Purcellville, Lincoln, Snickersville Turnpike, Route 690 back to Purcellville, and the trail to Hamilton.
We turned right and headed for the nasty hill. Ahead of me legs flashed in the morning light. The first part of the climb was gradual as the road twisted. I bounced on the patchy surface. Too bad the road is not smooth. Climbing this is tough enough on a great surface, but the uneven, cracked, and potholed asphalt made it even more difficult.
The youngsters moved ahead when we reached the steepest section. I reached for the pace that would take me safely – without blowing up- to the top. My HRM flashed 150! I passed Steve, Lou, and John. The road turned and I knew after the punishing section the grade returned to around 10 percent. My legs barked. I ignored them and kept the cranks going. At the top I picked up speed and wondered how far ahead the others were.
A two mile section separated the Taylorstown climb from the Stumptown hill. Although they were about the same length, Stumptown was easier. I looked at my computer on the descent of Stumptown: 44 MPH; Without trying I had reached the top speed of the day.
We flew down Dry Mill Road. I wondered how long my legs could keep this pace. After all, I was 85 miles into the ride. At the bottom of the Route 7 overpass, Lou attacked and gained 5 points for being first over the bridge. We eased through Leesburg using the trail, avoiding runners, walkers, and others out on a Sunday afternoon.
After Belmont Ridge Road I slowed for traffic and the young legs flashed ahead of me. Unable to reach them I relaxed and pulled in the Ashburn rest stop to wait for Lou.
The post ride meal was great. I felt good. Because of user error my Garmin failed to operate properly and I had no stats for the ride.
I took a pass on another Frost.
We found him on the masseuse's table at Reston Town Center.