Sunday, June 21, 2009

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 OK 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 which 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 is a metaphor for my life.

Happy Father's Day!

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