Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blair Witch Project


This was one of the hardest 50 mile rides I have done. Stupid wind.

I had a rough idea where I was going when I left Ashley and Bryan's place in Ranson (near Charles Town, WV) but wasn't completely sure. I knew I wanted to go to Burkittsville which is the home of the Blair Witch Project. It was Halloween, after all.

My route eventually took me on U.S. 340 across the Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry then, about three miles later, across the Potomac River from Virginia into Maryland. The bridge is narrow with no shoulders and the pedestrian sidewalk was closed. I had no choice but to pedal across it.

I fought a brisk wind for most of the ride. It was so strong, and cold, that at times I was out of the saddle even on the flats, trying to generate enough power.

At Burkittsville I headed up Gapland Road. It was less than a one mile climb but one portion measured at 16%. It was a neat little climb. At the summit is a memorial to Civil War Correspondents. This was also the site of the battle for South Mountain. 

Burkittsville, Md.

Also, it was here that was Rest Stop Number One for the Civil War Century ride I did last month. To go from 1,600 riders in one place to just one seemed quite strange. 

One of many plaques at South Mountain

Last month Townsend Road had been newly "chipped," that is, there was lots of fresh gravel on a tar base. It was the scariest portion of the century ride just trying to stay upright. Today the road looks like any other asphalt road.

Chip and tar but in great shape

In September I was leading a group of 6-7 riders down Burnside Bridge Road around 25-30 mph. We came to Antietam Creek and I wanted to capture a picture of the creek next to the road and a bunch of swimmers and tubers enjoying the last swim of the summer. But I couldn't apply the brakes and pull over so that memory is engraved only in my mind.

Today I was able to stop and take a picture. No kids swimming. Just a beautiful scene.

Burnside Bridge Road, near Sharpsburg, Md., at Antietam Creek

At Sharpsburg I headed towards Shepherdstown. Bethany, Ashley, and my money attended here. But it had been a while since I had been to this quaint town. There is a historical marker on Rte 9 at the Va.-WV border that states that it had been urged to make Shepherdstown the nation's capital. Interesting.

Shepherdstown, West Virginia

I had wanted to follow the bike path that parallels Rte 9 but discovered it ends with no access to Rte 9 (bicycles prohibited). I followed Rte 115 to Ranson not knowing where I was going. My sense of direction told me to turn on 17th Street looking for a way to Flowing Springs Rd then back to Ashley's. However, it was a pleasant surprise when I followed this street and discovered that there was a back entrance to Ashley's development. Who knew?

"City" of Ranson

Fifty miles and I was more drained than on any of the century rides I have done this year. Stupid wind.