The Third Day of Furloughmas

On the third day of Furloughmas my bicycle gave to me, a ride in Virginia Hunt Country.

I spent my first two days of being unemployed getting caught up on non-biking things. Today I decided to go for a ride. I pulled out my ancient copy of the Washington Area Bicycling Atlas and found a challenging 55-mile ride that I did about 10 years ago. The ride was a big oval running east then south then west then north then east back to the start in the town of Marshall in wine and hunt country.

My recollection from the last time I did this ride is that there is nasty hill at about 30 miles. Much of the ride was on windy two lane country lanes. When I wasn’t gawking at the pretty farms, I was taking in the Blue Ridge Mountains looming in the back ground. I could have taken pictures all day but put my camera away after a shot of the road ahead. You wanna see pretty go ride out yonder.

I chose The Mule, my old Specialized Sequoia, for the ride. After missing my first turn, I got back on course and headed for the country. After riding about 10 miles  with a couple of respectable hills included, I rode through the crossroads town of Waterloo. The next ten miles headed west toward the Blue RIdge. I stopped for lunch at a store in Orlean, another crossroads town. I had a bologna sandwich because I haven’t seen a bologna sandwich on a menu in decades.  Bologna is regarded as bad food. You don’t want to know what it is made of. It also happens to be pretty awesomely tasty. I also ate a bag of Route 11 tater chips. I washed it all down with an Arnold Palmer.  I somehow managed to survive the feast.

View from the hip
View from the hip

Back on the bike, I continued west through the town of Hume.  My brain said that the serious climb was only a couple of miles ahead but I recollected the terrain incorrectly. There were hills but none of them were all that steep. After the course turned to the north,  my memory was abruptly refreshed. The road rose and rose past the Naked Mountain Winery and rose some more. I was in my granniest gear but the “hill” was winning. I reached the top, stopped, bent over the handlebars and huffed and puffed for 30 seconds or more. Then I got back on the bike, turned the corner, and discovered that there was still more climbing to be done. Fail. If only I had eaten free range salmon on gluten free flaxseed bread and washed it down with acai berry juice. Of course, then I would have puked my guts out, thereby lightening my load and making it up the mountain robustly (but with fierce dragon breath).

I made it to the top and set in for the 39 mile per hour ride down the other side. I’d have gone faster but for the crappy chip seal road surface. After bouncing around and holding on for dear life, I managed to make it to route 17 where the pavement was smooth and the cars were fast. The shoulder was plenty wide (a rarity in Virginia) and I buzzed along to route 50. This was also a smooth highway but with precious little in the way of a shoulder. The cars passing me gave me lots of room though, including a right hand drive Mini.

The last ten miles involved a bit more climbing (they apparently don’t call one of the towns Upperville for nothing) but after the ride up Naked Mountain I couldn’t complain much.

At the finish, I was, well, finished. Pooped. The ride was just long enough to get me to forget about the mess in DC.

I highly recommend this ride if you like to look at immense estates with horseys and cows. And the Blue RIdge. And dozens of vultures gorging on road kill (not me thankfully).

I suppose you could stop at the dozen or so vineyards I rode past. I seriously doubt you’d make it up Naked Mountain with a belly full of wine. Then, again, I am pretty sure you wouldn’t much care.

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