Last weekend MG and I got out for our last big conditioning ride before the Endless Mountains 1000K next month in northeast Pennsylvania. If you have ridden any of Tom Rosenbauer’s courses, you know they can be, well, very scenic! In anticipation we’ve been packing in the climbing miles in June and July.
We rode a two-day course formerly known as the BMB Tuneup Ride, which meanders from Warrenton, Va. to Lexington, Va. on Day 1, steadily climbing up to the Blue Ridge Parkway as the high point of the day. We got the randonneur-appropriate five hour overnight stop and then returned on Day 2 over the New Market and Thornton Gap climbs. The course is super-pretty and quiet, but we also had to deal with a heat wave. Temperatures hit 100 degrees Saturday, though they moderated into the mid-90s on Sunday. Those conditions forced many stops for ice, a little throwing up, and general cooling off.
MG has written up our adventure in two installments — that’s how massive this ride felt. Today’s post features Day 1. MG’s photos can be found here and my photos are here. See our full route and data at my Garmin page.
Tune Up Tour 2010 Day 1: Warrenton to Lexington – 175 miles
This past weekend, Felkerino and I embarked on a two-day, 321-mile cycling journey from Warrenton, Va. to Lexington, Va. and back. As those of you who live in this area know, this weekend was rife with heat advisories. Temperatures exceeded 100 degrees on Saturday and rose again into the high 90s on Saturday.
While those temperatures may not be so bad if you’re hanging out on the back porch sipping iced tea, it definitely takes riding to a new level, particularly the riding that involves unshaded climbing on the back of a tandem.
Felkerino and I completed this ride to cap off our big training miles for the PA Endless Mountains 1000K at the end of next month. There were many amazing aspects to this ride. As we rode around Charlottesville, we spied various riders. No matter the weather, the Charlottesville cyclists will ride. Here is one rider we encountered with a cool vintage steel steed. His sister did a great custom repaint for him.
Our weekend route intersected the Bikecentennial Route (now known as TransAmerica) and in White Hall, Virginia we saw two cyclists parked outside of the White Hall Store. One of the bikes had panniers. Panniers? We stopped to find out more, and met Ed. (Yes, another Ed!) He had loaded up his Gunnar Sport and started riding the Bikecentennial route from St. Louis, Missouri, averaging around 80 miles a day.
The other cyclist was Charlie, who said he lived three miles up the road from the White Hall Store. How cool to live right next to a spot that is a designated cross-country route for cyclists!
The toughest and one of the more beautiful segments of our trip involved climbing up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We passed Chiles Peach Orchard and bought a couple of peaches for later on in the ride. We climbed a few miles and then I tossed my triscuits. It was just so hot! After a short break I felt better and we resumed climbing. We stopped again at the Cookie Lady and I cried (see how amazing our ride was?).
After all that, I felt better, and Felkerino and I clawed the rest of our way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is such an incredible place to ride. You’re above everything and you’ve earned every pedal stroke of the breathtaking views. Just before Humpback Rocks, we stopped again to rest, regroup, refuel on water, and met a young woman who came over to talk with us about our tandem. It ended up she had ridden RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) one of the years that I had.
As we chatted another woman came up to us. She said, “My husband and I saw you between White Hall and Crozet and we wondered, ‘how are they doing that?’ And then we saw you again on the Parkway and wondered, ‘how are they doing that?” She had come up to the Parkway with her family to get a little reprieve from the heat.
Being on the Parkway was the best. We had worked so hard to get there and it had taken so much energy (for me, anyway). To have our effort acknowledged like that felt incredible.
We meandered on and ran into a couple more cyclists going the opposite way. They took our photo as we rode by. We smiled as though climbing up to Humpback Rocks was the best thing ever. Yes, we love climbing at 5 miles per hour! I was working too hard to snap their photo.
Felkerino and I also passed by the spot where we had broken down on our Honeymoon tour one year ago. It was so nice to be riding by that spot without a destroyed bottom bracket. The bike pedals much better that way! We then bombed off the Parkway, meandered our way over to Route 11 (the Great Fleche Highway, as Crista Borras calls it) and spent the last twenty or so miles of our first day on Route 11. The temperatures had dropped from high 90s to the 80s and the moon lit the way nicely to our hotel.