The Unintentional Century

On Saturday big crowds were expected in D.C. for the protest march, but I’m in the news business and had no related assignment, so I was looking for an escape from the city. The forecast was for a mostly dry, mild day, and a long bike ride in the country was in order.

Mary graciously agreed to join me and we set off from Marshall, Va. on what was to be an 85-miler, though it ultimately turned into a longer and harder route than we expected. See the final ride at Ridewithgps. The route we intended has a shortcut via the low water bridge over the Shenandoah River that is usually passable – but I should have checked beforehand.

The day was gray, with some light mist, and lots of fog. Temperatures were in the upper 40s, though, so no worries. I always keep the generator front and rear lights running in daytime, but I was doubly glad for them today because of the fog. (Tech nerds: our setup is a Schmidt SON 28/disc 36-hole hub, running a Busch & Muller IQ-X headlight and a B&M Toplight rear light mounted to a Tubus rack).

Wool blend jersey and vest kind of day

Wool jersey and vest kind of day

 

This route features one big climb, Snickers Gap, but otherwise is made up of rolling hills. The temperatures warmed up into the low 50s.

Bluemont Store. Snickers Gap ahead.

Bluemont Store. Snickers Gap ahead.

 

Snickers Gap was shrouded in fog.

The fog on Snickers Gap

The fog on Snickers Gap

 

We had an early lunch a few miles before Snickers Gap in Middleburg, which we thought would allow us to get around the course with just store stops.

Time out at the luxe Millwood store

Time out at the luxe Millwood store

 

All was going well until we got to the low water bridge at Morgan Ford Road, only to find it gone, with a new bridge under construction. This sad turn of events came later in the afternoon, which was a bummer. The only options were to backtrack over Snickers Gap, or go on to Front Royal and cross the Shenandoah River there.

And thus ended our plans to finish in daylight

And thus ended our plans to finish in daylight

 

We opted for the Front Royal option to keep things in a loop. Our thought was initially to take Rt. 55 straight back to Marshall, but that road is pretty scary leaving Front Royal and I talked Mary into taking Rt. 522, which took us over Chester Gap in thick fog and added a few more miles. Traffic was light and gave us plenty of room.

Our generator light did a great job on the descent, supplemented with a Light and Motion battery light, and we got off onto Hume Road without any issues.

From there it was quiet roads all the way back to Marshall, in and out of the fog banks. We never got really cold or wet, but it was still a relief to get back to the car, well after dark at 6:30 p.m.

Today (Sunday) I felt pretty tired but our pal and fleche captain Jerry S. talked me into a 35-miler out on the W&OD Trail out to Caffe Amouri in Vienna and back. The rain held off and it was a pleasant outing, and made an afternoon nap pretty sweet.

Jerry leads the way back to DC

Jerry leads the way back to DC

 

Next week: The DC Randonneurs club has their annual meeting and 68-mile populaire next Saturday, and that’s likely going to be plenty for us. I’ll make my 600-mile goal for January sometime this week and my legs are starting to feel it.

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Winter Riding and Summer Planning

Ah, a three-day weekend. Better yet, on Sunday and Monday the weather was mild and dry. This is the time of year I find myself of multiple minds: trying to keep up the miles on the bike to get ready for the upcoming spring randonneuring brevets, and fretting over our summer tandem tour. A long weekend let me indulge both.

Friday morning started out pleasantly as always at the weekly Friday Coffee Club commuter cyclists gathering. The pre-work meetup is nearing its five-year anniversary, which we’ll celebrate later this month.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for the reopening of our original FCC location at Swing’s Coffee on 17th & G NW by the White House. It now looks like July or later according to the Swing’s site. A Baked Joint at 440 K St. NW has been a welcome temporary spot and we’ll continue there.

Friday Coffee Club Jan. 14

Friday Coffee Club Jan. 14

 

Saturday

A typical cold and rainy January day met us. I got out for a nice midday Freezing Saddles ride for a coffee visit with Jerry and Carolyn at Chinatown Coffee.

Rainy Day in DC

Rainy Day in D.C.

 

The rest of the day I worked on our summer tour. This year we’re returning to Colorado, but starting in Albuquerque and finishing in Boulder! The route is here – we start for Santa Fe on July 1 and finish on the 13th, about 950 miles later.  We haven’t ridden in New Mexico before, and in both states we’ll see some new terrain and towns, notably:

  • Santa Fe, Taos and Chama in New Mexico;
  • the Black Canyon of the Gunnison;
  • Monarch Pass to Gunnison;
  • Independence Pass;
  • Aspen and the Rio Grande Trail to Carbondale.

We’ll also return to some favorites: Durango, Silverton, and Kremmling, and another go at hauling the tandem over the wild & wooly Rollins Pass from Winter Park on the final day. This time, big tires are going on the tandem for that doozy.

The route was already drafted – the real work was making hotel reservations and buying our airline tickets. I always feel a little nervous locking down our July trip in mid-January, but it’s also nice to have everything lined up. I’ll make up cue sheets in the coming weeks and figure out the coffee places, bike shops and restaurants in the new towns.

Sunday

The skies cleared and we rode the Spectrum tandem to Frederick, Md. to one of our favorite area shops, the enchanting Gravel & Grind. Mel and James have created something really special and we always enjoy ourselves there. Everything is good (the coffee, food, bikes, stuff, and scene), but especially their welcoming vibe.

James, Mel and Mary

James, Mel and Mary

 

Books for Sale at Gravel & Grind

Books for Sale at Gravel & Grind

 

Mary, James and Me

Mary, James and Me

 

A randonneuring friend of ours has been talking to James about staging a fall randonneur brevet from the shop, so everybody could get some food and drinks and hang out afterwards. I hope it comes true.

The ride was a good one for us, at 117 miles without any extended climbs – perfect for winter when the wind isn’t blowing. Here’s the route on Garmin Connect or you can check it out at Strava.

The ride home was uneventful except for this very cool hawk on the side of River Road, near dusk. It calmly let us take photos. Thanks hawk!

A Hawk Surveys Its Domain

Hawk Surveys Its Domain

 

Monday

Mary and I each had dentist appointments and the skies were gray. I rode my Rivendell Bleriot, which sees far too little use these days, up to Clarendon in Arlington to turn in a very old Mac Mini for recycling (the PowerPC generation, if that rings a bell). The bike, unlike that old Mac, is just as good as ever, though it needs better fenders.

My coupled and repainted Rivendell Bleriot, still in 2007 PBP trim

My coupled and repainted Rivendell Bleriot, still in 2007 PBP trim

 

From there I rode down to the Mall and went to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument, which was busy with visitors — appropriately so on this day.

Twilight at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Twilight at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

 

Back Roads Century: Hello Again PPTC

After a long time away, I rejoined the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club this year, specifically to ride the Back Roads Century.

The club moved it last year from its longtime location in Berryville, Va. to lovely Shepherdstown, W.Va., and routed it over the rolling hills of the state’s eastern panhandle.  The reviews were good and we know two of the organizers, Eric Pilsk and Rudy Riet, so that got me and Mary interested.

The forecast this last Sunday was mixed, with showers predicted, so Mary took the day off from riding while I grabbed a single bike and went out to Shepherdstown all by myself. I did everything I could to ward off the rain, such as bringing a rain jacket, carrying my rainproof camera and riding with full fenders, among other it’s-going-to-rain strategies, which involved a fair number of Ziploc bags. I even left my tinted sunglasses in the car and rode with clear lenses.

The rain never appeared, to everyone’s delight, and the support and route were terrific. I rode with a number of Friday Coffee Club regulars, just like at the 50 States Ride last weekend, but this time out on the open roads.

Here is the route at my Garmin page.  The full set of photos can be seen at my Flickr page.

Quick Stop at Lost Dog Coffee Before Leaving Town

Quick Stop at Lost Dog Coffee Before Leaving Town

I had to stop at Lost Dog, a Shepherdstown institution.  Here you can see the Rivendell Rambouillet I rode today.

Engle Molers Road

Engle Molers Road

The ride was well stretched out by the time I got on the route about 8 a.m. The hills did a good job in splitting up the big groups, which made for easy riding.

Mike R. and Me

Mike R. and Me

Mike was out there. It was our first time riding together with neither of us on tandem.

John Pickett Getting Down the Road

John Pickett Getting Down the Road

John had his Surly out and we shared a few miles.

Cindy and John on their Co-Motion Tandem

Cindy and John on their Co-Motion Tandem

These guys, like us, dabble both in the randonneuring and big event rides.

Jean and Dave and their cool Co-Motion Tandem

Jean and Dave and their cool Co-Motion Tandem

Jean and Dave always look like they are having fun. Today was no exception, and they gave me a nice draft on this section.

Gordon and Kay – Another Tandem Team

Gordon and Kay – Another Great Tandem Team

It was a delight to see Kay and Gordon, our touring companions from Labor Day weekend. They were decked out in red and black.

Lots of Food at the Rest Stops

Lots of Food at the Third of Four Rest Stops

The Pedalers did a good job at the rest stops. This one at mile 61 had hummus sandwiches and lots of mini-Clif Bars.

Last Rest Stop, Famous Potatoes

Last Rest Stop, Famous Potatoes

Though it was warm and humid at mile 83.5 at the Yankauer Nature Preserve, the potatoes hit the spot and got me back to the finish.

Eric Pilsk cresting one of the many small hills

Eric Pilsk cresting one of the many small hills

This coming weekend, Mary and I are off the bike for a trip to Pittsburgh to see my daughter, who is in her first semester of college at Pitt. We’re also going to the Thrival Festival to stand in a field with thousands of people and listen to modern music. See you next week!

The Spectrum Tandem, Bowie, and the Snow

Last week was a weird and long one. The death of David Bowie on Sunday hit me harder than I expected.

I saw Bowie perform twice. The first time was on the first U.S. stop of his monster Serious Moonlight tour in 1983, at the US Festival in California; there were 300,000 people there. Like many in the crowd, I suppose, I was a recent convert, having been drawn in by the Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and Let’s Dance albums.

My Vantage Point during Bowie's US Festival show

My Vantage Point during Bowie’s US Festival show

The show was a revelation in what rock music could be — both powerful and artistic. It was at that time and remains for me the most electric rock concert I’ve seen; a standard in terms of theatrics and raw rock sound that nobody else has equaled.

Up to then I’d always been a fan of his sound but I was more into the hits than his albums. I realized why his fans were so ardent.

I was on Team Bowie until I saw him at Merriweather Post Pavilion outside DC in 1990 on his Sound+Vision Tour, which was supposed to be his last tour singing his big hits. That experience was a letdown; he appeared to be disinterested.

After that Bowie’s output didn’t register, until the release of the Blackstar album on Jan. 8. It had that Bowie weirdness that caught my ear. It seemed Bowie was back in form — at age 69 — pushing current rock artists to do something really new (looking at you, James Murphy!).

Then his surprise death kind of knocked me down. The guy had cancer, kept it secret, recorded one final album about it, plus two eerie videos, then died two days after the release. This was an artistic act nobody else would pull off. Who does that?

Johnny Cash recorded three albums in his final years, but it was known that he was ill and was racing time.

As long as Bowie was still recording, it felt like I still had a living link to those days of youth; all that’s gone now. But we have something else.

Bowie’s final gift was his challenge to us to create, to push our own and society’s limits, while we still have time, right up until the final day.

I’m starting to dig into Bowie’s back catalog to hear the songs that didn’t get into compilations. I’m also interested to see whether renewed public attention to his work will spur some of today’s artists toward bolder directions.

The next album from Arcade Fire should be interesting and so should one planned by Murphy and his renewed LCD Soundsystem. Murphy played on Blackstar, so I hope that experience will have an impact.

Even in death, I believe Bowie is going to move rock music in ways we can’t yet predict.

The end of work on Friday came none too soon. With a three-day holiday weekend ahead, Mary and I got out the car on Saturday to take our new Spectrum road tandem back to Tom Kellogg’s workshop in Breinigsville, Pa. for a small fix.

The view from the car roof (courtesy Mary G)

The view from the car roof (courtesy Mary G)

He used internal cable routing for the rear brake and on our second ride the sleeve started to make a metallic noise inside the frame when we went over a bump. By phone, Tom suspected the sleeve was hitting a set of bottle cage bolt bosses that protrude into the frame tube.

Tom brought us into the warm confines of his shop at his rural home, and quickly confirmed the noise source was that sleeve. While we went to lunch, he injected some expanding insulation foam into the frame tube, which isolated the sleeve and stopped the noise.

We had a nice visit afterwards where we talked about bikes and riding. Tom gave us some free T-Shirts for our trouble.

A souvenir from Tom

A souvenir from Tom

On Sunday we decided to ignore the gloomy forecast for snow showers and took out the Spectrum, with Ted N., to Leesburg via the W&OD Trail. The skies were dark grey but the temperatures were enough above freezing, so we kept on going after Ted turned back in Vienna, about 20 miles out.

Not snowing, yet

Not snowing, yet

The frame noise was gone, so we were glad about that. The whole bike rolls really smoothly. It’s appropriately stiff but not as rigid as our Cannondale MTB tandem (super-stiff) or our Co-Motion Java (very stiff), and has a more agile feeling in turns.

By the time we got to Leesburg snow flurries had started and were gaining intensity, but were still melting on the ground, so we were OK. After getting hauled over the Potomac on White’s Ferry we rode through a fair squall and got cold and a little wet. This was a bummer! Riding a century in the January cold is never easy, is it?

You can see our ride details at my Garmin Connect page.

Waiting on White's Ferry

Waiting on White’s Ferry

The tandem discount. One bike, not two riders!

The tandem discount. One bike, not two riders!

We warmed up in Poolesville at the McDonalds while the snow tailed off, and by the time we got home in late afternoon the sun had come out. We rode around the neighborhood to make it an exact century, 100.0 miles, right outside our door so that we could claim some bragging rights on the Freezing Saddles challenge.

Warmup at McDonalds

Warmup at McDonalds

I’ll write up a separate post on buying a custom steel tandem; it took a long time to get and costs a lot, and then you find out how it rides. After our first century, in the snow, we’re satisfied, and expect the feeling to grow.

The Spectrum's first ride on Whites Ferry

The Spectrum’s first ride on Whites Ferry

Kick that Rut, the 2016 Version

At the beginning of the year I don’t make resolutions so much as I try to do something about the ruts I’ve fallen into. This is known in the Felkerino-Gersemalina household as the “kick that rut right in the butt” examination.

Ian, Ted and Me. Courtesy MG.

Ian, Ted and Me. Courtesy MG.

As adulthood continues on (thankfully!), ruts become a problem, it seems, as I try to figure out this living thing. Someone recently told me the trick to aging gracefully is not to die from the neck up.

In 2014 I realized I had spent too many years solely riding the bike as my main form of fitness exercise.  That was entirely justified, I figured, as I loathe gyms and my attempts at swimming are laughable.

I was a runner in high school and college, but had dropped it long ago in favor of cycling. Like, 30 years ago. So last year I decided to buy some running shoes, a GPS watch, and see if I could get my legs back in shape. Plus, MG and my daughter DF were running and I was sort of jealous.

It took a long time of mixed walking and running just to be able to run continuously without knee pain, and then run three miles. I finally got there in early March, finishing a 5K. My next goal was a 10K in the fall, which I accomplished in October.

For the year I managed 353 miles over 101 runs and didn’t ruin my knees.

My goal this year is to stick with it and run a 10-miler or half-marathon by the fall. I’ve enjoyed running again, expecially the contemplative aspect, so I expect to get there.

The other rut last year was planning my cycling life around the quadrennial Paris-Brest-Paris 1200K randonnee. I had gone the last four times dating back to 1999, with MG joining me in 2011 on tandem. It was a lot of fun, if exhausting.

We decided that it was an event we’d sorely miss in 2015 — FOMO, it only comes once every four years, and all that.

Yet we didn’t feel like flying to Paris just for a four-day event that we’d done before, and spending a ton of money and blowing two weeks of vacation in the process.

We took a pass and tandem toured for the third straight year, this time for two weeks in Montana and Idaho. That was right for us, though we really missed being there with all our fellow randonneurs in France.

On the other hand, Missoula was cool and we loved visiting the Adventure Cycling Association HQ.

We’ll try to go to PBP in 2019.

This year? We’re going to tandem tour again, likely two weeks from Sacramento to Portland via the Adventure Cycling Association’s Sierra Cascades Route. After riding the past summers in Colorado and the northern Rockies, it’s time to see other mountains by bike.

We’ve heard great things about Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake and the whole route. Plus we know some coffeeneurs in Portland and hopefully we can meet up before we return home.

We’re also going to try to put in more winter miles than last year, when circumstances and weather got in the way. To that end, Mary and I signed up for the Bike Arlington (Va.) Freezing Saddles challenge.

It runs from Jan. 1 to the beginning of spring. You get 10 points for each day you ride (1 mile minimum) plus a point per mile. They put you in teams weighted with both high- and low-mileage riders, so there is some friendly competition.

The competition is based on data uploaded to Strava, so we’ve both fired up our dormant accounts and linked our Garmin accounts. Last year I captured every bike ride, run and fitness walk on Garmin via GPS, so I’m in the groove.

MG is going to have to start using her phone or Garmin watch more than she has, but she’s already liking the “kudos!” you get from Strava.

I’d like to get 600 miles a month through March. We’ll see how that goes — my fallback is 150 miles a week when certain events don’t get in the way.

We’re also going to ride the DCR Fleche this year after skipping last year. We’ve glommed onto a new team and plans are being made with a certain English gentleman who loves to draw up routes, so stay tuned for more.

This weekend MG and I rode our first rando ride of the year, the easy RaceYaToRocco’s 102mi/165K RUSA permanent from Frederick, Md. to East Berlin, Pa. and back. Here’s a map and our GPS data.

It was hard to get up early, drive an hour to Frederick, and start out in the cold — I’ll acknowledge that up front. Getting in the base miles now means we’ll have more fun on the spring brevets and the fleche, though. Plus, we like riding in the winter once we warm up. Tandeming is always fun with MG.

Cold and damp, let's ride a century

Cold and damp, let’s ride a century

The weather was dreary to start — cold mist, in the 30s — but dried out mid-day, though the day was quite gray and foggy.

If you're wearing a buff, let it be reflective!

If you’re wearing a buff, let it be reflective!

The ham-and-bean soup at Rocco’s Pizza was a welcome warmup and tasted great. The folks there have been and always are nice to us randonneurs, and Saturday was no exception.

Rocco's, the randonneur destination

Rocco’s, the randonneur destination

We also had a nice visit at Gravel & Grind bike and coffee shop in Frederick before driving home.

We took the Co-Motion Java touring tandem, and it rode like a champ, comfy and confident. Nothing daunts that bike.

One tough randonneur

One tough randonneur

The new go-faster Spectrum tandem rides nicely needs a bit of tweaking next Saturday back at Tom Kellogg’s place in Pennsylvania before we’ll put it to hard use. Once I finish outfitting with the final bits I’ll write up a post with lots of flattering photos.

Today it was unseasonably warm in DC and I got out for a Freezing Saddles ride with Ted N. and we met up with Ian F. on Hains Point. I was tired but it was fun and we saw MG while she was out and her run.

MG, Ian and Ted

MG, Ian and Ted

If you too are riding more this winter, keep up the good work and let us know in the comments how to follow you on the social media.

If you are local to DC, see you out there!

Sky Mass Century

It’s been awhile since I last posted. Work has been intense these last few weeks, and with the riding we’ve done, my goal has been to get sleep. Things are looking a little better for blogging now. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Today we took advantage of the Memorial Day holiday to get out for the first of some tune-up rides before we tour Colorado for a week in July.

The route was the well-known Sky Mass Century from Front Royal, Va. We’re taken up scenic (hilly!) Skyline Drive for about 32 miles, then after a descent of six miles, to an early lunch at Luray at mile 42.

Our route

Our route

Me on Skyline Drive (c. MG)

Me on Skyline Drive (c. MG)

MG on Skyline

MG on Skyline

The next destination is the steep 2.8 mile granny ring climb up Masanutten Mountain at mile 65, then we had it relatively easy back to the start along the sublime Fort Valley Road.

Top of Massanutten Mountain (c. MG)

Top of Massanutten Mountain (c. MG)

See MG’s photos here and my photos here.

I uploaded our GPS track too. It’s here, but ignore the maximum speed data. We hit about 45 m.p.h. at our fastest.

The forecast was for sun and light winds. We got the latter but had a low cloud deck over us all day and some occasional sprinkles, but no rain to speak of. The temperatures stayed in the low 70s and traffic was very light, so we had nothing to complain about.

Our GPS estimated about 9,800 feet of climbing, which is what we need to get in shape for the long, shallow uphills in Colorado. More to come on that tour.

Us and the motorbikes up on Skyline

Us and the motorbikes up on Skyline

Sky Mass Elevation

Sky Mass Elevation

We’re already looking forward to next weekend for more hills. Unfortunately our tour preparation has prompted us to forego the D.C. Randonneurs 600K brevet this coming weekend. We’re intent on getting in a series of century and 200K rides that don’t take so much recovery time. We’ll be thinking of the randonneurs as they put in the big miles!

Out to the Blue Ridge for a Big Day in the Hills

The warm winter continues here in Washington, D.C. — today the temperatures reached the upper 50s. Are we complaining? Um, no.

Rather, we tackled our first big hill ride of the year — a 112-mile doozy out at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley near Front Royal, Va. that featured three extended climbs and many, many, many rollers. I guess the bridges at the bottom of the hills were flat but that was about it.

The top of Edith Gap: Lane, MG, Bennett. See all that sun?

Friends Lane G. and Bennett M. joined us on their single bikes, which let them glide away from us on the ascents. That phenomenon has something to do with their climbing skills and the tandem’s pokey 5 m.p.h. pace in the lowest gear. Yes, we went to Grannyville — a lot! Hey, it’s still February.

We used the tandem’s superior downhill speed to close the gaps and managed to stick together the entire day.

My photoset for the day. Click to see them at Flickr.

See Bennett’s photos here and MG’s here. Great shots you two!

Our route was a shortened version of Crista Borras’ “We Can See Clearly Now” 200K RUSA permanent brevet that starts in rural Marshall, Va. Early on we climbed over the ridge to Front Royal, Va., stopped there for coffee, then turned south for a long segment through the rolling Fort Valley, on the west side of famous Skyline Drive.

At the southern end of the valley we crawled up twisty/cruel Edith Gap and then down into Luray, Va. for lunch at mile 63. From there a new-to-us back way out of town led to a short dirt road that connected us to the long, meandering climb over Thornton Gap.

We crossed Skyline Drive at the top and after an exhilarating switchback descent rode through Sperryville, “Little” Washington and Flint Hill before returning to Marshall.

We plugged along but not quite fast enough to beat the sunset, and had a sweet little 45 minute night ride, also the first of the season. We all brought lights and reflective gear, so we were safe.

No jackets, a little goofing around. Spring fever in February!

The first mountainous ride of the year is always tough, and we felt this one in our legs as the day went on. Our knees and lower backs started to stiffen but we didn’t suffer anything more than a little soreness and general fatigue toward the very end.

Certainly it was unusual to ride in the Skyline Drive area this time of year — normally the temperatures would be very cold and we’d freeze on the descents, not to mention finding icy sections. None of that today. We also enjoyed the lower level of auto traffic than we’d see in the spring and summer.

As we plan to ride the Colorado High Country 1200K this July, the chance to start logging the climbing miles was too good to pass up. We’ll need to get in great shape for the long slogs over the Rockies.

Tomorrow we expect rain and maybe some wet snow — allowing us to rest our legs and sleep in! Ahh, the joys of completing a big ride, and the relaxation that follows, can’t be understated.

Ice Floes and Rando-Banditry

My schedule pretty much dictates when I can ride and when I can’t, and on the “can” weekends, it has to be pretty bad outside to keep me from getting out on the bike. That was the case on Saturday, when light snow in the morning was followed by howling winds and temperatures in the 20s. MG and I ventured out and came back after making our way to get coffee in Dupont Circle.

Sunday looked marginally better, with cloudless skies and north winds in the low teens, with gusts to 20 m.p.h. and a predicted high in the low 30s. It was hard to say whether it was worth going out or not! After our friends decided to stay home and sip hot chocolate, MG and I decided we could at least take the tandem from home to the somewhat sheltered W&OD paved trail toward Leesburg, Va. and turn around if it was too much.

Well, it was surely bad at first. When we left home at 9 a.m. the temperature was only 24 degrees and the wind was steady. But we got warmed up and kept plugging along, with a nice stop for coffee in Vienna, Va. around mile 18. The temperatures rose a little here and there and we finally rolled into Leesburg, about 40 miles from home.

Then, the payoff: happy, not-so-cold-anymore tailwinds blew us to White’s Ferry for a ride across the icy Potomac River, then on to Poolesville, Md. for lunch and back home via tony Potomac, Md. where we stopped for more hot coffee and cookies.

Sunday was one of those days that could have really been rough, but the conditions were just barely inside the line for the outbound part, and we had a blast coming back. We managed 85 miles and were thrilled to have gotten that many. It wasn’t a brevet or permanent, but we were pretty happy nonetheless. We hope you had a nice ride this weekend!

See all of our photos at MG’s Flickr set.

P.S. Stay tuned for the submissions to the 2nd Annual TDR Rando Photo Contest. The photos are amazing!

Ghosts, Ghouls, and Graveyards, Bicycle Style!

Router extraordinaire Crista put together an amazing Halloween ride for the D.C. randonneurs/century crew. As she describes it:

This exTREEMely scary and challenging ride (~9700 feet elevation gain) visits at least 24 historic cemeteries and graveyards, mostly in Frederick County’s beautiful Middletown valley. You’ll also commune with the ghosts of fallen Civil War soldiers as you try to elude the terrifying Snallygaster and Snarly Yow (better ride fast)!

There are some incredible views, of course.

We will visit over 20 (maybe 30!) haunted cemeteries and graveyards and encounter ghosts, ghouls, goblins, beasts and demons as we skulk around the Middletown Valley and up and down South Mountain. There may be heavy casualties on this VERY SCARY ride of attrition. There will be a memorial service after the ride to mourn the loss of those who on this day fall victim to the Snallygaster or the Snarly Yow….or simply to the accumulated elevation gain. 102 miles, with more short options than you can shake a broomstick at, but you dare not take any of them lest the Snallygaster have his wicked way with you!

Several riders showed up, including Felkerino and me. It was an excellent day to be out. Close to 40 at the start, I think, and warming up to about sixty. Lots of sun (and lots of cemeteries, too!).

Even though we knew we were at risk of being ensnared by the Snallygaster, we chopped off 13 miles. Unlucky, I know! We were really tempting fate. Ultimately, the cyclocomputer said 89 miles (not unlucky, just shorter than the full ride, ha!).

Want to see what you missed? Click the image below and see!

Ghosts, Ghouls, and Graveyards Photo Set

Bill Beck took some scary photos, too. Find them here. Felkerino has a set in the works, and I will post them as soon as they are ready.

It was an excellent ride, and a fun way to spend Halloween eve.

A ‘date ride’ to a classy lunch in the Virginia countryside

With the D.C. Randonneurs 400K approaching this weekend, MG and I decided to put in an easier century on Saturday. We went again to Warrenton, Va., to ride the Sivanova Century, a mellow ride by Crista Borras that stays on rolling hills to the west and south. It was named by the co-owner of this blog, who needs to remind me how it came to be. Jon?

See the rest of our photos here.

We tried this century in March, only to turn back after eight miles when MG’s seat post partially broke and we had to return to the car — all in the rain. This time the weather was sunny and warm with a dry wind blowing from the north. We had a derailleur pulley go bad on us, making shifting a little unreliable, but it held to the end.

We made a date of it by stopping for a long lunch, with dessert, at the quiet Inn at Kelly’s Ford. The inn’s friendly cats kept us company on the patio and we all watched as the groom, groomsmen and somebody’s dad milled around in their tuxedos waiting for a wedding to get underway. They tried not to notice us in our cycling clothes! Later we saw a wing-walker on a biplane zooming around the Fauquier County Airport. That was a first for us both.

As you may have guessed by now, we’re not always chomping at the bit to ride with a brevet card. Sometimes we prefer to ignore the clock and make a day of it. This was one of those days!