About

Your author is a retired Army officer and current civil servant, living in Prince William County, Virginia, with (evidently) too much time on his hands.  In the 80s and 90s I dabbled in cycling, only to lose interest due to competing demands on my time.  Armed with more time and money (and less muscle), I bought a Specialized Crosstrail in March, 2010, and rediscovered why I enjoy the hobby so much.   In September, 2010, I relegated the Crosstrail to “family duty” and purchased a Trek 2.1, which allowed me to advance further in the hobby.  The Trek 2.1 met an untimely end in February, 2012, and I now ride a Trek Madone 3.1.

My apologies to Mr. Tolkien, whom I have blatantly plagiarized in creating the title of this blog.  However, it seems appropriate.  The Hobbit was the first seriously-long book of my youth and it remains one of my favorites.  And my cycling seems to follow a similar pattern, taking me to places, then back again.  Despite my mechanical challenges, it’s been a load of fun and I’ve learned tremendously from my new-found friends in the blogosphere.

A special thanks to my long-distance friend, Joel, who is my muse in the blogosphere!

“A bicycle does get you there and more…. And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive.  Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal.  And getting there is all the fun.”   

~ Bill Emerson, “On Bicycling,” Saturday Evening Post, 29 July 1967

My first century – the 2011 Cap2Cap – with Richmond in the background

50 thoughts on “About

  1. Steve. Nice start. I’ve found that the trick to these is keeping them up. Also, its a good idea to review your posts later and edit them.

    Joel

    • Thanks! We have at least one other thing in common – some of our family is Canadian! My mother’s side comes from Toronto and I have an uncle in Montreal.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Steve,

    Thanks for your kind comment left on my blog. So I’m returning the favor. Loved reading some of your posts (trying to catch up). Since I’m not the lightest cyclist out there I can really relate to all the flats and spoke issues. My bike shop, Contes, actually upgrades my wheelset at no charge and (knock on wood) I’ve been flat free and spoke intact since. Looking forward to catching up on your posts and upcoming posts. Very well done and congrats!!

  3. Hi Steve,
    I just ran across your blog while researching the 11 Trek 2.1. I have taken the time to read through some of your posts and find them very entertaining! You have encouraged me to start my own cycling blog (since I am also new to the sport/formally an oarsman (crew)). I am actually living in Shirlington Village from which I have been mainly touring the Arlington County trails. Have you had the opportunity to tackle any of these yet? I have found the Custis trail to be a great climbing challenge! Looking forward to hear from you, cheers!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Derek! I haven’t done much cycling in Fairfax/Arlington, apart from day-trips in DC, a spin on the Mount Vernon Trail, and cutting across the southern part of the county near the Occoquan. I’ve heard many great things about the trails in your area and intend to visit them some day. The W&OD Trail is on my short list!

  4. Hi Steve
    Apologies for calling you Martin…..doh!
    Good to read your exploits – I only wonder if I can achieve such things on two wheels one day. It seems a long way off…..
    Keep writing.
    Mark
    Central England

    • I started back up in April after a 15 year hiatus, so it can’t be that far off for you! My advice is to make it fun – and there are a million ways to make things fun while cycling. Simply pick the bicycle/rides that you enjoy and don’t sweat the small stuff.

      And it’s all small stuff!

  5. It seems we have common ground other than cycling. I’m ex Army, and I live just up the road from Sarehole Mill, where JRR Tolkein got the inspiration for his books. Not a fan myself, but she who must be obeyed is a fanatical Tolkein fan. I’ve tried reading them a few times but can’t get on with them. I’m more a Tom Clancy fan…

    • Go Army! What regiment were you with? There is a UK officer where I work who comes from The Rifles. I’ve got my share of Tom Clancy books as well. My current favorite author is the travel writer, Bill Bryson. He’s hilarious!

  6. Royal Corps of Signals for 12 years, came out as a Staff Sergeant. That’s one down from a Sergeant Major here in the UK. So I guess I should call you Sir! I served with 82nd Airborne in Grafenwher Bavaria in the build up to Gulf War 1. That was an experience. Oh and an Abrams MBT nearly flattened me, but that’s another story!

    Love Bill Bryson, notes from a small island is hysterical! I love an outsider’s view of my little Island!

    • I’ve worked with the 82nd in the past. Describing it as an “experience” is probably as good a phrase as any! I’ve almost been flattened by any number of vehicles, including an Abrams. I just bought Bryson’s newest book, At Home, and am looking forward to it.

  7. Hi Steve,
    I like your site. I see you have also been bitten by the biking bug. Join the club! I’ll be watching for your next bicycle news.
    Thanks for visiting my site and the “like”.
    Suzanne

    • Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne! Your website and the tours you have taken are both very impressive! My exploits are far more humble. I suspect the upcoming reports will deal with my attempts to battle the increasingly cold weather!

    • Congrats! I think you’ll like it. WordPress isn’t friendly to Garmin, so it takes a little finaggling. In Garmin Connect, I click “embed” on the ride that I want to post and save that image (requires some cropping in MS Paint). I then post that image into my blog like any other, but in the URL field, I post the URL for the ride in Garmin Connect. Good luck and let me know if you have any problems.

  8. Hey Steve.. I see you are using the same name for your blog as someone else did, is this palgiarism I ask myself?
    I will explain. I was watching a DVD in a quiet time this afternoon and came across this, the DVD was the first Lord of the Rings movie. In which I came across the following. Bilbo Baggins was writing his story and I saw the ‘book’.
    It was called ‘There and Back Again’, ‘A Hobbits Tale by Bilbo Baggins’. It made me smile because I thought to myself, I have seen that title before.. :)
    So are you the second coming of J R Tolkein I wonder ?
    Brian

  9. Hmm I should read before I write.. ;)
    Just read your oroiginal comments and see what I just wrote is not news to you..
    Duhhh !! dumb me..
    Brian

    • :) I wish I had Tolkien’s talents!

      “There and Back Again” features more prominently in the “prequel” to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit. That book outlines Bilbo Baggins’ adventure to find the Ring. He jots down his notes in a journal, which becomes the namesake of this blog.

      Good catch. I can only imagine your reaction as you sat there watching the movie! :)

  10. Hi Steve – noticed you came across my blog this morning and decided to check your out. I am enjoying it so far and will put a link to yours from my page. I love reading about other cyclist’s adventures, so I’ll be sure to stop by often! Living in Virginia I am sure you’re not suffering the same winter blues that I am going through, so ride for both of us will you?
    Cheers…….James.

    • I’ll do my best, James, although it should be noted that I had to fly to Florida this week in order to get a ride in! BTW, I have family who live in Brossard and I’ve always enjoyed my trips to Montreal.

  11. Ya sou Steve, thank you for stopping by. I like people like you and your blog and surely it earned a link into my blogroll. Keep up with the good job. Salute from Athens.

    • I’ve never been to Athens, but when I think of biking there the first word that comes to mind is “hills.” Good luck with Old Rocky and here’s hoping it keeps you going up all those hills! Thanks for stopping by and I await a pic of you and your bike at the Acropolis.

  12. Hey Steve,

    I’ve got a query about your Trek. Since you’ve got a 2.1, I assume it has a 105 groupset and so wanted to check how good / bad is it for climbs, specially the steep ones.

    I had decided on that bike till I read about SRAM’s Apex groupset with 12-32t cassette in the back and how that paired with a 50-34 compact up front gives a much easier climbing experience than a 105 triple while also being lighter and (only slightly) cheaper. My only problem with the Apex is that currently it only comes pre-installed on Specialized and I’m not sure of them.

    Since you’re the only one I know with a 105 triple, wanted to check back with you on any climbing you may have done and how it performed.

    Cheers!

    Raven

    • I’ve actually got a double compact crank with 50-34 on the front and a 12-27 cassette. You can also get the Trek 2.1 in triple and double cranks but I’m not sure of the grear ratios on either of those. The 32t cassette will definitely help you up very large hills, so if those are in your future then it may be worth a look. I am able to lug myself up 10-13% climbs of less than a couple miles in my granny gear of 27 teeth.

      Although I had a terrible experience with my Specialized hybrid bike, I believe that was due to simply picking the wrong bike for what I wanted to do. Specialized has an excellent reputation and many people swear by them. I believe their Allez is comparable to the Trek 2.1. I hope this helps and good luck!

      • Thanks for the info, Steve.

        After a little more research, I’ve pruned my short list to (in no order):
        1. Specialized Secteur Elite w/ SRAM Apex 11-32 & compact chainset
        2. Trek 2.1 2011 w/ Shimano 105 12-28 & Triple
        3. Scott Speedster S20 2011 w/ Shimano 105 11-28 & Triple
        4. Bianchi C2C Via Nirone 7 2010 w/ Shimano 105 & Triple
        5. Boardman Team 2011 w/ Shimano 105 11-28 & Compact

        Any inputs on any of them?

        Cheers!

      • Specialized, Trek, and Bianchi are all very well known and reputable brands. The other two I have not heard of, but there are a great many things I have not heard of! You seem set on triple cranks. My hybrid has one of those and it works fine, but I am aware of another school of thought which is that triples are heavy, the rear derailleur is larger and makes for sloppier shifting, and the middle ring doesn’t do much for you. Just a thought.

  13. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back and we’ll talk about it.

    Thanks!

    Mandie Hayes
    mandie.hayes10@gmail.com

    • Hi, Mandie. I couldn’t find your link. If your website is cycling related, I’ll strongly consider it. Just provide the url and I’ll take a look.

  14. Hi… Great site! I am getting back into Cycling after a fat induced 25 year hiatus. Just bought a new Road Bike and am now pretty much out of money! I used to own a bent rod bike stand just line the one you show on 09/13/2010 My New Toy – Part 1. I have been looking high and low for one of these, I really liked it and I believe it was pretty cheap. Would you know the manufacturer or a sales outlet?

    Thank You
    Ed

    • I enjoyed reading your post on the 18″ inches. In my experience, it is a simple matter to not quit something. Simply remove the possibility from your mind and all that remains is finishing. Everything else is just a detail! Best of luck to you and thanks for stopping by.

  15. Add another one to the list of those bitten by the bicycle bug, after 12 years! Now I’m completely hooked and doing my first century ride in september. I discovered your blog purely by accident but I’m glad I did. I’m always looking forward to new entries. Keep’em coming!

  16. Hi Steve,
    Ran across your blog in search of bike paths in PWC. I am over in Dumfries area and the only path I know of is on 234. Enjoyed reading your blog & I went ahead and liked your FB page too. Ha so now you have 30 likes :)

    • Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne. You live in a “challenging” part of the county for cycling. I use the pathway on 234 to get me to more rural sections near Nokesville. There are no paths on those roads but I find the traffic is very light around there. The only trick is managing 4-5 miles on Aden Road or Bristow Road. That can be a little challenging so you may want to drive out there.

      There’s another long path along the Prince William Parkway, but it is cracked in many places and can be quite a bumpy ride. Sadly, that’s about it for MUPs in the county. Fairfax County has many more options, including the Mount Vernon Trail and the W&OD Trail.

  17. A good web site Steve. I like to see what other cycling hobbits with time on their hands get up to, especially across the pond. I have been blogging for just over 9 months now and am learning all the time. My main theme is, where my bike goes, which is difficult when based from home. This encourages me and the bike to go further afield in the UK, by car or train. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Ken, and thanks for the kind words. I’ve checked out your website and it looks like you’re having many interesting adventures! Best of luck to you as you continue to move further afield.

  18. Hi, Steve. I’m not sure where else to put this, but did you know about the upcoming Tour of Prince William? I just read about it on InsideNova (http://www.insidenova.com/news/local/haymarket/bicyclists-set-to-tour-towns/article_7eed6fc2-f802-11e2-83cf-001a4bcf887a.html) and thought of you immediately. Especially the comment from Porta: “Yet Prince William County has a lot of great variety for road bikers.” (ahem) More information about the event can be found here http://www.tourofthetowns2013.org/

    • I’m signed up! It should be a hoot. There definitely will be… variety, including fighting through the Route 1 Corridor from Occoquan to Quantico, a mile of dirt trail to get us from Prince William Forest Park to Rte 234, hitting Gainesville/Haymarket at mid-day and then pushing through downtown Manassas. It will definitely be an interesting ride. Hope I live through it!

  19. Hi – I am interested in using one of your photos for a story about bicycling safety in Hampton Roads. Please contact me if you’d be willing to freely share the image if i credit you in the article.

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