I took another run at 30 miles today and accomplished my goal without mishap. I followed the same route I went on Friday, which brought me to my nemesis: the Occoquan River Bridge on the Bristow Road. It seems innocent enough and I suppose it is, provided your tires are properly inflated! All the same, I went over the bridge at a significantly-reduced speed than on Friday. I even stopped to take a few pics of the river. The water was high and muddy due to some heavy rains last night.
Leaving my unpleasant memories behind, I pushed on to the “town” of Bristow. As near as I can tell, the only thing that makes this a town is the sign which announces this fact and a small general store which was not open on Sundays.
After passing through the town (which even on a bike took only minutes) I turned off onto Old Church Road. I never saw the old church, but I did quickly find myself in horse country. The western half of Prince William County is zoned to prevent the creep of surbubia. This huge area is known as the “Rural Crescent.” I personally do not like this policy as it combines with Prince William Forest and Quantico Marine Base to force all development onto the I-95 and I-66 corridors , thus creating the huge traffic problem I contend with on every commute. But on this day, it was nice. I pedaled through rolling hills, dotted with horse farms and “McMansions” that are so common in this part of the world. As I turned onto Crockett Road (Mile 13) I noticed these two ponies enjoying themselves. They stood politely for a picture and then I was on my way.
Crockett Road gave way to Valley View, and I quickly turned on to Colvin Rd. A “roadie” (aka, one who rides a road bike with some level of skill) approached me from the opposite direction and turned onto Colvin about 300 feet ahead of me. I was curious to see how well I could keep up with him. Within two miles, he was out of sight. At this point, however, any blow to my ego was the least of my worries – it had started raining.
Cycling in the rain pretty much blows. Water came off both wheels, splashing me on the back and in the face. As I came to my planned rest stop, Brentsville High School (home of the Tigers!) I could see it was going to be a disappointment. I had hoped to take a break on a bench, sip my Gatorade (cleverly stowed in my water bottle cage as part of my hydration strategy) and enjoy the vista. No such luck. I found a doorway with a small overhang which was blocking the rain, hopped off my bike, cleaned my sun glasses, and gulped down my Gatorade. After a couple of minutes, I headed back out.
Mercifully, I outran the rain after a couple of miles (which is a pretty cool thought – that you can outpedal a rain storm) and my morale increased. The route home was Aden Road, which took me through more farm country, once again over the headwaters of the Occoquan River, and eventually alongside the downrange area of Quantico Marine Base. After eight miles I returned to my old friend, Rte 234, and it started to drizzle again. Unperturbed, I finished off the last six miles, returned home, and collapsed.
I discovered something on my ride – 34.6 miles is a long way to ride a bike. I don’t care what anybody else says. I could have gone farther, but not much farther. Apart from my obvious first lesson, I think I need to consider bringing something to eat along the way. Many cyclists have power bars or other energy foods and I believe that would have been very helpful, especially since I left at 11:00 AM having last eaten at 7:30. By the time I got home at 1:30 I was famished.
All things considered – a nice ride to build on. I’m now trying to figure out what my next goal should be. Stay tuned!