It’s nice to run in cool weather, but cycling in those conditions can be bone-chilling. I’ve learned the opposite is true in hot weather. Conditions that would give a long-distance runner a pause are quite acceptable to a cyclist, who has the benefit of a permanent 15-20 mph breeze to cool him off. Such was the case this morning, when I set off on in 94% humidity and 75 degrees. 155 minutes later, the temperate was in the mid-80s but the weather never seriously bothered me.
I headed out on the same route as my epic trip to break the 30-mile barrier. I planned to extend the route slightly by following Old Church Road to its end, and by stopping at Nokesville Community Park at the 20-mile point to take a break. I’ve noticed that most organized rides have water points at intervals approximately 20 miles apart, so I tried to organize this ride on the same principle. Armed with a new Hurricane CO2 tire inflation system, I was now prepared to deal with any flat tires that may come my way. I also was ready to try out my new Clif Bar, to see what effect an energy food would have on my performance. These are the things that I now ruminate on. Sigh.
The community church, used for Episcopalian, Baptist, and Methodist services.
I traveled down the Bristow Road, past the site of my infamous flat tire incident and moved into the town of Brentsville. I noticed some historic buildings on the right and pulled over to check them out. The site contained the original Brentsville Courthouse, Jail, and several other period buildings from the 1870s. Everything was nicely maintained, with a little path and markers by each building to explain its history and purpose. In 2009, SyFy Channel’s The Ghost Hunters conducted one of its episodes
here. At the time, they heard some unusual bumping sounds in the 2nd story of the jailhouse, but there was not enough evidence to state conclusively (to them anyway) that the place was haunted. I can also report that I saw no ghosts during my visit.
But I did see that my pedal was broken.
Earlier on my way up the hill to the courthouse, on the far side of the Occoquan River – THE EXACT SAME PLACE WHERE MY TIRE WENT FLAT – I heard a clicking sound coming from my right pedal. I paid little attention to it until I got to the courthouse and dismounted. I then noticed that the plastic on the back half of my right pedal and broken in two. The “clicking” I heard was the two halves rubbing against each other. Wonderful. From here on out, I shall refer to Brentsville as “Breaksville.”
Despite the damage, the pedal was still serviceable so I decided to press on. I turned on to Old Church Road and quickly found myself in farm country. Old farm houses with delapitated silos and rusting cars, proudly flying the Confederate flag were intermingled with newer homes representing the encroachment of surburbia. It’s good to see the “Old South” still exists in some parts of the county! Along this stretch, a hawk came out of a nearby wood and flew with me for about a quarter-mile, only 20 feet or so above me. That was pretty cool. Then a four person team of roadies approached from the opposite direction. They flew by me at an impossible speed – about 30 mph – which was very humbling.
Eventually, I wound my way around to Aden Road and passed Brentsville High School, where I sought refuge from the rain during my previous trip on this route. A half-mile later I pulled into Nokesville Community Park and stopped by a picnic table overlooking two softball fields. I pulled off my Camelbak and helmet, and took this poor self-portrait. I do like the “corn row” look the air creates in my hair as it passes through my helmet! I tried out my Clif Bar and it wasn’t revolting. Its flavor was oatmeal raisin walnut and it was very chewy. I wouldn’t snack on these in front of the TV, but that’s not their purpose. I washed it down with my Gatorade and strapped on my gear.
My route home followed Aden Road, which is still in farm country, but these farms were not like the earlier ones. These were decidedly more expensive and many even sported names like, “Foggy Bottom Farm.” This was the “hoatie toatie” part of Prince William County farm country. I enjoyed the road, which was a slight downhill stretch for over four miles. I conserved my energy for the hills which I knew were coming. I hit the hills in good form and passed over them without nearly as much exhaustion as the first time. Perhaps it was my improved condition, or the Clif Bar, or the fact it wasn’t raining on me, but I got through this stretch in much better shape than on my May 23 ride.
I then coasted home the final six miles. The final distance was 38.3 miles – a new personal best. I averaged 14.25 mph, including stops for ghost hunting, pedal inspections, and my in-flight meal. Not bad!
My next task was to load the bike onto my truck and take it down to Olde Towne Bicycles to get new pedals. Would the store honor its one year warrantee or would they try to weasel out of it in some way that would defy imagination? Stay tuned to find out!