Occoquan and Yates Ford

I wanted to swing by the village of Occoquan, despite it being in the middle of a traffic choke point in the north of the county.  After enduring six miles on the sidewalks of Minnieville Road (a road I am not yet prepared to bike on) and a brief stay on Old Bridge Road, I turned onto Tanyard Hill Road and began a fast descent into the town.  I wish I knew this road a little better because the descent is very steep and you could fly down it if you knew what you were doing.  Instead, I tapped on the brakes and kept my speed around 30 mph.  After crossing through the city, I hopped on the bridge which I commute to work on every day.  It affords a great view of the town.

After enjoying the view, I had to climb out of the valley and proceed north into Fairfax County.  There is a nice bicycle path on Rte 123 that for some odd reason switches from the west side to the east side of the road, causing a cyclist to wait patiently for a light to change.  In any event, I crossed the street and pedaled another three miles to Hampton Road, where I once again crossed over Rte 123 and headed westward over some very hilly terrain.  These were smaller hills than the annoying ones on Rte 1 from Fredericksburg.  There was far less traffic, more turns, and more trees to further add to the enjoyment.  During one very steep downhill, I reached 40 mph (ok it was 39.9 mph, but that doesn’t sound as good as 40 mph, does it?).  Incredibly, it was at this point that a dope in a Ford F-150 crossed a double yellow line and passed me in this 35 mph zone.  He gets the Idiot of the Ride award. 

A few miles later I was on another descent and saw a sign warning of a sharp turn and a recommendation to reduce speed to 10 mph.  I knew that couldn’t be good for me.  Sure enough, after completing my turn I confronted a 23% grade hill.  That one almost broke me.  Almost.  I dropped down to my lowest gear (aka “The Granny Gear”), stood up on my pedals and forced myself up the slope.  Fortunately, it was only a couple hundred yards long.  You can see this point in my Garmin ride stats.  It’s when my speed briefly dropped to 1 mph.  Yeah, it was pretty tough.

Soon, it was time to return to Prince William County via Yates Ford.  I took a break on the bridge and snapped this photo of the Occoquan River, about eight miles upstream from the previous bridge picture.

After climbing out of the river valley for the second time this ride, I hopped on the path next to the Prince William Parkway and made my way home.  I came across a man riding his horse and politely slowed to walking speed so I didn’t spook the animal.  I told him he was much smarter than I about choosing his mode of transportation – his looked much easier!

As I closed into my neighborhood, I saw a familiar face: my wife was finishing up a four mile walk.  She had planned on running, but since she jogged yesterday and the heat was over 90 degrees (again), she opted for the power walk.  I rode alongside her for about half a mile until she shooed me off.  I pedaled home and was waiting for her with a glass of cold water. 

A pretty good ride, but I don’t think I’ll be heading in this direction again anytime soon.  The traffic is just too crazy on Minnieville Road!


4 thoughts on “Occoquan and Yates Ford

  1. How did you find the grade on that section? I checked your Garmin and don’t see it there. I also don’t know how to figure this out, but met a hill today, that I want to “quantify”.

    • On the Garmin, there are many different data displays that you can select. One of them is percentage of grade. It shows you the current incline/decline of any hill you’re traveling. During my suffering, I glanced down and read that the hill was 23%. I don’t think this data is displayed in the Garmin Connect site.

      Short of buying a Garmin yourself, a good way of determining the percentage of grade is mapmyrun.com. You select the portion of road you are interested in, then display the elevation data. Part of that data is the percentage of incline/decline.

      Hope this helps!

  2. The killer for me today only shows up as a 13%. You must have felt like you were going to topple over backwards!

    • LOL! I’m a big guy, and it was all I could do to keep my pedals moving forward, even when I was standing up on them! Fortunately, the hill was pretty short, so it didn’t last very long. It’s not like I went for a mile on that grade. If you traveled any distance at 13%, you probably suffered more than I did – I noticed many of the Tour de France climbs were rated at 11%!

      P.S. Today I hit a 21% grade hill. I managed to keep the bike out of the “Granny Gear” but it was still pretty tough.

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