Lost In Fauquier County

Yesterday, I did a combination (aka “Brick”) workout consisting of a 4 mile run and a 15 mile bike ride.  That took a little more out of my sails than I bargained for, so I wanted to take it easy today by doing some LSD (Long Slow Distance – what else could that mean?).  So I set my sights on Fauquier County, where I have not been before.  Fauquier County is named after Francis Fauquier, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, who allegedly won the land in a poker game in 1759.  There are less than 70,000 people living there so it is most definitely rural – which I hoped would be great for riding.

And it was great.  I passed through rolling farm country, dotted with a wide variety of farms.  I saw dairy, cattle, horse, corn, and hay in abundance.  Below is a typical scene:

I swung northward on Elk Run Road and reached my planned rest stop just south of the town of Catlett at the 23 mile point.  I enjoyed my Clif Bar in the shade of a cow pasture.  Some of the local inhabitants stopped by, hoping for a handout, but I explained to them that this food was specially designed to restore my flagging energy levels and would in no way help them with their most serious problem, which appeared to be the swarm of flies hovering around their head.  They posed for the below picture and I was off, completely unaware that my ride was about to unravel.

I was heading SE on Tenerife Road, a narrow country lane which would eventually get me to Carriage Ford Road and a route I have already rode on.  I was reminded of just how rural this locale was when I heard gunfire from one of the backyards I was pedaling by.  Nothing untoward here – just some target practice on a Sunday morning.  About 2.5 miles later, the road turned into a private driveway.  This was odd because the maps clearly showed the road continuing to Carriage Ford Road.  I pedaled onward down a very long farm drive, dotted with “Do Not Trespass” and “Beware of Dog” signs.  This was more than a little disconcerting, but I pressed on for another half mile until I arrived at the front yard of the farm.  Clearly, there was no way to go on and I had no choice but to turn around.  NOTE:  upon my return, a check of satellite imagery shows there is a road that continues on.  I guess I was a little off-put by using a farmer’s driveway as a thoroughfare.  The locals clearly knew how to handle fire arms and I wasn’t interested in finding out if I was pushing the buttons of the neighborhood kook.

I was almost back to the cow pasture where I took my break when I learned something:  a Doberman Pinscher can easily close the distance with a cyclist traveling at 12-15 mph.  He can even run at speeds of over 20 mph for short distances, all the while barking ferociously.  I don’t know where this animal was on my way in, but we definitely met up on my way out.  After about 100 yards, he got to within five feet of me.  I was planning my next move when the thing gave up the chase.  That was very fortunate for me because I didn’t have a very good plan.  My apologies for not taking a picture.  Photography was not anywhere near the top of my list of priorities at that point!

So here’s a tip:  If you’re cycling near Catlett, VA, AVOID TENERIFE ROAD.

So with Tenerife Road closed off to me, it was time to panic innovate.  I continued north through the town (such as it is) and hit Rte 28, which will eventually take you to Manassas.  I had no intention of going that far, but I hoped to find a road before Nokesville that I could use.  If not, I’d press on to that town and hop on a route I know from that point.  After a bit, I came across Dumfries Road.  That sounded encouraging because any road that would take me to Dumfries would also bring me close to home.  I crossed my fingers and went for it.

The asphalt stopped a mile down the road. 

I can’t imagine who is using the Dumfries Road to travel to Dumfries, but they all must be exceedingly stupid.  The road was nothing but gravel.  If I was riding a road bike, I would have been forced to turn around a second time.  I thanked the salesman at Olde Town Bicycles who talked me into buying a hybrid and I thanked my buddy Steve who told me it was important to inflate my tires before every ride.   Two miles of bumpiness later, I was pleased to see Carriage Ford Road.  I was on my way home.  These horses were there to great me:

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  When I set out some two hours earlier, I had a notion to work my way onto Bristow Road.  That would have added 2-3 miles to my trip and I had already traveled seven miles further than I intended to due to the “Tenerife Incident.”   I jettisoned that portion of the ride and headed straight home.

All in all, a good 47 mile ride.  I learned not to place too much trust in online mapping programs and I am now pondering how best to deal with animals who would like to kill me.  If I was anymore tired than I was, fleeing would not have been an option.


5 thoughts on “Lost In Fauquier County

  1. I imagine that home looked a little better to you today after your “interesting” experiences! Very glad that the Doberman gave up when he did; that could very well have gotten nasty! Maybe a purchase of some pepper spray would be a good investment!

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