Shenandoah Path

Rocking my new Garneau Nimbus gloves

After the deluge on Saturday, the sun came out today and I set out toward Fauquier County against a stiff head wind.    I wanted to check out some streets I hadn’t yet been on.  This often leads to adventure and today was no exception.  I had on my brand new cycling gloves (pictured at right) and a new pair of Bellwether cycling shorts (not pictured in order to maintain viewership).

The humble sign announcing the county line

The wind was a challenge, but I’m learning to accept the slower pace required by fighting a steady breeze.  By the way, if there is a stiff wind to be dealt with, I highly recommend taking it on at the beginning of the ride if at all possible.  It makes the return trip much more tolerable.  The first 21 miles were a long slog into Fauquier County.  Eventually, I made it to Bristersburg Road and found the wind on my back while riding a straight level road.   I pedaled past nice homes and (to put it politely) “rural” homes.  It was a nice road to cycle on and it’s easy to see why so many cyclists gravitate to this county to ride – lots of nice roads with little traffic.  Perfect! 

At the corner of Bristersburg Road and Shenandoah Path, the Crossings Baptist Church can be found.  In honor of Palm Sunday, I include a picture of this interesting building below.

Turning onto Shenandoah Path, I looked forward to riding another 2-3 miles on a road I had not yet traveled.  After half a mile, the asphalt gave way to gravel.  Once again, I was trapped on a gravel road. 

Not the worst road I have been on

I know that Fauquier County is named after Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, who allegedly won the land in a poker game in 1759 (which is itself a fascinating story which I do not have time to delve into in this space).  Had I not known this, I would have guessed “Fauquier” was Algonquin for “Land With Too Many Dirt Roads.”  A great many of the roads in the area are gravel and a great many of these have the nasty habit of starting out paved and turning to gravel only after you have traveled quite a distance and are not inclined to turn around.  Such was the case on Shenandoah Path.

Faced with a decision of turning around and adding miles to my route or pressing onward, I thought of my blog friend, Gerry, who recently cycled upon the famous (and bone-jarring) cobble stones of the Paris-Roubaix route.  If he could endure those rides, surely I could handle this minor inconvenience?  While Gerry’s rides were impressive, it must be noted that he did not need to risk his own bike whereas I was riding my personal property in a land where help was a significant distance away.  I pressed on.  Menacing dogs in cages barked menacingly.  Several stray dogs (including a German Shepherd) trotted up to me but they were all friendly.  There was no gunfire – a refreshing change from my last adventure near Catlett.  Eventually, I popped out onto Elks Head Road and began the trip home having survived unscathed.

Spring is coming to Northern Virginia, although Spring-like temperatures are a little late.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Spring in rural Virginia.  When you’re not being chased by dogs and/or gunfire, it is a very nice place.

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10 thoughts on “Shenandoah Path

    • It’s all very safe, I assure you. 🙂 Folks only shoot into their back yards with several hundred yards of space before the next property line. Still, it can be a little unnerving as you pedal through a strange place…

  1. My regular cycling companion is an ex postman. He does not like dogs (and they don’t like him) so he wouldn’t have enjoyed your ride at all. Glad you got home all right.

    • Normally, my Trek can outpace just about any canine out there, except I was on a gravel road which more than evened the odds. Fortunately, the guard dogs were locked up (this time) and the dogs roaming the streets were friendly.

  2. We got caught on that on day 2 of the tour, I think.
    We did almost equal time on dirt, as on paved roads.
    Am enjoying your blog, while I’m away.

  3. You’re right, Steve. I never once worried about the borrowed bike I was riding on P-R, plus I had support. You’re a braver man than I for tackling that road, particularly with the potential of being shot or eaten by dogs!

    • Well, it’s not like I cycled down a road of fire or anything. I simply didn’t want to get a flat tire and was mildly concerned about my ability to outrun a stray dog on a gravel road. Fortunately, the tire didn’t flat and the dogs on the loose were friendly! And getting shot on a rural road in America almost never happens. Almost. 🙂

  4. You are what’s wrong with urban cyclists who peddle in rural areas. You have no respect for the rural way of life. I’m sure you are a liberal so there is no reason to explain the gunfire thing to you, just wear ear plugs so you can’t hear the gun fire or the 10 cars you have been keeping from passing as you travel through Fauquier County. Our local cyclists are very embarrassed by the rude behavior of visiting cyclists from NOVA/DC/Maryland. You can really tell where a bicyclist hails from by their road manners. What are “rural houses” anyways? I’m sure you and your partner live in the finest Town Home in Du’Pont Circle, but rural America is real America, not the fantasy land in which you inhabit.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Will, and sharing your opinion on this rather old post. It gave me a chance to remember a nice ride on a nice day.

      It’s interesting to see how completely wrong a person can be about another person they’ve never met, based on a few hundred words he wrote almost three years ago. It’s a good reminder for me about the dangers of jumping to conclusions.

      The fact is I am just about as conservative as you can get politically and I’ve written a few posts on that very subject and how it relates to cycling. There’s no need to explain the gunfire thing to me – as a retired Army Officer who spent a fair amount of my childhood on my grandparents’ country home in rural Western New York, I’ve got a pretty good base of experience with fire arms and I staunchly defend the U.S. Constitution’s Second Ammendment right to keep and bear them. I do not live in DuPont Circle and a quick look at the above map will give you a hint I live in southern Prince William County, a place most Washingtonians would call “The Sticks.” As for my cycling behaviors, I have also written on this blog about how careful I am to follow the rules of the road and be courteous to motorists. I routinely pull off to the shoulder when a car (let alone ten of them) gets stuck behind me for any length of time. One of the few times I broke the rules I ran a red light and was hit by a car, a mistake I owned up to on this blog.

      I invite you to take some time and read a few more posts on this blog. I try to be humorous and often poke fun at just about everything I see. Usually, I am poking fun at myself (please see the “Why I Am Not Cool” category for a few examples). I’ve made fun of (and criticized) drivers, walkers, joggers, lawn mowers in the city, suburbs, rural areas, and in other countries. My most recent post contains a video that makes fun of road cyclists (and indirectly myself).

      I try to keep things light, is what I’m trying to say. And informative and maybe a little entertaining. Looks like I missed the mark with you. In addition to some jokes about gunfire and “rural” houses in this post, you will find several compliments of Fauquier County with pictures to back them up. I enjoy the scenery and the history of the area very much, even if my “best laid plans” are occasionally screwed up by an unexpected gravel road!

      (the gravel road bit was a joke, btw).

      Take care and thanks again for stopping by.

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