Post Cards From Warrenton

Happy Easter, everybody!  Today’s weather was textbook Easter – blue skies, sunny, and warm.  It was the sort of day one finds on post cards.  I decided to take advantage by pedaling over to Warrenton and taking a few (hopefully) post card-worthy pictures.

Oh yeah – my route was 70 miles long, farther than I’ve ever gone before.  With my first-ever century now 13 days away, I thought I should press the envelope a bit to get ready.  I’m glad I did as I learned a few lessons about riding these sorts of distances, namely take your time and have a good nutrition strategy.  I’ve done plenty of reading but it is always nice to see what works for you.

                                         The Road West Of Nokesville

After passing through Nokesville I was into unfamiliar territory, The Land West of Route 28.  The terrain is rolling and dotted with horse farms and “regular farms.”  After crossing the Dumfries Road, I came across three historical markers near Cedar Run, two of which feature a gentleman named George Neavil, who lived in the area in the 1700s.  Mr. Neavil operated a mill and something called an “ordinary.”  The mill survives and was operational until 1932.  It is now an historic site.  I had no idea what an “ordinary” was and the marker was unhelpful in explaining it, although it did mention that George Washington stopped by one day in 1748.  I thus had 40+ miles to ponder its meaning.  A quick check upon my return home informed me that it is a British term for a hotel.  That’s not exactly common knowledge in Virginia, and I’m surprised the marker’s authors couldn’t be bothered to explain it.

                                                              Neavil’s Mill
Onward I went into Warrenton, which you may be interested to know sits on elevation approximately 400 feet higher than that of my house.  You can see the hill clearly in my Garmin data.  Fortunately, I was taking my time and the wind was at my back, so the hill was no bother at all.  The last bit of the route is the Warrenton Green Branch Trail, a paved-over railroad bed that last year’s Great Pumpkin Ride started and finished on.

                            The Terminus of the Trail, Complete With Caboose

Once off the trail, I was in downtown Warrenton, such as it is.  It’s a small town and a highway bypass has driven many of the local shops out of business.   Still, the original county seat is there as is the Warren Green Hotel, whose claim to fame seems to be that General George McClellan said goodbye to his officers from the location in 1862, having been recently fired by Abraham Lincoln.

              The Former Warren Green Hotel (Now An Office Building)

                                                  The Original Court House

After 34 miles, it was time for my mid-ride break.  Now, a proper cyclist would take his break at an outdoor cafe, enjoying a cup of espresso.  Sadly, there were no outdoor cafes in sight and I don’t like coffee.  The Subway sandwich shop was my goal and I was disconcerted to learn it was closed for Easter.  I made my way to the highway bypass and quickly spotted a McDonalds.  Perfect.

Having dined on some of the finest fast food in Warrenton, I began the return journey, which would take me on a different route home through the village of Catlett.  The breeze was now against me but I was enjoying the downhill route for eight miles.  Then the downhill stopped, but the wind continued.  Life was less fun at this point.  Still, the views were great and I was enjoying the heat that was building up – the thermometer informed me it was well above 80 at this point.

                                               The View West of Catlett

At Catlett, I crossed over Rte 28 and once again entered what I consider to be my “neck of the woods,” so to speak.  At this point, I had covered almost 50 miles, the last 15 of which were against the wind.  I had been pushing myself too hard – I guess I was acting like one of the horses I had been passing all day and was “smelling the barn” as I drew closer to home.  I used up the last of my Gatorade and was left with luke warm water.  At Mile 58 I pulled into a country store and bought some cold Gatorade.  This was a wise decision and it made the rest of my trip tolerable. 

I made it home in fair shape, though it must be said another 30 miles would have been challenging for me.  I did a decent job at pacing and nutrition, but I’ll have to do even better in two weeks.  Something to contemplate as the Cap2Cap Century draws near.

Finally, I will leave you with one last post card, in commemoration of Easter:

                                           Cedar Run Episcopal Church


Historical Marker Segment!

There were a great many markers today, including two dedicated to Mr. Neavil’s ordinary and mill.

                                                                  The Ordinary

                                                                      The Mill

Nearby, we learn that Confederate General Jeb Stuart found himself in a predicament at this location in October, 1863.  He cleverly attacked the Federals as they made their morning coffee (is nothing off-limits anymore?) and successfully escaped their clutches.

                                                      The Battle of Coffee Hill

And, of course, the location of Stuart’s bivouac the night prior is worthy of remembrance as well.

                            Stuart’s Bivouac – About 1/2 Mile From Coffee Hill

In Warrenton, the “Historic District” has several markers, including this one near the Warren Green Hotel.

                                                                The Warren Green

And finally, there is this marker, located next to Warrenton’s original Court House.


14 thoughts on “Post Cards From Warrenton

    • You are the expert in this area so I will defer to you. My view is that it certainly is beautiful, especially when it’s not freezing or raining!

  1. Great photos, Steve! It’s nice to go far and get outside your ‘neck of the woods’, isn’t it? Impressive distance, too. Nutrition is something I’m learning the hard way, too. I find shoving my back pockets with cakes, gels and the like, and nibbling on them every half hour or so gets me through the day. McDonald’s is only good for one thing – free bathrooms…ok, and cheap coffee…oh, and maybe their fries…but that’s it!

    • The fries are awesome – this is inarguable. I was disappointed in the lack of cycling racks and outdoor dining throughout the town. It made my brief respite a bit of a challenge. Eventually, I chained my bike to a nearby fence and trudged across the parking lot in my shoes. Not ideal, but I felt the need to give a nod toward the tradition of the mid-ride meal.

  2. GREAT Picture dude, I REALLY Need to move, can you hook me up with a green card and a job on Biggest Loser ?



    • You’re welcome any time, Gaz! I don’t have many connections with Hollywood, so your TV gig may be difficult to secure. And don’t be fooled by the bucolic scenes pictured above. That is Fauquier County, a good 20-30 miles from the surburban madness I confront daily.

  3. An ordinary in the 1870s here was a set meal for a set price so I expect the ordinary of your notice was a simple inn that offered that service.

    I must say that you have a wonderful array of markers in your neck of the woods. Who puts them up?

    • The markers are ubiquitous throughout the state, more so than just about anywhere else I’ve lived. County and State historical societies put them up. They are always interesting to read, but the irony of the whole program is that the markers quite often are placed on major roadways with little foot traffic present to read them. The signs have too much text to be read by passing motorists, so I imagine a great many of them aren’t read very often.

  4. If I ever come to your area and share a ride with you, I’ll drive you crazy. Civil War buff that I am, I would stop at photograph every historical marker, every regimental monument at battlefields, every building from the period…

    • You might be surprised by my willingness to stop with you at each marker and have a conversation about the event it commemorates! We could debate my half-baked theories on the Civil War (and as a Texan, I am CERTAIN you would take issue with some of my Yankee-based opinions!) and suddenly realize we’d wasted an hour not actually cycling. It would be great!

  5. Good luck on your endeavors to ride your first century. You’re almost there! You certainly have interesting places to ride.

    Next thing you know, you’ll being doing doubles. Ha!

    • Thanks, Bry! You know, there is a double-century held near DC each summer. Riders leave as the sun is rising, haul butt all day, then return just after the sun sets. Something to think about.

      Maybe next year. Maybe.

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