Having returned from our vacation, it was once again time to take to the friendly rolling hills of Prince William County. My object was to see Lake Manassas, a man-made lake west of the city which shares its name. The weather was fantastic, with temps in the mid-80s and a slight breeze from the South. January seems very far away right now, which pleases me greatly!
After a few miles, I began to hear an annoying ticking sound from my front wheel. I tried my best to ignore it, but it was growing louder and I began to believe it was actually coming from my rear wheel (non-cyclists would be surprised to learn just how difficult it is to determine the source of a troublesome sound on your bike while riding it). During my rest stop at Mile 23, I inspected my spokes and sure enough, one of them was loose on the rear wheel. I’ve had nothing but trouble with this wheel since taking it to the LBS a month ago with a broken spoke. Without a spoke wrench to make the fix (I know! I know!), I just tried to take it easy the rest of the way and hopefully not break a spoke. I am pleased to report I succeeded in that task.
After riding through some rolling horse country and some “humble” abodes (see above picture) I made it to the lake. More specifically, I made it to the dam which completely obstructs the view of the lake. This was something of a disappointment, but I felt compelled to photograph the thing for posterity. Adding to my disappointment is that it was necessary to stop before a rather steep hill in order to take the picture, meaning all my forward momentum was lost before hitting the climb. It’s all good training, I guess.
Just a bit down the road, I happened upon a very rare thing: a roundabout! This was quite an exciting development as roundabouts are more rare in America than bald eagles or buffalo. Just imagine, a four-way intersection being managed without the use of stop signs or a traffic light. The mind boggles.
I then did two things which I hope to never do again:
- Ride 18 miles on Route 234
- Eat a Power Bar energy gel
At its northern end (which is where I now found myself), Rte 234 is a nasty road, with copious amounts of rocks, cracked asphalt, and glass on the shoulder. Cars wizz by at 65 mph, meaning the shoulder is really the only option. The seams between the shoulder and the bridges over other roads are frightening, with sudden drop offs of at least a foot. It was a gritty business for seven miles, but I eventually made it to my much-used cycle path at Brentsville Road and things returned to normal.
The energy gel was the culinary equivalent of riding on Rte 234.
Both the bike and its rider made it home without further event and maintenance plans are being developed for each. It’s not too early to start thinking about how to spend the July 4th holiday!