Clifton

The chain worked.  It skipped a bit, but it worked.  The skipping could be due to wear on the rear cassette or the cheapness of the chain.  Either way, it’s tolerable and I’m good for another 1,800 miles (or so).

I headed north this morning on Minnieville Road, a road which is normally very busy, but at 8:00 AM on a Sunday was lightly traveled.  Only one car beeped at me – I was as far to the right as possible but I was delaying her turn into Lowes DIY store by at least ten seconds.  I turned to look at her and asked her what she wanted me to do.  She stared straight ahead and didn’t respond.

After nine miles, I made it to the Occoquan River and the town which bears its name.  There are very steep banks on either side of the river, which made for a fun descent which was paid for very shortly thereafter with an equally steep ascent.

Crossing the Occoquan

I then traveled ten miles further north on the multi-use path on Ox Road.  The route was generally uphill at a slight grade.  Eventually, I made it on to Chapel Road and enjoyed pedaling by $1 million homes for several miles.  At the end of a long descent (during which I topped out at 44.8 mph), I came upon the horse farm pictured below.  It was a really nice setup and I don’t think the picture does it justice.

Horse Farm near Clifton

A few miles on, I pulled into the town of Clifton.  During the Civil War, this marked the end of the railroad from Washington, DC.  It was a bustling place, as troops, animals, and supplies continually arrived.  There were no residents here, just an encampment to guard the railhead.

After the war, a post office was built and people began to settle in large numbers.  John S. Mosby, a Confederate general who spent a fair portion of his time attempting to destroy the railroad at this location, started a church in the town.  This church was replaced by the one pictured below in 1910.  The house to the right of the church was one of the finest in Virginia when it was built in the 1870s, or so the sign in front of it states.

Today, the town is an out-of-the-way hamlet, striving to trade off its history (and I will thank my European friends for not snickering at the notion of one hundred year old buildings being “historic”) and some upscale restaurants and art stores.

Clifton Baptist Church and the Quigg House

I ate an energy bar on a park bench and drank a great deal of water from my Camelbak.  With the summer heat on, I have once again started taking my Camelbak on longer rides.  I realize this makes me look uncool, but I have weighed this against how I would look passed out on the side of the road from heat injury and have concluded the Camelbak is a preferable fashion choice.

You don't see 'em like this nowadays

After my break, I struck out for home.  Clifton is in some low ground and it was quite a chore climbing up out of it.  The terrain on the north side of the Occoquan is quite rolling and I managed to rack up 1,800 feet of climbing over 40 miles.  That isn’t a huge number, but it’s large enough to tell me that I need to do plenty of hill work in the next two months before I take on centuries with 4,400 and 7,400 feet of climbing.

Historical Marker Segment!

This marker is located on Minnieville Road near Chain Bridge Road and the town of Occoquan.  I have driven past it on my morning commute almost every work day for nine years and haven’t read it once.  It’s hard to read a sign like this when you’re driving 35 mph in rush hour traffic.  Having actually read the thing, I am left with more questions than answers.  How, exactly, does an emancipated slave have the money to buy hundreds of acres of land?  And why did the Chinn Family disappear from the county after six generations?  Sadly, the marker is silent on both these points.

This marker is off Ox Road about half a mile north of the Occoquan River.  I am not surprised to learn of the Workhouse in this location.  Until 2001, there was a prison right across the street.  It wouldn’t surprise me if those were the very buildings which housed the heroines in this marker’s story.

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6 thoughts on “Clifton

  1. C’mon, you’re an astute bloke, you know exactly what she wanted you to do. Get the f**k off her road and stop interrupting her right of way ever again. You peasant on a bike. Who the f**k do you think you are????

    Or something like that anyway.

    I get it most weeks on my commute. It’s just background noise now, I very rarely even notice it now.

    • LOL! We don’t use the word “peasant” in the pejorative sense but I certainly agree that there was no doubt as to what she was trying to communicate. If anything, she most likely viewed me as an “elitist” who was holding up her traditional, common, mode of transport in pursuit of her daily errands.

    • Thanks, Tom. I try to follow the classic advice to writers and limit my topics to things I know about. With cycling topics, I break the rule a bit, but that’s how a learn things, from comments and suggestions from people such as yourself.

  2. The Chinn family may be gone but the Chinn soccer fields and the library lives on! Oh, Minnieville from 234 to Spriggs which is two lanes is safe enough but from Spriggs Rd to Old Bridge — six lanes, curb to curb 45 mph posted speed with strip malls = death wish.

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