Bristow

Sometimes, goals can be helpful and today was one of those times.  The cold and wind would have certainly kept me indoors but for my goal of reaching 3,000 miles for the year.  I was 35 miles away and it was mocking me.  I would certainly have broken the mark with my evening rides, but I didn’t want to achieve the goal on a short neighborhood pedal.  I was hoping for something more appropriate for the occasion.  So I plotted a 37 mile route through Bristow and set out into the wind.

The wind and the 41 degree day definitely had me riding at a winter pace.  I pulled into the Bristoe Station Battlefield having done 22 miles averaging less than 14 mph.  Welcome to December.  There were even a few snowflakes falling.  Nothing stuck to the ground, but it was my first ride in falling snow.  The Trek seemed unimpressed and behaved pretty much as it always did.  I’ve been riding my hybrid a lot recently, and it’s always nice to hop back on the old road bike, which runs as silent as a submarine compared to Old Ironsides.

When I reached the battlefield, I stopped for a Clif Bar and some Gatorade.  The below view is looking south and Bristow Road is just beyond the fence on the left.

While I was taking in the view, some folks pulled up with three horses for a ride on the battlefield trail.  It was an interesting show, watching the man in the cowboy hat (who was clearly in charge, since he was the one wearing a cowboy hat) lead the horses out of the trailer.

The way home was much more pleasant.  The wind was at my back and the majority of the ride was downhill.  As I neared Brentsville, an enormous brown hawk glided next to me for a few yards.  He was only 30 feet away and was very impressive.

I was almost home when I reached Mile #3000 at the intersection of Rte 234 and Spriggs Road.  I took a picture to capture the moment.  As you can see, the heavens did not open and there were no angelic choirs to commemorate the event.  I realize that a great many cyclists, including most of the regular contributors to this blog’s comments section, do many more miles than this.  In fact, combining my 2010 and 2011 totals would still make for a below average year for the more accomplished riders.  Still, it is a significant milestone for me and worthy of note, if for no other reason than it got me outside on a cold day and gave me the opportunity to see an incredible bird.

Historical Marker Segment!

There is a mystery afoot at Bristow Station Battlefield. The two markers I previously noted along the road are now missing.  This may be my first-ever case of stolen markers.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I spied this new marker.  It is unusual in that it does not have a date indicating when it was erected (almost all of these markers note the year they were created).  Very strange.

Markers noting the location of Confederate encampments and cemeteries are not unusual and the description provides a lengthy and somewhat interesting telling of what camp life was like during the war.  However, I do find it strange that NOT ONCE have I come across a marker noting a Union encampment or cemetery.  The obvious answer is this is Virginia and an in-depth discussion of Federal activity is just not going to happen in these parts.  But perhaps there is something else going on – maybe Union dead were not buried on the field in the manner described in the marker.  Maybe they were shipped to a common location – Arlington National Cemetery for example.  It doesn’t explain the lack of detail on encampments, but does help to address the dearth of Union cemeteries.

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18 thoughts on “Bristow

  1. Congrats! It was a lovely day to ride;0D
    Though I don’t think I commented on it, I enjoyed the precious picture of you and your wife. A couple of cuties.

    • Emotions run deep, don’t they? Fun Fact: the small flag planted at the bottom of the marker’s pole is the original Confederate States flag. These days, most supporters fly the Southern Cross (aka “Stars and Bars”) flag, but this was actually only a battle streamer. The flag at the pole’s base is the proper flag of the country and suggests the person who put it there is extremely aware of the history.

  2. Congrats Steve on the milestone for the year. Bloody brilliant. I’d like to know what percentage of the populations of our respective countries could boast a similar achievement…..it would be very low single digits!

    • Yeah, but the Dutch would be kicking my arse! I guess it’s good to be an American – by simply getting on my bike one time per year I vault into the top 1% in cycling mileage!

  3. Fascinating historical piece there, are there Union Grave yards marked anywhere? Maybe in the Northern States I’m guessing? You seem to be implying that there isn’t much attention paid to Northern Soldiers in the Southern States. Is there a still a “feeling” between North and South, like there is between Yorkshire and Lancashire folks here in England? Even if their ill will is only fought on the Cricket pitches now!

    • “Feeling” doesn’t describe the issue. Northerners, being the victors, have largely let go of the animus. In the South, there is still great affection for The Cause and with many the feelings are visceral. “Yankees” are certainly not admired and in some pockets of the South they are not welcome. Being wealthier, it was easier for Federal forces to build national cemeteries for the war dead and my theory is that this removed the need for small, ad-hoc cemeteries you see for the Confederates. Two prominent examples are Arlington and Gettysburg national cemeteries.

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