Today’s ride was not for the meek. The temperature warmed to a little over freezing and winds were gusting over 35 mph. On a day this cold, I’d ordinarily go for a run or find an excuse to sit about the house. Since the winter has been so mild this year, I felt obligated to get in at least one “freezing weather” ride. So with the wind chill near 24 degrees, I bundled up and headed out on one of my rare forays east of Route 1.
If you consider that water tends to be at the lowest nearby point, you will quickly discern from the map that my initial route took me downhill. Those nasty winds were coming from the northwest, meaning they were at my back as well. Yippee. With almost no effort, I was averaging 19.5 mph when I reached the stop light at Route 1. Of course, I would be paying for this enjoyment later, but lets not rush the story.
Leesylvania State Park was much as I left it 13 months ago when I last visited. There were a few brave souls out for hikes and one person towing his boat from the storage area. I can only imagine what he was hoping to accomplish in this weather. I pulled to a stop near the boat launch and took some pics of the water. I couldn’t see anyone else on the shore or in the water. During the summer, I would be sharing this view with a few thousand people. I tried to appreciate that fact while not concerning myself with the question, “what do those several thousand people know which you don’t?”
On my way out, I paused to take some pics of a grand railroad bridge across Powells Creek where it joins the Potomac River. You can see the railroad line on the map at the top of this post. It’s the major line along the East Coast, carrying commuters from points South up to DC. It also handles Amtrak routes from Florida to Maine.
Rather than simply returning on the route I started on, I opted to explore Powells Landing, which is presumably named after the same Mr. or Mrs. Powell as Powells Creek. I could confirm none of this as the history of the place seems to be a well kept secret, both online and in the immediate area. I did learn that Powells Creek is part of a watershed that runs through Lake Montclair (where I live), Lake Terrapin, and all the way past the county landfill. It is reportedly one of the most virbrant natural wetlands in all of Northern Virginia. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.
I pedaled toward a street with the hopeful name of Panorama Drive, but found it to be a bit of a misnomer. There were glimpses of the creek and the same railroad bridge, but it was hardly “panoramic.” I had traveled 14 miles at this point and the cold was beginning to seep into me. It was time to go home.
Against the wind.
Let me just say for the record that riding uphill for six miles against a steady 25 mph wind with gusts around 35 mph on a freezing day was not enjoyable for me. I was pleased to be done with this ride. Although it was only 20 miles long, it felt harder than many 40 milers I have done.
Calendar Contest Update! Thank you very much to those of you who have “liked” my photos in the Revolutions Bicycle Store calendar contest. As of this writing, my top three pics (all with 20 “likes”) are in 6th place. There are seven photos within striking distance, so the issue remains in doubt. Voting continues until Wednesday, so if you’re inclined to vote and demonstrate to the entire world that we are incredibly awesome people, I’d be obliged. You can vote here, and my pics are 100 through 104.