I got to do some more traveling this week, this time down to Albemarle County, near Charlottesville. It’s about 90 miles southwest of where I live, nestled against the Blue Ridge Mountains. On Thursday, I brought my bike with me and went for a spin under threatening skies. I was really looking forward to this ride because, as a Flatlander, I rarely get the opportunity to ride near mountains. I was hoping for some good views and maybe some hills.
I got some great views and some adequate hills. Here’s how things looked as I started out on Route 33 West.
The street was busy but it had a decent shoulder most of the way. A rain shower had just finished before I started and the roads were soaked. Passing trucks threw up mist which added to the excitement. After eight miles, I was able to get off this road and head south onto more rural routes. The sun also made an appearance, helping to dry things off. The views were fantastic, but I fear I cut my route just a tick short of the Blue Ridge to get some serious climbing in.
For being a very rural place, the roads were in excellent condition. I had to be careful to pay attention to where I was going – I tended to stare at the mountains for too long! I was mildly concerned my planned route would take me onto a dreaded dirt road, but there were virtually none of those in sight – a great difference from the scene in Fauquier and Prince William Counties, where they plague me on any lengthy ride into the unknown.
After 15 miles, it became apparent that the climbing wouldn’t be anything terribly ambitious, which was just fine as I had driven 90 miles, worked a full day, and had a 90 mile drive home. I contented myself with the winding roads and pleasant views.
After passing through the town of Dyke (which consisted of a trading post and a church), I realized I hadn’t posed the Madone for a picture. So I found a random hill – there were dozens to choose from – and perched it on an anonymous horse farm’s fence. As I look at this picture and the previous one, it appears they may have been taken at the same place. In actuality, the locations are separated by about five miles.
You will note that I have rigged the Madone “randonneuring style,” with my small handlebar bag and cue sheet handsomely attached to the front in a manner which would cause great offense to anyone who values a pure road bike – kinda like putting a trailer hitch on a Corvette. It works for me, however, so I continue to go with it on rides where cue sheets and/or extra supplies are necessary.
I had completed about 27 miles at this point and was very happy the rain had held off.
Shortly after taking this photo, it began to rain.
The rain stayed with me for the remainder of my trip. It poured in torrents occasionally and sometimes reduced itself to a light sprinkle, but usually it was a steady soak. I can’t say that I enjoyed this very much. Well, I could say it, but that wouldn’t be very honest. My camera and phone were safely stowed in the handlebar bag. Most everything else was soaked, including your intrepid reporter. I didn’t take a photo, but you’ve seen pictures of me before. Imagine one of those pictures, except in the picture I am soaking wet. You get the idea.
On the whole, it was a great ride. I managed 1,800 feet of climbing in 39 miles, which is a nice uptick over my usual rate (Sunday’s 40-mile ride had 1,100 feet of climbing) but nothing dramatic. Had I traveled another 10 miles westward, the story would have been different. I was surprised that I didn’t see a single cyclist on my entire trip. Granted, it was a weekday, but usually there is somebody on the roads. Not so around here, even though (with the exception of Route 33) the roads were very conducive to cycling. I could have done without the rain, but there was a 40% chance of precipitation in the forecast, so I knew what I was getting into when I started.
It’s been a good two weeks for fun on the bike. Now all I have to do is wait for better weather and think up an excuse to head back to Albemarle County!
Historical Marker Segment!
I bagged another one. This marker tells the tale of the “lost town” of Advance Mills. Quite often, I find myself on roads clearly named after a town but the town no longer exists. This marker helps to explain why this is so. All that remains of Advance Mills today is a small dam used by the now-nonexistent mill.