Although I have traveled west of Route 28 on several occasions, it is still a major step for me and I still view it as “the frontier” of my cycling range. Beyond Route 28 lies Route 29, which I have crossed only once about 13 months ago. If Route 28 is “The Frontier,” then Route 29 is “The Unknown.” So it was with a bit of excitement that I headed out this morning for the town of Haymarket, about five miles beyond Route 29.
To get there, I needed to travel up Bristow Road about 20 miles where it would eventually intersect the dreaded Route 29 (also known as the Lee Highway). This is a major intersection, dumping thousands of cars each day off the nearby interstate to a sprawling shopping center. My strategy of leaving at 6:30 AM on a Sunday worked well – when I got to the intersection, there were only a dozen cars there. And thank goodness for that as I discovered the entire mess is under construction, complete with rutted asphalt, pylons, and tons of gravel. Moving through there with heavy traffic is precisely the sort of thing that has kept me away for the past two years.
Haymarket is a small town which briefly held a district court in the early 1800s, before Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William Counties decided to keep their own courts. Nothing much happened there until 1862, when Federal troops entered the town looking for a sniper. After entering every house and generally causing a fuss, they failed to find their target, so they decided the best option would be to set fire to the entire place. Everything burned to the ground, with the exception of St. Paul’s Church and three or four nearby buildings. History does not record if the Federals found their sniper.
After pedaling down a flag-lined main street (named Washington Street), I pulled up to St. Paul’s and found it to be in a pleasant grove of large trees, making photography a challenge. This building was the original courthouse and was sold to the Episcopal Church in 1833. Although it was only 8:00 AM, it was already quite hot and it promised to be much hotter. In anticipation of the increased fluid needs, I brought my Camelbak along for the first ride this year. In the end, I’m glad I did.
The trip home brought me back to Lee Highway, which I pedaled on for a couple of miles. Even at this early hour, there was plenty of traffic and occasionally very little shoulderto ride on. My flagging spirits were buoyed, however, when I came upon an old tavern at Buckland.
Nearby signage informed me that the tavern had been in this area since the early 1800s and was a favorite watering hole for people traveling between Alexandria and Warrenton. Signs also alluded to a nearby cavalry battle in 1863, but offered no other details. Fortunately, I conducted a quick internet search and am able to inform you that Confederate General Jeb Stuart won a smashing victory over Union General Judson Kilpatrick while protecting a Southern retreat after the Battle of Bristoe (which I passed earlier in my travels today).
Having satisfied my historical urges, I turned south on Vint Hill Road and made my way to Nokesville, a town on the near side of Route 28 that many of my travels seem to take me through. The rest of the ride was uneventful. I managed the 54 mile trek in the sedate pace of 14.5 mph, which was fine by me. My chief purpose (other than seeing something new) was to get at least 3.5 hours in the saddle prior to the USAF Crystal Ride in two weeks. From here on out, I’ll be working on sprinting, which is what I expect to be doing for the majority that 90 km event.
For those of you in the United States, here’s hoping you enjoyed your Memorial Day. I include the below photo by Martins Blumbergs in honor of the occasion.
Historical Marker Segment!
This has been a banner week for historical markers. This one was outside the Tavern at Buckland Mills. In it, we get a synopsis of the town’s origins and the tavern’s history. I came across this at about Mile 28 on a hot day. It would have been very nice if it still served as a “refreshing stop!”