Old Ironsides Goes To The Beach

I went to Virginia Beach again.  If something works, don’t fix it, right?

This time, I brought my hybrid bike (aka Old Ironsides) for a change of pace.  I’ve only ever brought road bikes to Virginia Beach and the old war horse deserved a chance to show what it can do.  I also expected to ride into town with The Diesel and wanted to see how things worked when I used the bike on our ride.

Loyal readers are no doubt bored to tears of stories about Virginia Beach and Fort Story.  New/disloyal readers can read about my adventures here, here, here, here, and here.  Or you can just enter “Virginia Beach” into the search tool and you’ll be on your way.   In any event, I shall not repeat the storied history of this place, where Christopher Newport claimed the New World for the King of England, where French Admiral de Grasse defeated a British fleet and thus took the New World away from England and gave it to some rebels besieging nearby Yorktown, and where a fledgling United States of America commissioned its first-ever building: a light house.  Instead, I shall give a short update on three little rides I took.

Little Ride #1: Horsing Around the Base (7.4 miles)

While The Diesel went running on the beach, I hopped on Old Ironsides and took in the sights.  The weather was a pleasant 75 degrees and the wind was fairly calm, which is an unusual thing on the coast.  It was a good shake-down ride for the recently-lubed hybrid which has seen little use since the end of winter.  All went well, which is encouraging as I intend to take this bike on next weekend’s 34-Mile organized ride in Reston.

Old Ironsides next to a monument to Lieutenant Général des Armées Navales François-Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse . With a name like that, you’d better be good! The statue was a gift of the French Government in 1976 – America’s bicentennial year.

The “new” light house, commissioned in 1881 and located a few hundred feet from the “old” light house. This one is still operational, which is a pleasant thing to see in the evenings. If you squint, you can see a bike next to the fence.

The foundation for a WWII coastal artillery battery, located in the middle of base housing only a few hundred feet from a coastal bluff. I’ve been going to Ft. Story for years but stumbled across this for the first time on this ride.

Little Ride #2:  Shopping With The Diesel (12.1 miles)

Later on the same day, the missus and I sauntered into town via Atlantic and Pacific Avenues (Yes, I am aware we weren’t very close to the Pacific Ocean.  I don’t name the roads – I just ride on them.).  The last few miles were spent on a nice bike path next to the boardwalk, where we had the opportunity to dodge people in swimwear as they walked between the beach and their hotels.  After doing some souvenir shopping, we turned around and went home.  We both agreed that Old Ironsides is a better companion to The Diesel’s Fuji Absolute than the Madone.

I forgot to bring my camera, so there weren’t any action shots. I took this with my iPhone, which works well in a pinch but doesn’t cooperate with one hand while riding. You will note that people seeking a public restroom will need to look elsewhere. Such is life on the wild and woolly beaches of Virginia.

Little Ride #3:  Going Fast(er) Around The Base (13.1 miles).

The Garmin was acting up along the water. I did not actually take Old Ironsides into the sea.

After taking the second day “off” to do some jogging, I hopped back on the bike for the final day and resolved to go fast.  This worked fairly well, until a cyclist stopped me and asked for directions and then I had a notion to pedal to the beach for a photo op.  Other than that, however, things moved along very well.  Despite its significant disadvantages over the speedy Madone, I kept up a nice pace of 15.9 mph while moving.

A rare action photo of Old Ironsides, with the Cape Henry light houses in the background.

WWII era buildings, still in use on the west side of the base.

Heading toward the beach on a board walk. Fortunately, it was early and I didn’t need to share with sunbathers.

Obligatory beach photo, with a US Navy amphibious assault ship just off the coast. You don’t get to see that sort of thing at any old beach.

And with that, we packed up the bikes and other supplies and returned home to lovely Northern Virginia.  I don’t expect to be heading back to Virginia Beach for a few months, so those of you who are bored with the subject matter need fear not!


8 thoughts on “Old Ironsides Goes To The Beach

  1. Being a sucker for almost any sort of ruin, I like the circular foundation.

    Good to see Ironsides in action. You should take it out for some light cross-country trail riding where it will REALLY shine compared to the Madone.

    • I am also a history buff so anything that smacks of events long ago fascinate me. As for Old Ironsides, I am mindful of the horrific summer/fall of 2010 where I suffered NINE flats and THREE broken spokes while asking Old Ironsides to do more than it was capable of. I’ve lost 30 pounds since those days, so perhaps with less stress it could handle more adventurous rides.

    • One would think a sense of self-preservation would be sufficient, but that was not the case. Then again, my own sense of self-preservation failed me on a February morning not so long ago…

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