This Sunday, I decided to check on a sad sight I observed earlier this year – the abandoned Handymart on Elk Run Road. The Handymart was always a welcome oasis in rural Fauquier County. It was 20 miles from home, which was a nice distance to have a waystop for an emergency drink on a hot day. It is very much by itself with not very much else around for several miles. I suppose that’s why it went out of business; it’s difficult to sell things to people who aren’t there. I hoped that perhaps the store was under new management and set off to see if anything positive had developed in the past several months.
On my way, I discovered the bridge on Aden road is under construction. I neglected to get a picture for your enjoyment, and I apologize for that. I also came across a rather serious lawn mowing operation, complete with multiple road signs, including one that I thought was perfect for a road with me on it. If only I could arrange to have these arrayed on all my weekend rides…
The weather was very pleasant and I made a mental note to enjoy it thoroughly. Soon enough, I’ll be dealing with cold winds and dreary landscapes. In between happy gazes at the countryside, I attempted several self-portraits of my shadow, with limited success. Submitted for your consideration is this version, taken in the watery ditch next to the Cedar Run Farm’s stone wall.
In short order, I had arrived at the Handymart and quickly discerned that it remained stubbornly out of business. I pulled over and took the following picture to document the sad scene.
While I was taking this very picture, a cyclist whizzed past with a jaunty wave. Almost immediately, we recognized it each other. It was my buddy (and neighbor), Steve, out for a weekend ride. Steve stopped a bit up the road and waited for me while I put away my camera and pedaled up to him. As it turned out, he was on his way home so we agreed to ride back together.
Loyal (and very observant) readers will remember Steve is a VERY strong cyclist who enjoys participating in Ironman races (2.4 miles of swimming, followed by 112 miles on the bike and then a marathon). I generally don’t ride with Steve because he still considers 80 miles to be a nice training ride whereas I think of it as quite an achievement. I asked him to take it easy on me and he assured me he wasn’t going fast today. “I’ve been doing a steady 18.1 mph,” Steve said in an attempt to reassure me. When I informed him my current pace was 16.7 mph, he didn’t say anything.
In the end, it was a very pleasant ride. Steve did take it quite easy on me, but my pace still improved to 17.1 mph, so he definitely helped me push myself. He said very encouraging things about my improved fitness, which was very polite if not entirely accurate. It was nice to catch up with him and hear about his future athletic plans and how his family is doing.
Now, if only my feet would stop screaming in pain after 35 miles, I’d be all set.