Gloom Ride

Quantico CreekBack in college, this time of year was referred to as “Gloom Period.”  It got its name from the fact that things were pretty gloomy around the place.  There wasn’t much to look forward to and the weather didn’t cooperate to raise our spirits.  Christmas was over and the decorations had come down.  Summer (Spring, for that matter) seemed a long way off.  The sky was gray, the buildings were gray, and our uniforms were gray.

You might say it was gloomy.  We certainly did.

Anyway, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are all at various stages in our gloom period.  Here in Virginia, things are more brown than gray, but it’s still difficult to imagine warm days in the saddle.  Heck, we just got through dealing with something called a polar vortex.  So in honor of Gloom Period, pictures from Sunday’s ride are presented in black and white.

Longtime viewers will remember I pulled this stunt in 2012.  Sorry for being so repetitive.  At least I picked a different route.  I headed east to Quantico.

I had hoped to take some nice pics of the town’s marina, but it was locked behind two chain link fences.  I moved on to a small peninsula north of the marina and took in the view of the river.

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The base does a nice job of creating a park-like setting along the water’s edge.  There are many old trees which add some character to the benches and gazebos.  Here is one of them (a tree, that is, not a bench or gazebo).

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And here is a gazebo, with one of the base’s headquarters buildings in the background.

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I then zipped over to the boat launch, just a few hundred yards away.  I found a few more photo opportunities there, including a view of the power plant across Quantico Creek.  The next leg of my ride would take me to the plant.  The peninsula where the plant sits is called Possum Point.  In the Civil War, a Confederate battery was placed here that effectively stopped river traffic to Washington, DC.

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The railway bridge you see on the left is the main north-south line, connecting DC with Fredericksburg and points to the south.  Thousands of commuters use this every day.  Since bridges are an item of increasing interest, I took a second shot to better capture it.

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All this picture-taking took a lot of time and I finally decided that the bike ride would go better for me if I actually rode my bike.  I made my way off the base, rode northward through a few neighborhoods, and finally hopped onto Route 1, where I encountered The Jerk Of The Ride.

Most of my rides have at least one jerk in them.  They are either rude, ignorant, or a combination of the two.  Usually, they don’t warrant a comment, but this jerk did.  He was driving a fire truck.  I could hear him coming from behind as I pedaled northward (near the dot of the “i” in Dumfries on the map above).  His siren was blazing and he was honking his horn for good measure as he fought his way through moderately heavy traffic.  I wasn’t worried – I was on the shoulder.  It was a narrow shoulder, to be sure, but I was definitely out of the road and both lanes were open as the truck approached.

I was hopeful he would turn off his siren or at least stop honking his horn.  Many emergency vehicles do this and it I greatly appreciate that since the sirens are incredibly loud.  I put my finger in my left ear to help in case he chose not to do so.  Not only did the driver not do this, but he laid on the horn as he passed me.  In addition, he stayed in the right lane rather than moving over to the left lane.  He was so far to the right that the edge of his vehicle was on the line.  He went by me at 40+ mph, siren blaring and horn honking.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say he intentionally swerved to the right to scare me.  He missed me by about two feet.  I get it that emergency vehicles have the right of way and all other vehicles are to pull to the side of the road.  I guess the truck driver took exception to the fact that I was merely in the shoulder and not stopped, so he decided to teach me a lesson.  Lovely.

The sound, shock at seeing such a large vehicle only inches from me, the rush of air that blew me sideways, and the fact I was riding with one hand on the bike and one in my ear, made for an exciting few seconds. I managed to stay upright as I reflexively moved to the right and into a nasty section of broken glass and potholes.  I hope that those firemen went on to save somebody’s life, because the driver nearly took mine.  Jerk.

Now, where was I?  Oh yes, heading toward the power plant on the north side of Quantico Creek.  Just a few hundred yards up Route 1, I got onto Possum Point Road.  The road has a nice rural feel to it and it is a shame that it isn’t longer and that you have to travel Route 1 to get to it.  Eventually, a system of pipes joins the road and runs parallel to it.  I’m not an expert on power plants, but my guess is they carry oil to power the plant.

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Quantico Creek is a protected wildlife area and there are signs that state bald eagles nest in these parts.  I think I saw an eagle soaring off in the distance, but it easily could have been a hawk or some other bird.  I’m pretty sure the birds in the below picture aren’t eagles.  It looks like I interrupted dinner.  A bird’s gotta eat, even during Gloom Period.

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I climbed the mile-long hill near the plant, then turned around and enjoyed a mile-long descent.  I managed to cross Route 1 without further incident and made my way home, where I stopped to take a pic of the I-95 bridge over Quantico Creek.  It’s not a very attractive place and I wouldn’t want to be here at night.  But it’s a bridge and therefore worthy of your consideration.

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And here’s a picture of Quantico Creek, which is considerably more narrow at this point than in previous pics.

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At this point, I was five miles from home.  I was pleased with my ascent of the large hill on Van Buren Road. This hill used to be a huge test for me.  I was pleased to see I handled it well despite the lack of miles over the winter.  I arrived back home in good shape, having logged  a little over 30 miles.  Apart from the thirty seconds with the fire truck, it was a good day on the bike.

Here’s hoping you are finding ways to enjoy Gloom Period as well.  I have it on good authority that the weather will warm up in the coming months.  In addition to riding, I’ve taken to working on the installation of my B.E.A.R.D.  Things seem to be moving nicely on that project.  To get us back to color photography, I provide the following update:

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18 thoughts on “Gloom Ride

  1. RE: The fire truck jerk; I’ve found that emergency vehicles are MORE likely to blare horns, etc, when I plug my ears with my fingers (which I always do). It’s like they think I’m doing it to send a message of complaint, and they respond by trying to overcome my self-protection by hitting whatever noisemaker they have handy. It’s an “Oh yeah? Ya think it’s loud? TRY THIS!” move. So, yeah, I’m completely with you on this: he was a grade A jerk.

  2. I’m very glad that the fire truck jerk didn’t get any closer to you!
    Even in black and white, the pictures were pretty!

  3. Very tasteful b/w pics. They certainly dispelled any gloom that I might have been feeling. I’m sorry about the fire truck. That sort of thing is a real pain.

    The B.E.A.R.D thing, does it need oiling or is it maintenance free? Have you had it aerodynamically tested to see how much it is costing you in drag factor?

    • The Biological Extreme-cold Affects Reduction Device requires very little maintenance. Occasional cleaning is recommended, along with some care to remove excess parts of the device. I suspect there is a measurable effect on drag, but relative to the drag created by my substantial frame, it is still negligible.

  4. Love the pictures. It is definitely the gloom period and I am in need of some sunshine riding to help offset the mood. Unfortunately I haven’t been feeling up to a ride recently and in fact spent the weekend indoors missing out on 60+ degree temps this weekend.

    Its true that the Fire Truck driver was a jerk, but he probably felt that you weren’t obeying the rules and wanted to prove his point. Could have been a much better way to do it, though.

    • Here’s hoping you are once again feeling up to a spin. It’s definitely a proven method for improving your spirits, regardless of what sort of vehicular challenges present themselves.

  5. The firetruck driver was more than a jerk, he was a danger. And if not a threat to humanity, certainly a threat to humanity on two wheels. Some of the worst, fastest, most harrowing, chase-me-off-the-shoulder drivers around here are behind the wheel of big yellow schoolbusses. Go figure.

    Love the black aand white. That format offers an appeal caused by… I don’t know what. Is it nostalgic? Or, more likely, does it provide some clarity and point of view by eliminating visual ‘clutter” that color can create, and causing us (the photographer) to concentrate on composition? Whatever, they work and thanks for them.

    • Since it happened on Route 1, I thought of you immediately, Suze! I was only on that stupid road for half a mile and I still found trouble.

      Thanks for the compliment on the photography. Coming from you, that means a lot! I’m not in your league but if I take enough pics I find a few that are acceptable. It’s one of the blessings of living in the digital age. With film I’d be a disaster!

  6. I installed my B.E.A.R.D. again this winter but was disturbed to discover that it came in whiter than last year. Is there a setting to make it return to the original shade? Should I try uninstalling and then reinstalling it and hope that fixes the problem?

    • My instruction manual says this is normal weathering, kinda like when your leather saddle turns a darker shade of brown. There are dyes that can return your B.E.A.R.D. to a “fresh out of the factory” look, or some people prefer to use them to heavily modify the color scheme. I kinda like the weathered look so I leave mine alone. It has a sort of “retro” feel I find appealing.

    • I’m pretty sure there is an age requirement for fire truck drivers, but I’m not as certain about any maturity requirements. Thanks for the compliments, especially on the beard. From you that is high praise, indeed!

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