A Preview Of Coming Attractions

handymart2Like a prospective home buyer measuring the windows for drapes, Spring made an early appearance this weekend, which made for two pleasant rides.  The winter weather has kept my miles to an embarrassingly low level.  How low you ask?  This weekend’s 57 miles of riding represents almost one third of my mileage for the year.

Not good.  Not good at all.

It was nice to get on the road in shorts and half-fingered gloves.  No leggings, booties, helmet covers, winter gloves, or jackets.  My only concession to the temperatures in the low 60s was a pair of arm warmers.  There was plenty of sand and pebbles on the side of the road, the refuse from the winter’s snow plowing efforts.  Multi-use paths were still a bit dicey in the shadier spots.  It’s a shame they don’t clear them of snow.  Actually, that’s a bit of an issue in DC, where many cycling commuters count on clear paths to get to work.  Down here in suburbia where almost nobody cycles to work, its less critical.

My route took me into Fauquier County.  Along the way, I crossed over Cedar Run and noticed it was quite swollen due to the recent snow melt.

IMG_1207

Things are very brown right now.  Even the water is brown.

At Mile 20, I was very happy to see the Handymart was once again back in business.  Last summer I discovered that it was out of business, which is a shame because it is at a very nice distance from home to serve as a resupply point (twenty miles, in case you didn’t catch that in the preceding sentence).  More than once, it has been an oasis to me as I struggled home with little water or food.  It’s good to know it is once again able to do so.

IMG_1208

On the way home, Sowego Road seemed pretty so I took a picture.  There was even some green in the trees!

IMG_1212

This house has been unchanged for the past several years.  It seems like a very nice farmhouse but it has never been occupied.  It’s sad to see it slowly fall into ruin.

IMG_1214

There was even some wildlife out, or to be more specific, domesticated farm animals.  There’s a pig in that crowd somewhere.  All of them were a bit camera-shy and were beating a hasty retreat when I stopped to take a pic.

IMG_1215

And just in case you didn’t believe me, here’s what the path looked like about two miles from home.  Walking through that snow caused it to impact inside my cleats, making it impossible to clip in again until I dug out the ice/snow with my fingers while muttering in a PG-13 manner to no one in particular.

IMG_1216

Last pic of the BEARD

Last pic of the BEARD

Sunday proved to be an even nicer day and I ventured out without even the protection of arm warmers.  Before you know it, I’ll need to put ice in my water bottles (the first time is always an important occasion in my cycling year). Unfortunately, this was only a visit from Spring.  Winter weather returns tomorrow and the long-range forecast is not encouraging.  All the same, I intend to disassemble my Biological Extreme-cold Affects Reduction Device (B.E.A.R.D.) at the end of the week.  Mother Nature is on her schedule and I am on mine.  It’s time for Spring.

Nokesville

click for ride details

The people have spoken.  I have heard your voices and have resolved to get new tires.  I expect to be able to provide a detailed report on the purchase, installation, and ride quality of these tires by next weekend.  In the meanwhile, I have called Old Ironsides into long distance service.

Well, at least it can be called “moderate distance,” if not “long distance.”

A rare action shot of Old Ironsides

Yesterday’s weather was once again fantastic, with temperatures soaring into the upper 60s.  There was a stiff breeze, but that was of little consequence when matched with the springlike temperature.  I probably would have plotted a 50 mile route for the Trek, but with Old Ironsides I  cut the distance back to 36 miles.  In the end, pushing the hybrid that distance felt a bit like 50 miles anyway.  For my objective, I chose some pleasant country lanes east of Nokesville that I haven’t been on in several weeks and set off.

Rocking the arm warmers

The mild temperatures allowed me to try out my very first set of arm warmers, a Christmas present from a friend who is trying to help me round out my cycling wardrobe.  They are made by Garneaux, the same Canadian company that makes my shoe covers.  Like the shoe covers, these arm warmers did a great job.  I find myself becoming a fan of Garneaux, despite their suspicious French name.  I felt a little silly, being decked out in proper cycling kit all the way to my ankles, whereupon the studious observer would note that I was wearing sneakers.  Oh yeah, I was riding a hybrid.  It was definitely an odd combination.

A momentary break in the country

After traversing the bike path on Rte 234, then navigating the busy Aden Road (much of it with no shoulder), I arrived at those pleasant country lanes.  It takes me 11 miles to get there, which once again makes me wonder why I don’t simply drive there more often and start my ride at the place where I enjoy it.  Purists (especially those with a political agenda) will point out the silliness of driving so I can cycle and the adverse impact on the environment such a practice creates.  I’m not persuaded by this argument, but rather cannot be bothered to put my bike and rack on my truck and drive out there, then repeat the process on the return.  I rather like arriving in my driveway at the end of the ride and being done with the event.  When the chore of riding Aden Road outweighs the hassle of commuting to ride, then I’ll do it.

Horse farm on Parkgate Drive

The roads east of Nokesville were (as anticipated) quite nice.  They are dotted with horse and dairy farms and have very little traffic on them.  After pedaling about for 14 miles, I once again returned to Aden Road and made the journey home without event.  Having the wind at my back was a nice way to finish the ride.

So once again Old Ironsides proved its worth.  While not being up to the task of regular distance riding, it can come through in a pinch as it did yesterday.  It is also my regular choice for nighttime and family rides.  I’m pleased to have it in my two-bicycle stable.