Weekend Mosy

I’ve been getting lucky with the weather these days with the weekend weather being the best of the week.  Last weekend was good enough to get in a ride before another snowstorm which shut the city down on Monday.  Things slowly melted during the week until the best weather arrived on Saturday.  So I set off to check on some places I haven’t visited in a few months, just to make sure everything was as it should be.

At the Aden Country Store, I made a rare (for me) right turn onto Fleetwood Drive.  This lonely outpost of civilization has saved me more than once with a cool beverage and some shade.  It’s hard to believe its only five miles from suburbia.


Fleetwood is a nice country road, full of farms and fancy estate “McMansions.”  Here’s a barn that caught my eye.


While on Fleetwood, I took a moment to capture a picture of a white tree, standing out from its neighbors.


Moving on, I noticed preparations continue apace for the new Brentsville K-8 school which is, confusingly, located near Nokesville.


I wandered down Marsteller Drive to check on the old Iron Bridge east of town.  Last May I wrote about the history of this bridge and a project that was underway to move it so a larger, safer bridge could replace it.  I was interested to see if work had begun.  The answer – no.


Onward I went toward the Manassas Airport.  I traveled along Broad Run (why the creeks are called “runs” around here, I do not know) and spotted a photo opportunity that won’t be available to me in a few months.  At this time of year, the brush along the creek banks hasn’t grown, so I was able to manage a short, muddy, walk in cycling shoes to take a picture.  I noted with approval the water is less muddy than a few weeks ago.  You can see we still have a bit of snow to take care of before Spring can officially begin.


And that was that.  I finished off a pleasant 38-mile ride and am now looking forward to increasingly warmer weather and longer days.  Daylight Savings Time started on Sunday so I will hopefully be getting my mileage up to respectable levels.  On my Facebook page, I regale readers with a short bit of history for the year that corresponds to my mileage to date.  Sadly, we are still mired in the 3rd Century.  I hope to get to the Dark Ages very soon!

Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church


Things are a tad slow in my cycling world as of late.  I’m busily preparing my end of year posts (oh, boy!) and my 2011 cycling schedule is rounding into shape (the first event is only 75 days away!).  I am hopeful for a few more interesting trips in 2010, including a nighttime hunt for the best Christmas light display in my neighborhood.
In the meantime, I have pulled out some images from warmer days in November to add to my collection of historical markers.  These pics are from the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church on Fleetwood Drive.  I pedal past this church (and its modern version across the street) on many of my rides.  During my ride to the Handymart in November, I stopped to read the marker and take some pictures.

Bishop Asbury

The church is named after Francis Asbury, one of the first two Methodist bishops in North America.  Upon his arrival to the Colonies in 1771, Asbury established a “Circuit System” of assigning multiple churches to a single pastor.  This practice was common in England.  In rural areas, the pastors would often travel by horse to each of their assigned churches.  These clergy came to be known as “Circuit Riders.”

Of course, even though this church was built 40 years after the Civil War, it is important for the historical commission to note that Confederate Veterans participated in its construction!   
click for details

Cycling Behavior and My Dog: The Connection

On Sunday morning, I took my dog to the local school yard where we met up with a neighbor and his canine friend.  The dogs like playing together and we often let them run free for a while and chase a tennis ball which we throw with a device that looks like it came off a Jai Alai court.  My neighbor and I marveled at the energy of the dogs.  They simply wouldn’t quit chasing the ball no matter how hard they had worked.  I recalled some piece of trivia I once read or heard that sometimes a dog will work himself to death in these situations.  They don’t have the sense to take a break when they’re near exhaustion.  Silly dogs, I thought, this is why humans rule the Earth and you don’t.  We have enough sense to stop ourselves before we die playing a game of fetch.

Then I went for a bike ride and proved that we are not so far up the evolutionary ladder as I assumed.

My goal for the ride was to simply log some miles before next weekend’s Great Pumpkin Ride and check out a few roads that I have not yet been down.  The list of roads I have yet to visit is ever shrinking and I intended to check three of them off my list: Fleetwood Drive, Flory Road, and the eastern portion of Valley View Road.  The weather was nice and the sun was shining.  When I hit the Occoquan River at Mile 11, I checked my average pace and was very surprised to see it was 17.0 mph.

17.0 mph is pretty darn fast for me, especially considering that the first part of this route is mostly uphill.  My personal best pace for a ride over 30 miles was 16.3 mph.  There was plenty of flat land ahead of me and I could build on my initial success.  Lord only knew just how fast I could go!  Throwing caution to the wind and with the same sort of thoughtfulness routinely displayed by my Golden Retriever, I decided to go for it.

Westward on Fleetwood Drive I went, onto six miles of my favorite roads in the area.  They’re flat, straight, and virtually without cars.  I kept my pace around 20 mph.  I could have done a tick more, but this ride still had 30 miles to go and I didn’t want to use up all my energy.  As I swung back onto Aden Road and enjoyed the Church Fall Festival Display ( complete with “Welcome to the Holy Land” colorfully painted on plywood placards resting on hay bales) my Garmin GPS informed me my average pace was now at 17.7 mph.

I zipped past Nokesville Community Park and turned onto Parkgate Drive.  I rolled steadily past farms.  I was feeling really strong.  The sun was shining.  There were bugs in my face.  I rode through small clouds of chaff from nearby farms and the stuff got all over me.  Everything was great!  I turned onto the Eastern (unexplored) portion of Fleetwood Drive and checked my pace – 18.0 mph after 22 miles.

This was just crazy.  I’ve never held such a stratospheric pace after such a distance.  And the ground ahead was fairly flat for another six miles.  Then I would face over 10 miles of uphill grades on Bristow Road to get home.  I grabbed a Multi-Grain Marathon Bar (which was delicious – thanks, Cathy!) and refueled while pedaling.  I decided I wouldn’t have a break on this ride.  This would be approximately 45 miles without a break.  I’ve never gone that far without stopping before.

And nothing could possibly be amiss about any of this, could there?

I hit the Eastern portion of Valley View Drive and fatigue set in.  I still felt strong, but the end of my endurance was now in sight.  It was just a matter of hanging on now.  I had no hopes of holding the 18.0 mph pace through 10 miles of hills, but the personal best mark of 16.3 was well in my sites.

I hit the hills at Brentsville and pushed through them in good form.  I did dismount ever-s0-briefly to take the mandatory picture at a historical marker and I was once again on my way.  I was feeling drained but I continued to make good progress.  I came out of the hills with six miles to go and hammered it as hard as I could.  I finished with a pace of 17.0 mph, a very significant increase over my previous best, which I sent on a ride 13 miles shorter than the one I just completed.

I then put away my bike, stretched, showered, ate some protein and began to feel terrible.  I slept a bit, drew a bit of a fever, and generally laid about the house not being much use to anyone.  At one point, my dog walked up to me and gave me a look which seemed to say, “Look who the dope is now!” 

And I have to admit, my dog had a point.

In any event, I woke up this morning feeling much better.  The chronic knee pain I’ve been experiencing for 6 weeks is largely gone, thanks either to a lowered seat or improved stretching or both.  I’m looking forward to the Great Pumpkin Ride on Saturday.  Although I may be able to ride it straight through, I have every intention of stopping at some rest areas!

Virginia Historical Marker Segment.  Here’s today’s marker, taken outside Brentsville.  There are a couple of interesting tidbits here.  First there is a cautionary tale about backing sides in a revolution:  choose the wrong one and you’ll find your land taken from you and turned into a local village.  Second, there is the endearing local custom of referring to the Civil War by its lengthier, Confederate, name – even if it means using twice as many characters on a sign clearly pressed for space!

click for details

By the way, if you want to check out my growing collection of these markers, click on the “Historical Markers” folder to the right of the screen.