Monday, September 3, 2007

Its a Long Way to Purcellville

Sunday dawned sunny and bright. Not a cloud to be seen and the temperature a cool 60 degrees. The forecast called for it to climb into the 80s. It was a perfect day for our planned ride of the W&OD Trail. All 45 miles. Below we unload the bikes in Shirlington preparing for our ride. I'm applying sunscreen while Daughter#2 adjusts her helmet. Photo courtesy of Ann who was nice enough to drop us off and then pick us up again in Purcellville.

Getting ready to start our ride at the beginning of the trail in Shirlington. You can see how blue the sky is.

Daughter#2 hams it up for the camera as The Son and I play is straight. This was The Son's first time on a bicycle in about 10 years. He does work out regularly, but both Daughter#2 and I thought it rather ambitious of him to try such a long ride his first time out, but he did great. A few early mile near death encounters with other bikers and pedestrians not withstanding. As we headed out, I took the lead with The Son second and Daughter#2 bringing up the rear.

Stop number 1, 11 miles into the ride was Vienna at Rt 123. We've had been riding for about an hour so far. At this point, we've traveled through Shirlington and Four Mile Run Park. I lost the twins at one point as they stopped to lower The Son's bike seat. After back tracking, I caught up with them and we were back on our way. The Son commented on how many people are out on the trail. I have to agree. It was much more crowded than what I'm use to. We passed though Falls Church and crossed I-66. There is a tough hill leading up to the crossing, but great downhill after. The Son almost wrecked trying to avoid another biker on the downhill side. He also gets yelled at by his sister for dogging it on the down hill portions of the trail. We also crossed the beltway (I-495). This also ends what has been almost all uphill at this point. We enjoy some downhill and flat sections of the trail as we ride into Vienna. There is a park there adjacent to the trail with a fountain to remember those who have served our country. The down part was the water fountain didn't work. At this point we were feeling pretty good. We also decided we could skip the restrooms at a park in Herndon and ride to stop number 2, which is the Smith Switch Crossing. Here we are at our stop in Vienna.

Actually we do make one quick stop between Vienna and the Smith Switch Crossing. Here are the twins at Mile Marker 22. Our midway point. You can see the mile marker between and behind them. This is in the Herndon area. Notice the heavy vegetation on each side of the trail. This is pretty typical for most of the trail. A nice buffer as northern Virginia is heavily developed.

Stop Number 2 is the Smith Switch Station. 25.5 miles into our ride. We've now been riding just under 2 hours. We take a break and daughter#2 and I split a banana and we all drink a lot of water. The water fountain here works almost too well. We also make use of the porta potties. We saddle back up but unknowingly leave my water bottle behind. Damn. Below is Smith Switch Station and The Son filling up the water bottle that will be left behind.

The next stop was Leesburg. Daughter#2 lived there right out of college working for the State Health department. We stopped just past Mile marker 35 at a gazebo by a park. It only took us 37 minutes to complete the 8.5 miles from Smith Switch Station to Leesburg. After a brief rest and finishing off the rest of the water I had brought along for The Son and I to share, (Daughter#2 has a Camelback so she was all set) we headed off on what would be the hardest part of the ride between Leesburg and Purcellville.
After leaving Leesburg and crossing the Rt 7 Bypass, we headed up the first of two long hills between the two towns. The first felt like it would never end. About 3/4 of the way up and about 3 miles west of Leesburg, I had to stop and take a rest. My quads were just too sore to keep going without a break. A bit if stretching and I was good to go. Sort of. This bridge greeted us near the top of our first climb.

Shortly after we passed this bridge, we hit a downhill and a flat stretch for about a mile or so before we began the second climb. Again I made it about 3/4 of the way before needing a break. Daughter#2 was kind enough to share some of her water with me and her twin. We also received a call about this time from Ann who was waiting for us in Purcellville wondering where we were. We were abut 4 miles from the end of the trail and told her we'd be there in about 15 to 20 minutes. We finished the climb and headed into Purcellville. Purcellville is best known around here for being the home of Patrick Henry College. Its a college established for home schooled christian students. It should come as no surprise that the Bush administration loved filling their intern positions from the student body. Finally after 3 and 1/2 hours of biking (not counting our breaks), we reached the end of the Trail.

Then we celebrated our efforts with a tasty lunch and a few beers to add some carbs at Magnolias. It's literally right at the end of the trail. Judging by the number of bikes stashed at the restaurant, its a favorite with other bikers on the trail as well.

All in all, it was a fun ride. Not something I would try very often, but I'm glad I did it and I'm grateful that the twins decided to make the trip with me. It certainly made it all the more enjoyable and easier. There was talk, mostly by me, of making it an annual event. We'll see how that pans out. Hope everyone else had a fun filled Labor Day weekend.


daughter #2 said...

We should definitely do it again! Once we have fancy new bikes, it'll be all the easier.

Frank said...

Let me know when your fancy new bike arrives and we'll take it out for a test ride. I'll probably wait to closer to spring to start looking at road bikes.