Any sensible person would have skipped riding 72+ miles with a sore back. I am not your man.
I rode to work all five days on my recumbent, Big Nellie. I spent quite a bit of time getting the seat set up in the week or so before hand but by Friday my lower back was not a happy camper. From experience I know that I need to lean the seat back back a bit to open up my hips and to take the impact of bumps from my butt to my back. This keeps my lower spine from taking all the abuse and spreads the force of impact across my entire back.
That operation is for another day, alas. I took The Mule, my Specializes Sequoia touring bike out to Warrenton on Saturday morning for the Great Pumpkin Ride. We left the house at 6:40 so I could get in a coffeeneuring ride before the event.
With little traffic on the roads I arrived at the start before registration opened. So I jumped on The Mule and headed out to find Red Truck Bakery. Red Truck is supposed to be amazing. Even though it’s located almost an hour from DC the Washington Post went literally out of its way to give it a rave review. I am difficulty to please, however.
I walk in the door and the first person I see is Veronique. Our kids went to grade school together. I knew she used to work there but was surprised to see her behind the counter. We had a great talk and took some pix, then she sent me off with a coffee and an orange and cranberry muffin that she said is “like crack.”
By the time I had done the short ride back to the start of the Pumpkin Ride, I had spilled about a third of my coffee on my right hand. This is a shame because it was a fine cup of brew. Then I pulled out the muffin. It was
|Still Life with Java|
|Red Truck, Mule, and Coffeeneur (photo by Veronique)|
THE BEST MUFFIN EVER!!!!!!
No lie. Red Truck is the real deal. I may have to retire and become a muffin head, which is like a crack head only with moistness and sweetness and yum.
Once the muffin was done, I spotted some coffee (Starbucks, not a match for Red Truck’s brew) and some very tasty artisanal bread. Eat, drink. Nothing like three breakfasts (I had Cheerios before leaving home) to get your belly primed for biking.
I knew that some Friday Coffee Clubbers, Rachel and Kate, were coming to do the ride. Also, John, the Hoppy 100 major domo, had expressed interest. Rachel and Kate were doing the 48 miler but I wanted to do the 72 miler. I decided to leave early so I could intercept them during the last 15 miles when the two routes converged.
|Beginning of Rail Trail and Route|
The ride started on a nice little rail trail but soon hit the beautiful country roads of the Virginia Piedmont. The 14 miles to the first rest stop were remarkably flat. I took my time since my back was sore and I had nearly 150 miles on my legs from the week’s bike commutes.
|Clouds over the Piedmont|
Leaves, cows, dead deer. Ah, country living.
|Yup, Country Roads Are Pretty|
|Sun Moving Higher|
The first rest stop was at a winery. The food was AWESOME. More of that amazing bread – this time with blueberries. A woman was cooking hot soft pretzels on a grill. I asked for one. She gave it to me and tried to give me a piece of wax paper to hold it with. I pointed to my mouth and said, “It’s going in here.”
|First Rest Stop – Feed Me Seymour|
Back on the road, the 72 mile route took us into a somewhat hillier direction. There were a couple of challenging short hills but neither my back nor my legs wanted anything to do with them. There was nothing to do but grind it out and so I did. Every so often a vista or a blazing tree would appear to take my mind of my dead legs. Occasionally the wind would pick up and the leaves would come fluttering down on the road. The sound of a bicycle wheel crunching through leaves brought back memories of riding when I was a little kid.
|The Mule Stopped to Talk to These Two|
|Photographic Evidence of Me Actually Riding|
The next rest stop at 33 miles was equally awesome. More blueberry bread please. They were serving pumpkin soup. (I don’t like the taste of pumpkin but I was told this soup was delicious.)
|Interesting Grave Stone along the Road|
Back on the road for the 28 mile hop to rest stop number three. There seemed to be some payback from the climbing. The wind would occasionally gust to keep me honest. Sandy, the hurricane that was supposed to end life as we know it (but appears, at this writing, to be heading toward the Big Apple) had cast a blanket of clouds across the skies and would send a probing finger of wind every half hour or so.
|Windy Road Ahead|
The last rest stop was at a beautiful stone mansion. The kind that is rented out for weddings, which, as it turned out, was happening this day. More food. Clean rest rooms. The organizers truly outdid themselves. Nom. Nom.
The last 11 miles were a bit of a surprise. There were some significant climbs and one annoying false flat. A false flat is an gradual uphill that looks like it is flat but drains your energy. I kept wondering why I was going so slowly then I’d look up an see that I was gaining on people. Dang, it’s not just me.
|This Guy Looked Real|
Pedal. Trees. Farms. Pedal. Leaves. Pedal. Fake corpses. Pedal. Goats. Pedal. Sheep. Pedal. Cows. Pedal. Alpacas.
|Rural Virginia – Gotta Have a Church|
Then it was over. Boo hoo. I tweeted the Coffee Clubbers and found that Rachel, Kate and their friend Katie Ann were at a Molly’s Irish pub listed as the site of a post ride party. It wasn’t very festive. Rachel, who had never done a ride like this before, was a bit knackered but seriously chuffed. She had borrowed a road bike after riding heavy urban mules. Her experience could best be summed up with two words: Woo and Hoo.
|MOTS – More of the Same|
We had a fine time drinking beer and eating some pretty tasty pub food.
|Katie Ann, Rachel, and Kate at Molly’s|
I had planned to ride to the Marine Corps Marathon but my legs are lead today. And my back is having nothing to do with a bike either.
|The Mule in the Leaves|
The ride totals were 72 1/2 miles. Less than a mile of that was the Coffeeneuring trip to Red Truck. This is technically below the coffeeneuring distance limit, but I am pleading to the Coffeeneuring Queen for a mileage waver since (1) I had to get up extra early to get the coffeeneuring ride in, (2) I found the BEST MUFFIN EVER, (3) I didn’t realize Red Truck was so close to the ride start, (4) it would have been silly to ride around in circles to get my distance up, (5) I spilled half the coffee on my hand and had to reboot with (ugh) Starbucks, and (6) Mary, Queen of Java, is most beautiful and wise.
Note: John’s ride report can be found here. He gets serious props for dealing with a rider who had a medical emergency during the ride.