The Haute Dog 100

Lisa is a busy person, multitalented and goal oriented. After riding 137.28 miles last month she decided it was time to ride a century, 100 miles in one day. Gradualism is not one of her strong points.

Lisa recruited some #bikedc friends, Ryan, Justin, Ted, and me) to ride from DC to Purcelville on the W&OD Trail. Once in Purcelville our plan was to have liunch at Haute Dogs and Fries.

The ride was set for Saturday July 5 at 7 a.m. We would be at the intersection of the Custis and W&OD trauls in North Arlington. Since this is 15 or 16 miles from my house this meant getting up at 5 a.m. Fortunately, we all agreed that 8 a.m. was as early as anyone could tolerate so 8 a.m. it was.

After waking up and daundling I left the house ten minutes late. I chose to ride Big Nellie. my Tour Easy recumbent, to save my back. I rode as fast as I could to the start stoppoing every 15 minutes to adjust my front fender. The fender stay was rubbing against the side of the ture making an annoying buzzing sound. (On the fourth try I realized that the screw holding the stay was loose. One tunr with a screw driver and peace and tranquility returned.

I arrived at the starting point to see Ted and Ryan. Ted was actually shivering. It was in the 60s. I opted for a long sleeve shirt but Ted was wearing a sleeveless shirt and paying for his miscalculation. Justin showed up. Also sleeveless. What did they thing it was July or something?

Lisa rolled in about 8:40. We decided not to kill her.

Off we went on the ever so gradual uphill ride to Purcelville. As we got underway, we spread out. I found that Big Nellie was in the mood to roll so I was going faster than my usual 12 mile per hour trance speed.

In Vienna we stopped for coffee and pastries. My bagel was filled with EPO, Once we got underway, Justin and I were rolling along in the high teens. A MAMIL in a Discover jersey rode by somehat agressively. Justin and I were letting him pull us all the way to Reston where we waiting for the Ryan, Ted and Lisa.

We kept rolling along in one configuration or another, stopping in Herndon and Lessburg. Then we made the final push for Purcelville. The W&OD gets slightly steeper for its final 10 miles. The leafy canopy shading the trail offer a welcome break from the bright sunshine. The uphill grade, however, is a bit of a morale buster. As Ted, Ryan, and Justin sped away, I hung back wondering what happened to Lisa.

She had Fourth of July legs. She was pedaling away but the bike gods were denying her speed.

She made it to the end of the trail with a smile on her face which is pretty much the point of the exercise.

A passerby took my camera and had us pose for a series of photos under the Purcelville sign at the restored train station.

Lisa and the Boys
Lisa and the Boys

Then we rolled through town to Haute Dogs where we made short work of an array of hot dogs. I had the Fenway Dog because it is made exactly the way I make a hot dog at home. I also drank mass quantities of Coke which topped off my sugar and caffeine stores.

Nom Nom Nom
Nom Nom Nom

After a brief visit to a nifty bike and coffee shop we headed back to the trail. Justin, Ted, and Ryan led the way. Lisa decided to save her legs and glided (glid? glud?) as much as the grade and tailwind would allow. I stayed with her and,at one point, actually rode two miles without pedaling. I could have done more but for some congestion on the trail.

We met up with the three amigos at Leesburg. Ted, Ryan, and Justin all had to speed away to family obligations so Lisa and I rode the long trail back to North Arlington. We stopped for drinks, bannas, and ice cream along the way. (We also passed two breweries who had signs on the trail. I’ll have to come back for a taste some other time.)

Lisa took the Custis trail into town and I headed down the rest of the W&OD to the Mount Vernon Trail. I rolled into the driveway after 111 miles. I decided not to have a shower beer so as not to be a bad influence on my impressionable children: one of whom made mojitos for our guests on the Fourth, the other was drinking beer while watching the Red Sox/Orioles game from atop the green monster in Fenway Park. (If a parent sets an example and nobody sees, does the tree make a noise?)

Thanks to Lisa for setting this up. Her account of the festivities is here. My pix are here.

I’d ride a century for a Haute Dog

During the week, I am a mild mannered bike commuter. On four day weekends, I am El Velo Loco. I am also bent, as I am riding Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent.

Yesterday, I decided to go exploring in southeastern Fairfax County. I spent about five hours riding up and down hills. I had intended to ride to Clifton Virginia, cross the Occoquan River and make my way home through Prince William County. I missed a turn. I rode by a prison. It’s been closed for ten years but the guard towers and walls are still there. I can’t imaging living near something like that. I ended up riding down to Mason Neck, an isolated part of Fairfax County. In the process, I rode down an old road that used to cross over the main railroad line on a single lane old wooden bridge. Nowadays, the bridge is blocked off. I went around the barricade and walked my bike over the span. The wood was weathered with ruts where car tires once drove. Southeastern Fairfax County used to have several one lane bridges, twisty roads with blind curves and hills.

Temperatures for this hill-fest topped out at 88 degrees and it was muggy to boot.  I was pleased with my riding though. I never felt uncomfortable and I had no trouble breathing.

Paul is a friend from grad school who occasionally does bike rides when he’s not playing hockey, softball, selling used CDs, DJing, or going to concerts. Oh, and he has a day job too. Paul told me about a new eatery called Haute Dogs and Fries that specializes in hot dogs (and fries). They have one location in Old Town Alexandria and another in Purcellville Virginia. The former is seven miles from my house; the latter is 55 miles away. Guess which one I rode to?

Aw, you’ve read this blog before have you?

I headed out to P’ville at 8:30. It was comfortable outside but I knew that would change. I lucked out with a strong breeze out of the east. I rode the Mount Vernon Trail to the Four Mile Run trail. On the way, I passed Nancy Duley who was veloworking again.

The wind pushed me along Four Mile Run until I picked up the Washington and Old Dominion Trail near Shirlington. 45 miles of mostly gradual uphill is a little like riding a false flat for 4 hours. It looks flat but there is a persistent incline most of the way. I spun away through Arlington, Falls Church, Dunn Loring, Vienna, Reston, Herndon, Sterling, Ashburn, Lessburg, Clarks Gap, Hamilton Station and finally P’ville. Along the way I stopped and topped off my water bottles at every opportunity. At 33 miles, I re-applied sun screen. I brought some snacks and munched away at them whenever my energy felt a little low,

The trail was surprisingly uncrowded. This might have had something to do with the heat and humidity. The temperature peaked at 91 degrees, but it was a wet heat. It was not a lot of fun when the sun broke through the clouds.

There were several stretches where the trail tilts downward as it goes west. I would crank it up to 20 miles per hour. By Leesburg, it was apparent that the tailwind was now coming from my left side. No worries. Pedal, pedal.

I arrived in P’ville around 1:30. After a stop in a bike shop where I inhaled a Gatorade, I made my way to Haute Dogs, in a new strip mall in town. There are several dogs with heavy toppings like chili, cheese, and hot peppers. After 5 hours in the heat, these did not sound appealing so I ordered a Fenway Dog (with relish, mustard and onions I think) and fries. The dog came on a grilled bun and the fries had some sort of seasoning. It was way good. So was the ice cold Coke. Nom nom.

Image

Back on the bike, I found that I now had a tailwind! Woo hoo! It varied a bit, but there was no doubt I’d get an assist most of the way home.

And that gradual uphill was now a gradual downhill. Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time in my big ring. I continued to stop now and then for cold water and snacks. (I had a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich at a trailside barbecue place in Ashburn. Nutrition is important, you know,)

I’ve been riding the W&OD for a couple of decades. It’s amazing how much it has changed. It used to pass through woods and farmers’ fields beyond Reston. Now, more and more of these rural scenes have been replaced by housing developments and highways. Nature still makes an appearance along the trail though. I saw a huge black snake, a black squirrel, a bunny rabbit, and an indigo bunting during my travels.

Despite the heat, I was doing pretty darn good on my ride home. Around mile 80, my knees started complaining. The only thing I could do was to focus on spinning in low gears and keep on pedaling.

When I finally made it back to the Mount Vernon Trail, I was greeted with a headwind for the last nine miles home. At least, along the river, it was a little less hot (cooler just doesn’t do the trick here).

On the spur of the moment I took the US 1 connector path instead of the MVT south of the beltway. Car traffic getting on to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River was backed up for over a mile. I rode past the line of forlorn drivers thinking that I was so glad to be on a bike heading in the opposite direction. The drivers’ misery nearly took my mind off the hill I was climbing. This was followed by a bigger hill where Fort Hunt Road crests Beacon Hill. It took a while and my knees were barking but we made it without much drama. The downhill on the backside was so much fun I decided to add one more hill on Sherwood Hall Lane. This made for a final mile that was all downhill. Ahh.

Next time I go to Haute Dogs, I will visit their Old Town location. Because it’s there.