On Sunday, Scott and I rose at 6am. We showered, dressed, loaded bikes and gear onto and into the truck, and headed west to Berryville, VA, for the Backroads Century. We met up with L, B, and J in the fairgrounds parking lot and pedaled over to Clarke County High School where the actual ride started.
About to take off on the Backroads Century 30-mile route with L, J, and Scott, 9/18/11.
We started out strong with L far ahead, Scott and me in the middle, and U bringing up the rear. We'd switch up positions every so often and those who got too far ahead would pull over and wait for those bringing up the rear. We rode over gently rolling hills through gorgeous farmland with amazing views of the mountains. I loved the stacked stone walls lining the roads. Scott said the part of the route through a tree-covered lane with stone walls on either side reminded him of Scotland. I asked if the chilly and slightly damp temperature would be the depth of summer and he said "yes". I told him we're not moving to Scotland.
We rode through the tiny and picturesque township of Boyce and arrived at the first rest stop (~mile 13) at the Burwell-Morgan Mill. A trio of musicians playing harp, hammered dulcimer, and banjo provided upbeat background music while we stretched, refilled our water bottles, and snacked on bagels, boiled potatoes, and fruit. I think we rested too long, though, because I was cold when we hopped back on our bikes and took off for the hilly portion of the ride. We overheard the leader of the Potomac Pedalers "C" group tell his riders that there was a big hill coming up and he'd be pushing his bike up. That did not instill confidence in our tiny cadre, but we were game to try.
It wasn't a hill. It was a freaking mountain. I got up to the next level by using the granniest of my granny gears, but it was a struggle. I also had a pickup truck right behind me and I was too proud to hop off my bike in front of a vehicular spectator. He finally passed and I caught up with Scott and pedaled along enjoying the view. We passed a farm with a large black steer, an emu, a llama (or alpaca; I'm not sure which), a blonde horse, and a donkey. We then came to the next mountain. I got halfway up and then threw my chain. That was scary. J was awesome and set my chain back onto the chainwheel without much difficulty. My gears made a weird clicking noise for the next half mile or so, but then finally cleared up in time for the next mountain.
Scott raced ahead and I hopped off to push my bike. A guy on a road bike shot past me and then threw his chain. I walked slowly towards him and asked if needed another set of hands. He said sure, and I held his bike while he wrestled with his chain. J arrived shortly thereafter and assisted him, too. L caught up with Scott and panted "Mel... Help!" as she rode past. Scott came running back down the hill and also lent a hand until a rider with the Spokes, Etc maintenance team rode up and was able to wiggle the chain back into place. We "lost" about ten minutes but I felt good about trying to help another cyclist even if all I was able to provide was a baby wipe and bandage so he could clean and bind the cut he got while messing with his chain.
We took off again and fairly quickly arrived at rest stop #2 (~mile 20) where we refilled water bottles and dined on energy balls, Goldfish crackers, and Nutter Butters. The guy we'd helped was getting his bike checked out by the mechanical support crew. There wasn't much atmosphere to this rest stop and we took to the road again.
Unfortunately, we came upon the worst mountain of the ride. Most people pushed their bikes up this particular stretch of road. Some insane people actually rode up the hill, then coasted down the hill so they could ride back up. What. The. Hell. Scott rode up out of sheer pigheadedness. I only made it a quarter of the way. Oof. A lot of cyclists thought the rest area should have been at the top of the hill, but honestly, there wasn't a good place to put it. Ah well. After catching our breaths, we climbed back onto the bikes and took off again.
This part of the ride wasn't quite as picturesque. We kept climbing hills and passing cows. I pushed my bike past a couple and exclaimed, "Hills are not my friend!" The lady of the couple said, "It's okay to walk up as long as you get back on your bike at the top!" I also told either L or J that I wouldn't complain about the Rte 28 bridge ever again. And then we got to the highway and we had only three more miles to ride. Hooray!
We pedaled through downtown Berryville in a mostly-single file pack. We had to contend with vehicle traffic and most cars gave us plenty of room. One truck even held up the right turn lane so the bikes could all get through the green stoplight. We thanked him as we passed. With only half a mile to go, we got to the optional bike path and rode that (up another hill) to the High School. Scott and I kicked in the after burners and rode across the finish line together.
This is how I felt when I got off Rose:
All smiles after the 30-miler, 9/18/11.
Scott was happy to see kindred spirits:
Where there are Vikings, there's Scott , 9/18/11.
We picked up our swag bags filled with goodies such as a ride t-shirt, a water bottle, coupons to Spokes, Etc. I was going to purchase a jersey, but they were out of my size. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I'm going to order one... Scott and I wandered over to the food area where I got a hotdog, bag of chips, and a ginger ale. We walked back to our bikes and I started sniffling and wiping away tears. Scott asked what was wrong and I told him that I was so proud of us and completely overwhelmed with emotion. He gave me a squeeze.
B, who'd been reading at the fair grounds, joined us and took our victory picture:
We finished, whoo hoo! With Scott, J, and L. The 'fink is not flipping off the camera; he's doing some weird victory sign.
Eventually, we pedaled back over to the fair grounds, loaded up the truck, and headed home. After showering, I took a three hour nap and spent the rest of Sunday evening drinking lots and lots of water to rehydrate and thinking about doing the Half Century ride next year. The 30 mile ride had 1,400 feet of climbing while the 50 mile ride has 2,500. I think we'll be ready for that next year.