Monday, April 16, 2012

Training ride #2

I hit the trail at the crack of 1pm on Saturday (so not a morning person) for another training ride. Just like last weekend, Scott met me at Idylwood Park in Falls Church, but this time we continued east along the Washington &Old Dominion Trail until its junction with the Custis Trail and rode that to Rosslyn. Since I'd ridden that route before, I called out to him the blind corners ahead of time -- for which he was grateful -- and gave him a heads-up on potentially troublesome intersections as well as the switchback ramp leading down to the Roosevelt Island parking lot. The ramp was much less scary my second time down but he found it terrifying. He kept one foot unclipped and extended the entire ride down just in case... but we made it to the base safely.

(Yes, there are commuters who face that ramp just about everyday, but we live in the sticks and don't have to deal with switchbacks... except for the one just west of Clarke's Gap which is especially fun in autumn when it's blanketed in leaves. But anyway...)

Sterling to Falls Church to Arlington and back to Falls Church.
On the W&OD, you can easily ride two abreast. Source.
I wouldn't try that on the MVT. Source.

I realized something as we pedaled along the Mount Vernon Trail: that multi-use path feels about half the width of the W&OD. It seems like the MVT could almost fit in one lane of W&OD. I find passing other cyclists and pedestrians fairly harrowing. I always feel like a jerk because I'm passing too closely, following too closely to wait for an oncoming cyclist to pass, or nearly running oncoming peds and cyclists off the trail. Suburban trails, like suburban streets, are wide expanses compared to their more urban counterparts, I guess. Yes, I'm generalizing a bit.

Okay, so the photos don't show that great a difference, but note how much space the W&OD guys take up compared with the MVT guy. Maybe I'll take my own comparison photos; that would require my taking my life into my hands by being even more of a jerk and stopping on the trail.

We stopped for a short picnic break between the Memorial Bridge and Lady Bird Johnson Park where I marveled at the Washington, DC skyline. I still feel a flutter in my chest when I see the monuments and Smithsonian castle across the river and realize that I live in the nation's capital. Okay, I live twenty-five miles northwest of the nation's capital, but you get the picture. The hubs, who spent most of his years in Annapolis, is less impressed seeing as how he had field trips there all the time. But for me, despite living in Virginia for sixteen years now, that skyline still gets to me.

We hopped back on our bikes and reached Gravelly Point Park -- which was CLOGGED with people -- easily. The ride to and past National Airport was harder because we were beginning to tire and the wind from the south kept getting stronger and stronger, but once we turned onto the Four Mile Run Trail, it was smooth sailing again. I have to say that I was very glad to have Scott with me at that end of 4MRT because the isolation creeped me out pretty badly, but I eventually relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. We returned to civilization fairly quickly and panted our way up to the W&OD trailhead in Shirlington.

Oh my goodness, I had NO idea how pretty the trail is up there. Well, once you get out of the urban part, that is. I want to explore the paths down along the stream. I guess that's still Four Mile Run? Somewhere along the way, I called out to Scott that we needed to stop. He was worried that I'd hurt myself, but I was scrabbling through the bush of the side of the trail trying to find the plant that smelled like the plant that used to grow in the bayou near the farmhouse where I grew up in Arkansas. I love the scent of whatever it is, but I have no idea what the plant is and I can't remember what it looks like. But gracious, does it smell sweet and it send me right back to my childhood.

Back on the bikes and we pushed to the meeting point of W&OD, 4MRT, and Custis. I began to tire and was nearly done by the time we got to Shreve Road. I bargained with myself, promised myself that I could walk Circe up the formidable hill that is Virginia Avenue (like last weekend), told myself that the truck was less than a commute distance away, and I didn't have to ride fourteen miles against the wind back to Sterling. The ride up Virginia Avenue was hard and I pushed myself to "get to the next driveway" and then I could walk and just as I thought I couldn't climb any more, the street leveled off and I could get ready for the downhill into Idylwood Park.

Route elevations
I wound up with just under forty miles with the ride. I'm trying not to be disappointed in my stamina and reminding myself that I'm still adjusting to the road bike and new posture. Scott stressed that I'm riding faster than I could on the hybrid and I'm able to go farther with each ride.


  1. Have you been fitted by a fit specialist on your new road bike?

    1. I have. It's not that the bike is uncomfortable: I'm used to sitting in a more upright position, even on my hybrid, and am not used to the more aggressive road bike posture. Gotta strengthen my core. :)

    2. From what I see in the photo of your bike in your "My Bike" section, you still may benefit from going back to your fitter and telling what is going on. Raising your bars a bit may help for awhile, while you adjust to the new style of riding. Although Those Specialized bikes tend to have a longer head tube, and you stem is angled upward, it may still be too much of a jump to fast. You are right about working your core, you can never go wrong there, but having the perfect fit is something that you can tell the difference right away. Boom! You are one with that bike and your posture will become quite natural. If your bike shop is any good, your fit should be good for a year. They should be happy to make any adjustments you need free of charge. Trust me, there are a million little things that can be adjusted on a bike. A hundred miles is a long time to have nagging aches. what ever the complaint, share it with your fitter. You never know what magic they can perform!