|The people for whom I rode.|
Long story, long: I picked up my ride packet Saturday afternoon and was told that this constituted "check in" and I could hit the trail any time during the half century start window (7a-8a). With that knowledge, I altered my ride plan just a bit. Originally, I was going to ride from home to Reston, ride the Tour route, and then ride back home from Reston. That would have put me somewhere around 65 miles for the day and was way outside of my comfort zone. I did ride the Tour's 54 mile route; I just started and ended elsewhere than the "official" points.
|The tropical print jersey was a tribute to a friend who died in March.|
Somewhere along the way I hit a squirrel. I rode up between pedestrians on either side of the trail and a squirrel darted out. He froze, I dodged, he ran into my dodge, and we both chose poorly. I think I got his tail because there was a solid thudthud under my tires after my "Crap! Crap! Crap!" and before my "AUGH!" I don't know what, if anything, the peds thought about the collision. I'm pretty sure the squirrel was mostly okay. It wasn't dead, anyway.
|Ashburn Road rest stop.|
After crossing Leesburg Pike for the second time, the blue, yellow, and green routes left the W&OD for the open road of Simpson Circle and Meadowlark Drive. The climb up Meadowlark was almost like that huge horrific climb during the Backroads Century. My momentum slowed and slowed until I feared that I'd lose my balance so I unclipped, hopped off, and walked Circe to the top of the hill. That walk was totally worth the 35mph descent on the other side. WHOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!
|Carolina Brothers BBQ.|
Scott joined me, GoPro-enabled, outside our neighborhood and I whined to him about how hot, sweaty, tired, and numb I was. Yes, the last two paragraphs were about mild temperature and coasting downhill. However, the tree cover ends east of Leesburg and the sun had been baking me for a good ten miles. The trail's elevation starts rising at Ashburn and that adds to the fun. But there were only five more uphill miles to go until the finish line and with someone I could natter at, my spirits bubbled back up.
The detour through Herndon to avoid the Herndon Festival was harrowing, but we'd navigated through it Saturday morning and we weren't as surprised as other Tour riders. The W&OD continued getting more and more crowded the closer we got to Reston and then we were at the finish line where yellow-shirted volunteers waved pompons, shook clappers, rang cowbells, whooped and hollered. One girl stuck out a red foam hand and I gave her a high five as I rode past. Scott and I pulled to a stop just past the Town Center fountain and spotted Bob and Laura (who had just completed the 33 mile route). Tamara, who volunteered with the media squad as a finish line photographer, had spotted me crossing the line and found our little group clustered on the other side of the Pavilion. I snagged some pork barbecue, half an orange, and a can of ginger ale for my post ride meal and nommed my way back to life as we waited for Barb to arrive from the fun ride route.
|Our little sub team: Laura, Barb, and me.|
|We are the Champions.... weeeeeee are the chaaaampiooooons.|