Once again, I tried to do the BIG loop of my county. You see, Fairfax County is 400 square miles. Not 40 like Arlington, which you can ride a loop in and still have energy to do 4 more. 400! So riding from the north of the county to the south, over to the east and back up to home is an all day proposition.
I woke up to gorgeous weather. It was hard to believe we’re in August. We had cool weather, nice cloud cover, and low humidity. I don’t know who the weather guessers paid off to get this Sunday, but I’m willing to kick in some funds too!
I left the house around 8:45. First stretch was bike lanes, then quiet streets, then a paved trail for 15 miles.
Then I turned left (still on the marked route) and rode on a somewhat busy road. Sadly, I MISSED THE TURN to go back to the south. Sigh.
So I stayed on that road which eventually lost the marginal shoulder I had enjoyed. Fortunately, it wasn’t a busy work/school day so people were pretty patient and gave me the room I needed.
I intersected with the route I had originally wanted and turned south. Then I saw a Starbucks sign. I was at 25 miles so it was time for a break. Bathroom, coffee, muffin (yeah, I know), and a quick trip to Safeway for some sunscreen (yeah, I know again – it was in my car) and then back on the road.
Soon I was in the nirvana of new bike infrastructure. Thank you VDOT and FCDOT for insisting that new car infra includes new bike infra. I rode on brand new bike lanes as well as new multi-use paths. It was HEAVEN!
What I want you to see in this photo is:
- This is Rt. 1 – the NOTORIOUS Rt. 1…and as far as you can see, a bike lane!
- And if you’re not comfortable riding on the road when cars are going by at 55mph, there’s a fantastic continuous multi-use path on the left!
I see this as amazingly inviting. I was getting a bit tired at this point (35 miles) but I perked right up at the opportunity to ride this bike lane! I LOVE new infra!
I turned right on the road to Mt. Vernon and was able to stay on that until George’s place. Then I hopped on the Mt Vernon trail. I was absolutely SHOCKED. The weather was brilliant but apparently the memo hadn’t gone out early enough. There were no crowds, no tour buses, and on the trail — very little traffic. Again, fantastic riding conditions.
There were a couple of parents out there with littles on bikes. Some were new riders – you could tell from their wobblies. Some were on their bikes for the first ‘real ride’ since they grew. Again — wobblies. And some were on training wheels. These are the ones that make me cringe when they’re on the trail. The bikes are SO difficult for the kids to move and the one dad was so impatient. I had to come to a stop because I couldn’t figure out just what was going on. The dad (from some country where English was not the first language) said, “He stop on purpose! He can ride!” I gently told him that I’m an instructor and that bikes with training wheels are very difficult for the child to get moving. He said, “No, he do this on purpose because he brother is behind.” The brother, smaller, was on 2 wheels.
Ahhhh…. I get it. Sibling rivalry comes in every national package, yes?
As I rode along the river I thought, “THIS is why GW wanted to go home to Mt. Vernon. THIS is the kind of day!”
I rode the MVT until near the airport and then headed inland on the Four Mile Run Trail. I stopped in Shirlington for a bite to eat and saw this:
It’s a bakery for dogs. Really. Apparently they board dogs too and there’s a boatload of doggie stuff in the windows to purchase. Okay, I get that people LOVE their dogs. But in an extremely wealthy country where children have to come to their school during the summer break so they can get a free meal (or go hungry if they don’t), I find it hard to understand how we can spend so much money on … dogs! KIDS ARE HUNGRY and NEED SAFE PLACES TO LIVE.
(ahem) Stepping off soapbox.
Jumped back on the trail but stopped at Barcroft Rec Center (bathroom). I saw a young girl with a t-shirt that said, “GIRLS NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP”. I high fived her and thought of that.
You see, after that stop I jumped on the W&OD and could have bailed out at a couple of places to get on a Metro train home. I had already ridden 50 miles. Surely no one would fault me for stopping, right?
But if that girl was going to wear that shirt, I was going to finish the darn ride. I took the W&OD all the way to Hunter Station. Then … the trail? The hill? Trail? Hill?
Some idiots who had been playing games on the trail (like not letting people pass) rode up, crossed the road, and took the trail. Another guy who had been similarly irritated was beside me. We both crossed the road and took the hill. Sadly, I didn’t get my gears right and had a VERY tough climb. I stayed on but it was a bear!
I kept seeing the guy ahead, seemingly waiting. At the top of the hill. On Lawyers Rd. I think he was making sure I was okay!
When I got home the Garmin was showing 68.1 miles. I shut everything down and came inside to drink copious amounts of water. I had gone through my water bottle and Platypus reservoir!
Ahhhhh…and looking out the front window, more aaaahhhhhh.