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22May/11Off

Century Ride Around the Potomac River

This was a fantastic adventure (as usual) ... It actually starts a few weeks ago. You see, Pete normally maps out our rides. And he sent me the desired route a few weeks ago. One part of the route stood out as odd to me. I thought it might be a gravel road. So I drove out to the spot and checked. It turns out the road is dirt and a very steep incline at that. We both agreed that it would be extremely rough on our road bicycle and a potential problem. Since our last year's ride took us on a mile long sand road, we considered ourselves lucky for spotting this.

Pete immediately set to work and found a new route, which skipped that disaster waiting to happen. This time, I had a new complaint ... The new route he designed included a nine mile section on Route 15 without a shoulder. Not only was there no shoulder, but the speed limit is 50 MPH and folks routinely drive 65+ MPH on there. Again we both agreed to update the route.

Before I knew it, Pete had a fantastic route that included a trip across the Potomac River via the White's Ferry. We both thought this would be an awesome addition to the ride.

Alas ...

Two weeks of rain preceded our trip and the river had risen significantly. This is a photo at the Edward's Ferry Park. There isn't a ferry operating at the Edward's location, but it is just down river from White's Ferry. Needless to say, when I saw this flooding, I was fairly certain White's Ferry was gonna be a no-go.

So, the day before our bicycle ride, I rode my Harley out to White's Ferry to checkout the situation. Before I even arrived, I saw the signs that said, "Ferry Closed. Detour." I was sad, to say the least, but I wanted to see the Ferry and check if maybe it would be open the following day. When I got there, I instantly could see that there was no way. Not only was there problems with the Ferry, but as you can tell from this photo, even the ferry store was utterly flooded!

That's how this fantastic ride started off ...

Falling back on previous route ideas, we selected the trip up the dangerous Route 15 for our ride.

We all (Pete, Keith, George, Kristin, Justin, and me) met at Pete's house in North Potomac for a 6:30 a.m. start. You can see our proposed route here:
www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/30506886

Getting underway at 6:47 a.m. we pedaled out of Pete's neighborhood and headed up Route 28. In a very short amount of time, we were heading into Poolesville (which is where the White's Ferry is). As you can see from this photo, the road had recently been graded and was prepared for fresh paving. I learned rather quickly that a road in this condition is ridiculous on a road bike. In no time at all my hands/arms were getting tingly and my butt hurt.

Every now and then, I would swing around with my Droid Pro and snap an impromptu picture of the team. This happens to be Justin, Keith, and George.

We crossed the Potomac River and nervously road along the nine mile stretch of Route 15 without the aid of a shoulder. To top it off, sometimes cars would squeeze in close just to mess with us. And, on more than one occasion, a big pickup truck would blast his diesel engine covering us with black exhaust as he screamed away (probably laughing his ass off). It always amazes me how unkind some humans are.

Once we got to Leesburg, our route changed over to a bike trail. This is the W&OD (Washington and Old Dominion) and it is a very nice path.

I love the bike trails, but they do have some disadvantages like slow people and tons of road crossings. Also, they tend to be extremely popular on nice weekends, and this was the best weather of the year!

After tons of miles on the trail, we finally arrived at the Key Bridge and once again crossed the Potomac. This is a photo from on the bridge. You can see DC in the backdrop.

Shortly after arriving in DC, we caught up with Keith's wife, Suzanne, and she had wonderful peanut-butter and banana sandwiches and apple slices prepared for us. What a welcome sight she was! Suzanne was setup right at mile 80 of our 100-mile trip. We couldn't have asked for a more welcome support location and everyone cheered up a good bit at the brief break and fantastic snacks! In this photo is Pete, Keith, Kristin, and Suzanne.

After the snack stop, we carried on. The last 20 miles are always the toughest for me, and this trip was no different. It was extremely tough, especially considering that the last 20 miles had the most elevation gain of the whole trip!!! We made a final one minute pit stop at Seven Locks Road and then got underway for our final leg.

The remainder of the century ride is a bit of a blur for me. I vaguely remember my left thigh (vastus medialis to be precise) twitching out of control and cramping. It was bizarre to see it twitching so violently. It seemed to be shouting out in Morse Code. I could almost make out the dot dot dot - dash dash dash - dot dot dot message it was screaming!

For the last eight or so hills, Pete was telling me, "There's only one more hill." I dig his thoughtfulness, but I'd honestly rather hear, we have twelve hills and then get some relief when we finish with only eight. HA!

We rode up to Pete's house and hopped off our bikes. Moments later, each of us had a beer in our hands and we were eating hot dogs and cheeseburgers off Pete's grill.

Honestly, this was an amazing trip. Great group of riders and perfect weather. I couldn't have asked for a better time.

This was my second century, but the first one with an elevation change ... And, it was tough, to say the least. But, I loved it!

If you wanna see information and stats on our ride, you can checkout my Garmin watch data ... But, my battery died about eight miles before the finish, so you might be tempted to say that we didn't finish. My legs, lower back, triceps and taint will tell you otherwise. heh!
connect.garmin.com/activity/87248510

See ya next time,
Rip

Posted by Vaughn Ripley

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