bike trip! November 13th, 2011
On Friday, we took off on our bikes a little after lunchtime and headed northwest towards Leesburg, VA. It was BEE-YOO-tiful out, maybe a little on the windy side, but cold enough to wear a pair of gloves and ear-warmers, two layers, but still not ever really break a sweat while riding OR start to freeze. Perfect! And with all the leaves doing their best autumn colors, it made for a prety backdrop to our ride. We made it a bit past Shirlington, only a few miles into the W & OD Trail , when we pit-stopped at some benches to eat the lunch I packed – turkey sammies and pita chips. Good fuel.
From there we pedaled on at my somewhat slow pace and enjoyed a pretty empty trail for the most part, passing a handful of other runners and bikers. I’ll admit that after about 15 miles or so, I had to stop pretty frequently to stretch out. I was getting horrible cramps in my neck, back, and shoulders that only felt better when I stopped to bend in the opposite direction of the way I sit on my bike. By the time we got to Herndon, about 30 miles in, I was pretty much ready to break my new bike in half and throw a tantrum on the side of the road out of frustration from my neck pains. I may or may not have done one of those two things, I’ll leave it at that. Matt suggested that we find a Holiday Inn and just stay in Herndon. I was pretty ready to do just that, but the thought of staying in a Holiday Inn was majorly disappointing to me. I certainly wasn’t going to make it all the way back to DC that night, so we decided that the best option was to continue the last 13 miles to our intended destination. It was pretty nice watching the sun go down to our west as we rode along, slowly, and yelling WOMP-WOMP-SUCKAS! at all the commuters stuck in Friday traffic as we biked across the overpasses at the Dulles Toll Road. I guess that part was actually earlier in the trip, before my breakdown in Herndon, but I didn’t want to leave it out of the story.
Anyways! By the time we neared Leesburg, it was getting pretty dark and cold, and the only thing that was worth quickly stopping for was a handful of peanuts. As we went on in the dark, we saw lots of little bunnies and critters scampering across the path, illuminated by our bike lights. Matt thought that the pattern of the lights on the ground looked like scary clown faces, his light more so than mine. It was mesmerizing to watch them move along the pavement. It is actual pretty peaceful to ride at night like that in the middle of nowhere. So we were about a mile from our destination, and my legs were totally turning into jelly, when I saw some lights off to our right, which I thought was Leesburg, but Matt informed me that it was actually some sort of small power substation. It was at this moment that I understood how a desert mirage works, when you are looking so hard for something (our destination) that everything starts to look like it. Funny how that works.
At milepost 34, we arrived and turned off to the right to go uphill to the Leesburg Colonial Inn. YAY!! Matt carried our bikes up two sets of stairs to Room 2. It was a funny little colonial-inspired place with a “washbasin” on the nightstand. I’m not sure it had ever been used for that, but I liked it anyways. We took hot showers and immediately felt better and ready to devour some pizza and beer at Fireworks, the place across the street. It sure hit the spot after all that riding. I think it was only about 10:30pm when we crashed for the night. Tired muscles! It was a good sleep. In the morning, over breakfast at the hotel, we strategized about a couple things. First, I admitted that it was a bad idea to up and ride 40+ miles on a new bike that I had only ridden about a collective 20 miles on before, and never more than 5 or so at a time. That was dumb, for one. It may have made more sense to try a shorter distance to check the fit. And yes, we had already tried adjusting the seat up and down, changing positions, etc. Matt thinks that next we will order a little adjustment piece to raise the handlebars a bit and see if that helps. Anyhow, at the end of our strategizing session, it was determined that we would bike 26 miles back to the Dunn Loring Metro, and metro back home from there, and call it a trip until I can get better adjusted and lose the neck pain. Before we departed, we explored a few of the antique shops in town. We hadn’t even opened the door to the first place yet, when Matt must have seen my eyes and declaredquicly, and with definity “The panniers are already full.” – meaning I wasn’t allowed to shop. So of course the thing that we found and loved happened to be an oversized sepia-toned print of a city-scene. This thing had to be about 4′ by 5′ or so. We asked the lady working there if they shipped things, telling her that we came by way of bike. “Oh!!” she said, “You’d take flight if you strapped that thing onto your bike!!” Then she proceeded to tell us that she had once sold a mannequin to a couple that came in on motorcycle. She said they rode away with a third person (the mannequin) strapped right on the back, and that she wishes she’d taken a photo because it was such a hoot. Well, she was a hoot. We got her business card and are contemplating driving back there next weekend to get the print. It was that good of a bargain.
It was a really nice ride back, warmer, sunnier, and less windy. Lots of people out enjoying a Saturday morning on the trail. The mileage somehow felt a little more doable. I was thinking about how nice it is to get away for a quick trip like that, and not pack anything except one change of clothes. I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere without my hair straightener and 4 times the amount of outfits that I actually needed. And that makes me sound high-maintenance, which I don’t really think of myself as being. It was kinda like “all-you-need-is-the-shirt-on-your-back” (and a bag of peanuts) feeling.
We stopped off in Vienna to get lunch. First, we wandered by the bike shop, and stopped in to look around. We talked at length to a lady about recumbent bikes because they had a ton of them sitting out front. She was telling us how much she loved hers after having problems with neck pain herself. It was interested to hear her talk about all the places she’d ridden before — Sugarloaf Mountain, Skyline Drive… She told us that many of the recumbents can actually go as fast as a regular diamond frame bike, though they are a little heavier and require a little more effort on really big hills. She recommended we try the little shop next to them for lunch, and so we did, and we had two little meat and veggie pupusas and they were tasty.
And then we were at the Dunn Loring Metro with our bikes, cutting out the last 14 miles, and my neck thanks me for that. It was a great success of a trip! As soon as I get my bike fitting a little better, I’m ready for the next adventure. It has me wishing for spring weather already, since I feel like there are some cold ones coming up. Where should we bike next??
tags: bicycle, travel, virginia
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