I am spending this week in Virginia, riding in a bicycle tour called Shenandoah Back Roads with Womantours.
On Saturday I drove from Andover to Woodbridge, VA, and spent the night with my brother Will and sister-in-law Patti.
Will was a bit under the weather, so Patti and I went to dinner at the Potomac Winery (cited recently by Southern Living as a top destination off of Interstate 95) without him.
The venue was beautiful and the food was excellent. The next morning we went to Wegman’s to pick up a newspaper and a few things for breakfast. This is no ordinary grocery store. You could cater a very large, very fancy party from that store.
Sunday afternoon I headed over to the Marriott Ranch in Hume, Virginia.
This working ranch is on a spectacular piece of property, pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. To get there I had to drive several miles on a single track dirt and gravel road. We pumped up our tires and had time to wander around the property before we were called in for hors d’oevres and our riders’ meeting.
They feed us very well.
This is Laurie, one of our intrepid leaders.
Each day we are randomly assigned a different roommate. Tonight I roomed with Lesley, who is from Northern Virginia. We stayed with four others in “the Cottage” a guest house a little ways from the main inn.
This is a picture of the cottage. We were temporarily excited by the fact that it contained a living room and a TV (Lesley is also a Sox fan, and we planned to watch at least a part of the game.) We had no luck getting it to work, however, and so were spared the agony of the inevitable.
This is a picture of frost. A hard frost.
It was below freezing when we woke this morning at 6. We needed to move our cars to the weeklong parking, and I had to run the heater for five minutes before I could get the windshield clear enough to drive. Worse, I don’t usually ride when it is below 50, and I am pretty unprepared for these conditions. I made do with double sox and wore every layer I had available.
It didn’t take long for me to warm up. The first five miles were uphill, and that pretty much set the tone for the day. We climbed for a total of 26 miles, (out of 55) and 4,500 feet in elevation. The hills were nasty and steep , and it was hard. We stopped at a very cool one lane bridge over the Shenandoah River,
and took a group picture in front of a particularly lovely tree.
The locals were friendly, and there were plenty of folks cheering us on.
I took this picture at the top of a particularly nasty climb.
As we drew close to this hill, a man riding towards us was helpful enough to point out that we were about to get to “the worst hill in the world.” As we got to the top, I thought that he was pretty lame for thinking that that was such a bad hill—but then we kept coming upon more and more challenging ascents, and I started to worry whether it was even the hill that he meant.
We arrived in Strasborg around 4:00, and convened on the porch of the beautiful Strasborg hotel to drink a little wine and talk about the ride.
A man who has lived across the street from the hotel for 72 years walked over to say hi to us and brought us two bottles of red wine! My roommate for tonight is Nancy from Syracuse, and we were lucky enough to be assigned to a room with a Jacuzzi tub. Here is a view of the room.
Tomorow is another day of riding. We’ll tackle Catback Mountain.