My husband and I recently went on a 50-mile bike ride, my longest to date. We started out with plans to ride about 40 miles, but in typical Deb fashion, mid-ride I suggested that we go a little farther.
We drove our bikes to the W&OD Trail parking lot near Route 28 which happens to be near mile marker 24. We had already decided to ride east toward Reston and perhaps turn around somewhere just beyond Vienna. I was a little nervous about the uphill climb back out of Vienna on my way home, but knew that Bill is a very patient man and would be willing to stop and let me rest if necessary.
As we rode along the very familiar trail, I couldn’t help but be reminded of events from years past as the Cruisers and I ran so many training miles along that very same route. For six years I’d coached these runners while working as a trainer at Worldgate Sport & Health. We usually met to run on the trail at a park near the gym so I got very familiar with this section of the 44.5-mile long trail.
As Bill and I rode along, memories flooded back from my many runs with Bill, Beth, Chuck, Jerome, Terri, Bob, Carolyn, Joe, John, Marilyn, Rich, and an assortment of other runners over the years. Please join me for my ride down memory lane…
♦ Immediately upon riding onto the trail from the parking lot I could see the plethora of cars in the Carmax lot and was reminded of each Cruiser picking out which car we would drive off the lot if told to pick a car for free.
♦ Next I rode across the Route 28 bridge where we were moved to near tears as we ran past the huge American flag hung on the wire screening after 9/11.
♦ Once across the bridge, I laughed at our silliness for over a year as we made up elaborate stories about the single old-fashioned white roller skate left in the brush along the trail. To the Cruisers, that skate became legendary and when one week it was nowhere to be found, we considered constructing a memorial in its honor.
♦ As I rode under the Church Road bridge, I remembered our months of complaints as we had to run farther to detour around the construction while the bridge was being built.
♦ Once in Sterling, I looked for the bears Terri claimed to have seen, only to find out later that I had misunderstood and they were lawn statues, not real.
♦ I smiled as I passed the point where Bob and I turned around only to find ourselves facing wind blowing so hard that we had to bend forward to cut the resistance as we made our way six-miles back to our starting point.
♦ As we left Sterling, I was reminded of the bicycle I found while making an emergency pit stop once. For weeks we saw that bike laying almost out of sight along the trail and threatened to hop on it instead of finishing our long run.
♦ Bill and I stopped at Trailside Park in Herndon where the Cruisers often met to start our runs. I remember one of the last times we met there was at the end of a rainy 24-mile run from Purcellville to Herndon while training for the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon.
♦ Shortly after leaving the park, I rode across the bridge where a nameless Cruiser vomited several weeks in a a row at the end of his run. We could tell what flavor his Gatorade had been by the color of his mostly liquid splatter.
♦ As I passed the funeral home, I recalled our discussions about lining the trail with paper bags filled with sand and tealight candles should one of us die unexpectedly.
♦ Behind the row of restaurants, I listened for the rooster we used to hear crow on our early morning runs at that very spot. We always heard him, but never saw him, and often wondered to whom he belonged.
♦ Leaving Herndon, I passed the huge utility box where I recalled the many times my friend Terri and I stopped behind there for a quick potty break. At the time, we made up stories that the people across the trail in the CIA building were probably zooming in on us and using facial recognition software to pull up our names and addresses.
♦ In Reston, I recalled the first time I ran the Santa 5K and needed to tack a few more miles on after the race so I talked Chuck into joining me as we ran through the snow from Reston Town Center to the W&OD Trail.
♦ While on that very same section of trail, I remembered one of our coldest runs where the straw from Bob’s hydration pack froze and he couldn’t drink his water.
♦ While riding down a steep hill on the western side of Reston, I remembered running up that hill with my Cruiser friends Beth and Jerome during the We’ve Got Your Back 5K (I need to write a throwback recap on this race). The humidity was high and I complained the entire time running up that hill!
♦ As we rode through Vienna, Bill and I reminisced about meeting there once so we could have breakfast at the Vienna Inn after our run. If I remember correctly, the Vienna Inn was legendary for their inexpensive lunch-time hot dogs.
♦ Once in Arlington, I laughed as we rode past the exact spot where I remember Terri declaring that we looked a little sad when compared to the better dressed Arlington runners.
I’m sure there are many other memories I’m forgetting because I obviously couldn’t write them down as we rode by, but I hope I’ve listed enough to bring a smile to your face, especially to the Cruisers!
Bill and I turned around in Shirlington at the very end of the W&OD Trail, about four miles beyond where we’d originally planned to turn. Once I realized at our original turning spot that the end of the trail was so close, I suggested riding to the end. I thought the remainder of the trail was relatively flat (boy was I wrong) and that our 8-mile loop would be no big deal.
When we reached the end of the trail we stopped to refuel and grab a drink of water. I warned Bill that it might be a slow humbling ride back to Reston and for him to be prepared for many stops.
I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t struggle too much on our uphill return to Vienna and more than happy to let my legs rest while we stopped for a picture and to refill our water bottles.
Once we made our final uphill climb out of Vienna and into Reston, Bill suggested we stop at the Green Lizard in Herndon for a drink. While he shopped for a spare tube for me (I’d been riding around without one), I ordered chocolate milk and a strawberry preserves muffin and grabbed a seat by the window. I was pleasantly surprised to get a homemade chocolate milk instead of being handed one in a pre-packaged bottle. While eating our delicious little snack, we mused over the fact that we’d never be able to stop for this sort of treat while out on a run.
Just as we were ready to leave, we saw our Cruiser friend Chuck finishing up his ride. I told him about all the memories I’d just relived on my ride. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about getting a picture of the three Cruisers – in their bike clothes.
With full tummies, we got back on the trail for our final five miles. When Bill and I got back to the parking lot, we were at 48 miles and had to continue riding a mile west and back to bring our ride to 50 miles.
Back at the parking lot I was tired, but thrilled to have reached a new milestone on my bike. It’s great cross training and fun to have something that I can do with Bill now that we can’t run together. I’m actually quite surprised at how much I’m enjoying riding, and if you’d told me two years ago that I’d be writing about biking on my blog, I would have told you that you’re dreaming!
- What’s your favorite sport (to participate in)?
- Have you ever been flooded with memories when walking, running, or biking down a street or trail?
- What’s something that you do now that you never dreamed you’d enjoy so much?