Disclaimer: This 2021 Reston Century Tour recap contains affiliate links…

 

Picking the Right Distance

In its 38th year, the Reston Century Tour, organized by Reston Bike Club (RBC), has four distances from which to choose – century, 80 miles, metric century, and half metric century. Bill and I completed our first organized metric century in May at the Tour de Madison so it was time for us to up our game and ride 100 miles.

 

Reston Century Beneficiaries

The annual Reston Century is a major fund raiser for the Reston Bike Club. According to an email to participants from RBC, proceeds from the event are used to “fund local and regional cycling-related projects such as trail building, bike racks, an after school bike shop, and helmets for kids.”

 

Pack Pickup

Packet pickup for the Reston Century was a breeze with four different locations on three different evenings and the morning of the event – Wednesday at Green Lizard Cycling in Herndon, Thursday at The Bike Lane in Reston, Friday at House 6 Brewing in Ashburn, and Sunday at the Reston Town Center Pavilion. Bill and I opted for Wednesday evening and were in and out in a matter of minutes.

 

I would have loved a cycling jersey even if I’d had to pay extra, but the unisex t-shirt is soft and has a very cool custom design (which includes a cicada) on the back. I’ll take it in at the waist so it doesn’t fit like a box and will have another cute casual tee.

 

Tweaking the Course Start

After a year off due to Covid-19, the annual late-August event was back on track and saw close to 1,000 enthusiastic cyclists rolling away from the Reston Town Center Pavilion between 6:30 and 9 AM on Sunday morning, August 22nd. With a rolling start spread over two and a half hours, riders weren’t jam packed on the streets all at one time which made for a safer event for both cyclists and motorists. Police helped direct traffic and get cyclists out of the busier Reston area and were on location at a couple of other more dangerous intersections. Otherwise, we were on our own and expected to follow the rules of the road.

The final rest stop was only a mile from our house and from there, cyclists rode ten miles east on the W&OD Trail to the completion of the century at the Reston Town Center Pavilion. Being incredibly clever, Bill and I decided to move the start and finish to our house to avoid driving our bikes to Reston, and more importantly, having to ride our bikes past our neighborhood and back to Reston 90 miles into the ride. With our redesigned course we rode the last 10 miles of the course along the empty trail on our way to Reston Town Center and didn’t have to navigate a busy trail during the afternoon. Worth noting, the Ride with GPS course linked below is the official course created by the century organizers and all mileage referenced in my recap is based on the official course, not where we were at the time (just add ten miles for us).

 

Ready to Roll

Bill, two other Dawn Patrol friends, and I rolled out of our driveway at 5:45 AM in the delightful 70° for an early start to the 2021 Reston Century. We arrived at the official century start at Reston Town Center and used the restrooms before getting back on our bikes and rolling at 6:30 AM with the other early cyclists.

Considering typical hot and humid late-August weather, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was still dark at our earlier start and with overnight temperatures dropping to 70°, we were quite comfortable as we rolled to Reston. As the sun began to rise, we had a mixture of blue sky and puffy clouds that eventually turned to an overcast sky keeping the temperature at a comfortable 83°.

 

Sights Along the Tour

Much of the route took us along roads that my friends and I often ride including parkways in Fairfax County, rural roads in Loudoun County, and the W&OD Trail. The bulk of the miles were through the beautiful rolling hills of western Loudoun as we rode through the historic towns of Purcellville, Hillsboro, Lovettsville, Taylorstown, Stumptown, Waterford, Hamilton, and Leesburg. The route took us past high rises, planned communities, golf courses, farms, small towns, wineries, and breweries… a little of everything. Five rest stops were available at miles 19, 41, 55, 74, and 92, each providing a variety of snacks, water, Gatorade, and of course, the all important porta potties.

We met our friend Chuck, who wanted to ride a shorter distance, at the first rest stop. The five of us stayed pretty close together, regrouping occasionally at intersections or the top of hills as necessary. And speaking of hills, the route had four significant climbs:

  • • Woodburn Road – .9 miles long (11% steepest, 4.5% average grade) at mile 31
  • • Taylorstown Road – 1.3 miles long (17.7% steepest, 6.1% average grade) at mile 61
  • • Stumptown Road – 1.3 miles long (13.3% steepest, 5.4% average grade) at mile 65
  • • Meadowlark Road – .7 miles long (10.3% steepest, 3.1% average grade) at mile 75

I’d describe the first 30 miles and and the final 20 miles as fairly easy with the middle 50 being somewhat more difficult with the four climbs and rolling hills of western Loudoun County. I train on those hills so the course might seem slightly easier for me… Despite seeing my speed dip as low as 4.5 MPH on those climbs, what goes up must come down and I reached a high of 41 MPH on one of the descents. My average speed for the 100.44-mile ride was 15.1 MPH.

 

Ride Overview
  • • Ride With GPS Name: RBC C 2021 Century (101.6)
  • • Ride with GPS: Link to turn-by-turn navigation cue sheet
  • • Location: Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, Virginia
  • • Start/Finish: Reston Town Center Pavilion
  • • Course Type: Two Connecting Loops
  • • Course Surface: Paved
  • • Distance: 100.44 miles
  • • Time: 6:39:29
  • • Average Speed: 15.1 MPH
  • • Maximum Speed: 41 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 5,705 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 168 to 642 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 70° to 83°
  • • Course Map:

 

Fun Pictures From Along the Way

Unless otherwise noted, the following pictures were taken with my iPhone (affiliate link) while stopped along the course or by Bill who also had his GoPro Hero 7 (affiliate link) rolling video at several scenic spots.

Ready to roll from our driveway at 5:45 AM…

 

We cruised into the Reston Town Center Pavilion, the start/finish venue, at around 6:20 and used the indoor restrooms before rolling out with other early cyclists. Organizers recommended rolling anytime between 6:30 and 9 AM.

 

Ready to roll with 10 miles already under our belts…

Photo credit: Ed

First rest stop in Ashburn…

 

Really cool water refilling station…

 

My goal was to stay well enough hydrated that I needed to visit the lonely porta potty at all of the rest stops….

 

It’s always fun bumping into friends…

 

Not a rest stop, but in Leesburg Velofix had a table set up with Coke and water bottles as well as equipment to fix any mechanical issues that might arise. Bill and I shared a Coke and I ate a gel shortly before taking on the first climb on Woodburn Road…

 

Cruising on Harmony Church Road after climbing Woodburn Road…

 

Second rest stop in Purcellville at Velo Classique…

 

I’d just gotten my hair trimmed a couple of days before the ride and my ponytail holder fell off of my shorter hair a couple of miles into our ride. When I asked for a rubber band at Velo Classique they had something even better, bicycle inner tubes cut and recycled into rubber bands! It worked like a charm and kept my hair from scratching my neck!

 

Shortly after summiting our first climb, I noticed a fellow Pactimo ambassador wearing a creamsicle PAC kit as he sped past me. I saw him again at the rest stop and walked over to introduce myself. Jon, his friend Gus, and I had a delightful conversation before continuing on with our ride…

Photo credit: Gus

Peace…

 

Jon and Gus caught up with me again on Mountain Road and pulled me along for several miles…

Photo credit: Jon

Third rest stop in Lovettsville…

 

Pickle juice shots…

 

Climbing Taylorstown Road, the second official climb, where the steepest section was at a 17.7% grade (6.1% average grade for 1.3 miles)…

 

Strategically placed lemonade stand at the top of Taylorstown Road, and of course we stopped and purchased a cold delicious drink…

 

Climbing Stumptown Road, the third official climb, where the steepest section was at a 13.3% grade (5.4% average grade for 1.3 miles)…

 

Riding out Loyalty Road toward Waterford and thankful to be on rolling hills…

 

Fourth rest stop in Hamilton…

 

Snow cones…

 

Misting fan…

 

A day of following the yellow arrow…

 

We skipped the fifth rest stop which was at the same location as the first one, opting instead to ride straight home. Had we ridden the regular course we would have finished at Reston Town Center Pavilion where we would have received a catered lunch. Our friends, Bill, and I opted instead to have pizza and salads delivered to our home…

 

Garmin Stats

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…

Purchasing a new Garmin (affiliate link) has been on my to-do list for several months and of course I never got around to ordering one. I was afraid that my battery wouldn’t last for 100 miles and it came close to proving me right. When I got a low battery notification I dismissed it and trusted that if it died, my backup Garmin running watch (affiliate link) which was running and tucked away in my bike bag would record the event. Once home, my Garmin showed 2% battery remaining when I plugged it in to charge.

 

Garmin map and graphs…

 

Final Thoughts on the Ride

What surprised me most about my first century was how fast the day flew by. Each time I looked at my Garmin I was shocked at how many more miles I had under my belt. To say that I had a fun day would be a huge understatement and I am still on cloud nine from my first century. The weather was fantastic, I saw many of my friends, made a few new friends, and I felt great. I was more than pleasantly shocked to see that my average speed was 15.1 MPH on a very hilly course (5,500 feet of elevation gain).

I’d definitely recommend riding the Reston Century and if 100 miles is too far for you, there are three other distances from which to choose. I suspect this will become an annual event for Bill and me. Hope to see you there next year!

 

Questions:
  • • Do you prefer organized rides/tours or just heading out and seeing where your bike takes you?
  • • What’s your idea of ideal riding weather?
  • • Do you stop and relax occasionally to fuel or take pictures, or barrel on through when on a long run or ride?

 

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.