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Both my husband and I have left essential items behind when packing for a biking trip – I once forgot my Garmin and he once failed to pack his shoes. Despite our best efforts to mentally go through our list, we forgot those all-important items. To help avoid future similar mistakes, I’ve created a convenient check list that can be printed to use when traveling with a bike.
Training for a Century Ride
Starting and finishing at the old Unison Store, this gravel loop takes riders past well-manicured farms framed by rock fences, beautiful barns with an assortment of livestock, and scenic views of Bull Run Mountain. Limited climbing makes the ride perfect for a beginner gravel grinder.
A part of the Carolina Thread Trail, the scenic Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a relatively flat trail, making it easy to navigate for most trail users. As seasoned cyclists with a love of climbing the occasional hill, the flat trail was a welcome relief; however, the heat humbled us making the overall ride quite taxing.
Touring Maryland’s historic covered bridges by bike on Independence Day morning has become a fun tradition for my husband and me. This year we checked out two new-to-us bridges and added a ride through the Gettysburg battlefields in Pennsylvania to the 52-mile tour.
Despite VDOT dropping four inches of fresh gravel on some of the roads along the course and making them extremely difficult to ride, my friends and I had a fantastic time touring the beautiful countryside of Rockbridge and Augusta Counties in the Shenandoah Valley.
This ride truly was one for the books! With 4,600 feet of climbing over 46 miles, an 18% grade on sand-like cinder near the end of a 5-mile climb, and a class 4 road that I mostly had to bike-hike across, we were challenged in the best way possible. Add to that spectacular leaf color during peak week, and this difficult course became incredibly beautiful. Had we only seen the momma bear and her cub that walked right across the road in front of us, this ride would have been pure perfection. To say Bill and I had a blast would be the understatement of the year!
We had a fun reunion ride with our Dawn Patrol cycling friends who were also vacationing near Bar Harbor, Maine as we made our way around the park on Park Loop Road.
For avid fans of riding gravel, Acadia National Park’s 45-miles of rustic broken stone carriage roads provided the perfect place for relaxing rides with beautiful mountain vistas, tree-canopied tunnels, and peaceful lakeside oases.
While in Portland, Maine, my husband and I followed the recommendation of a friend to take a lighthouse tour, only we opted to do it from our bikes rather than from a boat. The weather was perfect and we found five of the six lighthouses we set out to visit.
We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for the Land Trust of Virginia Tour de Conservation Easement. Our day was filled with beautiful scenery, fantastic friends, ample rest stops stocked with a great combination of food, and an amazing workout grinding the gnarly gravel roads and private easements of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties.
When my friend Chuck mentioned that he planned to ride the full length of the 44.5-mile-long W&OD Trail in a loop (a bucket list item for me) and add 10 miles to make it an even 100 to celebrate his birthday, I jumped at the chance to join him. When he said he planned to do it on June 21st, the longest day of the year, I was downright giddy.
Neither Rain Nor Mud Nor Flooding Nor Cold Could Keep Us From Completing the Gravel Grinder Nationals Mini G
Despite the weather being pretty nasty for the Gravel Grinder Nationals Mini G, it truly wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Rain couldn’t dampen the beauty of the bright green grass and newly leafed trees framing stunning mountain views as we rode past well-manicured farmland framed by rock and rail fences, beautiful barns and an assortment of livestock.
From tree canopied trails to riding along side the sparkling water of the Tampa Bay this ride gave us a little of everything, even a short and sweet hill as we climbed the pedestrian bridge over the Tampa Bay. Fortunately, despite signs of warning, no alligators were spotted durning our adventure.
Riding from Miami to Key West had been on my bucket list for a couple of years and even though our ride only took us from Key Largo to Key West, we got a taste of riding south on Route 1 and the parallel Overseas Heritage Trail. Beautiful views of turquoise water framed by palm trees made for a fabulous ride where climbing was pretty much nonexistent with the exception of crossing the many bridges that connect the Keys.
The Reston Century route took us along parkways in Fairfax County, rural roads in Loudoun County, and the W&OD Trail. Once past the high rises, planned communities, and golf courses, the bulk of the miles were along the beautiful rolling hills of western Loudoun as we rode through historic towns, past farms, wineries, and breweries. It was the perfect day and route for our first century!
Riding Mount Weather gives riders a little bit of everything: scenic roads, never ending climbing, and some fun descents; however, don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve reached the summit at the FEMA center. There’s still plenty of climbing before reaching the high point of the ride.
What goes up, surely would be fun coming down and for 18.25 miles Bill and I climbed on gravel and packed dirt on the Virginia Creeper Trail. It wasn’t that bad, just steady slow climbing on 1 to 8% grades and I kept reminding myself that the ride flying back down would be worth the monotonous climb.
Fans of riding Loudoun County’s miles of gravel roads, Bill and I were excited to register for the Loudoun 1725 Gravel Grinder and even happier to have several friends joining us. After a morning of riding past well-manicured farms, wineries, and quaint little towns, an unexpected storm moved in just as we started climbing the final couple of miles toward the finish line.
Cyclists have been riding the beautiful rolling hills of Madison County, Virginia the third Saturday in May as part of the Tour de Madison since 1988, and after a year of participating in practically no organized sporting events, Bill and I decided to join our friends for our first official metric century ride.
With our first bike race coming up, we thought it would be smart to ride at least part of the course prior to the event. We had delightful weather and can only hope that it’s not steaming hot on race day.
We couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous day to take a leisurely tour of our nation’s capital. Riding along the Potomac River from Mount Vernon to the National Mall and Memorial Parks, architectural and natural beauty abounded.
It was fun to see how much spring had sprung since riding through the same general area just three weeks earlier. The gorgeous weather made for a beautiful ride through the now mostly familiar gravel roads of Loudoun and Fauquier Counties.
The temptation of climbing a mountain on my gravel bike was too great to miss when Bill offered up this 27-mile route for our weekend riding adventure. Short, sweet, and with a lifetime of bragging rights after climbing a mountain on my bike was enough to sell me on the ride, what I didn’t realize was that the 5-mile mountain climb would be the easier part and a 1-mile climb on extremely loose gravel later in the ride would be much more difficult.
Spring was in the air during our 30-Mile Loudoun and Fauquier Gravel Grinder from Civil War Era Goose Creek Bridge. We traveled down jonquil-lined dusty roads and under canopies of trees with buds starting to make an appearance as we rode past wineries and vineyards, through horse country, and even down the quaint main street of Middleburg.
Our 30 Miles of Leesburg Gravel and Hills contained lots of unexpected fun. The course gave us a little bit of everything, including seeing a fox hunt, stopping by the most beautiful old stone barn with quite the view, and making friends with two miniature horses corralled right next to the road.
After I completed my first metric century, it dawned on me that if I could ride 62.13 miles, I could certainly ride my age on my birthday, a mere .87-mile farther. If you know me, you know that the second that idea popped in my head there was no turning back. My birthday fell on a Saturday and I awoke to delightful weather, perfect for completing my second metric century!
Our 45-Mile White’s Ferry Sugarloaf Tour was so much fun. The ferry ride tickled me in a kid-like way prior to beautiful yellow and orange tree tunnels guiding us toward Sugarloaf Mountain. The climb up the mountain was easier than anticipated thanks to slow moving cars pulling us along. Perfect fall weather enhanced the ride.
With options of several group rides on Saturday morning, Bill and I chose to design our own 27 Miles of Loudoun County Gravel Perfection ride. Not too hilly, not too long, this ride scratched my need-to-ride-gravel itch on this delightful Halloween afternoon.
Not only does the map of the 42-Mile Fauquier County Longhorn Ride course look like a Longhorn’s head, but if cyclists are lucky Longhorn can be seen grazing along the road in the fields at Marriott Ranch. In addition to gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a distance, the course is dotted with vineyards, wineries, farms, and quaint little towns.
Our 36-Mile Dry Mill Vineyard & Winery LoCo Tour was quite scenic as we meandered through the countryside, past horse farms, vineyards, and along our favorite tree-lined trail.
Those who know me know I’m very competitive, especially with myself, and when I take up a new sport I feel a need to give it all I’ve got. A self-declared cardio junkie and distance enthusiast, I felt drawn to ride one of the more popular cycling distances, a metric century.
Our 55-Mile Harpers Ferry Tri-State Tour took us through Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland past sprawling farms and through quaint little towns. The highlights of the trip were a short stop in Harpers Ferry and a visit to a café located in a beautiful old church.
The 44-Mile Loudoun Meander was my first ride with the very active Prince William Cycling Club. We had a cool, crisp, fall day for this relaxing loop around Loudoun County where we rode on the W&OD Trail and country roads past beautiful farms and wineries.
Our 28-Mile Down to the River: Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour took us along four-lane parkways and boulevards, twisty narrow roads, across two golf courses, and of course, to the Potomac River.
This 40-Mile Great Falls Ramble took us along wide open roads and twisty narrow roads, up a a few incredibly steep hills with rewarding descents on the other sides. Notable landmarks we rode by included Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Riverbend Park in Great Falls, the Potomac River, L’Auberge Chez Francois, and the Trump National Golf Club.
Our 30-Mile Greater Ashburn Bike Tour took us around the outskirts of Ashburn where traffic was lighter. With a start temperature of 63°, low humidity, and a bright blue sky, it was a perfect day for a bike ride!
The 30-Mile Tour de Ashburn was the first organized ride for our newly formed women’s cycling club. The ride took us through eastern Loudoun County where parkways far outnumber narrow country roads and planned communities, schools, and shopping centers seem to be on repeat.
Our 30-mile LoCo Gravel Grinder took us on the less traveled backroads of western Loudoun County where we rode past beautiful farms, wineries, mills with granaries, suburban communities, and the little town of Purcellville.
Even though our 30-mile Clifton Breakfast Ride felt like two separate rides, 21 miles before breakfast and 9 miles after breakfast, it was overall an enjoyable ride. Moving breakfast to the end would have been a huge improvement in my opinion, but the other cyclist in our group didn’t seem to mind the mid-ride stop.
Our 37-mile Taylorstown and Stumptown Hills Bike Tour was incredibly scenic with rolling hills flanked on either side by farms with cattle and horses. And I can now consider myself worthy of being a part of my new cycling group now that I’ve conquered those hills!
Our 40-mile Fauquier and Loudoun Counties Bike Tour took us through the quaint towns of The Plains, Marshall, Delaplane, and Middleburg. We couldn’t have asked for a more fun start to our 39th wedding anniversary!
I designed our 36-mile southwest Virginia country roads ride to take us up a ridiculous climb on a short segment of Back of the Dragon, a popular road full of twists and turns which attracts motorcyclists from all over the country. We also rode past farms, forests, country stores, and two Appalachian Trail crossings.
Our 26-mile Southwest Virginia Gravel Ride took us past family farms, little country stores, and even an Appalachian Trail hostel. The hills of southwest Virginia challenged us to some ridiculous climbs but always rewarded us with a fun ride down the other side.
Our 46-mile Western Loudoun County Mountain Road Bike Tour took us along beautiful twisty roads past farms, wineries, and quaint little towns. Even though I’d been warned, I wasn’t prepared for the relentless hills.
The 52-mile Frederick County, Maryland Three Covered Bridges Bike Tour took us past beautiful farms just an hour’s drive west of the nation’s capital. The farm girl in me loved the beautiful rolling hills, farm animals, crops, and machinery we saw as we rode through the countryside with our Dawn Patrol cycling friends.
Bill and I had a really enjoyable time meeting other cyclists at The Bike Lane Fall C&O Canal Trail Ride’s very casual event. We rode from Brunswick, MD along the C&O Canal towpath at our own paces to Shepherdstown, West Virginia where we stopped for a leisurely lunch before heading back to our cars, completing almost forty miles.
A year after learning to mountain bike, we decided to introduce the sport to our kids, only this time, we’d go for an easier course. In mountain biking, though, what one rider considers easy might be difficult for another and we quickly learned that rocks and twisty turns are norms in the world of mountain biking…
Bill and I joined our friends and approximately 7,000 other bikers for the DC Bike Ride where we had the opportunity to pedal past monuments and memorials on closed streets. What a wonderful way to tour our nation’s capital!
Bill and I joined our friends and approximately 32,000 other bikers for our first riding of the Bike NY Five Boro Bike Tour. Our friends were veterans – some riding for as many as twelve years – and their experiences made every aspect of the weekend so much easier for the two of us. Unfortunately, even their veteran status gave them zero control over the weather…
After dinner, our team gathered in the hotel lobby to attach our trumpets to our helmets. After about twelve years of seeing pictures of our Maryland running friends wearing trumpets on their helmets for Bike NY, we learned how they came to be called the Trumpet Heads…
Bill had been dreaming of mountain biking for some time and trying it out while we were in the mountain biking capital of North America seemed like the perfect time to start. I had only returned to biking the previous summer after taking a twenty-year hiatus from the sport; and to make matters worse, I hadn’t been on my bike at all in the past nine months. To say my biking skills were rusty would be a grave understatement. Hiring a private instructor seemed to be a necessity and Sylvie seemed up for the challenge…
One of our most memorable bike rides took place when our sons were tiny tots and got to enjoy the DC cherry blossoms while riding in style. We pulled them behind us on many rides, but touring DC during cherry blossom season was our all-time favorite ride.