Monday, November 24, 2008

New Permanent on the Virginia eastern shore

I received a message from Dean earlier telling me about a new permanent on Virginia's eastern shore. This is fantastic news for Randonneurs in the Tidewater area!

The ride description on the RUSA website states, "Quiet, flat, rural, quaint towns of the Eastern Shore of Virginia." RUSA also lists the total elevation at 500 ft. Having ridden the roads of the eastern shore I will vouch for the term flat. The wind of the Tidewater area often makes up for the lack of hills. Eastern Shore Permanent owner Keith Sutton writes, "It is ALWAYS windy on the Eastern Shore."

I can't wait to take on this route in the coming months. You can read Keith's description here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

2008 Tappahannock 200k

Three Randonneurs gathered at Ashland Coffee and Tea to register for the 2008 edition of the Tappahannock 200K. After registration and a quick latte, Paul D., Dean F. and I were on the road to Tappahannock, VA.

It started out chilly but weatherman promised temperatures near the 70s with variable winds (read: headwinds all day…kinda). It turned out to be a truly beautiful day for riding a bicycle.

For the first 15 miles or so, we took turns at the front, until the first confusion of the day. Up a hill and Paul took off on a right turn. Dean and I slowed a little to check out the cue sheet. The road sign turned out to be on the wrong side of the road. Paul was correct and he was a few miles in front of us by now. We would only see him for a few seconds near the first control.

We rode without incident until shortly after the first control. The cue sheet and the road signs did not match up. We zigged instead of zagging and continued on route 616 for 5 about 5 miles and decided that we were wrong. Turning around with NO motivation, we made our way back to the intersection of confusion and continued on course for several miles.

Another short setback due to confusing directions left us an hour behind schedule. Not a crisis but we wouldn’t make it back before dark. We made it to the Tappahannock control at Java Joes and wasted no time. We got our cards signed and headed to a convenience store down the road to top off supplies.

The next control is about 25 miles from Tappahannock in a village called Sparta. The road to Sparta would take us through swarms of ladybugs, gnats and spiders. Someone forgot to tell these small critters it’s November. Riding with an open pie hole would guarantee a meal pleasing to Bear Grylls.

At one point I looked down at my shorts counting 7 ladybugs tagging along for the ride. Strings of silk were randomly floating in mid-air, the small spiders looking for a quick meal.

After the Sparta control, we would ride through my favorite part of this ride, a tour through farm roads past Collins Pond. We pushed through this area at a brisk pace but I had to stop at the pond for some photos. This section of the route takes away all of the frustration of the bonus miles earlier in the day.

The cue sheet stated 127 miles. After140 miles, we were greeted by ROMA RBA Matt Settle and Dean’s wife. All three riders were in and brevets earned.