Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Riding to Fairfax with Chris

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I fell behind in blogging, mostly because while I did ride late last week, I simply did my Mount Gilead Road route a couple of times. I ride that route frequently, and there wasn’t much to report. Then I was working from home, so I missed some commuting opportunities.

Anyway, on Saturday I called my friend Chris, who I’ve known since at least high school, if not middle school, to ask if he wanted to go for a ride on Sunday. We had only hung out once in recent years, and we used to ride together a lot in high school. He said he was available, so we planned to ride.

I rode over to Chris’s house at the appointed time, and he showed me his new bicycle, a GMC Denali-branded bike his brother got him for Christmas. It turned out this was going to be the bike’s maiden voyage. It’s a pretty sharp-looking bike, but a few features surprised me. It’s a road bike, but it has grip shifters — something I’d never seen. And it has deep section rims but schrader valves. I don’t see any inherent problem with this, it’s just unusual.

We headed out, at first intending to do my Water Works route. But then I learned that Chris’s work schedule had changed and he had more time than I realized, so we decided to ride down to Fairfax State Recreation Area instead.

Rolling hills on Snoddy Road

Chris hadn’t ridden a bicycle in about 5 months, but he works out regularly, and it shows. He rode quite well. We rode at a conversational pace and caught up during the ride. Chris has always been a walking trivia book, but that’s even more true now, since he has driven tour buses all over the country and worked as a tour guide in Las Vegas for a few years.

It was a beautiful day to ride, in the mid 40s or so, overcast, and breezy. We had the roads mostly to ourselves, although we did see some other cyclists and some light traffic. We rode really close to some turkey vultures on Snoddy Road and saw several deer frolicking by Harrell Road.

Some rain late in the week washed a lot of the sand off the roads, except for Strain Ridge Road which was in pretty bad shape and had thick layers of sand in parts. There’s a pretty long downhill section, and then a big climb. Chris and his new bike handled both pretty well, although he did have a few shifting problems. I’m sure that some derailleur adjustments will help there.

Strain Ridge Road

The bridge in the above photo goes over a creek, which was very high, and there was some flooding off to the left side. If we get the heavy rain that’s predicted in the next couple of days, things could get interesting in this and other low-lying areas in the near future.

Smithville Water tower


Before long, we reached Fairfax. The office wasn’t open yet so we got in for free. We rode down the big hill, nearly hitting 40 mph on the downhill. I’ve ridden this much faster in the past but with bulkier, warmer clothing 38.5 was as fast as I could get. We rode to the end of the road, which is on a small peninsula on Lake Monroe.

Lake Monroe

Chris’s GMC Denali bicycle

My bicycle

We saw a few boats, a houseboat, and we also saw a flying boat take off from the lake and fly by overhead, but very low in the sky. I tried to get a photo but it was out of sight before I could get my camera ready. We hung out by the lake for a while and caught up some more. It was a great day to be outdoors with an old friend. I’m used to riding being the primary focus of my rides but in this case it was something to do with a friend. Conversation and riding alternated as the primary objectives.

Chris checking his tire pressure

Chris and me

We stopped at another place near the lake and watched the seagulls, ducks, and geese, then rode back. Chris had some more shifting problems as we climbed toward the exit to the recreation area, but after that his bike did pretty well. We took our time on the way back and stopped a little more frequently.

It was a great day to be out riding, and cool to ride with Chris. We hadn’t ridden together in probably about 10 years, possibly more. Hopefully we can ride together again soon. At the end of the day we rode a bit over 30 miles. This gave me almost 90 miles of riding for last week, and I’ve already ridden more in March than I did in February. I can see my mileage increasing already, and it feels great.

4 Responses to “Riding to Fairfax with Chris”

  1. furiousball Says:

    I like those shots of Lake Monroe. The shots with the camera on the pavement is cool.

  2. John Says:

    RYN. We found a place out in the middle of nowhere. A general store that had a killer ham salad according to the kid. It was good, but still ham salad.
    I have not tried his bike. It’s too small for me.

    Going riding with a friend is nice. We didn’t talk much while riding but had a good time at the stops.
    He and I along with at least a couple others are going to ride the Cape Cod Canal on Friday night. Full Moon you know.

  3. Jon Says:

    I love rides like that.

  4. John Says:

    I have done a few rides on the Randonee. No long ones yet. However…….. Friday is the Worm full moon, and we have a group ride planned. If it’s nice it will be a long ride through the historic areas. It’ll be (as we say) groovy.

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