If there was ever a contrast between back-to-back rides, the differences between the 50 States Ride and the Back Roads Century were large. The 50 States Ride took place in a city, with lots of stop signs and traffic lights and cars. The Back Roads Century is in the Virginia countryside, with long stretches of uninterrupted riding and few automobiles. On the day of the 50 States Ride, temperatures were in the low 80s F. It started in the upper 40s and stayed in the mid 60s throughout the Back Roads ride, and it was windy. The 50 States ride had a 7-page cue sheet. The Back Roads metric route (100 km, or 65 miles) was only one side of one page.
There were three things these two rides had in common: 1. Good friends to ride with, 2. good weather, and 3. a good amount of hills.
When I got home from the 50 States ride, R and I loaded up the car and drove to our hotel in Winchester, stopping for dinner along the way. I tried to go to bed early, but I was keyed up from the ride. Consequently, I woke up feeling tired and not at all ready.
We drove to the parking area, and rode our bikes to the ride start. We soon met up with Rootchopper, who did the 50 States the day before and yet still had lots of energy. My friends J and N soon came to join us. Everyone was raring to go, and the nice chill from the morning gave us all the impetus to pedal at a good clip to warm up.
The first several miles looked familiar from last year, and it was nice to talk with my friends while riding. I think my favorite stop is still the Burwell-Morgan Mill, with its picturesque location, the folk music trio, and the delicious boiled potatoes.
I might have taken the first 30 miles too fast for me. When we got to the climbing portion, it did not feel good at all. Part of the problem was that I ran out of asthma medication. Rootchopper very kindly let me take a hit of his inhaler, and I was able to breathe again. Still, I got progressively slower as the ride went along. At least my legs worked– my riding form felt good throughout, and I stayed on the bike while others walked some of the hills. But I was bone-tired, and my friends, who were itching to ride, took off without me after the last rest stop, and I struggled until the very end.
The metric route consisted of 4 rest stops with wonderful volunteers serving food and drink at each stop. I finally got a chance to try the tomato-cucumber sandwiches that the ride is known for, which were delicious.
I managed to stay well hydrated and well fed, but by the time I got to the finish, I was really exhausted and honestly not very happy. I rode back into the parking lot instead back to the ride start, found our car, and lay in the back seat for a while. After changing clothes and later meeting up with R, J, and N for a delicious late lunch/early dinner in Purcellville (where I had a most excellent imperial pumpkin ale), I felt better.
I do think that the Back Roads is one of the better organized rides in the area, and it’s in a beautiful part of the state. We really couldn’t have asked for a better day– the backdrop of the light blue sky and fluffy white clouds against the rolling green hills and woods is really something magical. I would gladly ride it again next year.