2013 Bike Virginia Photo Gallery

All the photos from Bike Virginia 2013, a 3-day (or 6-day) bike tour of Virginia that took place in the mountains of Buena Vista, VA.

Day 1 recapDay 2 recap

Click on any image to open up a slideshow.

Bike Virginia Day 2

Bike Virginia theme: Pirate Invasion
Dave’s theme: Humility & Teamwork (hey, it was a long day so I’m allowed to pick two)

Check out day 1 recap if you missed it, or view the photo gallery

Humility

So let’s talk for a second. I’m not the fastest runner in the world. Not even in most of the groups I run with. I haven’t run the farthest, either. But most of my friends would agree that I can certainly hold my own running on pavement and trail. I’m comfortable, confident and at times, a little crazy with my running endeavors.

So, how does being comfortable, confident and crazy translate to riding a bike?

Riding 64 miles, up and down mountains, over the course of 7 hours…

  • is beyond crazy. Borderline insane. Especially for someone who’s ridden his bike a total of 5 times in the past years, and his longest ride prior to this was 32 miles.
  • is in no way, shape or form, comfortable. And if you try to tell my quads, feet, butt, knees, hands or neck otherwise… their callused, jelly-like selves will slap you upside the head.
  • does a number on one’s confidence. In a way, I guess I should feel confident that I can ride my bike 64 miles. But instead, I feel much more confident that I’m an awful cyclist.

Hills, Mountains, Climbs or whatever the heck you guys call these darn things

They ain’t no joke. Like, for real. You don’t need a crazy GPS bike computer to tell you that those bad boys are STEEP. My legs and lungs confirmed the severity of the incline rather quickly. Right after my eyes told them both not to do it. Those guys never get along with each other.

Teamwork

This cycling event is not a race. Far from it. It’s a TOUR. I’ve mainly either 1) raced, 2) trained or 3) ran for fun. But I’ll tell you what… touring is friggin’ awesome.

All the people here are incredibly nice. Everyone talks to each other. Tells fun stories. Laughs at each other’s corny jokes. And helps one another out.

2 pieces of teamwork that were crucial in today’s ride…

1. Hand signals and verbal commands

With 1,000+ riders out here, we have to work together to keep each other safe. There are holes in the road, dead animals, trash, tons of other cars (some of which, unfortunately, care more about where they’re going than they do human life).

The hand signals for slowing down & turning are vital, especially when reaching 35-40 mph on some of these downhills.

And a verbal command of “car up” or “car back“ could literally save your life. Dead serious.

All of us were on the same team today. And I just love it when everyone plays nice.

2. My team (and new friends) stuck with me

I am, by far, the weak link in our group of 4. There were many times when they could’ve left me in the dust, but they always slowed down and waited. They asked me how I was doing, and always kept an eye on me.

Team, I’m 100% serious on this. I could not, and would not, have done this without you. Thank you… times 64 (because that just seems appropriate).

The Ride

…was gorgeous. That word is typically reserved for women referring to their girlfriend’s new sun dress—or some 20-something, hot, new movie star. But trust me. Today’s ride was every bit as gorgeous.

Nice bike, huh? It's definitely not mine.
Nice bike, huh? It’s definitely not mine.

Mountaintops, valleys, winding roads, farms, cows, old abandoned houses with tractors out front, rivers, rapids, carved-out mountain walls, college towns, cemeteries… and everything in-between.

Beuna Vista, VA
Beuna Vista, VA

Normally I don’t stop to take pictures of dead guys’ tombstones, but my man Stonewall Jackson was there, so we had to stop and say what’s up.

Stonewall Jackson statue
Stonewall Jackson statue

I did handstands (and other funny things) where the cadets of VMI do their military drills.

Step 2 - Spread 'em wide
Step 2 – Spread ’em wide

I got my feet wet at Goshen’s Pass.

Goshen Falls Overlook
Goshen Falls Overlook

We hung out with girl scout troops at the first rest stop. Firemen at the second. And the sweet women of whatever church at the third. Don’t let the white hair fool ya, folks. Those ladies make a MEAN PB&J… real heavy on the P.

Girl Scout Cookies... literally
Girl Scout Cookies… literally
Goshen Fire Station rest stop
Goshen Fire Station rest stop

The 2 main climbs were ridiculous. Still trying to figure out how they only got TWO out of that, but whatever. I almost made it through every one, but had to walk halfway up one of them around mile 50.

The descents, while a treat for the legs, were playing tricks on my mind. And by tricks I mean I was scared out of my mind. I probably hit close to 40 mph on more than one occasion. One wrong move, and you could find out what it feels like to be the bottom of a snowboard (minus the soft snow). Not a highly sought after feeling.

The Aftermath

My legs didn’t feel too bad when we got back, but 7 hours of just about anything will wear you out.

So naturally, first, I hit the food. Lunch was a vegan’s treat… again. Salad, with tons of veggies. And a veggie burger.

After devouring that at about the same pace I rode my bike today, I had to find Mother Nature’s best recovery spot. The river.

Much of our ride was alongside a river, and she was calling my name the whole time. So I headed down there with Michelle. It was everything I had hoped for, and then some. Perfect temp. Water flowering fast. Not to deep, not too shallow. Nature wins again. Come to think of it, when does she not win?!

The night ended with a peaceful, relaxing dinner, followed by a showing of Premium Rush, a movie about bike messengers going rogue. It probably got 1/10 of 1 star, but of course I stayed up to watch the whole thing.

Bike Virginia Day 1

Today’s theme: New adventures

The drive to get here was really boring for 2 hours, and absolutely beautiful for the last 15 minutes. As we entered the town of Buena Vista, we quickly turned onto a road that less us through an amazing golf course. I don’t play golf, but if I did, I’d never get tired of paying at this place.

The start of an adventure
The start of an adventure

The event appeared to be very well organized. Lots of signage. Parking attendants. Registration tent with tons of volunteers.

After a short safety briefing, I picked up my packet and met up with my friends. I only knew 1 of the 3 others who was joining me, and even we don’t really know each other all that well. New adventures…

Tent Setup

You’d think that, during a bike tour, the adventure would start once you hopped on your bike. Oh no, my friends. My weekend began with me doing circles around a hexagon-shaped tent, searching for the magic button that made it erect itself… all while the 2 women, who already have their tent setup, sit off to the side eating pork tenderloin sandwiches for lunch (what?!)

Sidenote: For those first-time campers out there… there is no such button. Trust me. I looked everywhere.

The ladies offered their help. I gladly accepted. Finally, 3 brains were able to figure it out… sort of. It’s up, and it’s sleepable, and for right now, that’s me #winning.

Lots of people who know how to setup their tents (myself NOT included)
Lots of people who know how to setup their tents (myself NOT included)

The Ride – 27 Miles

Excellent form, guys
Excellent form, guys

Admittedly, I had done little research into how this event was run. After my tent was setup, that’s when I found out what today’s ride option was: 27 miles.

I had done 25 in a triathlon two weeks ago, and struggled through 32 last weekend, so I knew I could complete it. I just didn’t know if I could keep up with our group.

It ended up being a beautiful 27 miles. Parts of it were certainly challenging, climbing up & down the mountains, but the views were easily worth it. The only thing that was sore was my butt, and I consider that a victory.

There was only 1 rest stop for today’s ride, and of all things… they were serving nachos & cheese. I’m sorry, but even if I WASN’T vegan, the last thing I’d want at mile 12 of a 27-mile ride is nachos & cheese.

Day 1 rest stop... Nachos were a bad choice.
Day 1 rest stop… Nachos were a bad choice.

I met a really nice woman from Toronto, Canada. Didn’t get her name, but we chatted for a bit right near the end of the ride. I fell back from my group, and also stopped for a picture, so her & I chatted it up. Super-nice woman. This was her 2nd year doing the event. Little did I know how many people travel a great distance for this thing. She was nice enough to snap my picture at the city limit sign.

Thanks to Lynn, awesome woman from Toronto, for taking this one.
Thanks to Lynn, awesome woman from Toronto, for taking this one.

Dinner

Amazing. Tofu tacos. A vegan’s dream. Nothing more needs to be said.

Day 1 dinner. A vegan's delight.
Day 1 dinner. A vegan’s delight.

Card Games

After dinner, we gathered around our tents for a friendly game of Spades. Our new friend, Gary, joined us. Michelle & I clearly had different strategies, which doesn’t work so well when you’re on the same team. It took Kara 5 rounds before she actually figured out how to play. That left Brandon, Kara’s partner, who clearly knew what he was doing since they ended up smoking us.

Read about day 2 or visit the photo gallery

Blue Bee Cider Tour

A few friends & I recently took a tour of a new cider maker in Richmond, VA — Blue Bee Cider. This is the first cider manufacturer within Richmond’s city limits that I’m aware of.

Blue Bee Cider Location

Blue Bee Cider is located in the Old Manchester District, down behind the Corrugated Box Building & one block over from Legend Brewery. Their address is 212 W. 6th Street, Richmond, VA 23224. They’re in the old Aragon building. Plenty of parking is available in their parking lot.

Blue Bee Cider Tour & Hours

Richmond VA brewery tourBlue Bee’s tasting room is open Friday, Saturday & Sunday from noon – 6pm. We took a tour of the facility, which is rather small, and considerably different from Legend’s, if you’ve ever toured their brewery.

The tour took us about 20 minutes from start to finish, but we didn’t have a ton of questions. If your group has the science nerd who insists on knowing about every chemical process, by-product & compound, I’m sure you could spend 45 minutes, easy.

Blue Bee Cider Owner & Cidermaker, Courtney Mailey

We were greeted with a smile as we entered, and sure enough, it was from the owner of Blue Bee Cider, Courtney Mailey. She’s passionate about cider, and excited to finally bring a cider to Richmond.

Courtney gave us a history lesson about the Aragon building, poured us all a glass cider, and then gave us the tour of the building, explaining the cidermaking process along the way. She was super-nice, patient with our silly questions, and very knowledgable about the process. It’s a quick, fun tour if you’re looking for a way to spend your weekend afternoon in Richmond.

She has a few part-time cidermakers on staff, but said she’s still barely keeping up with demand. They are selling out faster than they can produce it. But rest assured, they still have some available for you to try… and buy!

Blue Bee Cider Tastings & Prices

There is a small charge for tastings. Cider tastings are $1. For a glass of cider, it’s $6. And for 3 bucks more, you can keep the glass. And trust me, $3 for this glass is a steal. They’re fancypants, and might just make you feel like royalty.

Blue Bee Cider Tastings & Wine Glasses

You can also buy bottles of cider in 500mL & 750mL sizes, as well as cider tasting glasses, gift certificates & apparel from their online store.

What’s the cider taste like?

Blue Bee has 3 main ciders:

  • Charred Ordinary – A semi-sparkling cider, it’s a dry, old-fashioned cider that pairs well with salty hams and other traditional Virginia fare.
  • Aragon 1904 – A semi-sparkling cider which includes a few modern apples to create a lighter, more fruit forward off-dry cider.
  • Harvest Ration – A dessert cider fortified with brandy distilled from our own special blend of bittersweet apples.

Today we tried the only cider they had available: Aragon 1904 (named after the building they bought). It tasted very much like a champagne or a white wine. It was very light & airy. Lots of carbonation. And 8.6% ABV, more than enough to get you warmed up for the tour.

Non-alcoholic Apple Cider (Juice)

Depending on the time of year, they also make non-alcoholic apple cider, or apple juice. This usually sells out in a few hours after they start offering it, so you have to be one of the first ones in line. Sign up for their email newsletter to get notified when it’s on sale.

Apple Pomace for Fermenting & Compost

Do you like to ferment your own cider? Blue Bee Cider offers a pickup truckload of apple pomace from their facility for composting or animal feed during the apple pressing season – late summer to early winter. Apple pomace includes apple skins, pulp, seeds and stem remnants leftover after they squeeze the juice out of the apples. Contact them to find out when it’s available.

Summary

I’d highly recommend you check out Blue Bee Cider. For right now, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience within Richmond’s city limits, as there are no other cidermakers in town. The staff is really friendly, the cider is tasty & the view of the city skyline is pretty fantastic from that part of town, too. Stop on over at Legend Brewery when you’re finished with the tour to grab a bit to eat.

Check out Blue Bee Cider…

All photos courtesy of Blue Bee Cider’s Facebook Page.

Sedona Vortex – Boynton Canyon

If you just want to see photos, jump down to the photo gallery.

Finding the Vortex

After arriving in the parking area, I started out towards the vortex on the Boynton Canyon Trail. A few hundred feet in, the trail split, and off to the right was the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail. This would lead me to the knoll, where the vortex energy is said to be greatest.

Sedona Vortex Parking Lot Sedona Vortex Trailhead Sedona Vortex Trail Split Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon Trail Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon Vista Trail

Approaching the Vortex

As I approached the knoll, there were 2 tall, skinny rock formations, with a plateau in the middle. Picture a game of Jenga. And now I’ll try to paint in some of the details.

  • The rocks were a beautiful, rustic red. Must’ve been 50 different shades, each on its own layer.
  • Nothing was strategically placed, yet somehow, it managed to stay erect.
  • Each rock had its own unique shape, its own personality. Yet together, they stood tall.

I approached the plateau slowly, not sure what to expect. What was this vortex energy going to feel like?

Sedona Vortex Trail Approaching Sedona Vortex Sedona Vortex Red Rock

I arrived atop the plateau, both rock formations on either side, and stood mesmerized by the view. A 360° view of red rock canyon walls. Luscious green trees scattered throughout. Forest meets desert.

Cairns

Sedona Vortex Cairns

There were a bunch of smaller handmade rock formations sitting on a ledge. Then a few more appeared. And a few more. They are called cairns. I didn’t know what to make of them at first, but I felt compelled to leave them be. They were constructed by humans, but at the same time, they were still part of the Earth. This type of connection brought me to my next action…

Meditation

I started to fall into a slight meditation, focusing on each breath. At this point, I had to take a seat on a nearby rock in order for my body to relax. Sitting down for a few minutes, I closed my eyes, searching for the vortex energy. Nothing.

I stood up & took another look around. I noticed a tree about 30 feet away. It was right next to one of the 2 larger rocks. As I approached it, I put my hand on one branch. I felt as though the tree was calling me, and thought, maybe it wanted to pass on some of its energy. Nothing.

Next, I leaned up against that large rock formation right next to the tree. I was leaning back slightly, but still mostly vertical. I closed my eyes. I felt the wind pickup, especially around my legs. A powerful yet subtle breeze was blowing constantly, passing in-between the backside of my lower legs and the rock. The hair on my legs stood up, and I felt a slight tingly sensation.

When I opened my eyes, I looked at the sky. It’s an overcast day, but there was a blue cutout in the clouds directly overhead. At first I thought it was the letter X. But then, I thought maybe I should spread my body to match that shape, extending my arms & legs out wide as far as they could reach. I closed my eyes once again.

Sedona Vortex Clouds X

The birds chirping became more clear. I had no idea what they were saying, but it sounded like they were getting closer. I stayed here for a minute before opening my eyes again.

Already facing the sky, when I opened my eyes, the X in the clouds was gone. Or better yet, it had morphed into something different. Take a look below & let me know if you see what I saw: a bird.

Sedona Vortex Bird 1
His face/beak on the left, tail on the right, wings are very faint, but curving up & to the left.

Before I left, I felt compelled to build a cairn of my own. I laid 4 rocks right there next to the large formation, where I felt the energy. Each rock gently placed on top of the other. I spun each rock as I placed it upon the next, until it felt like it found the place where it was supposed to rest.

Sedona Vortex Cairn by Dave
My Cairn
Sedona Vortex Cairn by Dave
My cairn from another angle

There were two women from Minnesota visiting this Sedona Vortex for the first time. They had been up there for much of the time I had. I asked them to take a picture of me before I headed back down. Homegirl took 10 photos, the first of which she invited herself into. I gladly accepted.

Girl from Minnesota
Homegirl from Minnesota
Dave at Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon
Top of the vortex site
Dave at Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon
Top of the vortex site. It looks Photoshopped, but I promise you it’s not. The lighting was just that good.

Right before I walked away, one woman said, “Look, over there. Do you see that feather?” There was a dark swirly cloud that formed directly over a plateau in the distance. The sun was barely gleaming through the clouds. I saw the feather. It didn’t dawn on me until 2 hours later… perhaps that was the feather of the bird that had been speaking to me just minutes before.

If I had to describe the vortex energy, I’d say it was a mix between upward/outward & downward/inward. As I left the trail & began to jog back to the trailhead, I noticed an increase in awareness. My senses were heightened. I was naturally smiling.

If you’re visiting Sedona, or anywhere in central Arizona, this is a must-see. It’s easy to get to, not a difficult hike, and the experience is worth every second. Even if you don’t have a spiritual experience with the vortex, the view is stunning enough by itself.

Best Western Sedona

I spent 2 nights in Sedona, and both were at the Best Western – Sedona in West Sedona. The first night was just under $100, the second night was just over $100. This Sedona hotel includes wifi & continental breakfast.

The greatest part about this Sedona hotel wasn’t the price, breakfast or internet speeds, all of which were pretty good. It was the person working the front desk when I booked the first room.

Cobi was as nice as could be. She gave me a discounted rate, just because. Then she answered all the questions about Sedona that I threw at her. Recommendations for a Sedona jeep tour, opinions on that, discount coupons, maps with personalized sharpee’d directions, the works.

When I spilled the beans & told her I was originally going to be at the Grand Canyon tonight, she said something that perfectly summed up my trip to Sedona, and quite possibly sums up all of life as we know it:

“Out here, everything seems to happen just like it’s supposed to.”

Amen to that, sister. Amen to that.

Solar & Wind-Powered Airplanes

Is this not an obvious move for airplanes to use wind & solar energy? Here’s my argument.

Here’s an idea…

With gas prices getting as high as they are, people won’t want to drive as much. Well, airplanes use gas too, so that will probably make flights more expensive as well. The solution…

Solar & Wind-Powered Airplanes

You can’t tell me no one has thought of this yet. With all the hybrid & electric cars out there, a scientist somewhere has to be working on alternative sources of energy for airplanes, right?

The argument for solar power

Aside from spaceships, they are the closest human-driven moving objects to the sun (that I’m aware of). They’re 10,000 feet closer to the sun than anything else on Earth. The main thing that blocks the sun from hitting us on the ground is clouds. And heck, half the time planes are above the clouds. Seems like a valid argument to me.

The argument for wind power

Well, this seems pretty obvious. They are moving at 600mph through the air! Why not use all that air for energy?

I’m not a scientist. Or a pilot. But this just seems too obvious not to happen in the next few years.

How to avoid Thanksgiving traffic

How can you avoid Thanksgiving traffic? I’ll tell you my foolproof plan that has worked 4 years in a row.

For several years in a row, I’ve managed to avoid Thanksgiving traffic. Specifically, I travel on I-95 from Richmond, VA to South Jersey, but I’m confident these traffic tips apply for just about anywhere. Here’s the rundown:

  • Drive, don’t fly. EZ-Pass won’t scan your body or feel you up. It’s a win-win.
  • Pack whatever you need the night before Thanksgiving. Place it on the floor, just inside the front door. Have snacks, drinks, etc. ready (keep in fridge).
  • And here’s the kicker… start your drive on Thanksgiving morning.

To avoid Thanksgiving traffic, start early

3:00am: Alarm clock goes off. Get up right away. No snooze.

3:01: Start brewing the coffee.

3:02: Get dressed. Quick & comfortable.

3:07: Throw last-minute toiletries in the your bag. Don’t forget your cellphone charger.

3:09: Start chugging coffee.

3:13: Pack car. Start warming it up if it’s cold.

3:20: Finish chugging coffee.

3:25: …and you’re on the road.

3:26: Turn the music up. It doesn’t matter what station.

3:27: Start bobbing your head & shaking your shoulders (aka: dance). You’ve gotta stay loose with a long drive ahead.

3:28: Commence singing. Don’t stop until you arrive at your destination.

3:35: Get on the interstate.

3:36: Set the cruise control to 75, and don’t stop unless you need gas.

____: You’ll be there before you know it 🙂

OK. I realize a few of those won’t help you get there any faster, but they are guaranteed to make your Thanksgiving Day drive much more enjoyable.

Happy Thanksgiving!