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.
Click on any image to open up a slideshow.
Bike Virginia theme: Pirate Invasion
Dave’s theme: Humility & Teamwork (hey, it was a long day so I’m allowed to pick two)
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…
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.
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).
…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.
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.
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.
I did handstands (and other funny things) where the cadets of VMI do their military drills.
I got my feet wet at Goshen’s Pass.
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.
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.
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.
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 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…
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.
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.
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.
Amazing. Tofu tacos. A vegan’s dream. Nothing more needs to be said.
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.
This is just an awesome race at Pocahontas State Park. The obstacles are top-notch. The mud pit is long, and the spectators get on you if you’re not face down in it. The team names are hilarious… and the costumes even better. I even witnessed a proposal this year.
For some, one Muddy Buddy is enough. But not me. I came back for round 2, this time with a different partner. Nate Raecke provided the bike, Pocahontas provided the park and we took care of the rest.
A little colder this year (mid 60s), and overcast, but overall, not bad. It rained quite a bit yesterday, which made for some slick spots on the trail. But it is the muddy buddy, so there’s no reason to wait until the end before we get dirty.
This year featured a:
Last year’s mud was like sludge. Definitely man-made. The kind you just get stuck in.
This year, I think the overnight rain changed things a bit. The mud pit was watered down. Liquid mud. The kind that splashes. And there were rocks on the bottom. Sharp ones.
For the second time in 2 weeks, I witnessed a marriage proposal at a race. Last week I saw a guy get on one knee before his race during the National Duathlon Festival downtown. Today, this guy proposed to his girlfriend right after they got out of the mudpit together. Maybe this is a sign for how I’m supposed to propose… who knows, but maybe I should find a girlfriend first. Let’s start there.
It was Nate’s first time, and he enjoyed himself, despite the 2 hours of sleep he got the night before. And I enjoyed round 2 more than I thought I would. And in less than 2 weeks I’m doing another mud run, 5k, on Brown’s Island. Hey, I just like to get dirty.
57:38, a few minutes faster than last year.