The sign pushed under our hotel room door the morning of the CASA River Century Ride did not make me feel any less anxious – the town was under a boil water advisory. We had already prepped our water bottles with water from home, except it wasn’t enough and The Mechanic had used tap water to fill the last. Uh oh – should we be worried?!
Despite that and my general anxiety about not feeling properly trained up for a 50 mile bike ride in hilly West Virginia, it turned out to be a perfect day! We got started a bit late, but the ride (we did the Jefferson loop, having done the Berkeley loop in 2012) immediately put us into a good frame of mind by touring us past the Potomac River and some local Civil War ruins, then along the Shenandoah River. It was a lovely morning, and the predicted threat of rain was in fact a gorgeous warm partly-cloudy day. There were some short steep hills before the first pit stop at mile 18, where we were able to enjoy the Shenandoah and peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
The miles until the 40-mile point pit stop were mostly just rolling hills, full of fields and trees and puffy white clouds in blue skies. For the most part there was not much traffic, and we were barely on major roads, and since we were moving slow, we rarely saw other cyclists. We saw peacocks, cows, brilliant red oriental poppies, purple and lavender flowers of some kind, horses with their foals, lots of cardinals, Civil War battlefields near Harper’s Ferry, and tons of beautiful green trees. I love this area. I just wish I could have stopped to take pictures of everything, but we never would have finished!
Despite lack of training, we did pretty well. I had some mysterious pain up my lower back for a while, and had to keep standing out of the saddle to relax it, and the work-related shoulder pain was not helped by the aggressive bike position, but it was all manageable. The Mechanic had to switch to a more supportive knee brace but reported that his ibuprofen diet during the week had helped with minimizing the pain. (Geez we are old before our time!) But we made it! I am very pleased, especially since doing this ride was on my list of New Year’s Resolutions. After the ride, we threw some normal clothes on over our bike shorts and headed to the all-you-care-to-eat lunch provided by the ride organizers. On our way, we were stopped by an enterprising young lady who was selling loop band bracelets to support CASA, so of course we bought bracelets. I had one custom made in some favorite colors. We also discovered a cool piece of space satellite-looking interactive art next to the Shepherd University Center for Contemporary Art – a giant metal piece that actually rolls when you push it. I was so tempted to stand in it and let it circle around, but didn’t want to hurt their art (although I bet plenty of college kids have tried this). The boil water advisory was still in effect; the cafeteria drink machines all had giant signs written on them and one of the employees told me about the water main break in town. I hope they get that fixed soon! Luckily, it didn’t seem to extend to the restaurants, because later we hit our favorite bakery, the Sweet Shop Bakery, for a celebratory cupcake, and had dinner at Domestic, with no water problems.
The other treat that the day had in store for us was that the Shepherd University Little House was actually open! We have admired this tiny house so many times, but the only time we have been there when it was open was our wedding day last year, and I was afraid I couldn’t get in the door in my wedding dress. Turns out I was right – I barely fit in in a skirt and tee-shirt! The Little House is even tinier inside, and I almost felt a bit claustrophobic, especially once I went upstairs – I couldn’t fit up there so just peeked in the rooms from the middle of the staircase before backing down. It’s a bit shabby and run down, which makes me sad, but I bet it’s hard to keep up.
It poured rain while we ate our delicious dinner at Domestic, but cleared up nicely for our drive home. We stopped again at the Silver Diner in Tyson’s for more food (I’m sure I ate all the calories I’d just burned off!), and were home in bed before 10pm, exhausted, a bit sore, and definitely happy. Now I need to find a fall half-century to complete!