July updates

Hard to believe that July has passed and it’s been nearly a month since the awesome Epic Empire Adventure concluded. Have returned to the local roads and routes with a few forays out to Shendandoah and Skyline Drive. Two primary cycling goals took precedence and continue to be a primary training focus: crazy Gran Fondo and 40K Time Trial (TT). Motivated by 100 mile+/10K+ elevation rides posted on Strava by a former local rider who is now across the pond, decided to emulate long days in the saddle. It certainly wasn’t a competition – afraid that would end badly with very disappointing results. Completed a couple of preparatory rides and then scheduled the big day. A group of five of us started together but only three planned on covering the entire route. The others had time constraints (or weren’t quite as obsessed). The weather had been brutal leading up to our CGF, mid 90s with equally high humidity. We started early, 0700, in an effort to beat the heat and the goal was to cover the distance. There would be plenty of PRs without making it a race. There were three primary climbing efforts, Blue Mountain (Southside), Skyline (Front Royal – Thornton Gap), and Tanners Ridge Rd/Fire Road to Great Meadows. We had tackled the first two climbs the previous week. Crossing Blue from the south is certainly the easier route and I’ve ridden to Thornton Gap dozens of times. Last time on Tanners Ridge was 4 years ago. It’s probably the hardest, sustained climb in the area. It’s about 3.5 miles long with the first mile averaging around 15%. Tacking on the fire road extension (gravel) makes it nearly a a 5-mile climb averaging 8.1%. Since Tanners was part of the CGF, put the 50/34 chainrings back on the bike and kept the 11-30 cassette. The pace was steady, but easy. One rider turned around at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, one rode east on 211 from Thornton Gap while the 3 of us headed west. We hit Tanners Ridge at the 84-mile mark. It was every bit as brutal as I remembered – there’s no lead in or gradual slope. Once you make the right onto Tanners Ridge, the wall starts immediately. My first experience on Tanners Ridge was demoralizing – had to stop about 2/3 of the way into the first mile. Legs were exhausted. Restarted and paper-boy’d up the remaining steep section. No mid-climb stops the second time and now the third time. Wasn’t 84 miles into the ride either of the two previous times and the goal this time was no paper-boy-ing. Ha, success! Made it to the end of the paved section first and had an opportunity to recover. Temperature was noticeably cooler compared to the base of the climb. Regrouped and continued the climb, on gravel. It wasn’t a terrible surface but it did require more concentration. Arrived at Great Meadows for a well-earned rest/refueling stop. Thankfully, most of the sustained climbing was behind us although there were a couple of inclines until we reached Pinnacles. Then we had a nice 8+ mile descent into Sperryville. The rest of the ride was generally flat but the heat was more of a factor. We returned to the start point just shy of 150 miles so naturally a continuation was necessary. Ride summary (all PRs): 150.56 miles, 13,665 ft of climbing, 9:04 moving time. What a day! Link to actual route is below.


Surprisingly, the legs recovered well over the following days. The next goal was the annual cycling fund raiser for autism awareness, Bike to the Beach (B2B). It’s a 103-mile ride from DC to Dewey Beach, DE. It was the first organized cycling event since Covid cancelled everything. Numerous accommodations were made to increase physical distancing: multiple start times and locations, color-coded rest stop areas and even grab-n-go options. Weather forecast predicted nothing but wet the entire day; from DC all the way to DE. Fortunately, they were wrong. There was a fair bit of wet pavement along the way with the some light rain in spots but most of the ride was precipitation free.

The other cycling focus is a 40K TT effort on a pancake-flat course. According to Strava, 0 ft elevation change over the course. Climbing is easiest to maintain a higher percentage of my FTP, then road bike on flats, followed by TT. Completing two TT sessions on the trainer per week, gradually increasing intensity and duration. Goal is to average ~ 300W for the effort which should lower my current PR of 57:02

Now for the culinary portion. Since I was only able to enjoy one slice of the peanut butter cake my daughter made before I left to cycle the PNW, she made me another one. Not nearly as rich but just as delicious.

peanut butter cup cake

While not a contest, but differences in culinary efforts between my son (restaurant worthy) and me (peasant fare). You be the judge.

data molasses glazed chicken drumstick w/roasted cauliflower, raisins, pine nuts, and goat cheese
risotto Milanese and mustard coated rainbow trout
chicken, beans, and rice
sesame mango chicken

A delayed birthday meal prepared by my son and girlfriend

deviled eggs
roast port, potatoes, beans, and leeks

Not to be forgotten, the Missus had a busy peach week – both cobbler and pie

peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream
peach pie

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