Thursday, April 23, 2009

Windy Wednesday Ride!

One of the odd things about working in a bicycle shop is that you generally don't have a conventional weekend. Over the three-plus years I've worked full time at bikes@vienna, I've had a number of different permutations of a work week. Currently, my "weekend" is Tuesday and Wednesday. Aside from the typical advantages (and disadvantages) of a non-traditional weekend, such as short lines at the bank compared to Saturday mornings, I get to enjoy our local bike trails when they are at their least crowded! So yesterday, after a bout of cleaning at home, I headed out on my new bike and rode out the W&OD trail to Ashburn.

At first I was afraid I'd dressed to lightly... it was chillier than I expected, and I immediately ran into a very light rain shower. But after warming up from the exertion, and the sun coming out more strongly, it felt great. And as I had hoped, the dogwood were in bloom! This beautiful tree has been a favorite of mine since childhood, when we had a sprinkling of them at the edge of the woods at our back yard. And as an adult, it's a major marker of spring for me. So I was glad to see them popping out all along the trail.

Also out in force were the ubiquitous "redbud" trees... You can see some here on a nearby golf course, along with dogwood, both contrasting with the still-bare branches of what I think is a sycamore. I've always wondered what these spectacularly pink early spring trees were, and several friends have recently assured me they are called redbud trees. If that is truly the case, I have to say the person who came up with that name had a remarkable lack of originality! They sure are pretty trees though.

You can't really tell from the photos, but the wind yesterday was pretty amazing. I don't know what official numbers were, but there was a strong steady breeze from roughly the west, and many, many abrupt gusts that I'm sure were at least 30 mph. Pretty wild on a bicycle. And with the route of the W&OD, I was riding into the wind the whole way out. In some of the more open stretches of trail, I was really struggling.

The upside of course was that the ride home was MUCH easier and faster, with the wind now behind me. I felt like I was flying sometimes, when it would really hit me and push me along. All in all a gorgeous, gloriously fun day. Even the critters found something to enjoy... this black snake lay stock still on the pavement, soaking up the sun. And the birds were out in great numbers, considering the wind.

The one jarring note on the ride, aside from the typical go-fast riders passing without warning, was the realization of how much the scenic beauty of the trail has been impacted by development and power lines. Despite the economy, there are still areas of former woods and farmland being cleared for new houses. And as this photo shows, the sky is carved up by power lines and poles and towers all along the trail. The juxtaposition of the dogwood and electrical lines really jumped out at me. I know we all use and need the juice in our homes... I just hope some day we find ways to use it more wisely and provide it less obtrusively.

A guy can dream, can't he?

Despite that, all in all it was a wonderful ride. My legs today are feeling the 30 miles and headwind, but it's a good feeling!


John Pickett said...

You left out lilacs, the best part of Spring.

Also, I remmeber the W&OD when it was first finished, how the farms and woods came right up to the trail. There was even a trail side distillery out in Reston. It's downright depressing to ride the trail beyond Herndon these days.

Tim said...

John -

It's true, the trail must have been lovely back when it was first completed. Now it's been invaded by sprawl. Sigh. It's still a great resource, but not as pristine as it must have been.