This new Ford Maverick seems designed specifically for me (as opposed to the old Ford Maverick, which had a great name badge). A 21-Century compact pickup, which is as big as full-sized pickups were when I was coming up. This is exactly what I’m looking for in a truck. I don’t need to pull a boat or haul a ton of bricks. I just want to be able to go to the dump a couple of times a year and to take my bikes to the trailhead.
I hope it is a hit so they’re still around in a few years when I’m in the market again.
Or even better, maybe this will kick off a compact pickup renaissance, and I’ll have a bunch to choose from in 2024. That would be the dream.
It’s probably been two years since I had my road bike in rideable shape. I’ve been riding a lot of mountain bikes in the pandemic so far, but there is nothing quite like long, country miles on a road bike to really get into the zen of it.
I’m out of town and away for the next couple of weekends, but my future will definitely have some local coffee shop rides and more than a few miles along the Virginia Capital Trail.
I still had some fun outdoor time but it was too hot to go hard.
Saturday morning tennis was just an hour but the humidity was over 70% so it was super-sweaty and gross. I got some new tennis shoes, too, so the hour-long session was a good break-in session.
I didn’t have team tennis yesterday afternoon, so we went a little further on the bike ride. Stella and I met some folks for Blueberry and we threw in a Bell Lap for good measure.
We ran across some folks managing a big copperhead that had gotten on the trail. It was kind of sketchy. It was also brutally hot and humid again. It’s great to get out and see friends on bikes but the weather definitely took a few points off of the experience.
Sunday started with a very chill mountain bike ride out at Pocahontas State Park with my youngest and some friends. It’s really nice to see people out in the world, and riding bikes is a reasonable way to do it. An ice-cold beer in the shade afterward was a perfect capper.
And then I embraced the hubris and played in my first competitive tennis match. This tennis situation has progressed aggressively. I went from hitting balls on Saturday mornings with a buddy a month ago to joining the USTA and playing a doubles match on a team. It was *so hot* out. I don’t know that the morning bike ride ruined my tennis debut, but it certainly took a little out of the tank. We lost 6-1, 6-4.
This is the part where I express mindful gratitude for being physically capable of doing this stuff. I ask a lot of this old bag of bones and it continues to be there for me. I promise to keep icing these knees for as long as they’ll carry me.
We watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Out Of Sight, with the kids. We broke with recent tradition and watched it on Friday night (as opposed to Saturday morning) and it was a hit. It’s an impossibly good-looking movie with two legit Movie Stars who movie-star all over the place. I was tickled that they enjoyed it and I was appreciative of the brief respite from the COVID-cloud that has been hanging over everything for the last few months. As a family, I think we’ve really enjoyed these movie sessions for the escapist break they give us.
Early Saturday morning the old Dominion Power building was imploded. I didn’t get up and go watch it live, figuring the internet would provide, and boy did they ever.
I got up early on Saturday morning and caught a mountain bike ride with my younger daughter out at Pocahontas State Park and we ripped some trails for the first time in over a year. The weather was wonderful and I wouldn’t have spent it with anyone else. It was also the first time I’ve used both bike racks on my car since I installed them. It was more than a minor victory to get to the park and see that both bikes were still there!
All of those good-times-as-distraction are null because while the world may still be upside-down with the COVID, now it’s on literal fire with protests. My home of Richmond, Va. suffered last night. People are justifiably angry and they took it out, correctly in my opinion, on the symbols of institutional racism that stand in our town.
I don’t understand the destruction and looting of local businesses, though. We have an incredible community of business owners in this city and it’s fucking absurd that some shitbags will use the protest of police killing black folks as an opportunity to burn and destroy good places. I also don’t subscribe to the All Cops Are Bastards mentality. It’s ignorant and counterproductive.
My disappointments are small potatoes compared to the real suffering going on in my city and my country. Please stay safe.
Got out with Adam to the Ancarrow’s Landing Trail, better known as The Poop Loop. We parked over by Legend Brewing and made our way to one of the Slave Trail access points. Turns out there was one a lot closer to our spot and we’ll be ready next time. It was also cold.
The last time I was down here was with Stella and when she and I ride we stay at her pace. Since Adam and I didn’t have kids with us yesterday, I opened up the throttle a little bit as we made our way to the Loop. I opened it so much, in fact, that I had a solid crash when my front wheel got just slightly off the track and into some leaves and softer dirt. I was able to use my belly and arms to break my fall and I escaped with some scraped knees. It’s been worse.
I’m not an aggressive enough rider to really shred on the Poop Loop and it’s a track that rewards that kind of riding. It’s still fun (when I can stay upright).
After a lap there we backtracked up The Slave Trail to Belle Isle. There is a great MTB skills park on the island that we goofed around in for a little bit. Then it was a fireroad ride to Riverside Drive and back to the car. It’s been a long, long time since I fired up the cardio machine like that. I had almost forgotten how the cold air dregs up the wet cotton from the bottom of my lungs. Gross. I should do it more.
Stella and I got out to Pocahontas State Park with Adam and Kaden for another crack at the Blueberry Hill Trail. Luckily, the rain we had during the week didn’t keep us off of the trail. It probably even helped a little bit since things had gotten sandy in the couple of weeks without rain.
This is the 4th(?) time we’ve been on Blueberry Hill and I think Stella’s getting the hang of it. In fact, she did such a good job there wasn’t a photo break. It is rated as an Easy trail in the park guide so there are very few technical (rocky or rooty) sections and none of the climbs/descents are too steep. It’s a fun ride for me, too, since I’m pretty damn far from cycling fitness.
Stella has started Nutcracker rehearsals so I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep riding on days she has to dance. She’s also a bit of a chicken about the cold, so she might not be on too much until the Spring. Luckily Adam got a new bike so there should at least be plenty of dad rides through the winter.
Stella has been working me to get out on the bike with her for months. I have been out of the bike riding mode for the last couple of years and, honestly, the couple of times she and I have been on the road for rides it has been way too stressful. On a lark, we took our bikes out to Pocahontas State Park to see how riding on some fire road trails would pan out and it ended up being a great time.
This is us on our first ride at the park. Fire road trails are wide open and multi-use so we saw joggers and hikers out there, too. The climbing was never steep and it didn’t go on very long, despite being marked as “moderate” difficulty. We got a little turned around and had to ride on the park road to get back to our car but it was still fun.
Our next time out we went with some friends. This was an “easy” difficulty single track trail called Blueberry Hill at Pocahontas State Park and Stella struggled a little bit. The climbs were short and never steep, but the lack of bailout room had Stella being extra tentative. It also raised the stress level for me because I really didn’t want to watch her take a dip off of the track into a tree. She had just a few slow-speed crashes and, as evidenced in the above photo, finished with a smile. We’ve been out to PSP a couple of times with this group and it’s been a lot of fun.
Stella and I took a Labor Day ride down to the James River Park System for some easy loops around Belle Isle. A sunny holiday meant that the place was packed but it was good practice for Stella’s share-the-road skills. That’s a photo of us on the rocks at the river. After a couple of laps around the island, we took off down the Richmond Slave Trail and Kanawha Canal. It was mostly riding on paved multi-use trail. Easy stuff and a good time.
I had heard of a downtown trail called the “Poop Loop” for it’s proximity to Richmond’s water treatment facility. The Loop is just under 2 miles long and sits at the far end of the Slave Trail. It was described as a good place for new riders to work on mountain bike skills, so we were stoked to get on it. Turns out, Stella needs some more seasoning before she can qualify as a “new rider”. It’s a pretty technical trail (meaning lots of roots and rocks with occasional felled trees) that had her super gun-shy by the end. It was not ideal, but she toughed it out. She’s no quitter.
Our most recent rise was new-to-us trail at PSP call Box Turtle. It was rated “easy”, but I am starting to think these rating are more about grade and less about trail obstructions. The roots and rocks here weren’t as bad as they were on the Poop Loop, but she was still reeling a bit from that misadventure and so was quick to dismount some rideable sections. She’ll come around, I’m sure.
And that catches us up to date. I’ll be sure and post up after our next ride.
This was my 5th year riding for Team Capital Ale House in the Bike MS: Ride Virginia. It’s a fund raising effort for the National MS Society that culminates with a two-day bike ride from Richmond to Williamsburg, Va., and back. 150 miles over two days is a tough ride but it’s for a good cause. If you’re so inclined, this is my donation page.
There were a couple of big changes this year that made for a different ride than in years past. First, I finished my Whole 30 on the Thursday before the ride so I didn’t have the week of carb-loading that I have used as an excuse for a 4-day pasta binge. I had serious concerns about being able to ride my bike for 4-5 hours in a row because I didn’t know how my deeper energy stores would be after a month of fat adapting. The silver lining of the Whole 30 was that I lost a bunch of weight, mostly fat, so I’d be a lighter rider than I’d ever been on this ride.
Second, I didn’t get nearly enough training miles this year. The weather and schedule this Spring has been tough on our normal riding schedule. 75 miles is tough on my body even with our normal foundation of miles so going into it at 60% of normal training made for extra tenderness in all of my “contact points” (hands, feet, backside). I had a world-class 10-minute massage after Day 1 and I think it may have saved my Day 2.
Day 1 was good enough. I was worried about my energy levels after the Whole 30 but I made it okay. I ate mostly fruit at the rest stops to avoid any trouble that might crop up from bread or whatever. It was hot out, too, which mostly meant drinking lots of Gatorade and water. Everything worked out okay.
I was tired and sore most of Day 2. I had a couple of runs where I was strong but it wasn’t like it used to be before Whole 30. It was a “raw” strength, not a “feeling good” strength (That doesn’t make sense and I’m still working on how to describe this feeling). It was weird. Our group got split a little as the day went on and I got really fatigued/cranky over the last 20 miles. I was over riding my bike and that put a damper on the weekend for me. Lunch at the finish was great and I passed on the pool to get in a lengthy nap when I got home.
I’m reassessing my cycling calendar for next year. I love riding my bike. This was my 5th MS150 and I might need a break. The whole process felt more like a grind than it ever has and that’s not what I want. I’m not making the call today because I’m still pretty beat. I’ve got 6 months to mull it over. I’m a helluva muller.