day ride stories
starting the day with some oatmeal and peppermint tea. while i wait for the the water to boil. i scavenge for any snacks that i can bring on this trip. rx bar, 2 justin’s almond butter packets with maple, nuun tablets, picky bar. i also took the time to make a little diy cereal baggy. dehydrated coconut milk, almond meal, granola, dried fruit, and dark chocolate, all in a ziploc bag. the plan is to walk out the door around 8:30am, and bike over to meet at chess’s house. we’ll head on toward the cap trail from there, led by a “ride with gps” route i had planned yesterday. it’s a bit chilly, but the suns out.
i roll up to chess’s house earlier than expected. maybe it was the slight chill that sped me up? it’s 8:43am. lean my bike up again his front stair, that leads to the front porch, and stretch a little. i eventually go around to the backyard and go inside to hang, while chess finishes getting ready. chat with ash, chess’s partner. we’re ready to go. it’s about 9:10am. chess pulls out his bike, from the basement, and we meet on the street, in front his house. we’re a bit layered up. that might change very quickly.
we head off going east. across randolph, hook a right down through oregon hill to the lookout. bomb down the hill under the highway to the steeper downhill that leads to the river. “easy on the brakes!” or we’ll end up in the river. we hook that hard left and follow the road that leads toward shockoe bottom. dive into the walking trails that cut through the flood wall. it’s now an obstacle course, bobbing and weaving through different terrain and entry ways. we make it to the the straight away under the train bridge. it’s the capital trail from here on out
we trudge through some mud without any warning signs. the beginning of the trail head must’ve flooded during the big rain a few days ago. first time in 20 years the city had to close the flood walls, they say. we try to ride through, but the mud is way to thick and deep for our tires. we end up walking it. we make it to pavement again, and take the time to scoop all the mud out of nooks and crannies of our bikes. we’re in the clear now. we also take the time to shed a layer.
we cruise with ease, catching the wind like its a jet stream. pass union guys fixing telephone lines along the trail. a few cyclists, and bunch of runners. lost in good conversation and sharing stories.
we make it to four mile creek trailhead. the turn around point. we’re about 17 miles in, which means we have 17 miles back. we eat a little snack. chess is feeling good and wants to keep heading east down the trail. maybe another 10 miles or so? we head on.
we make it to a turnaround point, at the intersection of the trail and shirley plantation road. we take a second to let 2 cyclist pass. we start making our way back west, back toward downtown richmond. major headwind going this direction, no wonder we were feeling really good going the other way. feels like a slow uphill climb. we make it back to the four mile creek trailhead. looking at the “ride with gps app,” we’ve rode about 36 miles. we decide to take a break to eat lunch. i realize that i never packed a spoon for my cereal. luckily there’s a gas station across the street. i ask if chess wants anything? “pretzels!” i dig for my mask and wallet, in my frame bag, and jog over. while in the little market i find a plastic spoon and pretzels. i suddenly get a craving for doritos. i bought them. i make it back across the street and we post up on a few benches. i nix the cereal for lunch idea. it’s doritos for me.
we both take the time to use the bathroom, and head on. the wind is gnarly at this point. we’re averaging about 8 mph, where earlier, we were averaging 13 mph. its a steady push. we pass all the places we saw before, more focused on trying to push through to the end of the trail, than to sight see. chess is definitely slowing down a bit, which forces me to stop every once and a while for him to catch up.
made it to the trailhead! taking a short detour to avoid the mud. we’re in good spirts, but definitely feeling it a little more after biking through that wind. the wind was so strong at times, that if you stopped pedaling, you would instantly stop moving. anyways, now to cut down through southside, heading over the 14th street bridge. we blast across, trying to avoid cars. hook a hard right into the flood wall trail. which was hard to find at first with all the new construction next to it. we make our way down, stopping to carry our bikes up and down some stairs. the city to our right.
we hit the buttermilk trail which is meant for mountain bikes. we don’t have mountain bikes. so we walk. stayed on the trail until we got to the other side of the overpass, and hopped back onto the the road. we zig zag through woodland heights and into forrest hill park. eventually making it to the nickel bridge. chess is keeping up, but definitely slowed down a bunch. i wait for him to catch up.
we blast down the hill to nickel bridge and hook an immediate left after, to head toward pump house road. this is the home stretch! we’re back on our side of the river. we make it up the hill and stroll through carillon. we make it back to chess’s house. i decide to keep on going and not stick around. we’re at 56 miles. not bad! it’s just almost 4pm. we joke about taking the rest of day off. i say goodbye and head on.
the sun is still shining. that was a nice ride.