Our Rides in Words, Photos & Videos

When the sounds of an army ...

...of lawn mowers, tractors, and other assorted farm and estate equipment fire up and assault our hearing nonstop from dawn to dusk, you know Mother Nature has turned off the incessant rain here in Northern Vieginia and turned up the heat to t-shirt "outside" weather, signaling it's time to get ready for Summer to hit hard, hot, and soon.

And so it was that the long awaited warm spell was all I needed to encourage me to go AWOL to escape the clutches of "farm life in the Springtime". After having spent the last two weeks moving 400+ strawberry plants from an old, messy bed to a newly created, regimented one, it was time to take to the gravel roads for a much deserved ride. This past weekend I enjoyed a similar escape by joining the local bike shop group for a 22 mile paved and quite civilized ride to a nearby farm market. T'was great fun, got to reconnect with old cycling friends, browse an endless deployment of vendors at the weekend market, pet a million friendly pooches dragging their proud parents along on leashes while said canines worked the crowds for pets and adoration with the self assurance of experienced politicians. (I do declare that there were almost as many expertly groomed and highly pampered dogs in the crowds of people wandering the shops as there were people themselves. Not a mutt in the entire assembly. Every last one was a purebred in an astonishing number of different breeds).

Sadly, I didn't manage to find any farm fresh cheese, as my hubby had hoped I'd procure for him, so I arrived back home, a bit chilled and a bit damp from the intermittent sprinkles and minus the cheese, but still basking in the joy of just being able to finally ride the bike and not be forced yet again to stand at the window watching the outside world suffer the onslaught of perpetual rain and bitter cold.

I do have a 33 mile ride coming up this Saturday in Maryland with the ebike group, hence my need to put in some saddle time ASAP, especially now that the heat and sunshine were in full regalia, all the strawberry plants that could possibility fit in the new bed had been moved, and the other beds (veggies and corn) were waiting for seeding.

Last week the road crews had planted a warning sign that my gravel road across from my farm, my adopted road, would be closed for road repair. Seems like the road crew decided this "first warm day of the season" would be perfect to block the road midway by digging up and replacing a 75 year old culvert worn out from decades of seasons and routine flooding of a major creek that used the culvert to get from one side of the road to the other. I wasn't sure how extensive the road blockage would be, but I soon found out.

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It was a complete closure. A trench across the entire road flanked by large machines on both sides like opposing armies. An endless convoy of official trucks sat quietly off the sides, surrounded by an army of men in blaze orange and hi-viz green vests and hard hats supervising the operation of extracting the old metal culvert before a platoon of new plastic culvert could be deployed in the stream bed.
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There was no way around for a car or bike. Maybe for a person on foot if they felt willing to wade into the wide, muddy, quickly moving stream to attempt an advance to the far side. It was a blockage that would halt anyone. Anyone that didn't know the horse paths through the nearby woods that circumvented the big stream and could work around the blockade by sneaking through some private property, that is.

Since I knew the surrounding landowners, and all the ways through the surrounding woods, I set off on my bike as if it was my horse from years past. Down the nearby old road that had long devolved into a woodland path for horses and the foxhunt, through a stream that insisted I get my feet wet as payment for passage, up the increasingly wild path which required some negotiating with the littered remains of tree limbs lost in recent battles with the March winds that now semi blocked the muddy path, and up into an open field that was already flush with new growth destined to be hay by mid summer.
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I followed along an invisible route that only I knew from years in the past, memories tracing the way from an entirely different saddle on an entirely different conveyance, and then through a break in the woods bordering the field that also bordered a friend's property. I kept my bike moving beneath me, past my absent friend's back field, past her back yard occupied by a friendly curious and very vocal retired foxhound, and down her driveway back to the road on the opposite side of the breach.

I turned my bike back to the platoon of road department trucks lining this opposite side of the road breach, as well as several generators which filled the air with the roar of their ear splitting motors as they pumped massive volumes of water out of the big stream upstream, through a series of large fire hoses draped across the road to the downstream side where the water rejoined the stream bed to continue once again on its woodland run. I snapped a photo of one of the crew waiting to help deploy one of the new plastic culvert. He was already tired, hot and a bit grumpy, so I left him to his job while I watched the action from this side of the road.
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Across the breach the one big machine on the far side was busy systematically pounding a major offensive assault attempting to crumple the ancient metal culvert into a mass of smashed corrugated pieces. It was a hard fought battle as the old metal put up an impressive defense, refusing to yield its massive round shape until the fatigue of the constant onslaught of the machine's heavily fortified front digger slamming down again and again just proved to be too much. As the destruction took place on the far side, in the near side a new culvert piece was already being moved into place. I watched silently as pieces of the old world slipped away in advance of the new.

As the new culvert piece settled onto the creek bed, aided by the men and the machines, I took that as my cue to wave goodbye to some of the guys watching me from their vantage point in the stream, and headed down the uninterrupted road into the more peaceful countryside. About a mile further I did have to pull off the road momentarily to allow passage of two monstrous road department trucks making their way to the front line. The drivers happily, with big smiles, returned my friendly wave. After they had passed in a loud rumble of tires and dust, I reclaimed the road to continue on my journey.
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The rest of the ride was lost in the peace of the countside, the old gravel road taking me past elegant estates, down narrow steep declines and up slightly wider inclines, always offering beautiful views no matter which way I looked. Paul Simon accompanied me, singing a delightful ditty through the earbud snugged in my right ear about the time he and Julio were down in the school yard while my left ear, free from musical interludes, enjoyed the sounds of nature and the crunch of the gravel beneath my wheels. It was heaven. 9 miles later I was back in my own neck of the woods, stopping to chat with a neighbor "up the road a piece" whom I haven't seen since last Fall. As is typical of "country folk" we stood in the middle of the road, sharing the local news, discussing world news, and only stepping off to the side to exchange friendly waves hello to the cars and trucks that passed now and then, each vehicle slowing respectively as we yielded them enough room to pass before reclaiming the road to continue our conversation. After an enjoyable repast just gossiping and sharing funny stories I finally had to say goodbye to my neighbor and get moving because I had promised some of my extra strawberry plants to my son who had driven down from his place to ours and was waiting for me to get home.

And thus I found myself off my bike and back in the old strawberry patch, digging up strawberry plants once again. Deja vu, but this time in the sunshine.

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Love it. Well told. i just love NoVa. Great warm day to ride today. It’s over 80 on my porch - direct sunlight helps.
Thank you for the story.
 
I took off to go drop off the electric bill payment and get some weekly newspapers. I took the long way home.
Got newspapers here. MEAT SALE was on, I guess. I cut back on that so probably don't need any.
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The ground is pretty rocky in this area so there are a few buildings and houses that used it in their construction. This is a church.
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Then on and up the hill to go back the long way. Balsam root, (we called them sunflowers) are in full bloom.
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After this, I looked for not John Deere tractors and the hunt was on. These ran like a deer across the road and there were twice as many but I fumbled getting the camera out. They wouldn't stop and pose.
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Then, down at the lower elevations I found these beauties. A Ford, and I think there is a number and letter for these like 9 N or something. I do not know if the second red tractor, that looks like it gets used, is a Ford. Tanks beware!
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I had to stop and put on another layer. There is north wind blowing and it looks like it might turn dark and stormy. Spring is here.
 
The ground is pretty rocky in this area so there are a few buildings and houses that used it in their construction.
What has shocked me while in Israel was the fact anything was built of rock there. A very rocky country. Mostly rocks.

Tanks beware!
I was thinking of you and Mulezen on my ride of Wednesday. When I stopped to take a photo of The Stack from 10 km distance, I spotted a famously green & yellow tractor at distance. I wondered whether all world's tractors of these colours were John Deere but the machine was too far among the fields to approach it and check! :)
 
I am surprised not to see any Kubota and the other ones from Asian manufacturers. I suspect those are out at work and are not lawn ornaments this time of year. Orchard spraying has been ongoing, and orchard tractors are built low to the ground, like the two I found today.

I think my cowboy/ranching uncle had a green Oliver tractor.
 
I am surprised not to see any Kubota and the other ones from Asian manufacturers.
Oh! So Kubota is a tractor manufacturer? There are Kubota dealers around!
P.S. Most popular tractor brands in Poland:
  • Deutz-Fahr (Germany)
  • Zetor (Czech Republic)
  • Arbos (Italy)
  • Kubota (Japan)
  • John Deere
  • Massey Fergusson
  • Fendt...
 
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It Is No Good To Wake Up In The Morning And Watch Your Own Personal Heatmap...

...one could get scared and collapse! :D

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You need to be a Strava subscriber, go to Explore -> Create a Route, then check "Personal Heatmap" in options.

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Within the map of Poland...


And then a new riding buddy comes and tells you that you have missed riding through the central axis of the Kampinos National Park (West) :D
 
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Not quite full moon …

Moon

8:10 pm; 27ºS 152ºE
Today's ride had me returning home well after sunset. Thank goodness there was an almost-full moon to assist! Just two more sleeps and it'll be full which is somehow connected with Easter. (I think there's a formula based on the first full moon after the equinox.)

Trivia: The view of the moon will be slightly different in the northern hemisphere, appearing somewhat inverted. I haven't the remotest clue which stars are visible, but I did check the horizon line in the camera's viewfinder before clicking (this is the correct orientation for us!).
 
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Wow! That is epic spring snow even for us. It’s amazing that a plow was even able to get through those tight streets. I’ve seen some of the hilly terrain that you cycle on and am not surprised it took you so long to make it home. It might have been faster commute on XC skis. ;)
That was all shovel work by me and a neighbour, we were both knackered for days after it! 🤣 Thankfully a big fall like that doesn't happen very often, the worst was in the mid 80's when it was up over the hedges and buried my car outside in the street for a whole week! You couldn't even see my car, luckily I worked very close to home then so it wasn't a problem!

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It was very overcast this morning but riding conditions were perfect with a light wind and 8C so no danger of any ice! I had a blast riding all my lovely quiet back roads, I didn't even see another cyclist today apart from 2 on the cycle path that runs parallel with the road! I left home with a route planned in my head but within a couple of miles I completely changed it and just freestyled the whole route, just making it up as I went along! The next time I really need to plan my route to descend this lovely new tarmac road, once again I ended up climbing it!

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Knowing my luck I will be flying down it and I will meet some horse riders, I have never seen any on this road despite the sign! ;) It was tempting to ride back down it when I placed the bike here for this photo but I hate going back the way I came!

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A few miles on and I was thinking about where to turn next and decided to head through some villages with nice descents, it meant I would meet some cars but thankfully it was quiet today as a lot of people are away for Easter! I was thinking about climbing this big hill but changed my mind, its a 40mph+ descent and a 5mph ascent! 🤣

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This village which is called Lionthorn has a much more gradual ascent so I chose it today as my legs were still feeling Sundays big ride!

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The villagers have a nice view of the fields which are looking very lush for the time of year!

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The climb is very twisty but pretty easy on an e bike, I remember struggling up it many times on my carbon road bike!

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Back on the flat and only 10 miles from home now, no more photos as time was against me once again!

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As you can see from the elevation profile I still picked a hilly route, its hard not to here though as there are very few flat roads! I really enjoyed that ride and can't wait to get out again, hopefully on a longer ride but I am limited at the moment to 50 milers....I really want to do another 100 miler but unless my dads health improves its very unlikely! At least I'm still getting out so I can't complain, I know many of you are stuck indoors so I really count myself very fortunate!
 

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Oh! So Kubota is a tractor manufacturer? There are Kubota dealers around!
P.S. Most popular tractor brands in Poland:
  • Deutz-Fahr (Germany)
  • Zetor (Czech Republic)
  • Arbos (Italy)
  • Kubota (Japan)
  • John Deere
  • Massey Fergusson
  • Fendt...
I grew up in the SW of England and the Tractors were made by David Brown, my surname is Brown...yes, rather English indeed...my name was going to be David Brown until my mother walked past a showroom.
Im not naming him after a tractor!
 
ooh, I'll have a look.
I‘ve previously worked for TWR who made the straight six engine for the DB7 and there are a number of engines out there that I‘ve signed off. They were also engineering the V12 engine, but I left before this was finished.

We also did the design and engineering for the DB7 car itself.

This will be a start.
 
Stuck Presta Valve, or Piotr Bielecki's KPN Route

So, one Piotr B. made me aware I managed to miss an interesting trail in the Kampinos National Park. Confronted with +18-23 C (!!!) and sunshine, I simply could not resist the pleasure of a ride! I carried my big Vado to a popular parking lot in Roztoka (which is located in the centre of the Park, between the eastern and western parts).

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Specialized Electrak 2.0 tyres allow inflating to just 2 bar (30 psi), which is in the MTB range, and that allows riding off-road comfortably, fast, and with excellent traction. Actually these "slicks" can ride through shallow sand easily (what a surprise!) As I wrote earlier, a stuck Presta valve in the front wheel led to an unpleasant situation of having the front wheel inflated to the max, and the rear wheel riding under reduced pressure. It all made the trip tiresome, and the ride was very very slow.

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The KPN area consists of long post-glacier sand dunes interlaced with marshes. Here, a view from the highest sand dune by name of "The Carpathians". The valley is just one large marsh.

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A short rest at a place known as "The Burgh". Indeed, the remnants of an ancient burgh can be sight-seen (it is enough to turn to the left. I rode forward).

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The real intention of Piotr B. was creating an MTB route, including as many hills as possible (those gravel cyclists are a special breed indeed...) It was still early on the ride when I exclaimed: "There are too many climbs to my liking here!" :D

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I crossed Kanał Łasica (the Weasel Channel) twice on the day. The temperature was approaching 23 C there. There was some SSW wind but given the air temperature, the wind was pleasantly cooling the human body instead of being a nuisance.

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A CRASH! My mind was obsessed with a single thought "if I only had lower pressure in the front wheel..." and I lost my vigilance. The front wheel rode onto a big stick, lost its traction, and I instantly crashed. I've crashed so many times, my subconsciousness has developed ways to crash safely: My body is turning in the air to fall backwards. This time, the fall was too fast: I fell both on my elbow and back, and hit the ground with the back of my helmeted head. As I was wearing a MIPS MTB Bell helmet, nothing wrong happened. I was laying some time on the ground, sat up, took some rest (and the photo!), then got up and continued my trip, less happy than I was before. "If I only could have lower pressure in the front wheel..."

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And now this! I had enough. Just lifted my heavy Vado with both hands and the e-bike was behind the obstacle! It reminded me the happy times when I was carrying my little (but heavy) daughter on my shoulders for kilometres, and my wife was praising me, telling Magda: "See, your Dad is a strongman!" :) (I was far younger though).

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A Ukrainian casserole as bought at the food-stand in Leszno. Pretty long, innit? :)

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Ride Map with Metrics and POI.
 
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