One of my favorite rides in the area is Richmond-Ashland but it does have a couple of drawbacks as well. First it is fairly flat (but really what isn’t around here) and second is a little shorter than I would like for the fitness level I am reaching for and thirdly its an out and back rather than a loop. Yesterday I decided to simply continue on past Ashland and take VA bike route 76 (the trans-America trail) until I had reached the distance I was looking for or the amount of time I wanted to be one the bike for the day. I was pleasently surprised to arrive at Scotchtown, one time home of Patrick Henry of “give me liberty or give me death” fame. Furthermore, the road outside of Ashland includes several short descents and brief climbs to get the heart moving. My heart monitor read 169 beats per min at one point and the cyclometer told me I had gotten up to 38 miles per hour as well which was all coasting mind you as my gearing isn’t high enough to spin at that speed not that I need to go faster than that anyway. Scotchtown itself is a pretty nice place and there were restroom facilities where I was able to fill up my water bottle in the sink. I declined the offer of a tour simply due to time constraints but probably would have enjoyed that as well.
Thankfully, the bike was outfitted with fenders because even before I made it to the destination it started spitting rain. By the time I had left and was underway back to Ashland to stop and eat around my 45 mile mark the rain had moved in even if it was a lite sprinkle to gentle shower at times. Actually it was cool all day and I didn’t mind the rain at all. As you can see in the photo my rain jacket never came out and stayed on my rack the entire time. Also, I manged to enjoy some pears along the way as there was a tree with plenty that had fallen and were in good shape which I slammed to the face while shoving a couple more into my saddlebag. Good thing too as one of the climbs coming back into Ashland had me cursing at the top of the climb and spinning wildly in the saddle while I caught my breath at the top and waited to shift gears. The cyclist I spotting coming from a side road motivated me to use up the remaining fuel in the tank to try and catch up for the final stretch into Ashland where I could replnish my caffine stores. I did managed to catch her on a descent (probably becuase my steel bike weighs 30+lbs loaded up) and hugged her wheel for awhile until about 4/5 the way up I had to drop down a gear and she rocketed off. I trailed her into town by about 500 yards but I could tell she was in great shape and her legs looked like pistons firing…also I’m gonna tell myself she hadn’t gotten 40 miles in so far that day either.
Following a meal at Ashland Coffee and Tea I hopped back on the bike and pretty much cruised into Richmond. For some reason I can average 2-3 mph faster returning to Richmond than heading out of town so I normally take less time coming home. All told at the end of the day I had gotten in about 68 miles and burned 3400+ calories all amongst beautiful Virginia countryside. I highly reccomend this trip and would plan on it taking 5-6 hours with a stop for lunch at a moderate pace (13-15mph).