Archive for the 'On tour: Virginia USA 07' Category

America. An ambiguous land…

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We’re back in Blighty. It feels good to leave the house in a t-shirt, no longer layered up like Michelin Man for the sub zero environment. Even the drizzle is a novelty.

Despite any preconceived ideas, our trip to the US was great. Awesome, even. We hung out with the extended Coolbaugh family and their pets (Ice, Fat Cat and Smokey) and met some wonderful, like-minded people who showed us their favourite places to ride and x country ski (a first for both of us). Thanks Matthew, Sue, Justin, Heidi, ‘trackstand’ Jason, Marcia and Marshall! And all the folks at Shenandoah bike shop in Harrisonburg. Without exception, everyone was warm and welcoming.

What can you say about America? For all its similarities, it’s bizarrely different. A larger than life world that both captivates and confounds me. So much endulgent choice! Like the 12, mouthwatering varieties of bagels at Mr J’s – even though I knew I’d be happy with just one. The pumped, muscled cars that clutter the identi-stripmalls. Where do people walk?!

Wide. Open. Spaces. The fantastic trails! (that you need to drive to).

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To those brought up on a diet of American TV culture, it’s strangely seductive. Take this big old lump of Americana. I know it’s an antiquitated gas guzzler, that no one in their right mind should be driving in this day and age. Yet… just look at it. Why can’t they make electric cars with charisma like this?!

Continue reading ‘America. An ambiguous land…’

A cold rush of air to the lungs.

Shouldn’t really be blogging again so soon… Way too much for anyone but mum to want to read. And way too much bikey stuff even for a mum. So I’ll make it a short one.dscf0745.jpgMatthew, who we met on the Superbowl Ride the day before, offered to take us for a spin round one of his favourite trails – Sandspring and Hearthstone. It was another cold day; maybe -10c or so. The steep debut to the ride and the sharp rush of air through our lungs spluttered us into life, like trying to get our old campervan started on a cold winter’s day…We’re quickly learning that the rides round here follow a fairly straightforward route profile. Up. Across a ridge. Then down. And this particular ‘up’ wound on for some 3 miles or so. Unrelenting, making a beeline for the top of the ridge – Reddish Knob. ‘The place whence all trails descend’, as Matthew put it.At times it was unashamedly ‘chin-to-handlebar’ steep. Non-cyclists might not appreciate the severity of this gradient. Adopting a comical, ostrich-like stance, elbows tucked in like wings and head poking out over the handlebars, makes the front wheel less likely to pop up into the air. It’s ungainly but it does the job. So we scrunched our way through patches of snow, philosophising about life, adding our own tyre profiles to the neat paw prints of cayotes and bob cats who roam these expansive mountains. Continue reading ‘A cold rush of air to the lungs.’

Into the Deep Freeze

So, we arrived safe and sound in Virginia, swooping in over a cinematic NY skyline, pointing at its landmark architecture like excited school kids.dscf0661.jpgWith time to burn awaiting our connecting flight, I tucked into my first meal in America: a frozen joghurt ‘blurry’, blended with billions of tiny m&ms, under a thick carpet of yet more m&ms for good measure. $5 of pure endulgence. Then Cara’s folks picked us up from DC and took us home.dscf0623.jpgWe didn’t wait too long before getting on the bikes the next morning. The ‘Superbowl Ride‘ seems to be a cult event in this part of the East Coast: a winter epic amongst like-minded friends, then an evening of good ol’ American Football. As we rode out of mall-sprawl towards the trailhead in the distant mountains, riders converged on an ever expanding group, like the Pide Piper passing through town. By mid-morning, a motley, colourful selection of riders, bedecked from head to toe an assortment of layers (apparently, it was about -5c, so out with the handwarmers, goggles, booties and balaclavers), aboard a rich and varied collection of machines – 29ers, singlespeeds, full sussers, steel hardtails… After a long road climb, then an icy, snowy doubletrack graft, we reached the viewpoint, huddled in with the rest of the 75 riders or so, out of the razor sharp wind… Continue reading ‘Into the Deep Freeze’


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