A Century and Then Some

The dogwoods are blooming. 

Sperryville for the weekend. While my DCR buddies were biking my “home course,” the Old Rag 200K, I spent Saturday morning napping. I recovered in the afternoon, as did the weather, for a jaunt on one of my favorite loops: Gid Brown Hollow, which runs off US 211 to the edge of Shennandoah Park below Hogback Mountain, before horseshoe-ing back to Washington on Harris Hollow Road beside the Rush River, headwatered along the now-closed trail to Big Devil Stairs. Everywhere on the edge of the woods, the dogwoods exploded in color against the hardwoods whose pale leaves are just shooting.

A descent on Quaintance Road

From Washington, I headed southwest on Rock Mills and Rudasill Mill to Woodville, for a path I’d never traversed: Quaintance Road, west of the hamlet running to Slate Mills, a hardpack that is sublime in its isolation. Even for Rappahannock County, there few signs of man in this little valley along a Hazel River tributary. A couple of barns, a few more cattle, but mostly open fields and forested hillsides. I had avoided Quaintance because of the gravel, but it’s quite comfortable on most tires, and the scenery is a four-mile smile [link embed here]. 

 From Slate Mills Road, I finally caught a tailwind, sailing back to Sperryville.

For Sunday, I front-loaded a century. There are no flat routes out of the Virginia piedmont, but I wanted something special. The highlight was my first ride up Fiery Run Road. I began speculating about Fiery Run with Crista Borras

A distant cherry blossom marks the road above Fiery Run

several months ago, as we exchanged navigation notes on the permanent “We Can See Clearly Now.” Crista said she was unfamiliar with it. A road Crista doesn’t know? Fiery Run is spectacular. From the south at Hume Road, there is a stiff climb and then descent into the valley through which Fiery Run flows. The road dips the base of Rattlesnake Mountain, a 2,000-foot peak due east of Chester Gap, and then rises over Rattlesnake’s ridge, where a 1.3-mile hardpack of rollers presents no real trouble for larger tires. At the pavement, go left at Harrels Run Road for the descent to Linden, on VA 55.

The next hill was Naked Mountain, riding up Leeds Manor Road from Markham, northeast to US 17 near Sky Meadows, followed by Paris and the long climb from Ashby Gap to the top of Mount Weather, on an 11-mile stretch that plunges into Snicker’s Gap.

Forty-eight miles into the century, the work was done. All that was left was the glide to Round Hill and the cruise to Arlington on the WOD trail.

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