Irene


Rain from the first band of the hurricane fell as I walked out into the hollow, the last Saturday in August. The clouds were rushing from the north/northeast, the front edge of the eye several hundred miles southeast on the coast. The first band lasted only a minute, but I knew they would come more frequently. My century ride, out of Sperryville, would get wetter.


Starting just before 9 a.m., I rode up Thornton Gap and turned north on Skyline Drive, where the temperature was comfortable and the cloudline sometimes below me. To the west, the horizon beyond Luray was invisible, but the storm was still far enough that spots of sun shone on the mountains. By the time I reached Hogback, 10 miles north at 3500 feet, visibility was nil. Headlights of approaching cars appeared at a hundred yards. Still, the rain was intermittent.

At Front Royal, the streets were dry — for a moment. Another band dumped rain for about four minutes. I rode east on VA 55 into the wind, and turned south at Linden on one of my favorite strips, Fiery Run Road, which a mile in crosses the Appalachian Trail. It was 2 p.m., and the real hurricane was about to arrive. Rain started pouring as I crested the approach to Rattlesnake Mountain, blanketed by clouds, and dove into Fiery Run’s valley.

Reaching Hume and turning south on Leeds Manor, I finally had the wind with me! The rain backed off into a steady fall with heavy winds. I sailed all the way to Waterloo Bridge, the wood plank span over the Rappahannock, and turned west toward Amissville. I rode rollers through the forest from Viewtown to Scrabble, and turned north on the road out of Culpeper toward home. At my regular detour off US 522 onto Rudasill Mill Road, the Blue Ridge vista opened up — a vague, gray outline, but always a pleasure for stopping to take in the view.

The night was a howler, accompanied by another inch of rain. Far less than Washington got. At dawn, the wind calmed. In a little while, I caught a patch of blue breaking through. Irene had moved on.

The pics are here.

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