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Bike Virginia 2005: Valley Byways Tour

The Valley Byways Tour, a five-day event (June 24 to 29 ), proved irresistible to the Grunt Brothers, the bicycling unit of the Personal Pronouns. The scenic byways of the Roanoke and Shenandoah Valleys took us through pristine farmlands and vineyards, fertile valleys, restored villages, and Civil War battlefields, where the guns fell silent over a century ago. We enjoyed about 250 miles of riding, but we had to struggle with almost 18,000 feet of hill climbing. Grunt Brother Bill had to spend a day helping perfect Grunt Brother Bob's hill climbing technique.

We camped out in tents, visited a winery, met cyclists from around the country, not-so-skinny dipped in a river, and even visited a Steven Speilberg movie set! We are ready to go again!

Click a thumbnail photo to see the full-size picture.


Bike Virginia is a 2,000 rider event! Here is the scene at the first rest stop on the first day of the event (Saturday, June 25).

By this point, we have ridden only 12 miles of a paltry 55 mile ride. However, we were about to see why the daily mileage was so low just a few hours from here...

Here's a common problem: many people on group rides wear the same jersey, so how do you recognize teams? These tandem riders solved the problem by decorating their helmets with ketchup bottle figurines.

Bike Virginia offers prizes to organizations that run the best-liked bike stops. This is Rest Stop 2 on Saturday, and the Church provided a home-grown Gospel Bluegrass band!

This is what they gave us for dessert after lunch on the first day: The Wall! A 2,000 foot climb in just two miles! You can just see riders above the white building. The Wall gave Lance Armstrong some trouble in the 1996 Tour duPont!

This is what The Wall looked like at the start. By now, the riders have talked about it all morning, have eaten lunch, and many of us are freaked out! Look how many people are pushing their bikes, with two miles to go to the summit!

On Sunday (June 26), the peloton leaves Roanoke and heads for Lexington Virginia, 71 miles away. Grunt Brother Bill (right) meets two friends from a Baltimore bicycling club.

The Baltimore club guys, like Brother Bill, are all hill climbing geezers. Grunt Brother Bob is a flatlander. Here I am, 90 minutes and ten miles behind them, grinding toward Lexington on Sunday.

On Monday, June 27, we decided to skip the Century Ride and do some touring on a 50-mile trip. A local pointed out this house, which was used as a set for Tom Cruze and Steven Speilberg's "War of the Worlds". It is near Rockbridge Baths in Virginia. New Jersey is a long way away!

We also rode up to Goshen Pass, "the loveliest spot in Virginia". Most of us were glad to get out of our bike shoes and wiggle our toes in the Maury River. This did not satisfy Grunt Brother Bill, though ...

... The Grunt Brother decided that only swimming would do, so here you see him happily backstroking along in his bike shorts. Before long, he had three more bicyclists in the water with him.

On Tuesday June 28, we hardly rode anywhere ... less than 20 miles. We hung around Lexington and did some sightseeing. This is where I lived during the event: Sherpa Village, run by Sherpa Ted Mayberry. Sure beat struggling with that gear by myself!

Naturally, we had to see Stonewall Jackson's grave in the Lexington Cemetery. Most of him is here; his arm is buried in what was another family's private cemetery near Chancellorsville, where he was wounded by his own men.

The President's House at Washington and Lee University. Its first occupant was former Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA. Successive presidents of the University continue to occupy the house. Before you ask, the flag on the left of the porch is the Stars and Stripes, and not the Stars and Bars.

It is Wednesday, June 29, and it is time to go home. First, we ride a slightly shorter route back to Roanoake Virginia; only 61 miles. Rest stops, up to this point, have been only 8-12 miles apart. Rest Stop One on this day was 20 miles from the starting line. You can see the peloton come roaring in, hungry and foraging for food.

Here are some of the members of the Fairfax County Non-Motorized Transportation Committee "walking the walk". I'm a member, and there is a fourth member at Rest Stop One that didn't make it into the picture. With only three more members present, we could have had an official meeting!

Our Lunch Stop featured a display of a Shenandoah freight boat of a type used in the late 18th to mid-19th Century to move goods downriver to market. These boats typically made one trip, and then were broken up for lumber. They could carry about five tons of goods.

Our afternoon rest stop was at the Fincastle Vinyard. What they had under the tent was a lot more popular than Gatorade!

...And with about 25 miles to go, the Grunt Brothers are ready to bid Bike Virginia 2005 adieu! We are happy with our accomplishment, and believe me, thanks to Fincastle Vinyards, we are feeling no pain!

Want to do this too? The BikeVirginia Tour de Love is June 26-28 2006. Check it out at BikeVirginia.org!