Saturday, September 28, 2013

Finishing my 'unfinished business' with Burkes Garden

Today I finished my unfinished business by doing the Burkes Garden metric century ride solo. Along the way I met the camels pictured above. Yes, camels in Virginia. More on that in a sec.

Backstory: In August I did 56 miles of the Burkes Garden Century ride (within blog report here). I was a little bummed to miss the best part which was climbing up and dropping down into the bowl-shaped community that is surrounded by mountains but it was more important that I stick to the distance and terrain that fit Coach Jim's training plan for my racing goals. I figured I would go back out this fall and do the rest of it, so today was the day.

I did the metric century (100k = 62 miles) that started part way into the century (100 miles) and all but 16 of the miles were new-to-me which is fun-scary-fun for me. I hoped I would not get lost as there was little cell service for iPhone maps.

As (un)luck would have it, I picked the day that Tazwell and Burkes Garden were both having community festivals and traffic was nutty in places. I found myself in a long line of traffic several times as cars waited to enter and exit parking areas. The long switch-back climb on a narrow mountain road had steady streams of festival traffic in both directions and it was a white-knuckle ride for me. I was careful and thankfully the drivers were too.

I was treated to a ride past alpacas, ostriches, thousands of cows, and I dodged lots of wooly bear caterpillars crossing the road. I saw quite a bit of brown on them, so hopefully that will really mean a mild winter!!

The best and most surprising part was the "Camel Ranch" I found in Burkes Garden. I don't normally stop or take a lot of pics on rides because, well, that's called touring not training. But I could not resist a quick stop at the camel ranch!

I got the best little camel snuggle too!! A few miles past I was treated to the scene below on a barn. That made me very happy, as did the return to route 61 for a final 20 downhill miles on fast asphalt!

It wasn't super speedy, but it was a good workout and most importantly, a safe ride. And the unfinished business is unfinished no more!