Jun 30 2007

50 Miles Or 50 Years

Published by at 5:53 pm under All General Discussions

I had a bit of a milestone today. Last spring we taught the twins how to ride their two wheel bikes and began doing short bike trips on the paths around our area. Midsummer of ’06 we were biking to downtown Herndon for ice cream at Dairy Queen. I was amazed the girls at 6 were able to do this five mile trip!

But what also happened is I caught the bicycle bug. After getting thrashed on my $45 Kaymart Special Mountain Bike look-alike, I decided to get me a real bike: a Specialized Crossroads hybrid. That was around June of last year and I have been addicted ever since.

Couple week’s ago I went for the lock-in shoes (Specialized brand again) and was thinking about doing a multi-day trip along the C&O Canal. Still looking forward to that, but in preparation I decided to see if I could do a 50 mile day (which is not easy at my age). Well, today I did the 50 miles on the WO&D trail from Reston to Purceville and back. I did my 50 miles before I turned 50 years ( currently 47.5 and holding at 29). The trail is an old train line that runs from just about the Potomac River across from DC to Purceville. Here is one photo to give you an idea of what the trail looks like.

But there was on section coming down the hill at mile marker 39 or 40 which was just amazing. I can only describe it since I did not have a camera with me (idiot that I am). The trail came into a long stretch where the trees towered 80-100 ft above us. They formed a heavenly arch of green back lit by the afternoon sun which gave this stretch the look of a quarter mile long natural cathedral. The trees’ tops did not start to meet above our heads for about what looked to be 60-80 feet up, making the bikers look like mice racing up and down the middle of this arch. It was amazing. I am still kicking myself for not bringing the camera. But the real miracle is I made it! A half century in human powered miles before I hit half a century in years. OK, now time for a hot shower and a pile of advil. Be well all!

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “50 Miles Or 50 Years”

  1. MerlinOS2 says:


    That is the magic of life where sometimes getting from point a to point b you run across another point c that makes the trip worthwhile even though point b is still worth it.

    I had a friend once in Seattle took me on a drive up to Hurricane Ridge which was a natural viewpoint up there and on the way we passed through an absolute wonder of a place that you would swear you were on the edge of a Norwegian fiord with the roadbed about 6 inches above the waterline and massive forests climbing the steep mountains on the other side.

    After that you entered a canopy of evergreens that for several miles covered the road like walking into a well maintained cathedral.

    Purely an impressive drive.

    Now do your trip again tomorrow and take a camera bro, don’t whimp out on us LOL

  2. MerlinOS2 says:


    Remember helicopter medivac and specialty coronary surgeons are tax deductible. Heck you may even have the chance to get footage of your emergency extraction on the 6pm news.

  3. MerlinOS2 says:

    Oh and if mama gets frisky tonight buds you’re definitely in trouble LOL

  4. For Enforcement says:

    Congrats on the acheivement. I’m 67 and my wife and I decided to buy bicycles last year and start riding. We did. But to date, I doubt I have 50 miles total (in the year) but we do enjoy it when we do it, just not as diligent as we should be. I’m in the deep south tho and the summer humidity is a real killer (I’m pretty sure it is Va where you live also, tho. I used to live in S. Va near Chesapeake and it got brutal in mid summer there also. We have promised we will ride more this year tho. The scenery sounded great, take pics and post when/if you go again.

    Sounds as if your girls will be making it with you before long.

  5. ivehadit says:

    Way to go AJ!

  6. DaleinAtlanta says:

    Old home week for me AJ!

    You started out near Arlington, and I used to live in the Presidential Gardens off of Glebe Road (66 & 94!).

    Went by McLean (75 – 76) and Langley HS!

    Out past Franklin Farm Estates near Herndon (94 – 99)

    Sterling (my brother’s catering company)

    Out to Purceville (brother owns an estate right past Purceville, right near Bluemont).

    They have a county fair every summer in Bluemont, worth the visit!

    Sounds beautiful; I HATE Georgia, and can’t wait to move home to the family farm in PA!

  7. MerlinOS2 says:


    Here in Florida we have installed a massive sliding door at the Georgia line to keep the air conditioning in.

    Atlanta the textbook example of city planning. Comes with a complete appendix attached to explain all the details of how it went so wrong.

  8. For Enforcement says:

    What a small world sometimes. Dale, I was born and raised in Georgia, and love it, but then I was from the one absolutely furtherest point you can be from Atlanta and still be in Ga. Then Merlin is in Fl. My wife was born and raised there, Gainesville, Jacksonville areas. Then I lived in Va, where AJ is. At one time, in the 80’s I spent 6 years in Or, where Apache is (i think). Lived in lot’s of other states also, all over the South.
    Practically all my relatives still live in Georgia. Forgot to say, Merlin, when my wife’s parents passed away in Fl a few years ago, they left her their place. She still owns it near Palatka. we were there 3 weeks ago. As I said, small world at times.

  9. Aitch748 says:

    Now this is a nice coincidence. I’m on vacation this week and plan to spend Monday and Tuesday in Leesburg (miles 33 to 35.5 on the W&OD Trail) and Purcellville (final mile of the trail). I’ll have a camera but I won’t be on a bike.

  10. Terrye says:

    Be careful, I have a client who is a quad. He was on a mountain bike and hit something like a root in the trail and went over the handle bars. His foot caught in the bike somehow and he did not roll, he landed on his head, broke his neck.

    I know, I am just a bright ray of sunshine. But really, be careful.

  11. AJStrata says:


    I drive he DC beltway nearly every day. Odds are more against me there than on a paved trail! But I will be careful.

  12. Terrye says:

    Just make sure you roll. No landing on the head.

  13. Joe Buzz says:

    Nice work AJ! I know the W&OD. My ancestors on my mother’s side worked on it when it was an active railroad. Uncles were brakemen and grandfather was an engineer. She used to ride the train to work from Ashburn to Arlington. Its too bad that it stops at Purcellville, as it used to go all the way to Bluemont, that Dale mentions above.

  14. Cobalt Shiva says:

    I drive he DC beltway nearly every day. Odds are more against me there than on a paved trail! But I will be careful.

    Old Naval Institute Proceedings article about surviving duty at the Pentagon gave the following advice:

    1. Get a 1967 Dodge Dart
    2. Install a top-end stereo
    3. Replace stock bumpers with railroad ties
    4. Play Wagner at war emergency power
    5. Keep those warrior skills honed by edging out Beemers and Porsches