For me, one of the best ways to start off the new year is to go on a memorable bike ride. I've successfully been able to pull this off each of the last 4 years.
This year wasn't much different from last year's frigid mountain bike ride in the George Washington National Forest, riding on Narrowback and Tillman West with some friends; however, it was also very different.
This year I was able to get in a solid road bike ride with my dad and a few other friends. My dad, even though he went to JMU, has never been to the top of Reddish Knob. So our mission was to get him to the top. It was cold and Dad wasn't super confident that he'd make it the full 8 miles up to the top, but he promised to give it his best.
Wearing the right clothes for the ride was crucial because it was freezing outside, but we didn't want to sweat too much during the climb as that would make the rest of the day miserable. To best control our body temperature we dressed in layers. I had on my favorite Cannondale riding bibs, a Bluestone Jersey, a nice Cannondale long sleeve jersey, an Endura vest, a light weight jacket, an Endura wool neck gaiter, a headband for my ears, long Cannondale tights, wool socks, and some Endura medium weight gloves. At the beginning of the ride I was comfortable, not too cold and definitely not too hot.
We parked at the Briery Branch Community Center and set out from there. It was a good 4.5 miles to the start of the Reddish climb which was ample time to warm up and get mentally prepared for the grueling climb to the top.
As the road turned upward my body temperature rose and I had to pay close attention to zipping and unzipping layers so that I didn't sweat too much. There are mile markers on the road that count down as you approach the top. These are great to see, except when they are not. In never ceases to amaze me how far apart some of those mile markers seem ;).
Dad's legs were doing great, but with about 4 miles left to go he was feeling pretty beat. Richmond, definitely doesn't have hills like this one, so the climbing was taking a toll on him. We stuck by each other a little bit further and then he encouraged me to go ahead and said that he'd meet us either at the top or on the way back down.
Seeing that Dad was really set on having me going on, I surged up ahead, so that I could get the climbing over with as fast as possible. The Reddish climb is brutal. Near the saddle, I ran into someone running down. As I passed him, I gave him a huge smile and big helping of encouragement. He looked tired, but happy and if he truly had run up that mountain he looked 100x better than I would have at that point.
Making it to the top of Reddish is always rewarding as the view from the top is one of the best I've ever experienced. I snapped a few photos and headed back down. (This is where I got really cold.)
As you descend Reddish Knob you gain a lot of speed and the cold air becomes even colder!
I was happy to see Dad at the Saddle. He had walked/biked an additional two (hard) miles after I left him and I was really proud of him. We decided that we'd tackle the very top of Reddish Knob together another day and pointed our bikes downhill.
The 10 miles, or so, back to the car was bitter cold and it made us appreciate the heat in the car even more.
Riding bikes with Dad and friends was a great way to kick off 2016. It was cold, challenging, fun, and exciting and besides it being cold, that is exactly what I want my year to look like!