This past Sunday hundreds of bicyclists rolled out of Hillandale Park in Harrisonburg, Virginia, for the 29th Annual Shenandoah Valley Century September 11th, 2011. I was one of them.
At the start of the ride we were given instructions by the very capable, Art Fovargue. Before we were allowed to roll off, Art reminded us of the tragic events that had taken place at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field ten years ago to the day. He asked us to take a moment during the ride in memory of those who lost theirs lives. Saying that we should be thankful that we were able to ride on such a lovely September morning, Art reminded us that many of those who were gone loved to bicycle.
My initial ride plan was to join with the 25 mile group. I wanted to spend less than two hours riding and get back to meet with my mom and daughter who is a senior at James Madison University. They were visiting with each other while I was riding.
Somewhere along the way I missed the turn and stayed with the century riders on the first cloverleaf for 28 miles. As we neared the rest stop at the end of this circuit I met up with a group of cyclists who said they had just finished a little over 10 miles. I thought I had gone many more than that and then realized these were 25 milers near their halfway point.
I met many interesting and friendly riders along the way. There were two woman who were graduate students in math at the University of North Carolina. The one I was speaking with specialized in fluid dynamics. They were there because her father-in-law was Art, the gentlemen who briefed us just before the ride. Another guy I started the race with lived 6 miles west of Harrisonburg and was looking forward to the full century course. When Laura introduced herself she said she was there with her three friends. Laura’s husband had the same name as me, Steve, so she said that wouldn’t be hard to remember. Laura was a mental health counselor in between positions. Her one friend was a custom jewelry maker, the other was a teacher who had just started the school year. I don’t recall what the fourth friend did but, they were all graduates of James Madison University who decided to stay in the area. This speaks very well of Rockingham County and it’s opportunities.
Rolling into the town of Bridgewater, Virginia, the rest stop gave me a chance to return to Harrisonburg and meet up with Susie and grandma. I got directions and proceeded to go south on Route 42, exactly the opposite direction I was supposed to go. After entering Augusta County, Virginia, I realized the sun was in the wrong place if I was going the correct way. I stopped and confirmed this with a very friendly couple. A few miles later I retraced my error and was back in Bridgewater.
I continued the six miles or so north into Harrisonburg and returned to Hillandale Park where I found refreshments and a number of riders already returned from their outing. The paninis were excellent as was the watermelon.
The day was beautiful as it was memorable. I packed up the bike, stored my gear and made my way back to the campus. I look forward to seeing the people of Harrisonburg, Virginia, real soon for another bike ride.