This past Thursday was a day off for both Lindsey and me, so we decided to do a big ride outside of town. Sometimes it's nice to ride somewhere different - helps us keep appreciating our favorite roads here at home.

We started from The Wild Oak Trail parking lot and made our way up and over the Confederate Breastworks into McDowell, VA. McDowell is a small town, set in a beautiful valley that was the site of a Civil War battle in 1862. Many times when I am out riding my bike I find myself wondering what it would have been like to be a soldier in the Civil War, hiking up and over these mountains. It's an incredible thing to think about.

We stopped at the small grocery in McDowell and honed in on getting some cold cans of Coca-cola. It was getting hot. So hot, in fact, that we were so set on being able to drink cold soda we almost forgot to refill our water bottles.

After our snack break we set off into Bullpasture Valley, making our way north towards West Virginia. This was my favorite part of the ride. The mountains on either side of us seemed endless; the road was just rolling along.

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For our return route, we turned onto Sally Hiner rd, climbing over one ridge, and seeing so many different animals it felt like we were on some sort of expedition. And I helped a baby snapping turtle across the road!

Sally Hiner is a tough cookie. It's gravel that is so blown out from the winter, it makes riding super sketchy. And to add to its rough and tough demeanor, the people that live out there are not a fan of coyotes, and will prove it to you by showcasing them from a tree. It's an interesting thing to behold.

After descending Sally Hiner, we had 2 more gravel climbs over Shenandoah Mountain to get back to the car. At this point, we were both so happy to not have to make the ride back to town - the car was waiting for us only 20miles away. The temperature was in the mid-90s and we were starting to worry about cramping. So we found a pace that would keep the cramps away and kept chugging along. When we reached the top, we sat down and pulled ourselves together. I had so many twinges and twitches going on in my hamstrings, it was hilarious. Descending down the gravel, we had a hiccup when Lindsey double flatted. But the flats got fixed and all ended well. We got back to the car fine, and then jumped in a local swimming hole to cool off completely. It was the perfect way to end the ride.

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