The Regional Park Authority (I assume it is they) has done extensive repaving from Park Street near the Vienna Rec Center eastward past our right-of-way access. The surface is glorious, its blackness already compromised by the extensive tree pollen fall and the dusty air of a dry spring. How far eastward they have gone I am not sure, but I think they’re not to Gallows Road yet. I’m going to hold off finding out as long as possible, because I noticed that when they were crossing Cedar Lane they were paving one side at a time, and letting trail traffic pass in alternate directions along the other half. That’s a nuisance when you’re cruising along.
One downside of repaving is that I have lost some of my “marks,” notably the bad, rough patch about 2/3 of the way up the hill riding eastbound from Vienna. That is the spot where I always have to drop a gear as the grade steepens slightly. But I won’t miss it. It’s the same spot where I had to stand on the pedals going westbound downhill to avoid a bone-jarring banging over the rough pavement, then stay to the left to avoid a circular “pothole” dip on the right. A set of diagonal bumpy ridges angling across the trail near the eastern foot of the hill is also gone, removing a distraction when passing a walker on a curve where the rider needs to look ahead and uphill.
Between Vienna and Hunter Mill Road much contractor work is going on. One item seems to be a new electric substation or something right in the middle of the low, mucky area to the south side of the trail. Other workers are clearing the bridle trail and other areas near the power lines with chainsaws, and yet others seem to be working on final repairs to three spots where there were serious washouts under the trail surface during the torrential rains of last fall.
As usual, my complaint is that the contractors park their vehicles halfway on the trail surface even when there is ample solid ground to get them all the way off the trail. I just don’t get it, and I sure don’t like it, because it breaks up my rhythm and slows everything down.
But all that is secondary to the washout repairs. The trail is often closed entirely in a section between Clark’s Crossing Road and Hunter Mill Rd., traveling westward. Cyclists are diverted onto the bridle trail. That trail has sections of loose fine gravel, hard-packed fine gravel, hard-packed dirt, and/or loose sand. This is not an ideal environment for road bikes with 23mm tires inflated to 8 atmospheres. The best bet is to stay to the edge of the bridle trail, just off it in fact, where the surface is hard-packed dirt and now well-worn grass. Of course that edge often gets extremely narrow or disappears altogether. And then at either end of the detour there are steep descents/ascents as you get off/back on the trail. And they’re almost pure fine gravel, tough to deal with.
In a way the alternate provided by the detour is a pleasant challenge, but it’s also an annoyance, one that keeps me from judging my speed and thus my conditioning very accurately for this familiar route. I’m trusting they’ll be done in a couple of weeks.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2012.