Time for the annual Bike Virginia post. This was the first year that I have not signed up to do the entire 5-6 days. The Fam isn't always down with 5 days in the middle of nowhere with not much for them to do – they don't ride – so I shortened it this year to the 3 day ride. It's a shade ironic as this was the flattest Bike Virginia I've ever ridden and, being in Chesterfield area, kind of near my Mother in Law. So, this year everyone was happy.
I did my first Bike Virginia 4 years ago. I really had no idea what I was getting into. See, it's a bike tour and many people camp out the entire time. The organizers will bring in a "shower truck" or two and there are usually facilities available where we the event is held. I've never understood the camping out aspect of the event so I've always had a hotel room. I ain't riding 50 miles on a bike and then sleeping on the ground. Forget it. So you have a bunch of folks who camp, a bunch who stay in hotels but there's also another dynamic: the weekend riders and the folks who do the whole thing.
As I mentioned, this was the first year that I didn't do the whole thing and I must say the experience was mostly negative. Bike Virginia as an organization doesn't really seem all that interested in the weekend riders. Nothing is simple anymore as everything suddenly becomes a la carte. I signed up early so I could get the event jersey and upon registering onsite I was told, no, I don't get the jersey, I get the T-shirt. What cyclist wants the shirt and not the jersey? I pulled the email from Bike Va and showed it to the nice lady – it clearly indicated I would receive a jersey. She said it was a mistake. Sorry. I asked if I could buy a jersey. She said "dunno, come back tomorrow". ok…I put on my purple wrist-band and shuffled off. The next day I was told my wrist band wasn't sufficient to get lunch, I had to have a ticket as well. What? How much crap do I have to carry around to work with these people? I'm on a damn bike, not driving a shopping cart.
The route this year was also among the most uninteresting I've ridden. The "Premium Rest Stop" with the culinary treat was a tomato sandwich. It was a good sandwich but….Overall, there just wasn't much happiness in this years tour. It's a different experience when you're only there for the weekend. On the plus side, I did ride the "metric-century" distance of 65 miles for the first time. Took me about 4 hours so I was rolling along pretty well. It helps, of course, that tidewater Virginia is pancake flat. It's a rural area so normally everything is pretty chill but the drivers were pretty unaccommodating. Not anyone's fault in particular but Chesterfield doesn't seem particularly bike friendly.
I suppose that the take-away for me is that if you're going to do Bike Va either do the whole thing so that there aren't any chances for misunderstandings or treat the weekend ride more like a charity ride. Take advantage of the marked route, SAG and pit stops but do your own thing for everything else. Honestly, it just isn't worth the hassle. Next year's destination is Abingdon. Mountain climbing time. I'm tempted to skip it but we'll see.