Category: Rider Voices

Long Time Bike Virginia Volunteer Helps Raise Money For Wounded Warriors

by admin | September 13, 2013

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You'll know her from Registration at the Bike Virginia Tour, long time Volunteer Jarla Ulman. She is one of the people that makes sure our event goes smoothly. [caption id="attachment_6671" align="alignright" width="259"]Jarla and Jeanne, dynamic volunteer duo. Jarla is on right. Jarla and Jeanne, dynamic volunteer duo. Jarla is on right.[/caption] Jarla's been with our event since 1999. She's a smiling face and helpful hand that coordinates our registration volunteers and personally helps make sure our riders have a smooth check-in and good start to their adventure. On September 8, 2013 Jarla helped host another event, the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia's Cycle Fest. This four year old event raised  $4,5000 this year,  "more than doubling last year’s funds raised, to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project, the JCCNV, and Hazon, which creates healthier and more sustainable communities." Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 1.46.51 PM When I asked Jarla about the JCCNV event experience she said, "on a large or small scale, the needs for a successful ride are the same:  good routes, plenty of good food and beverages at rest stops, and a ready smile.  Thank you  Bike Va for training me so well."

The ride was featured in the Fairfax Connection including a great photo of Jarla and her friends on the cover.
Read the whole article here...
Nice work, Jarla!

Extra Miles and New Friends Made A Memorable Day: A Rider’s Story

by admin | August 22, 2013

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This fun tale comes from Bike Virginian Bob. The 2013 tour was a his 2nd Bike Va. tour. In Bob's words: My 2013 Bike VA story comes from Tuesday.  I started out the day planning to ride the 83 mile option.  It was a nice morning and while I was tired after I left the Newcastle stop I was re-energized and pleased with the country road and the steady uphill we were experiencing.  When I get in a rhythm on a climb I try to focus out about 100 yards and just keep turning.  It seemed like a longer climb than I had remembered on the route sheet but when I saw two cyclists resting along the climb I continued onward and upward!  20130423-140056.jpg I reached the top and was surprised to not see a Bike VA representative and that I had not been passed by other cyclists but I patted myself on the back noting my increased climbing ability.  I enjoyed the downhill for several miles even passing a fish hatchery.  When I saw the town limit sign for Paint Bank (which I knew was nearly W VA) I decided to turn around.  Just as I regained the fish hatchery the two cyclists I had seen resting went whizzing by.  I yelled that I thought we were off the route as I chased them down.  We decided to visit the fish hatchery and consider our plight.  I introduced myself to my new friends, Bill and Jill.   We attempted to phone but our cell phones would not work.  A fish hatchery staff member loaned us his and the Bike VA person on the other end assured us that we were indeed well off the route.  The staffer indicated that if a sag could be found one would be sent.  We were not hopeful of being rescued so we headed back up the hill which we now knew was nearly 6 miles to the top.  We were dragging ourselves up and were about to rest when a pick up truck passed and offered a ride to the top; it was the fish hatchery staff member! He took us to the top.  As we headed down we met two other cyclists on the way up.  I stopped and informed them of their error while Bill and jill sped ahead. I proceeded to ride the 83 mile route and quickly confirmed that I was now likely the last person out.  Finally I regained some other cyclists and finished with an exact 100 miles that day and an extra nearly 3000 feet of climbing!   My wife met me as I arrived in camp with a cold lemonade.   As she gave me the cool greatly needed drink she told me about two people who had made a grievous error and made an extra climb and she pointed to them.  To my surprise Bill and Jill were sitting at the table behind us!  We had a great laugh about our misadventure! On the last day as I was about to turn in to the final camp site I passed Bill and Jill one more time and suggested that they should not turn but go straight ahead.  They wisely refused my advice!   Bob was using Bike Virginia as part of his training for training for the Double Triple Bypass , a Colorado ride that's two days, 240 miles, and 22,000 feet of climbing. His training paid off. He successfully completed the challenge! Thanks so much, Bob,  for sharing your story. Glad your day turned into a memorable experience that included some new friends and that your Double Triple By Pass was a success.

A Story in Pictures: A Rider’s Photo Perspective

by admin | August 21, 2013

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Four time rider Samuel Birkan shared his personal album with us to tell the story of Bike Virginia 2013. pink route Enjoy the images here , they do a great job of capturing the fun we had. Thanks Samuel for taking time to share these great photographs!

A Back of Steel and A Lot of Determination! A Rider Story

by admin | August 20, 2013

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Barbara shares her Bike Virginia 2013 story below. [caption id="attachment_7077" align="alignright" width="168"]Barbara at Goshen Pass on Bike Virginia 2013 Barbara at Goshen Pass on Bike Virginia 2013[/caption] At Bike VA this year, I completed 307 miles in 6 days with a total of 20,000 feet elevation change.  My biggest challenge was that mountain with 2,500 feet elevation increase in 2 miles (grade of 11% to 20% at any given time). Guess what, I biked up the mountain without stopping. I have had 2 back surgeries and joke that I have enough metal in my spine to make vehicle (ha).  I trained hard this year, and imagine how wonderful I felt when I reached the top!  I love bike VA because it gives me a goal each year to train and stay strong!!  Can’t wait till 2014! Thanks Barbara for sharing your story! Happy Riding, we can't wait to see you in 2014! 

Martin – “Father and Son”

by admin | July 23, 2012

0 First Time?, Rider Voices, RidersBlog, The Experience

In June, 2009, my son, Andrew, my brother-in-law, Fran, and I went on the Bike Virginia 2009 bike ride.  That year the tour was from Charlottesville to Culpepper to Orange and back into Charlottesville. I took many pictures, but I will describe our experience with Bike Virginia with the following 5 pictures. Picture 1 is an example of a really nice rest step.  It is away from the road, well stocked with water and snacks.  It is sometimes so nice, you don’t want to go back bike riding and want to chill more than the time you allotted. Picture 2 another rest stop/lunch break at a fire house.  I took this picture with those cleats because Bike Virginia riders read and follow directions.  The people at the firehouse didn’t want the bikers to ruin their wood floors with their cleats. Picture 3 is of the Graffiti House, at Brandy Station, Culpepper, VA. We have to remember that in 2009, the theme was, “Journey Through Hallowed Ground”.  Yes, we went through several historic places, including Montpelier, James Madison’s home.  There was a lot of history on this bike tour. Picture 4 is of a big tent with people.  This shows how Orange, VA opened their town for us on a week day.  Stores were open later and we had dinner in the big tent and there was music and a good time. The last picture is picture 5.  This is a picture of Andrew and I enjoying a few minutes together at a rest stop before we go on with the ride.[gallery link="file" orderby="title"]

Salz — “Against the Grain”

by admin | July 23, 2012

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Against the Grain: Tales of a SAG driver... Thirty years ago in college when we’d have as many as 10 or 15 playing Monopoly, we added new Chance cards. One of them read: “Take Acid for the first and only time in your life. Reverse life and go around the board backwards from now on.” Getting that card changed America’s premier board game in chaotic ways no one could imagine. Sagging Bike Virginia, backwards in a 4-wheel Titantic on Shane’s ever-tinier routes of asphalt, manufactures similar emotions. Driving the wrong way at the right time watching the joy in people’s eyes while they wince in uphill pain confirms all your personal mental muddle. Cruising Shane’s rustic routes backwards in one of our gargantuan moving mountains hoping that the stream of bicyclists all give you thumbs up – but during some hot, boring hours secretly wishing for a single thumbs down -- you sit behind the wheel, sometimes in great conversations and sometimes alone, waving at smile after smile. Over the audible roar of riders’ uphill inhalations, those smiles are inspiring. Or insane. The jury’s still out. On the flip, a frown might mean that you the SAG are, as Dickens put it, “of use,” at least long enough to hand out a cold water bottle or wrestle with a slow leak. If you’re cruising the route backwards early or late in the cycling day, you and your SAG wagon might easily miss a turn or two if there are no cyclists arriving at the corner the moment you appear from the other direction. Then you’re punching electronic buttons on a Smart Phone GPS, with your reading glasses perched over the steering wheel in hopes of discovering new details in the too-tiny map, while praying to remain ditchless and searching every side road for a telltale flash of spandex. But oddly, having someones in the cab increases the chance of havoc – especially if those cyclists have their own GPS units. No cyclist whose bike or bones have retired for the day wants to be the chief map-reader, though all have the Type A personalities that compel people to sweat in the sun, rain and gnats for six hours and all have cell phone GPS, cameras, videos (and the phone numbers of grandkids, accountants and psychologists). It’s a paradox. People who micromanage everyone’s lives, juggle jobs, kids, dates and mates clam up when asked to interpret the best route to tent city. Graciousness syndrome becomes epidemic and the old-fashioned map is literally Dr. Death. With six women bound for their hotel in Harper’s Ferry, for example, their polite communal directions managed to send us – almost – back in Berryville where Bike VA had begun two days earlier. Only a handful of Bike VA cyclists grow up fathoming a pick-em-up truck, by the way. The idea of riding in the back, for most, remains far outside the mental strike zone until the cyclist realizes that 98 is only two degrees less than 100 and the cab is full to overflowing. Or that the bus line is stretching to infinity. Rarely do SAG drivers pick up anyone actually hurt – as in has left skin on the highway – and those cyclists, oddly, almost always want to continue on after getting patched up at a rest stop. There’s a bit of masochism in cycling of course, as the bicycling national anthem clearly states: “It’s a Sore Butt After All” (to the tune of “It’s a Small World, After All”). Every now and then the SAG driver is required to interpret the news of the day and the rumor of the minute – which of course has flashed through tent city, all the hotels, 30 miles of strung-out cyclists on Pink, Orange and Green Routes, six rest stops, the lunch stop and four other SAG wagons – while truth is still back with Penelope at BikeSmart trying to fit its helmet. We’re always looking for more volunteers? Some of whom SAG and some of whom TAG (the luggage.) Call Kim or Shane.

Rider Voice: Jarla – “It Takes a Village”

by admin | July 17, 2012

0 First Time?, Rider Voices, RidersBlog, The Experience

Every year as BVA approaches I worry. Can I still climb up the hills? Will I get lost? Will I find anyone with whom to ride? Will packet pick-up at Registration go smoothly? For the past several years I have been in charge of the volunteers who work with me at Registration on Friday and Saturday. That’s usually 45 folks, many repeat volunteers, who work shifts 2 to 8 hours with smiles and great energy. (The ride hasn’t started yet!). I worry about getting the room set up, that the very long day will go smoothly, and that our BVA riders will get their questions answered. There are always last minute items to be put into the packet envelopes. Fortunately, we all rally to get it done before the 2 pm Friday opening. Saturday morning at 5:45 we are back at Registration ready to work again, getting last minute riders signed in. My job would be impossible without great volunteers. As an aging 60+ rider I always doubt if I can muster the energy to bike 5 days through Virginia’s picturesque rolling countryside. But somehow the energy and enthusiasm of 2000 riders propels me to do the distance. There are always riders along the routes who are riding my pace, encouraging me up the hills, and offering to “pull me” when I am dragging. The rest stops are my mini oases, providing food, drink, musical entertainment, and an opportunity to share a few stories. As a camper I meet lots of fellow bikers in all ages, sizes, and abilities. The camaraderie at Tent City adds an additional layer of excitement and fun to the whole BVA experience. Getting lost sometimes happens, even with the well-marked signage. For me it happened just as it started to rain. Fortunately, I was with a fellow rider, who was smart enough to carry his BVA Tour Guide and we were able to figure out the next turn. The term, “It takes a village,” is so true. Now that BVA’s 25th annual ride is over, I can relax - and start worrying about next year!