Monday, May 9, 2011

Western Albemarle Gravel Roads Run

While Sophie and other were climbing up Montalto on Saturday, Kendall and I took a nice tour some gravel roads in western Albemarle County. Smaller loops on these roads would make for a nice weeknight training run. Kendall and I would love to get a group run together out here in the fall with lunch at the Batesville Store following the run.

We started out at the Victory Hill Church of God off of US 250 at the Crozet exit of I-64. Heading east, the road  quickly turns to gravel as we encounter the first hill of the day. I knew we were in for rolling hills all day long, but as soon as we got to the first one, we knew we were in for a hard day of running. The first 2/3 of the run are nicely shaded by trees lining the road. Occasionally the view would open up as we passed by a field to spectacular views of the Blue Ridge. At any given time we could see from south of Humpback Mountain to well north of Calf Mountain and Jarman Gap.

Turning onto (the popular with runners) Dick Woods Road, we quickly picked up a pair of four legged running companions. Hoping they'd turn around after a few house, we kept running with our new canine friends in tow. Well, a couple of houses soon turned into several miles miles. Our golden retriever friend latched onto a couple walking in the other direction (that had managed to pick up a traveling canine friend of their own), but the Boxer wouldn't let us out of her sight. As we ran up and down White Mountain Road, the conversation turned to who was going to have a new playmate for their dog at home. Let me tell you, this was one fit Boxer. She kept up with us for 12.5 miles only stopping for water twice. Now before you accuse us of dog napping, we flagged down several cars and stopped at an Episcopal church to ask for help in getting "Buddy" back to her home. Our plan became to make it with her into Batesville where hopefully some one at the Store would be at least king enough to watch her until we got back to the car and could drive her home. She turned out to be a good running companion only causing trouble on the paved sections of Batesville and Craigs Store roads where we'd have to shoo her out of the way of on coming cars (the leash we fashioned for her out of twine didn't last very long).

As we rounded the corner and walked across the one lane bridge into Batesville and made our way towards the Police car managing traffic for the Batesville Day Parade, a guy with a Golden Retriever calls out, "there's my dog." So that concludes Buddy's story, but our run was still 8 miles from being done. We stopped in the Batesville Store, to refuel (lemonade and ginger snaps for me) but didn't stick around for the parade or "Legendary Folk Singer Rusty Speidel." The next part of the run was more exposed to the sun as it  took us behind the Miller School on a nice long leg-stretching downhill on Pounding Creek Road. With every downhill comes and uphill and we had several more rolling hills before topping out on Midway Road. One last drop down to a stream, almost getting bitten by a not-so-friendly dog, and back up again, the gravel turned back to pavement and we were back at the car.

A good day in country side. A short drive from Charlottesville and miles and miles of low/no traffic rolling unpaved country roads.

The details:
24 miles / 2400' of climbing / 19.5 miles of gravel road