Mandatory Fall Foliage Dirt Road Ride

With the shades of fall intensely pulsing through our area, Felkerino and I decided we better get out for a good autumn ride before showers or windy days wrested the brilliant leaves from the trees.

(c) Felkerino

We looked at the Saturday forecast, which indicated overnight temperatures would not be bitingly cold. Sun was also predicted, with the day warming from mid-40s up to the mid-60s.

That’s my kind of fall riding! Felkerino convinced a couple of friends to join us and we spent the day riding the dirt roads around the Middleburg, Virginia, area. It was a great reprieve from the pavement and a rare treat to ride enveloped in the peak of autumn’s colors.

Bull Run Mountain Road

Overall the roads were in great shape, interspersed with the occasional washboard and rough spots, and dry. The first 40 or so miles felt pretty hilly and included roads that doubled as terrain cues such as “Bull Run Mountain, “Mt. Gilead,” “Gap Road,” and “Hogback Mountain.”

The second half of the day felt more moderate, but that could have been because my legs had been beaten into submission and I was distracted by the wonderfully vivid views all around us.

Sometimes we rode under a canopy of color. At others, we paralleled a ridge line, fluffy fall trees rising high off in the distance. They made me think of scoops of ice cream.  Pistachio, pumpkin, lemon, strawberry… I never tired of looking at them.

Bust Head Road – Yes, it’s really called that

Our group savored the day, stopping several times to admire the scenery, chat, make a coffeeneuring stop, and to just exist in autumn’s perfection.

Barry gives the “this does not suck” sign

As regular readers might suspect, Felkerino and I rode our Rawland dSogns. They adeptly carried us over the day’s route. While somewhat sluggish on pavement, as soon as we hit dirt the Rawlands responded eagerly. We rode Fatty Rumpkin tires, which dug confidently into the ground, and handled the bumps and uneven sections of road well.

Felkerino and the Rawland

Our Rawlands have disc brakes and are also set up with Interrupter brake levers on the tops of the handlebars. I keep referring to them as my “911 brakes.”

Interrupters are great for maintaining control on steep gravelly descents and allow you to keep the brakes easily within reach as you push your body back on the bike, away from the saddle. Maybe they gave me too much confidence because there were a few times I picked up quite a bit of speed thinking the 911 brakes would come to my rescue if I needed to moderate somehow.

I can slow down anytime I want with these 911 brakes

Our friend Barry rode his Trek 520 and Mike was out on his new touring bike, a Soma San Marcos. These bikes also seemed well-suited to off-road adventures.

Mike’s Soma San Marcos

All totaled, we ended up with 83 miles, about 6500 feet of climbing, and a perfectly blissful day in the country.

The beauty of fall comes and goes so quickly. Leaves that maintained a steady green hue throughout the summer make their conversions to reds, oranges, and golds. Soon after, they drift steadily to the ground and the trees expose their stark angular forms until spring arrives to dress them up once again.

(c) Felkerino

Winter has its own beauty, and I’ll appreciate that in its own time. For now, though, I’m savoring the waning fall days as much as I can.

Want to see more photos from our ride? My photoset is here, and click here to see Felkerino’s. Many thanks to George M. for the route!


  1. One of my favorite drives in that area (actually a little to the south) is SR 601 between the 15/234 junction and The Plains. I often saw bicycles on the road as well. Paved, and at least on the Fauquier County side of the mountain most folks went under the speed limit.


  2. Hi – Who makes the bags on Mike’s bike? They look like Berthoud but the color of the leather looks different ( more reddish than tan). Thanks.


      1. Thanks MG. At least from the pictures I see online, the Berthoud bags have tan leather which appears to be a different color from Mike’s (I like his better).


    1. Yeah, I initially thought it might have been a VO bag (SHH! Don’t tell anyone!), but upon closer inspection… Señor Berthoud. The leather did have a little more rusty tint to it.


  3. Wow! Looks beautiful. I can’t imagine having the season of fall … we don’t get it here in the subtropics but I can see why you like it so much from the photos and story.


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