Monthly Archives: May 2014

Patuxent Rural Legacy Ride

Today’s ride: The Patuxent Rural Legacy Ride is a Metric Century starting in Croom Maryland.  This is a rolling course that parallels the Patuxent River. The rest stops are scenic, most of them with views of the river, and the roads don’t have much traffic.  The ride is very well supported and the course is clearly marked. It ends with a picnic at the ride start. 

The Experience: Two of our group needed to leave early to attend a wedding, so we all got to the ride start in time to set out at 7 am. The weather was cool, clear and still when we set out. I’m of the opinion that you should dress for mile 5, not the start. Once you’re warmed up you don’t need the extra clothing, and I don’t like to carry things I don’t need. We rode easily to the first rest stop, with the group staying together. This time it was Myself, John Koehnlein, Carol Linden, Ron Tripp, Eric Sanne and Tony Lehr.  A rider we knew named David was with us as well. I love riding in rolling terrain. The constant changes mean you must react to quick climbs and descents. They provide a variety that makes a ride seem more interesting. As we began the second leg, I lifted the pace a little. We built up some momentum, and arrived at the second rest stop, where we posed with a friend – a skeleton wired to a bike. This was a popular activity with the riders at the stop!  Before we left, we were caught by Carmen Legato and another rider he’d been riding with, Christy.  Our growing group rolled out and lifted the pace again, passing other riders and moving along smoothly. The last rest stop was at the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary,  which in previous years had been the start/end point. I saw more friends on the way out.  We finished strong in the final 8 miles, one of the rare rides where we built the pace from start to finish. By the end, the music I was thinking of was working with our pace – particularly the last selection below!  Eric, Ron and Tony all rode well.  On a ride where the pressure kept building, they all held on and handled the pace with ease.

After the ride, we got together for beer and laughter. We also got lunch courtesy of the Oxon Hill Bicycle Club, who sponsored the ride. My friends Judy and Dave and their son Rad joined us for a while, and fellow PPTC member Deb Reynolds visited us too. It’s good to take some time to be social and enjoy the company of friends after we’ve shared a ride.

Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “E=MC2” by Big Audio Dynamite, “Circus” by Spirit of the West, and “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult. 

Stats: 64.02 Miles ridden.  When you find another gear, both for power when you climb and speed on the flat, whenever you want one, you know it’s a good day! 

John&Tom      Tom&Skeleton

With John at the ride start.                                         With a friend at the second rest stop!

 

 

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Train to Chesapeake

Today’s ride: Train to Chesapeake is a Potomac Pedalers Touring Club ride that starts from Harwood Md (South of Annapolis on Route 2) and heads to North Beach on the West side of the Chesapeake Bay, and returns. There are usually 2 routes, a 47 mile circuit and a 61 Mile Circuit, and they both go through rolling terrain. This ride is usually scheduled for both Memorial Day and Labor Day, and it is very popular with the local bike clubs. This ride gives you a challenge without being too hard on less experienced riders.  

The Experience: This was a ride to arrive early for, in order to socialize, and I talked to a lot of riders whom I don’t get to talk to often. It was very enjoyable to catch up. The course was changed slightly this time due to a road closure, which dropped a little distance from the long ride, but the weather was cool and clear, and while we had some wind to contend with, for most of the ride it didn’t seem to bother us. I rode out with Eric Sanne and Tony Lehr, the former an old friend who is enthusiastic but doesn’t remember routes well, and the latter a rider we met the week before at CASA River who didn’t know the area. What that meant was that I would be the shepherd and GPS for us, keeping us on course while finding and holding a pace that would satisfy us all.  Like most rides with a lot of riders, it pays to stay focused at the start of the ride. This ride was no exception. When everyone is fresh, you’ll see some riders who can’t settle down and pace themselves because they’re excited, charging up hills, boxing in other riders, or suddenly slowing down when they look at cue sheets.  I knew the area, and I was looking for problems, so we found a good pace and stayed safe. Eventually the three of us found ourselves riding alone with Bob Sheldon, an old friend and experienced rider whom we seldom have the pleasure of riding with, tacked on to the back of our line. We managed to get to the first rest stop without incident, and by then (just over 20 miles) the ride had strung out a little and we settled in comfortably. We were humming along like a well oiled machine through the rolling terrain west of the beach, and we were all in good shape and good spirits as we got to the second rest stop at the beach at the 40 mile mark. We pulled out a little later, with the day beginning to heat up, prepared to climb from sea level back up to the start with water bottles topped off and Carol Linden joining us. However, before we got away from the beach Eric had a flat tire. This is a common occurrence, and we waited with him while he fixed the flat. Carol, sensible of the heat and climbs ahead, and knowing we were riding well, went ahead expecting us to catch her up. When we got back on the road we reached the first climb in good spirits, and took that long climb at a good clip, with Eric claiming King of the Mountain points (the imaginary kind) at the top. We caught Carol several miles up the road, but Carol is a strong steady rider who rolls up the miles on these rides very well. We finished strong without any other incidents, feeling the satisfaction of a strong ride on a beautiful day. We earned our post-ride brew!

Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “Rescue Me” by The Alarm, “Hold On, I’m Coming” by Sam & Dave, and “Trip Through Your Wires” by U2. 

Stats: 59.32 Miles ridden.  The kind of ride that “consistent” describes beautifully, on the kind of day that was made for bicycling. 

Carol&Eric_NB_5_14   CarolTomTony_NB_5_14

At North Beach: Carol and Eric, Carol, Myself and Tony.

 

 

CASA River Century 2014

Today’s ride: The CASA River Century in Shepherdstown WV. This is an excellent early season ride. Held in mid-May, while the weather is cool, this is a rolling ride that has excellent scenery. West Virginia is hilly, but the hills on this ride are short climbs followed by refreshing descents. Often you’ll get much of a climb done through momentum from the previous descent. Riders can see wildlife, mountains, river views and farms. The ride is  well supported. There are two loops to the century, so riders can drop off jackets or other items as the day warms up, and there is a variety of good food served to the riders at the middle and end of the ride. 

The Experience: This year there was a torrential rainstorm the day before the ride which caused some local flooding.  Some of the roads on the course were closed. The organizers had to map a new route for 50 miles the night before, and then asked the century riders to make two circuits.  The organizers did a good job under tough conditions to hold the ride.  I had been sick the day before, and I was recovering. So I knew that with my body weakened, the ride would be tough. I could have reasonably ridden a shorter ride, stopping at 50 miles, or simply not gone, but I chose to harden up and ride the entire thing. Was this wise? No. There were consequences to pushing though the pain and riding anyway. Yet I chose to tough it out and complete my 100 miles. Serious cyclists talk about suffering in offhand ways. We treat suffering as something we have to do, the price of riding. We learn to recognize when other riders are suffering. In a race, when you see suffering on someone else’s face, you attack. When you’re riding for fun, you support each other. At the end of the ride, I needed my friends around me.  It was a windy day, and chilly when we weren’t in the sun. The scenery was amazing. The long views from the top of the ridges were outstanding.  I ended up riding normally for about 60 miles. Then things started getting tough. At around 85 miles my legs ran out of juice and I started cramping up. Was I drinking enough? Yes. Was I eating enough? I thought so. Did any of that matter to me? No. I was in pain, but I just kept going. Assists go to Eric Sanne, John Koehnlein and Tom Roman for staying with me and seeing that I was safe.  Thanks, guys! I feel good about riding through the pain, but it’s an experience I don’t want to repeat very often. I know I’ll have to suffer again though. We all have rides where we’re suffering more than usual and there is nothing we can do but keep going. The last 10 miles were driven by the promise of a beer at the end, and the shelled pistachio nuts that I brought to share. This was a very unusual set of circumstances for this ride, and for me. In any other year, this is a ride to look forward to!

Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “No Myth” by Michael Penn, “Someday, Someway” by Marshall Crenshaw and “Wild Night” by Van Morrison.

Stats: 100.22 Miles ridden. This was a difficult ride for me, but a satisfying result – 100 miles while I was not at my best.

CASA_start_2014

6 Pillars Century 2014

Today’s ride: The 6 Pillars Century in Cambridge MD. This is one of my favorite rides, because of the landscape we ride through. This ride goes through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and there are views of the Chesapeake Bay, not to mention all kinds of waterfowl and other birds like Ospreys, Herons and Red Winged Blackbirds. The landscape is tidal marsh and some farmland. The ride is flat as a table top, with the only thing that approaches the definition of “hill” being bridges. With that said, wind can be a big factor on this ride. Flat rides don’t offer you much variation in terms of position on the bike, so fatigue of feet, seat and hands can be a problem, but this ride has such spectacular scenery that those things really don’t matter. This ride is a feast for the eyes. It is held on the first weekend in May, and for me it’s usually the first important local event of the year.

The Experience: It was a perfect cycling day, cool but not cold, the wind wasn’t too bad except for the area of Hooper’s Island (where you can expect it) and the end of the day when it picked up a little. We started out well, perhaps even a little faster than we might have liked, but we were remarkably consistent all day. We had some riders who were rock steady and strong all day – Tom Roman, Matt Birnbaum, and Ron Tripp leap to mind. Eric Sanne and Carmen Legato held on despite worries about their preparation, and John Koehnlein was ticking the pedals over in a slow rhythm that was hypnotic. Carol Linden as in and out with us between rest stops, and the team of Bill Harback and Denise Teeling were driving the early pace like heroes. Most of us were consistently riding about 18-20 mph all day in a long line. The riders around us were great. We were humming along passing riders, and we would warn them we were coming, and thank them as we passed. I found myself occasionally saying “Thank you, thank you very much” in my best Elvis voice as I rode past, just to make it a little more surreal. The last 20 miles were fast – at a time in the ride when we usually slow down, we actually got faster. Holding on to the pace was tough. Tom Roman had a huge hero pull for our line in that section of the ride, and after he set the tone for us, we held together in unison like a single living creature. The after ride celebration was full of laughs, with music courtesy of Matt Birnbaum, beer supplied by just about all of us, and smiles until our faces were in danger of breaking. We invited a couple of riders who parked nearby to join us, and they turned out to be from the Reston Bike Club. They were glad to share beer and stories with us. Happy is contagious.

Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “Johnny B Goode” by Chuck Berry, “Eastern Bloc” by Thomas Dolby and “Poets” by the Tragically Hip.

Stats: 100.27 Miles ridden, plus a little extra riding to and from the cars. A strong ride from start to finish. The kind of feeling you want to bottle and save to use over and over!

6_Pillars_Start  At_Hooper's_Island  6_Pillars_Post_Ride