Today’s ride: The Patuxent Rural Legacy ride is held every June by the Oxon Hill Bicycle Club. It runs on lightly traveled roads along the Patuxent River near Croom, MD. Riders can choose a variety of distances up to 64 miles. I only have personal knowledge of the long course, but the shorter rides are very popular as well. The courses are rolling, but none of the climbs are difficult, the scenery is excellent, and the stops are well organized. The Oxon Hill Bike Club holds a post-ride picnic, and the volunteers are friendly and helpful. Riders should come prepared for heat. Like most rides in the heat of June, July and August, there is always the potential for hot conditions, and hydration is the cyclist’s best friend on such rides.
The Experience: Emails from friends the night before the ride drove home the point that this ride would start EARLY. This seemed sensible given the current heat wave that has turned the region into a sauna. I managed to arrive in time and was ready to start at 7AM. Within 10 minutes I was on the road with Eric, Tony, Carol and John in order to get as far as we could before the heat of the day. The ride starts with a long gentle climb, less a hill than a long grade, and we got our legs warm and picked up a good pace. We rode through the morning calm and enjoyed riding past the farms with their old barns, and the streams and forests of Southern Maryland. This day was overcast and very humid, and we were all drinking a great deal. By the first rest stop I had nearly finished my second bottle of water. I have been told that a rider should go through a bottle an hour as a rule. On this ride we wanted a lot to drink. I felt strong on the ride. I was riding on new wheels, which felt very good, and my riding companions were good company. We made the second rest stop at Eagle Harbor as the heat started to build in earnest. The third leg to the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary joined some of the shorter routes, and we saw more riders and began to feel the heat of the day. At Merkle, a volunteer was there among us with an owl sitting calmly on his arm! The little screech owl was a hit among the cyclists, and gave us another experience for the day. With only 8 miles to the finish, the stop was about the Sanctuary more than the service, but it is a place well worthy of a visit. Quite a few riders were using the beauty of the sanctuary for photo opportunities. Cycling events bring out the best in a rider, and this ride was no exception. When riders start riding in events such as this, and start coming back year after year, they become energized by other riders and tend to grow as cyclists. I saw a lot of camaraderie among the riders stopped at Merkle. We set off for the finish and found the initial climb of the day to be a gentle downhill to the finish – a welcome end to a fun ride. The post ride picnic and gathering was a worthwhile end to a great day.
Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “Lawyers, Guns and Money” by Warren Zevon, and “Tuesday Morning” buy the Pogues.
Statistics: 64.03 miles ridden, at a good “hot weather” pace at an event that never disappoints.
Our team at the last rest stop: Left to right, Tony, John and I in the back and Carol and Eric in the front.
This little owl was a hit among the riders stopped at the Wildlife Sanctuary. She is an adult Screech Owl, and seemed undisturbed by all the attention she was receiving.