Monthly Archives: September 2015

Maine Lighthouse Ride 2015

Today’s ride: The Maine Lighthouse Ride is run by the Eastern Trail Alliance in Southern Maine. The ride starts in South Portland at Southern Maine Community College overlooking Casco Bay, and runs through towns such as Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Kennebunkport. The ride goes past several lighthouses along the southern Maine coast. This ride was listed as one of the the most scenic centuries by Active.com, and it lives up to it’s  reputation.  The ride is limited to 1200 participants, and it fills up every year. Riders have to sign up early. This is a very well organized ride. The Maine Lighthouse Ride includes some multi-use trails at the start of the ride which have a limited capacity, so some crowding will happen at the start. It also includes a section of gravel causeway over the Scarborough marsh south of Portland, but this shouldn’t be a threat to road bike tires if you ride carefully.  However, I recommend that you be sure that your tires are in good condition before the ride.

The Experience: This year I resolved to leave the Washington DC area for at least one ride, and I liked the description of the Lighthouse Ride, so I convinced my friend Ron, who is always up for a new bike ride, to join me. The weather was wet on the drive north, but the day before the ride cleared up quickly. Saturday turned out to be a picture postcard day – temperatures in the mid 70s, light winds, and clear skies. The ride has a mass start, and the first two lighthouses on the ride were right at the start, so there was some crowding to start. Among the riders were 68 riders of all skill levels from Iowa, who were riding for charity. While charity riders are often inexperienced and sometimes get in the way, this group was careful, and on the bike path in Portland they picked up my habit of calling out when we were slowing or stopping at crossings. It wasn’t long before Ron and I found our way onto open roads and picked up some speed.  The Scarborough marsh causeway challenged us, and while many riders didn’t adjust for it,  Ron and I rode it carefully.  There were a few riders who had a flat, but we reached the short climb after the marsh safely, and picked up the pace to get some separation from the bulk of the other riders before the first rest stop. After the first rest stop we had left most of the other riders behind us. We headed south over good roads toward Kennebunkport. after the second stop, (and a brief halt in Kennebunkport), we headed back north along the coast.  The road twisted and turned along the rocky coastline, and even without the lighthouses the ride was interesting, varied and challenging. The ride was flying by. We went back over the Scarborough marsh causeway, and I was concerned about a flat, but thankfully we didn’t have any problems. Near the end of the course we went through a park with a short, steep climb – but we came over the top to the final lighthouse of the day, the Portland Head light, and a great photo opportunity.  We rode back to the start and right to the beer garden, where we celebrated with local Shipyard ales. We were told that the ride had over 3000 feet of climbing, but the climbs were short and I thought we’d only climbed half as much as we did. I think the 2015 Lighthouse Ride was among the best if not the very best century I’ve ridden.  It was a feast for the eyes, the terrain was interesting, and of course conditions were perfect. It’s the kind of ride I’d go to every year, even if the conditions were rainy or hot. Some rides are going to be memorable no matter what the conditions will be. The Lighthouse Ride made a very positive impression.

Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, “Cynical Girl” by Marshall Crenshaw, and “Cliffs of Dover”, an instrumental by Guitar Hero Eric Johnson.

Statistics: 102.24 Miles on a perfect day, coupled with a great course and scenery to match.

IMG_0297

Ron at the “Bug” light in Portland Harbor.

IMG_0305

Cape Elizabeth Light.

IMG_0311

Portland Head Light.

IMG_0315

The two of us at Portland Head Light.

IMG_0317

At the Beer Garden after the ride, celebrating with the local ales!

Advertisements

Indian Head 100 2015

Today’s ride: The Indian Head 100 has been one of my favorite rides since I first discovered it. This is the kind of ride that has something for everyone – the rolling terrain is challenging but not punishing, the course is often shaded and shows the best of Southern Maryland scenery, including the Indian Head Rail Trail that brings you back to the finish. This ride is organized by the Oxon Hill Bicycle Club, and their expertise shows.  This is a rider’s ride, and it includes some of the best rest stop food ever – breakfast at the first rest stop is legendary! There is a lot to recommend at this ride – I’m told even the shorter routes are excellent, and year after year this ride has always been a highlight. 

The Experience: I’m always eager to ride the Indian Head 100, and this year I was in such a rush to get there that I forgot my telephone. This meant that my photos would have to come from friends, and I’d have to feel foolish and forgetful for a while.  The day started with promise though. Despite my lack of communications tech, I met up with friends and started before the day began to heat up. Due to injuries and travel, many of my usual ride partners were not available, but my team has a lot of great riders, and none of us ever have to ride alone if we don’t want to. One of the riders who was parked nearby was riding a classic Lugged Steel bike that I couldn’t help admiring, but despite the distractions, I rode out into the promising morning with Tony Lehr, Carol Linden and a friend of Carol’s – Julie Marders. I was feeling good in the first section of the ride; I spent some time on the front, and we collected some other riders who liked our pace. Since everyone was riding responsibly, I wasn’t concerned. The first rest stop appeared before we knew it, and we all enjoyed the fabulous breakfast that the Indian Head 100 is famous for. I was surprised to discover that changes to the route in the second leg took away some of Riverside Road, which had been a 10 mile series of rollers that resembled a sine wave, but the route compensated for it by sending us over scenic roads that eventually joined Riverside farther down, and I was still treated to many of the rollers, which still left me satisfied. I was riding well through that section, and Tony, who had been getting stronger as the day went on, took over.  The group was split a little by the third stop, but we took full advantage of the rest, and I ran into my friend Judy and her son, and we took a moment to admire his new bike before we moved on. The next section found me suffering a little, as our group strung out I was still riding well, but the rest stop at St. Ignatius Church was welcome! This year, instead of offering the century riders a hard climb on Bumpy Oak Road, all the courses turned onto the Rail Trail to go back to the start. Carol was working hard on the trail, sensing the finish, but neither I nor anyone else had the energy to take over the pace making, so we relaxed a little and came to the finish tired but happy, as another good Indian Head 100 went into the books.  We all came together after the finish to celebrate and swap stories, and looked forward to the next chance to ride together. 

Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “I love you Suzanne” by Lou Reed,  “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding” by Elvis Costello, and “Eastern Bloc” by Thomas Dolby. 

Stats: 100.53 Miles ridden.  The course changes were interesting, and the ride satisfied as always!

Group

Our group the first Rest Stop. Left to right – Myself, Carol, Tony and Julie.

Resting

Post Ride, in the shade, recovery drink in hand.  We all live for this, don’t we?

The Ride to See 2015

Today’s ride: The Ride to See is a charity event that benefits vision research and programs for the blind. The rides start from Galena Maryland on the Eastern Shore, and goes through towns like Rock Hall and Chestertown.  The ride is held on the second saturday in August. This can be a hot ride, so hydration is important. The Ride to See rolls through farmland, past the Chesapeake bay, by creeks and rivers, and it also coincides with a festival in Rock Hall.  Rides range from 15 miles to a full century. The shorter rides can be good training rides for longer rides later in the year.

The Experience: This year it was a smaller crew riding the Ride to See, just Ron, Rita and Myself.  I set out feeling good, so I led most of the way to the first rest stop. The day was still cool, and while this wasn’t the best way to go, it felt like a great day to ride. The second leg to Rock Hall was relatively fast. When we reached the rest stop, the “Pirates and Wenches” festival was lively, and we rolled past the beach and into the rest stop with pirates all around us. I was starting to feel the heat, and made the most of the stop, but by the time I got to Chestertown, I was beginning to feel the heat, and all the pulling I did early in the ride was beginning to tell. I began to suffer in the hills between Chestertown and the final rest stop.  A quick stop for a gel helped, and I managed to hold onto the team as we reached the final stop. After a good rest and more water, I found a way to finish the ride strong. We managed to find more friends to celebrate with at the crab deck afterward – and the celebration made the difficulty of the ride worthwhile.

Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “Houses of the Holy” by Led Zeppelin, and “Lost in the Supermarket” by the Clash. 

Stats: 100 Miles ridden, and despite pushing too hard in the first half of the ride, I managed to finish the ride without incident.    

 

IMG_0274

Hanging out with Pirates in Rock Hall

 

IMG_0277

Tom Roman, Ron, Theresa, Rita and I celebrate a memorable day.