Today’s ride: The SMECO 75 is a rolling ride in Southern Maryland. It’s sponsored by the Southern Maryland Electric Company, thus the unusual name. It’s an “in-between” distance, not the typical Metric or English Century distance of 63 or 100 miles, but that in itself is a novelty. The roads are generally good; there are some climbs to deal with, but they’re not long or particularly steep, and the ride is very well supported. While the ride tends to fall on hot days, since it’s held on the first weekend in June, SMECO doesn’t make you wait too long for water. There are plenty of stops. This ride gives away a lot of little gifts with your registration, including a drawstring bag and a stylish water bottle – not the kind you take on your bike, but the kind you’d see at the gym or keep at your desk at work. The ride also goes through Southern Maryland’s Amish community, so you might see the occasional horse and buggy on the roads.
The Experience: In keeping with 2016’s weather pattern, this ride held out the threat of rain. My friends and I decided to leave by 7:30 to reduce the chance of being rained on. It was foggy and humid, but not warm at the start. Experience warned me to stay hydrated and hold on to some energy for the end of the ride. I was in a pensive mood, in contrast with the ebullient Eric, who finds delight in any gathering. We were joined by John, Carol, Tony, Ron and Denise T, who was riding her new Cervelo S-5 dream bike. We rode out into a lifting fog. While the temperature was comfortable, the roads were damp in areas that would normally be shaded, so we had to be careful when riding downhill. Conditions didn’t favor seeing every obstacle. One memorable feature of this ride is a short, steep climb just before the first rest stop. This year the ride route took the same hill from a different direction, which made it a longer, easier climb, though still a significant effort. For some, this might be a good feature, but part of me wanted to feel the strain, to breathe hard and work my way up that steep climb. As it was, we still had a climb, but the flavor was a little different. It didn’t detract from our enjoyment. As the ride went on, the weather never changed. It was cloudy and humid, but the rain didn’t arrive. With the exception of a bee sting on Carol’s shoulder, which was tended with care at the final rest stop, there were no challenges to us; the heat stayed manageable, and the ride was thoroughly enjoyable. 75 miles is an odd distance. Like a metric century, it doesn’t reach very far into your reserves. 100 miles is always a test, but 75 is more manageable if conditions are good. Without the usual heat, this year the SMECO 75 seemed more tame. That suited me just fine!
Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “My Ever Changing Moods” by The Style Council, “Soothe Me” by Sam & Dave, and “Stone Cold Sober” by Del Amitri.
Stats: 74.85 Miles ridden, well within the margin of error for my bicycle computer. I decided not to circle the parking lot just to make up the distance number. Some days close is just fine.
The rogues gallery for SMECO 2016 – Eric, Denise, Myself (hiding at the back) Carol, John, Tony and Ron at the first rest stop.
Holding up a wall at the third rest stop.