Today’s ride: The Patuxent Rural Legacy Ride is a metric century put on by the Oxon Hill Bicycle Club. It starts in Croom Maryland and runs through parkland and farms along the Patuxent River. We lovingly refer to this ride as “Pax Legacy” or simply “Pax”, since my friends and I will seldom miss the opportunity to ride it. It’s well supported, well run, and scenic. While it’s known as a hot weather ride, much of the course is shaded, and this is the kind of event that we are all happy to support. Ride distances include the full metric century at approximately 64 miles, a 44 mile option, a 35 mile option, and a 22 mile option. All of the options include a stop at the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary. Regardless of distance, this is a ride that requires hydration, but it is very well supported and extremely enjoyable. The Oxon Hill Bike Club holds a picnic afterward. Riders are well looked after at this event.
The Experience: As usual, my team and I were among the first to arrive. The forecast called for a hot, and humid day, and we intended to get going by 7:00 to get as far into the ride as possible before the heat of the day. Rita had a little mechanical trouble, and needed some brake adjustments, but we got going at 7:15 while the majority of riders were still on their way to the start. Seven of us were out on the road – Myself, Ron, Rita, Stephanie, Eric, Carol and John – most of the usual suspects I ride with -though we had a lot of friends and acquaintences on the road that day. While I had a good ride, I was feeling the heat and managed to be consistent despite not feeling like I was at my best. The first section was just over 20 miles to Magruder’s Landing on the Patuxent. We set a comfortable pace, and I settled into the ride. John and Carol had gone ahead, but we met them at the first stop, and managed to get going again just as the area started to get a good crowd of riders coming in. The ride rolls, particularly on the Metric course, and the section between Magruder’s Landing and Eagle Harbor had some good climbs, but I rode them well and kept drinking – the secret to riding in the heat. Eagle Harbor is past the halfway point of the ride, but coming out involves a climb out above the river. The next stop was the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, 18 miles from Eagle Harbor. By this time Rita was concerned about her bike and the group splintered on the hills. John and Eric got to the front, and I was behind them, just in sight. Behind me were Ron and Stephanie, and Carol was grinding her way up the hill behind them. With about 5 miles to go until Merkle, Eric had ridden ahead, John had waited for Carol, and I found myself riding alone. I waited for Ron and Stephanie and the three of us rode to the rest stop together. We would all gather and leave Merkle together. As we rode in, I encountered the son of a friend from Arlington, VA. Rad was riding well, and had dropped his parents. He joined us for refreshments, but left to finish before us. By the time we got in, Eric had left, but we knew where he would be when we got back to the start. We had the chance to meet Merkle’s resident owl, and pulled together to finish. We ended up splitting into pairs on the climb out of Merkle – I found myself in front with Stephanie, Ron and Rita rode together, and John and Carol did the same. The finish was at a low point, so the final 3 miles were mostly downhill. We cruised to the finish and all gathered to celebrate in the shade. We’d earned our beer that day!
Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “Not Only Numb” by The Gin Blossoms, “Letter to Elise” by The Cure, and “Ants Marching” by The Dave Matthews Band.
Stats: 63.61 Miles ridden, at a fairly strong and consistent pace despite the heat.
The crew on the dock at Magruder’s Landing – Stephanie, Eric, Rita, Myself, Carol, Ron and John.
Beating the Heat at Eagle Harbor, just over halfway though the ride. Stephanie gets the photo credit!
We met up with this Screech Owl at the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary again this year. She didn’t seem to be bothered by all the attention she was getting from the bike riders.
Despite her diminutive size, this owl is a full grown adult.