Today’s ride: The Two Rivers Century is put on by the Wye River Upper School from Centreville, MD. The rivers are the Chester and the Corsica, and this ride has a lot going for it apart from the rivers. While the eastern shore of Maryland is not known for it’s hills, this ride actually finds a surprising amount of rolling terrain, making it one of the more interesting rides on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay. There may be no difficult climbs, but this ride has enough variety to keep it interesting. I didn’t need the small chainring when I rode it, but while it isn’t hilly, it may surprise riders who don’t expect any climbs. Since it is run in late June, there is always the chance that the ride will be hot, so hydration is always a serious consideration. Two Rivers has a metric century option that would make a good training opportunity for later season rides, and the scenery is a mix of Eastern shore wildlife, farmland, small rivers, parks and beaches. Expect to see a variety of birds. (On the way to the ride, I saw an Osprey with a fish in it’s talons fly over the highway. This is not uncommon on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.) The routes are very well marked, including both painted arrows and signs planted at turning points along the route. This makes Two Rivers a difficult ride to get lost on. One nice feature of this ride is that by the end of it, the rest stops come more frequently. While you can always skip them if you choose to, water stops can be a godsend when it’s hot.
The Experience: This year the Two Rivers Century had excellent conditions. The morning was overcast but clearing; the day was hot but not humid, and while many of my friends didn’t ride it due to other commitments, I still had Ron and Stephanie to ride with. Ron had decided to ride this as the first of back to back centuries, and he planned to stay in the area and ride the “Bay to Bay” century the following day. I was less ambitious, and chose Two Rivers that weekend as my only event. Since the three of us are early risers, and since Centreville is relatively close to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, we were able to arrive early. We set up, got our numbers, and got on the road before 7:00 am, mostly so that we could get more of the ride in before it got hot, and partly to avoid crowds. I set out in front, but my pace was a little ambitious for a man who had to ride another century the following day and a woman riding her second century. I sat up a little and we settled into a comfortable pace that ate up miles without eating up the legs. We were remarkably consistent in holding that pace, which is important to riding long distances. Riders who surge or ride inconsistently tend to wear out. Our constant companion in the first 25 miles was the wind, but it was still cool and we knew that a weather system was coming through. I thought the wind actually decreased a little as we rode on, but we noticed it most at the start. We got to the first stop at Crumpton Park fairly early, having emptied our bottles. We were all drinking steadily as we rode, which is another good idea for riding long distances. We arrived at Betterton Beach on the Chesapeake Bay at 10:30. This stop is at the 42 mile mark, and the sun was out by then. We added ice to our water bottles before we set out again, into the farmland of Kent County Maryland. This section didn’t have much shade, but we kept drinking and held our pace as we crossed over Rte 301 into Millington. The rest stop at 62 miles was the local sporting club – the sportsmen were shooting clay pigeons – and I found myself distracted by greeting the German Shepherd Dog that belonged to one of the volunteers. This reminder of my childhood aside, we had to deal with the heat by this time, though thankfully is wasn’t too humid. We were coming into a more shaded part of the ride, and that had it’s value to us as well. By this time, the Century and Metric rides had rejoined, so we saw more riders on the course. We filled up at a water stop at 74 miles, and rolled into Tuckahoe Park at 86 miles with Ron having actually increased our pace slightly to get some separation from other riders. (Note: if you want to join a group of riders you don’t know, ask them if you can join them before you do. It’s polite. Otherwise drafting people you don’t know is both dangerous and annoying to those people whom you’re drafting. In short, if you don’t have friends to ride with, make some on the ride by talking. Drafting without asking is rude.) The final leg of the ride back to Centrerville was warm, but knowing we were on the last leg of our century kept us on pace. The prospect of the post ride beer and the enjoyment of an excellent day lifted our moods as we arrived at the finish at the Centreville town square. We collected our shirts and headed to the Crab Deck on Kent Island to celebrate. This was a great day and a nearly flawless ride. The only thing that could have improved it was more friends to share it with.
Selections from my mental iPod during the ride: “Cry Love” by John Hiatt, “Political” by Spirit of the West, and “Boots or Hearts” by The Tragically Hip.
Stats: 100.12 Miles ridden, the way century rides should be – consistent and enjoyable.
At Betterton Beach, 42 miles in. Ron needs a beer. Is that why he isn’t smiling?
Tuckahoe State Park at Mile 86 – Closer to beer. Ron is threatening to crack a smile…
Post ride. Not much of a smile from Ron, but we’re all satisfied after a great ride!