I worked around the house all Sunday and Monday morning. 2pm rolled around and I took a few hours out to do something different. I had been checking out local trails and decided to explore the Sweet Air section of Gunpowder Falls. Some climbing, some singletrack, some doubletrack and some grassy paths bordering farmland. I had stolen the bottle cage off pugsley at some point and didn’t notice until I was prepping in the parking lot. With no other option, I took a big swig at the car and headed out. For the next hour and change I got myself good and lost. I had the gps with me but kept doubling back on myself because I had no tracks loaded of the park. In the end I only saw the northwest side but I got a real good look at it.
My original idea was to do a 50/50 road/trail ride but I was glad to have the fat tires. It was much more fun doing the singletrack than sticking to what I could run on streetable tires. The trails were practically dry but there were a few places where water had pooled and dirt was filled in again by the maintenance crews that were still a little wet. Pugsley was fun to ride in those areas because I could ride straight through without leaving ruts. I was even smoothing it out a bit and I knew I was lost when I started to see my tracks 2 and 3 times in the same spot. Traction for the climbs was great in the loose rocky sections too. Have to go back again soon and check it out more.
The last month has been a continuation of me being run down and my decision to ride the Ramble this weekend was up in the air just like Gettysburg. July has not been a good month for me in the last few years. Once my ribs were nearly healed I got a nasty head cold that was brought on from working non-stop. I had vacation planned from the 2nd to the 9th. The cold was letting up and everything looked like a go when I got some fierce pain in my left ear the Thursday before. A trip to the doctor diagnosed it as a really nasty infection. Instead of a week of frivolity I spent a week reading and trying to get back to zero. At the beach I rode a few 20 and 30 mile routes–barely enough to build my confidence back up. On Thursday, Andrew sent me an email to check in and see if I was riding. It was just the push I needed to commit and I told him yes. Glad I did because it made it easier to dismiss my second thoughts and follow through.
We met in the morning at our first reservoir–Druid Lake. There was a triathalon event going on and we had to dodge the racers to get to the other side of the park. We learned later that Andy and Rita(?) were at the start but had missed us. They rode the entire day in front of us. Clear of the event most of the pack took off and Andrew and I did sweep. We cut across the west side of the city through Leakin Park, along Dogwood and then up Dogwood–the steepest grade of the day.
me climbing dogwood (photo credit: Andrew — thanks!)
Fresh legs and a low gear make all the difference in the world for me and it didn’t feel too bad. We caught up with Boson along the way. He had a shoulder injury recently and had to back off from the main group.
regroup at the top
I made a conscious attempt to break the day into little chunks that seemed insignificant to complain about. I didn’t feel like I was in ‘century shape’, but there was no reason why I couldn’t do a 20 mile ride… Then another… Then another… Then another…. Then another……. It sounds stupid in retrospect, but it really worked.
Andrew pulls ahead on the hills
Pretty fresh–through Liberty watershed and ground up a few more hills–soon we were at the mile 32 Arbys rest stop. There wasn’t much to eat, but I needed something so I got some fries and a bit of sugary soda. Tom was inside and the lead pack had picked him up around Liberty. Boson decided to bail and make the call home. Hope you’re feeling better soon.
Bob salutes our red, white and blue bikes
More riding – 20ish miles to the lunch stop but it felt like 40 to me. We made our trek through Prettyboy Reservoir, climbed out and arrived at Wally’s cafe around 1. It’s a fine stop, but I was really wishing for someplace with a public bathroom. Post lunch, I remembered freezing out on the same descent 4 years ago when we ran the route in October. Today was a different story and the weather was great. There were a few headwinds (more like breezes) in the afternoon but that was it. This was probably the best August riding weather I’ve ever seen. Great conditions aside, I was still beat and the next 20 or so chipped away at my ego. I was really dragging and very surprised when Tom did not catch up with me in the next few miles. Later we found out that he had made a wrong turn and looped around in the reservoir a few times before making the decision to cut a route straight for home. Everything west of 83 is still ‘no mans land’ for me so I was too busy wondering where I was and how far I had to go. By the time I passed the trail on Corbett Rd., the temptation to cut the ride short was very strong. I didn’t have Andrew’s # and didn’t want him wondering where I went so that was enough initiative to keep me going. He’d pull ahead all day and I’d catch up with him waiting at the top of a hill or intersection. He was at the Carrol Rd. crossing after the Corbett climb from the valley. I pulled up and fished my emergency gu shot out of my bag. It was my first try of one and it tasted qué terriblé. It was like eating fruit flavored toothpaste that was warmed to 120 degrees in my saddlebag. I can’t argue with the results as it did keep me moving for the next 6 miles until we got to the McDonalds for a quick break. In lieu of actual food (sick of fries and not in the mood for a processed sandwich) I got a coke and downed 400 more empty calories along with an energy bar that had some fruits and nuts in it. There was a loose-knit plan I had with the wife to come and get me at this intersection if I wasn’t able to soldier on. I was pretty beat by this point but there was only 25 miles and maybe 2 nasty hills separating us from home. I thought I could do it so after a few minutes we got to it.
The trip towards Loch Raven was a net elevation loss that felt pretty good. The downside was the climb up Old Bosley. True to form for the day I just thought of it as a little 2 mile ride and tried to ignore all the other stuff I had done and still had to do. With that out of the way we crossed Timonium and towards home on Falls. I was too tired to balk about the climb on Lake Ave. Bob and PJ were ahead of Andrew and myself. They made plans between them to procure a cable lock from home and a table at Alonzo’s. We all ended up at the restaurant in one piece at the same time and enjoyed our reward–good beer, apps, and conversation.
Thanks to all for a great day and hope to see you out on the road again soon!
Numbers: miles – 100-ish | total time – 9:28 | mv average – 13.0 | overall average – 10.6 | elev gain – 8770/8306 (unit/rwgps #’s)
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The prospect of riding this month’s ramble was a difficult subject for me all last week. I spent a large part of my time since the crash stretching and hoping for the best. On one hand I’ve been dreaming about doing this ride again for at least a year now. On the other hand I’d been off my commute and obviously hadn’t been doing my weekly 50 milers. I could feel my fitness rolling off and everything ‘biking’ related slipping away. Saturday I did a little checkout ride after a quick tuneup to the Salsa. Wrenching the pedals up a few hills I couldn’t find any movements which made my side hurt so I just decided to go for it. I printed out a map with the route drawn out on it for my better half who promised to come rescue me if I got in too deep. I decided to leave at the same time as the rest of the group and let the cards fall where they may so I got the luxury of sleeping till 6am.
After a quick meetup at the conservatory, it was north out of the city. A light rain was coming down. Even with our downhills being straight on clear roads I’m still skittish and backed off big-time on the speed. It looked like the skies could open up at any moment but real rains never materialized. I rode most of the day with Andrew and enjoyed quite a bit of conversation about biking, fixing bikes, bike camping, and everything else. We hit the Burger King rest stop together as everyone was sitting down with their food. Leaving with the group we lost visual after only a few minutes on the rolling landscape along rte30. I hit a light at the bottom of one hill and watched Andrew pull away. Not a problem except I let the lead get a bit too big. When the Garmin dinged for the Impounding Dam Road turn I looked around to see if I could make visual and saw his jersey far ahead in the distance. Luckily it was a downhill because if I tried to catch him on a climb I would have been out of luck as he’s much stronger than me on the hills. Once I was within shouting distance I flagged him down and we got back on course. That was good for an extra 1.7 miles. On the back roads again we had plenty of rolling scenery to enjoy for the next 25 miles. Before we knew it we were turning into the battlefields…
Photographic evidence on Round Top.
North through town, we stopped at Garryowen Pub, ate lunch and talked more about camping and bike stuff.
Leaving Gettysburg and riding south is easy going over the Maryland line. The main pack cleared out a few minutes after we hit the open road. No tractor show this year. The tractor graveyard was still there and the inventory was shuffled around so I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there working on restoration projects right now. Riding through Taneytown Andrew and I caught Bob at an impromptu stop for lemonade. It’s been a banner year for lemonade stands! I had a glass too and we were on our way. The climbing kicked in for the afternoon outside of New Windsor and I started to question my decision to ride. Once you’re out there the best you can do is to keep moving and hope for the best. The steady grade up rte 31 wasn’t aided by a tail wind this time around, though mercifully the most we had to deal with all day was light crosswinds from mixed directions. The temperatures were much more pleasant than last time around as well. I pushed on the uphills and would watch Andrew pull away. I’d tuck on the downhills and make the most of my momentum. Aside from a little tweak in my left knee I still felt ok and the convenience store ice cream stop came pretty quick.
Back on the bike we headed towards the reservoir. I caught up with Pat who had run the first half of the day with the lead group and decided to ease up a bit. He had come out to the start from Ellicott City and had a few miles over us all to begin with. I also kept bumping in to Adam who would pass me, and then pass me again a few miles later. We all stopped on the side of the road and had a second impromptu stop for a few ripe blackberries. I maybe saw Adam once more before he broke with the group to head for BWI. Down, up, down again towards the beltway, then up again towards Baltimore. Jeez. We lost sight of Andrew while climbing Milford Mill and after a series of complex turns through a neighborhood Pat and I started to wonder if he might have missed the turn while waiting for a light crossing Reisterstown. At that point there really wasn’t any way we could backtrack so we hoped for the best. We passed the parking lot where I met up with Bob on the last ride and it was empty. Sort of groaned to myself and lamented that I’d missed on the post-ride drink synchronization yet again… I wasn’t surprised as it was past 6:30 by that point. Coming down through the top side of Mount Washington I was thinking about how to get home with the least climbing. Taking the official route carries you higher in altitude, but cutting across to Roland Park makes you descend into the valley first. I don’t think there’s a real difference between the two. Pat was headed back to Ellicott City after the ride so these were mostly internal thoughts as I was sure he wouldn’t want to loop further away from home even if the net distance/elevation was the same. We stuck to the route, crossed Northern Parkway and rode across to connect with the start of the Jones Falls Trail. This was my first ride on that section of the JFT and it’s a nice jaunt through the woods. Approaching one of the switchbacks I even caught a glimpse of a 6 point buck bounding back into the trees. Coming past the Mill Center I was shocked to see a certain awesome ride leader hanging out on a park bench by the light rail tracks. OH YEAH it’s ON AGAIN I thought as I laughed out loud and we rolled to a stop. Good thing we stayed on course. As we exchanged stories of the late afternoon Andrew rolled up behind us. He’d missed a turn and fortunately had self-corrected.
We decided to convene at Golden West for what was now a late dinner and drinks. Andrew left for home to drop of his bike and we headed for Bob’s to stash the bikes in his garage while we were closing out the restaurant. Perfect end to a great day in the saddle and I finally got the post-ride beer I’ve been trying to do for
6 8 months now. Good times!
Numbers: time riding 9:45’ | miles – 131 | mv average – 13.4 | elev gain – 8040′ — I thought this was high when I looked at the unit after the ride, but it matches up with my elevation numbers from the last time.
Photos: No photography. Just trying to survive this month.
Last week was pretty decent at work. I had some challenges at my job that I rolled through and I was looking forward to enjoying a long weekend where I left my projects behind and just relaxed. I’d been too busy to check in on the weather but was optimistic nonetheless. Just as I was wrapping up and getting ready to leave Thursday evening that line of nasty thunderstorms started to roll through. I sat in the breezeway of my building for 10 minutes or so waiting. The worst of it looked like it passed and I knew if I waited too much longer I’d miss my train so I headed towards St. Paul street. Coming down the south side of campus and coasting through one of the walkways near the Charles St. construction everything was wet, but felt normal otherwise–until my front wheel suddenly stopped and I kept going. There was a dip between 2 uneven sections in the sidewalk obscured by a giant puddle and in a split second I was flying over the bars. My forearms and elbows evenly caught the first 30% of my weight and my torso caught the rest. in a split second I knew my weekend was shot.
I’ve dodged 1,000,000 potholes on that little folding bike. Although it rides well on a good day, when it wanted to stop the combination of small wheels, short wheelbase and high center of gravity caught me totally off guard. I peeled myself off the concrete a second later stumbling around in the rain and having a hard time breathing for the first minute. Walked it off and decided to aim for the shuttle stop at Barnes & Noble to catch the a ride to Penn Station and missing it by ‘that’ much. Good news is it’s downhill nearly the whole way so I coasted there half afraid for my life on a bike for the first time in who knows how long. I arrived at Penn Station (right behind the shuttle I missed btw) only to find out that the train was delayed AGAIN and I ended up waiting for it in wet shorts for over an hour. I totally get why people put up with driving to work because the train is really starting to piss me off. After all that pretty much any weekend would be good.
Friday – good time with family around the house. I wasn’t in the greatest shape but had enough energy to run the grill and have a few hard ciders. Saturday – hanging out with friends at their house which was nice. That night I was out in the garage and thought to myself it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go for a little ‘recovery ride’ in the morning. I went to get a bike down from the ceiling rack and my core felt like it was torn up just trying to lift it off the hooks. If it is too tough to pick a bike up maybe it would be a bad idea to try and ride one…
I sat around today, took care of cooking for the week and some other chores. Jen did everything she could to keep my spirits up even though I kept telling her it hurt like hell to laugh. I was being a bit of a tool this weekend so I deserved some of it.
Glad it was good weekend weather for the rest of you. Hope you all got out for some great riding. Looks like it’ll be another July of me following the Tour de France. I’ve been through worse and I’ll be back soon.
Pretty much the entire weekend was beautiful for riding. Given my trip last week, sacrifices needed to be made to keep my chore list under control so I spent the greater part of the day on Saturday and Sunday doing maintenance to the deck. Kind of like last week I was pretty tired before I got anywhere near a bike. My plan for Monday was to take the 152/23 route and extend it by 10 or 15 miles. Basically when I got as far west as I’d been before at the intersection of Houcks Mill Rd. I turned left instead of right.
I’d been on all the roads before aside from Jim Pierce and Gerting. Maybe I was there. I don’t remember. It was beautiful riding through the trees although it was a little brutal climbing. My reward was a nice downhill on Wesley Chapel (liked it better riding south) followed by jumping on the trail once at Monkton for a few miles of relaxed trail riding. I jumped back off the trail at Hunter Mill just like last week. Everything after mile 28 felt precisely like last week in fact. Same sunny skies, same hills, same headwind, saw the same mail carrier on Schuster… I even felt like I was carrying the camping gear. It could have been the work on Saturday and Sunday or maybe it was the heat combined with my rationing of 1 bottle of water. I was having a bit of trouble psyching myself up to make that left at mile 19 so it was probably the former. Going for the full route was worth it. 14 miles later I was right back at the Hutchins Rd. intersection. I polished off the final 20 into the wind with as much composure as I could. Even though I had my camera with me I didn’t feel inspired.
Distance: 53mi | time: 3:55moving | mv avg: 13.5 | ov avg: 13.2 | elev: 3987′
Read part 1 here…
I woke up somewhere between 3 and 4 with the chills. Looked at the thermometer and it was about 55° in the tent. I got inside my bag instead of laying on top of it and all was well. Next thing I knew it was 5:45 and the sun was out. Eh, why not roll over and go back to sleep for a little bit. Next thing I knew it was 6:45. At that point I decided the day could begin. I made quick work of breaking camp and was ready to hit the road a little after 8. Aside from a little stirring in the campsite next to mine no one else in the entire park appeared to be awake. The first few miles of riding were busy traffic. The shoulder was fairly large on the first part of 216 and I backtracked on small roads again at Lakeview/Smoketown. For some reason my randomly chosen route shuttled me onto 216 instead of Stone Church when I got to the intersection with the railroad tracks from yesterday. Even though the second leg on main routes 216 & 851 was kind of annoying with the weekday traffic I was glad I did it because I got a nice new view along W. Sieling Rd. This must be a popular route for cyclists and I imagine RWGPS is harvesting its data on popular roads to choose better routes for us when creating new rides.
Not 2 miles after that photo I was in New Freedom for my breakfast stop followed by the easiest riding for the day downhill on the trail. A cup of coffee does wonders to boost my spirits.
Monday morning. Awesome.
Once on the road again, the Etrex got confused about location from the out/back nature of the route. I tried recalculating a half dozen times and it still kept telling me I was getting further and further away from my next turning point. 3.4 miles, 3.5 miles, grrrrr. Even though I wasn’t in uncharted territory it was still frustrating to not have a confirmation and it removed my ability to estimate my progress. My legs were still in pretty good shape but I was getting a little worn down by my 3rd day of constantly being on the go (remember Saturday?). I kept an eye on the track and hung in there. The hills were a little tougher this time around and a headwind of about 10mph was building from the southeast. Still positive, but dragging a bit. Where was I? mile 75? 80? eh, about 25 or 30 to go. I can do that standing on my head.
Intersection of McComas and Troyer. Also Rad.
Closer to home on Houcks Mill Rd. I gave up on the s240 route and set my unit to my 152/23 ramble path which was still programmed in. That did the trick and I was happier having a good estimate on how far I needed to ride. All was well until I got to Schuster Rd. south of Jarretsville and felt the back end start to get squirrelly from a sudden loss of tire pressure. #$@% again. I found a shady tree and started peeling the tire off the rim after checking in with home again. Even though I should know better than to try and patch tubes by the side of the road now I sat there for 20 minutes pumping and holding it to my ear while cars drove past and made it impossible to listen for the leak. For a second I thought I had it next to a previous patch which made it all the more frustrating. I finally gave up and grabbed my fresh tube again. The flat tire stop kind of put me in a bad mood and I was ‘done for’ from that point on. I skipped my back-roads-low-traffic diversion on Furnace because I couldn’t hack the thought of extra unnecessary hills thinking to myself “if traffic is busy on the main streets they’ll just have to wait for me.” All was ok and it wasn’t too bad. The wide shoulder on 23 was still a relief and with just the headwind left to fight I chipped away at the last 10 or 15 miles cross-county and through downtown Bel Air a little tired but not quite as annoyed at the world as I was trying to patch the tube. I stopped at Sonic again for lunch and by the time I was finished I felt rested enough to want to turn around and do it again. Not quite. An unintelligible decision to wear briefs under my riding shorts on day 1 had left me raw ‘down there’ and the shower was most definitely calling my name. I have deep respect for the people who go out for weeks or months at a time and ride across the country but that life is not for me. 2-4 days tops and I want a hot shower and fresh clothes. I put my tent up to dry out on the deck, hit the shower and that was that. Nice trip but I was glad to be back. I kind of rushed myself unnecessarily because I was feeling a little weak and didn’t want to get caught out at 5pm on Monday still trying to ride home. If I knew then what I know now I would have stayed a bit later and enjoyed the park and trail for 2 or 3 hours. The route was great and I’ve got this one dialed in for my new area code pretty well. Next time I’m going to run slightly wider tires, take a few of those back-roads diversions and have a little more fun exploring.
Distance: 104mi | time: 8:38moving | mv avg: 12.4 | ov avg: 10.6 | elev: 6204′
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I’d had the idea of a bike camping trip rolling around in my head for the past few months. Even though stuff kept getting in the way, I was determined to see it through and have at least 1 successful outing this spring. The weather was looking good for Sunday and Monday and if I went on a trip I’d only be missing my deadline by about 2 days. My schedule was clear so I started grabbing all my stuff and mapping out my new route Friday night and Saturday morning. The only hitch in my plan was Saturday. My father-in-law needed help with cutting and nailing up some trim. I was happy to help, but in the process ended up doing squats and other ‘core exercises’ working at floor level for about 6 hours straight on Saturday afternoon. I woke up on Sunday already feeling a little tired in my back and legs from the day before. There was a part of me which didn’t want to go out on a trip when my legs were already ‘pre-blown’. The part of me that didn’t want to go couldn’t argue once I looked at the forecast for the day and saw how beautiful it was supposed to be for the next 36 hours. “If I DON’T do this I will regret it.” was all I could say. Alright, time to pack up the bike and get to stepping. I was out the door by 9:30, up familiar for the most part roads and at the NCR trail by 10:45. My legs were still ‘riding fresh’ even though my back was a bit tight and the hills I was expecting never really materialized. I didn’t feel like I was carrying 30-ish pounds of stuff but I was. As usual, I took my time on the trail, enjoyed the view, and saved my energy for the on-road sections. There were a few times I was rolling along and saw wildlife I’d never seen before–like one songbird with the deepest blue feathers I’d ever seen, a couple chipmunks, a doe or 2–I was in New Freedom before I knew it…
My breakfast was small and 6 hours earlier. I had only supplemented it with 1 energy bar and some water so I stopped at Paesano’s for a huge lunch after taking a few photos–they’re 2 for 2 with good meals for me. I’ve got a regular stop now. An hour or so of lounging in the restaurant and I was ready to ride again.
When planning Friday night I used RideWithGPS and just clicked on the start and end points, leaving the route to chance. Everything was perfect aside from 1 strange turn and 1 missed street name on the auto-generated cue. The odd turn was when it pointed me off the trail onto Seven Valleys Rd. north of Glen Rock by way of an odd path that looked like a service entrance to the trail. Already unsure of my surroundings I was easily confused when the unit beeped at the intersection of Krebs Rd. telling me to turn left on ‘state rd 3014′. Correct, but misleading. While I was stopped trying to get my bearings a couple coasted to a stop at the intersection and we talked for a few minutes. They introduced themselves as Jean (?) and John and it turned out that they live just down the street from the leader of the second ride I took with Chesapeake Spokes a few weeks back. Small world. We parted ways and I forged ahead hoping my choice to trust the unit was correct. Unlike last time I had a few hours to make mistakes today. The roads were great (Krebs, Jefferson, Stone Church, Smoketown, Lakeview…)–I kept seeing road signs and remembering the little side streets that I would have been hucking up and down if this was the ‘Old-Roads-Metric’. Gravel was for another day. I ran this as a skinnier tired affair than normal.
My view for much of the afternoon…
At the end of Stone Church Rd. I was forced to take another break while I waited for some empty hopper cars to roll past on their way back from getting tagged up in Baltimore…
The route was easy sailing on what was mostly level ground. There was 1 climb that maxed out at something like 8% but it was only 1/2 mile long. Not 1:45 after lunch I was pulling into Codorus State Park and setting up camp…
I rode back up to the general store to pick up a can of soda and hopefully an ice cream novelty. After talking with the shop-keep for a few minutes I decided to pick up some firewood too. They took pity on me and offered to deliver it to my site since it would have taken like 3 trips by bike. I got to work cooking up some camp food on my esbit stove and starting a fire. The cooking was easy, but after 10 or 15 minutes I realized that the wood wasn’t properly seasoned. I’d picked up some deadfall from around camp for kindling and it started to burn fairly well, but if I went away for any amount of time it began to smolder. The logs were on fire but weren’t burning like nice dry wood does. The camp hostess for our area Judy came by and we talked for a little bit while I kept blowing on the fire to stoke it. She offered me some fire starters. I declined since there was already a bed of coals by that point. The fire thing became a bit of a vendetta for me and I was determined to keep it going even though I wasn’t dead set on having a fire in the first place. Sap continued to boil out the ends of the logs as I sat and stretched. I know. Cool story bro. If I wanted to sit around, I could have saved myself 55 miles of riding and just stayed home playing video games. It was kind of a hilarious way to spend the evening, but it didn’t matter to me. I sat in the quiet section of the campground and just listened to the forest do its thing. Mostly woodpeckers tapping on trees and the occasional powerboat on the lake.
And it didn’t burn much faster as time went on…
By 9:45 the majority of the logs were little more than a pile of coals. Even though there were 2 big pieces left I was ready for bed so I stuck my big size 13 keens in the fire pit and started stomping it out. Worked pretty well aside from a bit under the grate I couldn’t reach. I used my water supply to douse it the rest of the way, got cleaned up, refilled my bottles at the bath house and turned in not 1/2 hour later. Walking up to the bath house I enjoyed looking at the stars. I usually don’t see much of them anymore since the parts of Maryland I frequent are enveloped in light pollution every night. In my last waking minutes I heard an owl off in the distance. A pretty decent end to a long day.
Read part 2 here…