50 cent tour. Great ride Bob concocted for us. This was my 3rd time riding this route, but the first time in the rain. Shorter distance and we didn’t get to ride all the dirt roads up into PA, but the ones in Maryland were just as good. Good group, but I was riding in the back of the pack, which is akin to being the kids sitting in the rearward-facing seat of a giant 80’s station wagon. You’re having a completely different vacation than everyone else on the trip. Still fun! etc…
I’ve gone through a little phase over the last few months. The injuries (while minor) and some life stuff have had me off the bike. The blog has suffered quite a bit. I still enjoy it all, but there have been many weekend mornings when I’ve rolled out of bed, put on a pot of coffee and just stared at whatever set of wheels is hanging out in the dining room that week. There’s no good reason why I wouldn’t go out, I just wouldn’t. When asked about my riding by friends back in November & December I would just say that I hadn’t been doing anything. It felt like I hadn’t been on the bike in a year. Yeah, I get to work and the store but that doesn’t count for much. Something strange happened when I went to write up my experience riding down to Annapolis on New Years Day. I’ll admit that wasn’t an exciting recap, but I glanced back through the blog before writing it and some of 2012 DID start to come back into focus. The Net-Calorie-Gain ride was a great time. Bike camping at the end of September was one of my best 24 hour exploits in years. I had completely FORGOTTEN we rode to D.C. in September. Gettysburg was one of my best rides ever. 2012 wasn’t the best year, but the good parts were really good. Writing these rides up can be a chore at times, but I’m glad I do. I would have never remembered the good stuff from last year if I hadn’t. Back to riding, Bob’s rides keep me on track because given an opportunity to explore with friends I can’t say no regardless of how lethargic I’d be otherwise. Once on the hook I wouldn’t disappoint unless I was on my deathbed.
Choosing a bike – decided on the rando mainly because of lights. I was nervous about the no-pavement sections, but figured I’d work through it. If I could go back in time I would have brought 2 of the e3/dynohub combos last year when they were on sale for 40% off and hooked up the trucker while in wheel-building mode. As it stands I only have 1 bike with strong lighting, so I had to make do.
I woke up in the morning early and cooked some oatmeal and 2 cups of coffee. I was lagging a bit, but still on schedule. With the 6 miles up to the Starbucks mentally mapped out, I gave myself 5 minutes of lag time. It looked pretty rotten outside, but no problem because it was all supposed to burn off by the afternoon. Rolled up to Mount Washington to meet with the group and pick up a second pre-ride snack – small piece of cake and a double shot of espresso.
We took off and I set a slow steady pace for myself from mile 1. I’m still a big guy and know I can break a bike loose from wet pavement much easier than a normal person. Couple that with the fact that I was running my skinniest tires and I decided to keep the downhills and curves in check so I didn’t go sideways. PJ was moving much slower than normal and we hung out for the first half of the day. Ken and his friend Matt kept us company. From miles 1-10 we would fall back and catch up with the main group at a stop light. After 45min or so they finally caught a break and lost us. We saw them for a minute or 2 at the morning rest stop but they left before we were done. We had a nice conversation and traded route stories with 2 older guys who have ridden through the area (bicycles years ago, motorcycles now). One started talking about how nice Sam’s Creek Rd. is for riding and we were off chatting for another 5 minutes. I finished my apple pie, stripped off my rain jacket (which was wetter with sweat inside than out) and we got to it again.
We conversed about bikes and camping for a few miles in the morning. I reminisced about my fatbike adventure last fall and daydreamed about running parts of the C&O Canal or just getting out again this spring in that sweet time between opening day at the state parks and when it starts to get buggy and crowded. The cue sheet listed a bunch of climbing on pages 1 and 2, but I didn’t really feel it in my legs. That was a plus since I haven’t done any rides with sustained hills for at least 5 months. Bob’s route is a nice mix of old dirt roads and quiet thoroughfares. Traffic was typically light for a rainy Sunday morning and the ride was nice. No wrong turns, no drama, and we showed up just far enough ahead of ‘last call’ for breakfast at the Union Bridge Firehouse.
PJ, Ken, Matt and I chat with the main group, finished up and rolled out a few minutes behind. I had chills coming out of the lunch stop, but the hills kicked in pretty quick. By now it became clear that the sunny skies and 60 degree temps were NOT going to materialize. Instead, it seems to be getting colder and wetter as the day progressed. My wooly jersey was doing its thing well by keeping me warm. I’d look down all afternoon and watch the mist beading up on the outer layer of my sleeves. Drops were rhythmically falling from the brim of my cap every time I’d turn my head. Nothing like a peaceful rainy day on the bike. Matt, Ken, and I kept our steady pace for the afternoon, but PJ took off in search of the main pack maybe 40 minutes out from lunch.
Somewhere around mile 70 Matt started to bonk a bit and wondered if it was such a good idea to come out on a hilly January ride. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if the weather cooperated, but when we got to the 80 mile rest stop he decided to bail and call for a ride. Nice riding with you and hope to catch up down the road. I had a Starbucks Double shot, a handful of chocolate-covered espresso beans I’d been saving all day and refilled my bottles before peeling off with Ken. The guy at the register complimented me on my goofy-plaid-wooly cycle cap with ear-flaps that looks like it’s straight out of Fargo. I couldn’t tell if he was messing with me or not so I just said thanks, wished him a nice day and went about my merry business.
Ken and I rode along and talked for a few more miles. We were a bit faster, but the road was still windy and steep so I stayed nervous about letting off the brakes. He was headed home towards Hunt Valley so we parted ways at Tufton Rd. I had a lot of pent-up energy and really turned it loose on the last 15 or so miles. It was wet, but the roads coming into the city were straighter and smoother so I felt better about pushing it. I’d seen deer in the woods along the edge of the road all day — more than ever in fact, but the evening really brought them out. One bounded out 100 yards ahead of me on Hillside and not 5 minutes later I nearly collided with another that crossed Falls road right in front of me and oncoming traffic. Checked my email at the intersection of Falls and Old Pimlico Rd. Nada–Home it is… Got back to the house at 5:35. Saw PJ’s email from Alonzos – I was just past there, but I never imagined that you would have been out on the town guys. Sorry I missed out on the beers.
Last bits of advice and some personal thoughts for 2013:
- Have at least one bike that has bright lights. Stupid bright. Brighter than you think you’ll need.
- The VO Rando kicked some serious ass for the first time Sunday. I’ve had problems with shimmy in the descents since day one. I’m thoroughly convinced that it’s related to the wind asymmetrically buffering against the fender or something up front. At the first rest stop I bungied my raincoat to the top of my rack bag and that all but killed it for the rest of the day. Guess a load up front is mandatory. I ironed out all the fender rattles other mini issues last month. Lights operated perfectly. Climbed well (as well as any bike can with me attached). Nothing else to say aside from it needs a bath now.
- I hate core exercises. I hate weights and every form of routine legwork. That being said, I see the value in strength training and have to resolve again to try and do it regularly.
- I also went through a phase in 2012 coming off of achieving my weight loss goals where I have been ‘off the wagon’ with eating clean. I think I got most of the bad stuff out of my system, but I also haven’t tracked my weight in the last 4 months either. 2013 will be a year for getting back a little closer to my optimum fitness, but more importantly “finding balance” and really hunting for that path I can walk consistently with food and activity for the rest of my life — if for no other reason than I have $500 worth of cycling jerseys I need to make fit right.
Ok, we got the year started right. Hope to see you all next month…