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)