November Dump

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been plugging along, but writing has not been on my hot list of things to do. If you rely on feeds to notice things changing then you didn’t see anything in the last month or so. A few pictures found their way over to flickr, but nothing else of consequence has happened via the internet. Quite frankly, when I went on the November ramble, it knocked the wind out of me both literally and figuratively. That is no reflection on Bob’s route. The cue was excellent and the sights I saw were fantastic. Everything was in the right place. There were good friends, good route, good weather, no mechanicals and no injuries. If it wasn’t mental fortitude, the only other scapegoat was personal suckage plain and simple. Most likely the problem I had was just a strength to weight ratio that had me dragging the back of the pack. It also could have been due to wardrobe problems. I took a rare lead when the group stopped to deal with a flat tire early on. Stopping wasn’t an option for me because I started overheating within 2 minutes and knew that if I let myself sweat too much I’d have the chills for the next 78 miles. I did stop around quite a few corners for photos. The reservoir was quiet and beautiful. Sure enough, the group caught and dropped me climbing out of the reservoir. Even though that experience is old hat for me, I was affected for some reason on that particular Sunday and never fully recovered mentally. I caught up at the rest stop right around the same time that they were getting ready to leave. The 10 miles after the convenience store were much like the 10 proceeding it. Less than 1000 yards from the PA line, I stopped at an intersection, looked at my phone to see which was the easiest way to break for the trail and cut my losses. Andrew had seen me go the wrong way and chased me down (sorry for running you out of your way btw). I told him what was up and we parted ways after well wishes. It was sad, but also the right decision. The trail miles and urban return was just enough riding for me to swallow and I got back to the truck with little more than a few random leg cramps and 2 minutes of stretching/walking here and there. I still dunno for sure what happened, but by the time I got through my 80 miles/4600 feet for the day I was ready to throw in the towel and sell my bikes outright. Crazy huh? Didn’t feel it at the time. I threw my pictures up on Flickr and vowed never to speak of it again.

The despair didn’t last for long and I was back in the saddle only a week or 2 later. In email exchanges with Ken I told him my tales of woe and we agreed to go out. He had a route entitled Beefshack II (sorry vegetarians) which had us stopping for lunch at a pit beef stand on the 4 corners intersection. The day started out cold and wet. It probably didn’t get any worse but it certainly didn’t get any better. We rode north on Old York (?) and headed towards the trail. Ken had us going up Wesley Chapel but mistakenly turned us left at the ‘t’ when we should have gone right on Shepperd. We stopped at Monkton Station and debated backtracking to make up our miles eventually deciding to head north on the flats instead. We exited on Blue Mountain Rd.–my new litmus test for over-the-top short sharp climbs with +376 feet elevation change in 1.1 miles. Ken as always was in his comfort zone talking away but I was taking deep heavy breaths trying to not go anerobic for the last 1/3. He coaxed me on with some healthy encouragement. I wasn’t thinking about stopping but it was well timed as a boost for more than just that hill. I’ve heard his voice reverberating in my head on every ride since at some point so thanks again. To get back to the trail there’s a big descent and then ANOTHER hill. Then rather than heading for the flats we CROSSED the trail and headed east on Hunters Mill Rd. At the start I looked ahead and saw a side street called “Bacon Rd.” with a sign below it that said “no outlet”. “Wonder where that goes?” We didn’t know, but with a meat-themed ride we were obligated to find out. Climbing up a few more ridiculous hills led us to the logical conclusion — a cul-de-sac with little more than a path of matted down leaves going off in 1 direction between 2 houses…

15870836581_4f90723e65_z…Ken was not fazed and kept rolling in the same direction. We wandered off for a few 100 yards until I finally said “can’t go any further” knowing too well that I would go the distance on this trail and then not have enough gas to get me back to civilization. On the return trip to pavement Ken diverted again. I followed him down this rocky trail which he was “sure led back down to the NCR trail”. I had my doubts (and for once was correct – I looked at the gps track later and if we had kept going in the same direction we would have run parallel with the trail through about 1 mile of forest.) Turning around we resolved to explore another day with fatter tires and less ambitious of a route outside of Bacon. Back on the main road we shuttled up and down hills along what for me were mostly roads I had been on before. We made one more revision on the cue to avoid having to climb the full length of Paper Mill with 50mph traffic bearing down on us all the while. Those final 15 miles were uneventful. I got a little cranky in the home stretch but wasn’t so insufferable that Ken has stopped talking to me. Before we knew it we were lunching it up. All was good, but stopping to eat outside in 40 degree weather with a 15mph wind wasn’t the best plan. After about 4 minutes, the shakes set in. Mercifully, the owner started a small fire for us.

15847009086_fce3e92449_zKen found out she was an old classmate from high school and they talked about old times for 15 minutes or so while I slowly forgot about what it was like to have fingers I could feel. After lunch we headed straight back to his house and hung out for a little bit watching the game while I warmed myself sitting right next to his pellet stove. Good Day. I was cooked but not destroyed by the experience. 44.5 miles and 4323 feet.

The next weekend I was trying to keep the momentum. Ken was busy with a Goruck event so I pulled myself out of bed and started riding towards the city. I remember stepping in the kitchen and gazing listfully at my french press. Nope… put on your cycling shorts and then if you don’t go riding you’re just a guy who likes walking around the house in tights. The questioning of my sanity continued south through Kingsville…

15250513214_80e9a99285_z…into Middle River when I got to the point where all my bailouts were gone and finding my way home would be more effort than just riding the route as cued. Baltimore is a great destination on days like that because it’s pretty much all downhill until you’re as far south as you’re going to go. It’s also great because I love riding around the city when 95% of the world is asleep. 25 miles in and I was awake for the climb north through the city. Once I’d had my coffee, coasted north through the business corridor and up the trail to White Hall I was refreshed enough to climb some extra hills and visit south Jarretsville before looping home. 87.9 miles for the day, 5267 feet of climbing and a respectable pace (but not so respectable as to brag about it here)

Last but not least, I finally broke the custom mount I fabricated 3 years ago. It was an accident where I grabbed the gps while trying to lift pugsley out of the truck bed when I was camping in October. It was fixed before the Beefshack ride–unfortunately I used a different kind of plastic which disintegrated on it’s maiden voyage. RE-re fixed it using steel and it’s been good to go for the last 190…

15250516164_14ed2b2284_zThat’s about it for November. Now I’ll be caught up once I can find the time to slap some pictures on this post and write about the Ramble last Sunday…

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11 thoughts on “November Dump

  1. Dave,
    I pass Blue Mount all the time. Your description piqued my curiosity, so I took a spin up NCR to Blue Mount and turned east. Sure enough, there’s a couple of walls there. If my GPS is right there’s a pitch on that hill that’s a 28% grade.
    I would say: road quality and low traffic of a Bellemore, length of an Ivy Hill, and that spirit-killing last steep pitch quality of Poplar Hill. All in all, quite a jaunt. Thanks?

    • Ha, my favorite part of your comment was the question mark at the end. We’re all a bit masochistic, aren’t we? I mapped out a double-figure-8 in that area that was something like 2000 feet of climbing for less than 15 miles… don’t remember exactly… crazy.

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