Ken and I broke away from everyday life for a few hours last weekend:
Set up tents…
Next: Break out the bikes…
Wait, where are you going with Pugsley?
get off that rock before you hurt yourself!
Walk around a bit…
Stare into the abyss…
Cook something with fire…
Just a bit less than 24 hours away at Gifford Pinchot. We took the car this time because 1) We would have spent the entire time on the road if we s240’ed it and 2) I’m unfamiliar with routes that far north. We had considered a redux of our trip to Henlopen from last fall. Unfortunately, they are closed for renovations and I didn’t have the free time to take a day off anyway. This was a nice alternative. I believe they have put in some new mountain bike trails since I was last there and we were out for an hour or 2 Saturday after we set up the tents. There were a few occasions where we got confused by the markings as to which way bikers were allowed but we kept speeds down and tried to be courteous to hikers. All was good.
Sleeping was borderline cold. I had my bag zipped up to my face and 3 layers on all night. Slept well. Ken, not so much and I was selling him on a slightly thicker sleep pad in the morning. The packed gravel camping pad probably didn’t help him any.
In the morning we set another fire, cooked some breakfast and broke camp in time for me to get home and do all my weekly chores. Ken didn’t feel like driving on 83 so he mapped a back route which looked to be a great extension from York to the park. I’ll need to do more reconnaissance work as I think I have a good route for bike camping next year.
Life is busy, but good.
I haven’t written much at all in the last 3 months. I’ve been riding, but it’s all been in circles. Recycled circles. Part of writing this blog and riding in Baltimore over the last few years has been a double-edged sword. On one hand, I’ve met a lot of great friends. On the other side, I’ve had to come to grips with what I’ve termed my “low normal.” I busted ass by my own metric training this summer in preparation for what happened last week. No matter how much riding I do it never seems to be enough to effectively catch up to the awesome I’m surrounded by and ride “fast”. The good side of the equation is that I found last week I can tour through east coast mountains for 4 days with all my junk and come out the other side still wanting to ride bikes the next week. My job changed too. That’s been good for commuting but when it comes to free time–not so great. Any extra energy has been shuttled away from writing and posting into “real” things.
Anyway, last Saturday, Andrew and I caught the Amtrak Vermonter north and met Adrian in Burlington to set off on an augmented version of the Adventure Cycling Green Mountain loop.
Weather was great, it only rained once and 90% of it was while we were sitting at lunch. Adrian had to back out 50% of the way through because of some knee pain. He turned lemons into lemonade by renting a panel van on the fly at a local enterprise and shadowing us for the second half. We had planned on arriving back in Burlington after 5 days of riding but decided to skip the slog across suburbia. In lieu of riding Thursday, we visited the Ben & Jerry’s factory and hung out in Burlington for half a day. So much adventure. So many side stories that will never make it to the page. I could talk your ear off for an hour so let’s go for a ride and if you go slow enough to stay in earshot I’ll tell you some stories.
Trip Odometer: 307 miles
Photos: In the Flickr Gallery. LOTS more.
GPS data: track 1, track 2, track 3, track 4, track 5, track 6, track 7
Tough day last Sunday with some high points and some low points. Thanks to Bob & Ken for making it a great ride. 109 miles? 7000′ climbing? 12.9 moving avg? Pretty close on all. Here’s some photos. Rest of them are in Flickr herrrrrrrreeeee.
Andrew had the good idea to ride some gravel today…
38 miles | 4520′ | maybe more words later. I gotta sleep now…
…While riding we joked about how these things happen. He’s been excited about riding out in Michaux for a while now. On Thursday or Friday he emailed our regular group and tossed the idea of driving out there a go. I was a little sketched out about the elevations but didn’t want to squash his enthusiasm so I “checked YES” and sent a reply. I went back to look at the RWGPS track and immediately started to regret my decision. These mixed feelings of excitement and regret continued straight up through the moment when we started to pedal away from the car. Andrew told me he was going through a similar process of hesitation and unwillingness to back out after he sent his original invite. Shout out to great friends with crazy ideas because if it wasn’t for that I’d probably never get to the trailhead by myself. Once on the bike we were greeted with some of the most gorgeous (and brutal) terrain I’ve ever ridden through. The mystery person who designed this 80/20% unpaved/paved route really had us off the beaten path…
We’d be rolling along on some beautiful well-maintained back road and the gps would ding. Off to the left there would be a barrier with a muddy double track fire road. This happened more times than I could count. The one road was muddy-fresh from the rain and barely passable (documented in photos 8 & 9 above). The crushed rocky section I took a picture of was actually the EASIEST part. For most of it I was caught in a muddy tire rut pedaling for my life. I said to my self “Self, you can take a picture if you have to clip out but until then keep pedaling.” Somehow I made it through in one piece without stopping.
Around mile 22 we were on a screaming descent for what felt like forever. Half-way down I started to think “This is going to hurt.” Lucky for us the worst of the pain was on the rutted paths and 11% grades behind us. At the bottom, I looked at my map screen and realized that we were basically going to climb straight back up the same mountain on another pass. Going was much smoother here and when we finished descending a second time we were nearly home. There was an on-road stretch at the bottom of the loop that was flat/rolling. Knowing we were about 5 miles from the car I hit it as hard as I could. I wish I had left a little gas in the tank because at the very end there was about 2 miles and 300 feet of climbing–just enough to completely finish me for the day. We changed out of the muddiest of our clothes and hit the road with time to grab lunch/dinner in Frederick and be home long before sundown.
Thanks again Andrew for making me work for my Saturday. It was a blast!
Another quickie photo bomb post. Sunday turned out to be a totally new experience for a ride I’ve done 1,000,000 times before (more like 8 or 9…). Morning greeted us with a steady rain that thinned out the normal crowd of 70-90 Monument riders to an intrepid group of 10 or so crazies. It was sad to see a low turnout, but the upside was that the D.C. approach was a breeze with low traffic both on and off the trails. We all had to keep our wits about us as the roads were slippery from the rain. A few minor wipeouts, but no injuries to speak of so all was good. I rode strong most of the day and my only incident was bending the cage of my front derailleur on a bad shift 5 miles out of D.C. I had to ride in my small ring for 20 miles or so until I could bend it back at the final rest stop. Great riding and company with all and we rode the entire day as one of the most compact groups I can ever remember. After we said hi to the Baltimore monument 1 last time we did a victory lap up Charles and had a round of beers at One World. A great day and I hope to see you all again soon!
** UPDATE >> Bob’s writeup & pics HERE Thanks Again! **
We got out for a bit this weekend and rode. I know I’m not going to have time to write stories so I’m just linking to the photos and supplying the metrics. Good time and beautiful weather for a weekend out in the woods! I’d write more but I have to choose between that and getting stuff done around the house so I’m free the next time an opportunity to get out presents itself (which I hope is real soon).
Photos: click for the flickr || (update: gallery 2 here)
Metrics: 129miles, 8849′ of climbing, more gravel roads than I could count.
Finally feeling a bit better. I’ve been riding the trainer a bit over the past week but haven’t had the desire to get outside beyond my commute. Andrew had planned for a longer ride out in the county on Monday. Given the wind chills I had no real interest but didn’t want to leave him stranded because I had previously committed to do it. We went back and forth a bit, finally settling on some ’round the city riding followed by a quick pint of beer and sandwiches at the Dizz.
From the start I wasn’t feeling it at all. By the time we got to Mt. Washington I had warmed up both figuratively and literally. I asked Andrew if he wanted to tack on 1 or 2 extra loops but I think he was getting cold about the same time I reached peak operating temperature. I have to work harder for the hills so that makes perfect sense.
15ish miles, 1200′ climbing and 1 wrong turn. It was the perfect amount given the weather. It would have been a bad day to venture out in uncharted territory as my Garmin kept cutting out.
p.s. Don’t know if it was the cold or what but my Coffeeneuring patch started to peel off. Going to have to break out the needle and thread…
p.p.s. Finally switched out the studded winter tires on the trucker today.