A quick hello to the capital city.

After two days of rain, Sunday opened with a chilly and dry morning. The rain had been blown out of town, but the wind that pushed it remained. A good thing really, since wind does a fine job of drying roads. I rode off to the start having met Dave 1 and 2, Ken and PJ at the local coffee house. A little before eight, Eli, Dan and Sam arrived. Eight starters for a December ride is very respectable.

This route took us south on St. Paul st and onto Light st. There was very little traffic at that hour. South of town we crossed the Potee bridge and onto the BWI trail at Camp Meade rd. PJ had domestic engagements and said goodbye. As the group rolled down Hammonds Ferry towards Andover, we saw seven more riders, eyeing us as we headed towards them. As I got closer I recognized the faces: Jon, Bill, Charlie, Laura David, Tom and Mike. Wow! Now this is really a good group for a December ride. Before the day was done, we’d add Barry to our rider list for a total of 16 riders for the day.

IMG_2005_2Off we went to the namesake, B&A trail. Our roll south was nice and uneventful. The trail was mostly clear of water and bike traffic. We stopped to re-group at the Big Bean. I recommend the peanut butter cookies. After a couple more miles of riding south we leave the trail and headed east. This was the first of the scenic bypasses off the trail and it was worth it. A long roll down College parkway and into Sandy Point St. Park, where we were treated to a dramatic view of the Bay bridge and frothing white caps on the water. After all the proper photos were taken, we turned and headed towards Annapolis.

I’ve ridden into the capital city many times, but this ride is the first time I’ve rolled through it without stopping. Around the main circle, past Ego Alley and south along the coast, eventually the route took us out onto the tiny finger of rock known as Thomas Pt. There is a gate which must be opened to go inside the park. About a mile of dirt/gravel riding gets you to the very tip. From here you can view 270 degrees of water, the Bay bridge is visible again, this time from the south, and the eastern shore is straight out past Thomas Point lighthouse. The wind was really whipping the water as well as the cyclists here. Dave managed to get a photo of the group. I don’t believe anyone other than myself had ever been there before.  A fantastic way to see the great Chesapeake.

IMG_2011_2Back on the bikes, we backtracked towards town. I designed this stretch along trails with a couple wooden foot bridges that made the riding adventurous. We stacked up the bikes to the side of Fado, an Irish pub. Food was great and the Guinness better, but it was after 2PM when we left. This meant that we weren’t getting home before dark. I guess I was expecting that anyway.

We all made decent time along Generals Hwy and Veterans Hwy to come up around the Severn river from the southwest. We reconnected with the B&A trail again and regrouped at the 75 mile point. It didn’t matter what the temperature, it was “the ice cream stop”. Dave and I opted for a classic: the Drumstick. Back on the bikes, we managed a few more miles in the sunlight. At the end of the B&A trail, we took the BWI trail to the west and used Stoney Run and Ridge rds. to get us to Elkridge. In the darkness we said goodbyes to the several riders heading over to Ellicott City. The rest of us, with lights blazing, headed off on the final miles into Baltimore.

When designing this route, I was thinking it would be a safe and short “fill in” to the Ramble schedule during the winter, but I was pleasantly surprised at how strong a route it is. Thanks to all 16 riders who came out to play.


More photos of the day HERE

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The B&A route

The December Ramble is Sunday, the 7th to Annapolis. We’ll be using the Baltimore and Annapolis trail mostly. However, I’ve routed several spurs off the trail to visit other scenic spots along the Chesapeake Bay, Severn and South rivers. 95 miles and fairly flat, this route should be a mellow one. We’ll have lunch at Fado, Irish pub and take two quick watering stops at the 25 and 75 mile points. Come on out and ride.


A shiny new COHO on the B&A trail in 2009

Route: The B&A. 95 mi, 3600 ft. of climbing
Date/Time: Sunday, December 7th. 7:50AM meet up, 8:10AM push off.
Start: Baltimore Washington Monument in front of Peabody (east side) STARTMAP
Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP
Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring you one): CUESHEET

Ask questions if you’ve got ‘em.

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Donkey Rides 25¢

Visit the Donkey? Check. Thank you to Sam, PJ, Andrew, Dave, David, Tom, Ben, Mike and Andy for keeping me company on a nice ride up through Baltimore and Adams counties.


Sam, PJ and David along Harris Mill rd.

The trees kept some of their colorful leaves available for us to enjoy. We had some beautiful wooded stretches of riding on Harris Mill and Deer Creek on the way up and Millers Mill and Duncan Hill on the way back. The weather was manageably cold for this hilly ride. And the day wouldn’t have happened without the kind hospitality of Andy and Rita at our lunch stop. (Thank you both, again). After lunch, Andy rode out with me and new rambler, David. He escorted us to Rayville rd and peeled off. Even with a long lunch we made it home by sundown.


The Soma resting at Hanson farm.

Next ride is December 7th going Baltimore to Annapolis. It’ll be a bit like Point to Point and a bit like On Again Off Again. We’ll use the B&A trail as a source to jump on and off of, while we jaunt off to catch views of the bay. this one is 95 miles and half as much climbing (3300ft) as last month. I’ll put up cue sheets and maps in a separate post.


Oliver endures Bob’s strange attentions

Happy Thanksgiving.   -Bob

More pics from the day by PJ: https://www.flickr.com/photos/89177255@N05/sets/72157648818420299/
More pics of mine: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27976837@N00/sets/72157646955244823/

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A ride to Glen Rock: November 9th.

I have been accused of having some silly reasons to ride my bike a hundred miles, like riding to eat pancakes, to drink a Guinness, to look at water, or to visit a monument. This time I’m getting serious: I’m riding up to Glen Rock to visit Oliver, the donkey.


Oliver with Charlie and Andy. He’d just eaten some watermelon. It was a good day.

On November 9th, the Ramble plans to leave from Lake Montebello and travel north to Glen Rock. If we don’t have any big storms between now and then, we might still see some pretty tree color. Ride leaders, ramblers and all-around good people: Andy and Rita Hanson helped me build up this route about a year ago and they’ve generously offered to host us for a short lunch at their farm. Oliver will attend the lunch, but will not be riding with the group. Alas.

The route is hilly, but only 95 miles and we’ll have two short rest stops. Are you coming? We’d love to have you along. PLEASE RSVP so we can gauge how much food will be needed.

Route: Visiting Oliver. 95 mi, 6300 ft. of climbing
Date/Time: Sunday, November 9th. 7:50AM meet up, 8:10AM push off.
Start: Lake Montebello parking lot STARTMAP
Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP
Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring you one): CUESHEET

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The Four Reservoirs Tour

Time to bring back this old Ramble route. Last ridden in 2011, the 4 Res route is fun, scenic and full of hard climbs. Ride w/GPS is lying to estimate 6200ft. of climbing. On-route Garmins have calculated 7900ft. But let’s not dwell on the difficulties, let’s think of the beautiful vistas we’ll have at those heights and don’t forget the equal number of feet downhill we’ll be riding! And of course, there’s Baltimore’s wonderful waterways to enjoy. All that, plus my company, and you won’t even notice the hills.

Let’s do it shall we?

Route: The Four Reservoirs Tour 102 mi, 7000 ft. of climbing
Date/Time: Sunday, August 10th. 7:50AM meet up, 8:10AM push off.
Start: ***Druid Lake tennis courts.  STARTMAP***
Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP
Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring you one): CUESHEET


Tim, on Loch Raven bridge. 2010

Tim, on Loch Raven bridge. 2010

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115,720 Revolutions

Over the last couple years, I’ve been trying to add some non century-length rides. Shorter rides are more comfortable in the dark winter months, but stretching out and using all the available light in the summer is also nice. This last Sunday, we had eight riders ready to ride the 131.5 mile, Gettysburg Campaign.

We left Druid Hill in a drizzly little rain. I had fenders, but wouldn’t need them for long, the rain eased off before we covered the full 12 mile length of Park Heights ave. Those first miles are a fun journey through the NE corner of Baltimore. The first blocks are lined with solid-built one hundred year old row houses over looking the park. As we roll outward towards Pimlico, grand homes echo the opulence of the early 20th c. Crossing Northern Pkwy, synagogues of 1960’s modern architecture are common. Further out, we pass the suburban icon: the golf course, and then crossing over the beltway, we descend into the well-protected woodland of the “velvet valley”. Here ends the Tour de Park Heights and begins the climbing portion of the ride.14745080061_76941cd6fc_k

Partly inspired by regular Rambler, Dave Hoskins’ challenge to compete in the 2014 Lake Placid Ironman, I decided to challenge myself today. I brought my fixed-gear bike for an attempt at a personal best in both mileage and climbing on that bike. I did not take the decision lightly. I studied the terrain carefully and considered the weather. I was feeling good about my decision as I chatted with a couple other riders who were climbing the first large hill near the end of Park Heights. I only had 115 miles more to go. Yikes!

We breezed through historic Glyndon and began the roller coaster of hills north on Hanover Pike. A rider was spotted ahead and I knew it must be Tom. I caught up with him and the two of us pulled into the 1st rest in Manchester. Jeff, Mike, Vince and Pat were right behind us. Dave and Andrew pulled in moments later. We kept the break short- there was a lot of mileage yet between us and home. The group of eight rolled out, north towards the PA line.

As the day played itself out, there would be many position changes, but the lead rider was never more than 15 or 20 minutes ahead of the tail. The most notable position changes were me and my single-speed constantly yo-yo-ing with the group as I beat them on the climbs (by necessity) and was promptly passed again on the downs. After a few miles of this, I think we all figured out how to safely negotiate the back and forth. Jeff and I became a middle group for a few miles, missed a turn, and got in to our lunch spot, the Garryowen Pub in Gettysburg together. Dave and Andrew rolled in a few minutes later.  Unbeknownst to all of us, another rider, Dan, had left Glyndon at 8AM expecting the group to catch him, which we never did. He ate before we got there and continued on. That’s the second month in a row we’ve had a “ghost” rider.

14725196436_8b3bee16d8_kI’m not sure what a sports nutritionist would have to say about our lunch: burgers, shepherds pie, fish and chips and stout beers, but I believe we were all pleasantly pleased with it. Off we went, southbound.  Along our left flank, the Union positions were visible across the expanse of scrubby grasses and rocks. Our group of eight continued down the lines of the Confederate army and made an abrupt right turn onto route US15.

Have I mentioned how great this route is? The stylish exit from Baltimore, the rolling turnpike to Pennsylvania, the dark approach to the battlefields and after lunch, a nearly hill-free glide through the best of Adams and Carroll counties. I was enjoying myself so much on this third stretch, that I purposefully kept myself between the the lead group and the back group. I was all alone, spinning at a comfortable fixed-gear pace and soaking up the beautiful peace of the day. Taneytown brought me out of my meditation- more significantly, the “Lemenade” (sic) stand did.

Inspired again by Dave Hoskins, I did the right thing. I stopped and dug a quarter out of my pocket, buying me a cold one. I stuck around chatting with the young proprietors and smiled as Dave and Andrew soon rolled up. Another “lemenade” and some more city-boy cash into the jar. See ya next year kids, we’ll be back again.

14725152396_194c821e38_kFrom Taneytown we continued south to Union Bridge, then east on Green Valley rd to New Windsor. Green Valley is a wide open road with nice shoulders to bike on. It also favored us with a wicked head wind. I managed a faux aero position with my elbows nested on top of the brake hoods, steering with my shoulders. After a few minutes I was able to relax and cut through the wind much more efficiently. Soon I was pulling into the 3rd rest stop in New Windsor. Time for ice cream.

At this point, we had all covered over 90 miles. There was leg stretching and water gulping and talk of the next set of hills. And, there was ice cream. I was tired, but nothing in particular was a problem- just tired all over. Now, it was time to see how much gas was left in those legs. First notable climb was Nicodemus, a nice warm up. Then Stone Chapel, ugh and finally a couple of long grinders on Warfieldsburg. During all of this, Tom accelerated ahead and out of view and I continued my yo-yo-ing with the rest of the group. We all pulled up together behind Tom at the intersection of route 32. With the worst of the afternoon climbs behind us, we were given the gift of Deer Park rd: almost 10 miles of gently rolling descent into the Liberty Reservoir valley. Another push got me up the other side. At the top was Tom, who’d stopped to bid us a goodbye. Great riding with you, Tom.

A few more miles on rolling terrain and Mike peeled off. Great riding with you, Mike. Vince, Jeff and I road on through Pikesville. I announced to Vince that I felt like I was walking dead. I think we all did, so we briefly stopped for carbs at the same store I’d waited for Dave and Justin back in 2012. I figured Dave would look for me here, but I planned to catch him at the end. The next miles are newly routed along the Jones Falls trail and boy is it a nice, peaceful way to finish. I high fived Jeff and Vince and waited for the end of the group. Not but 15 minutes later, Dave, Pat and Andrew rolled up with happy tired faces.

Pat had plans at home. Great riding with you, Pat. Dave, Andrew and I did the right thing (again) and headed to Golden West for more beer and burgers. Thanks all. I love that route and riding with y’all.

note: I was amazed at how good I felt after my “reckless” decision to ride a fixed gear on this hilly double metric. Fixed gear bike riding can be a real wrestling match that also requires a lot of concentration. It seems to work out my whole body equally, Geared bikes involve more sustained positions which I think causes more specific aches and pains. The riding also requires enough mental concentration that I don’t have time to dwell on any hardship for very long. I was doing my best to ride conservatively (no ultra high speed spinning and no leg braking). I think that helped me. Also, I shouldn’t discount the effect of beautiful weather for the day.

14561595748_b1e20b47a9_k115,720 revolutions: my bike moves me 6ft. in one pedal revolution. I make 880 pedal revolutions per mile, times 131.5 miles.

more pics here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27976837@N00/sets/72157646033464115
bikesNcoffee: http://bikesncoffee.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/gettysburg-ramble-2014/


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About time to get ridin’

How ya’ been, Ramblers? It’s been a while.
Our next ride will be a long summer trip up to the Gettysburg battlefields.

Jack and Brian at Little Round Top 2012

Jack and Brian at Little Round Top 2012

Route: The Gettysburg Campaign. 131 mi, 6500 ft. of climbing
Date/Time: Sunday, July 20th. 7:20AM meet up, 7:40AM push off.
Start: Rawlings Conservatory/Druid Hill STARTMAP
Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP
Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring you one): CUESHEET

This is a long route. Not too climby, but you will need to be prepared for many hours in the saddle. Take care of any fit issues on your bike. Sunscreen, sunglasses and ample water is a must. We will be riding up to 30 miles between breaks. Moving steadily and conservatively will get you home without issue.

The Gettysburg Campaign is a beautiful, flowing route; a delightful way to tour the battlefields on bike. We stop and regroup every 30 miles and take a respectable lunch. There are several places to eat downtown. I will be at Garryowen Pub.

If you are not interested in the full 130 up to Gettysburg, I’ve made a nice alternate 100 miler here: GettysburgSHORT  …   CUESHEETSHORTVERSION. This short version bypasses G’burg to the southeast. The first and last rest stops are the same as the 130.

Questions? Worries? Tell me about it.


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