M2M one more time!

The 2nd installment of the Monument to Monument ride this year is Sunday Sept. 6th.

17384496532_bc3826cbf6_oMost of you reading this know the ride well enough: a fun, sociable, roundtrip bike ride between Baltimore’s Washington Monument and DC’s Washington Monument. Lots of friendly riders and lots of scenic miles.

If you don’t know the ride then here’s pics of the 1st installment in May.

  • Date/Time: Sunday, Sept., 6th 2015. Meet at 7:45AM. Leave PROMPTLY at 8:10AM
  • Start Location: Baltimore Washington Monument
  • Map/GPS: M2M Map/GPS  (click “export” in upper right for GPS files)
  • Cue Sheets: M2M CueSheet  (print one for yourself or ask me to print one for you)
  • Cost:  None. Bring $ for lunch and snacks at local businesses
  • Assistance/Sag:  None. (except help from fellow riders)

WHAT’S THE RIDE LIKE? M2M is a little of everything. There will be fast and slow riders, skinny and fat tire bikes, racers and bike party people. Last year there were over 75 riders. We ride a steady average pace of about 13MPH. There are some hills, but none more strenuous than a long ride through Baltimore. The roads to DC are as safe as riding in Baltimore. Most of the route is surprisingly scenic and the DC trail system is very relaxing. We’ll stop 3 times: a break at the 25 mile point, a lunch at Union Station in DC and a break at the 75 mile point. I will bring cue sheets, but mostly you will be following ride leaders. The main reasons why riders are unable to finish M2M are: crashes due to inattention, not having the fitness and experience for riding a century, and bike mechanical breakdowns. Be prepared.

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The Beach Report

(excuse the multiple posts. I’m catching up on my ride reports)

There were so many nice things about this year’s Chesapeake Beach ride:

I saw new faces (Dan, Gabe, Mike L., and Kathy) and familiar riding buddies (PJ, Isaias, Moji, Mike H., Tom and Janet). Temperatures were at least 10 deg. cooler than last year. The over-all ride pace was very reasonable (unlike previous years). Three new riders rode personal bests, 100+ miles in a day and Dan, finished 135! I was near the tail-end of the group by the end of the day (though I rode a quicker pace than last year), nonetheless the whole group was waiting for me at the 3/4 stop and at the end. That’s ride leader appreciation. Thanks y’all.

Isaias's lead out from BWI

Isaias’s lead out from BWI

First time century rider, Gabe, near the start.

First time century rider, Mike, near the start.

Mike and Dan in the early miles. Dan was also a 1st time century rider.

Mike and Dan in the early miles. Dan was also a 1st time century rider.

Leitch rd

Leitch rd

A first Ramble for a strong (much stronger than me), rider, Catherine.

A first Ramble for a strong (much stronger than me), rider, Kathy.

Nearing North Beach and lunch
Nearing North Beach and lunch

Lotta people playing in the water.

A lot of people playing in the water.

Along Dalrymple rd. I've photographed this barn in previous years.

Along Dalrymple rd. I’ve photographed this barn in previous years.

The final stretch back to BWI.

The final stretch back to BWI.

This is what I found back at the start. Snowballs!

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Reapeat after me: “Yes, I’m riding the August Ramble to Chesapeake Beach”

Let your eyes follow the dancing chain. Yes!

Now that I’ve got you in my power, you will prepare by typing “Chesapeake Beach Ride” into your calendar for next Sunday, August 2nd. You will cast off your weekend chores and responsibilities. You will rise early on the 2nd, mount your bicycle and ride the path defined by your cuesheet. You will ride through verdant farmland and along historic Chesapeake waterfronts. You will chat with fellow riders so naturally they will not realize you’re under a spell.

Upon return to your home, you will wake up with a smile… and, sore legs.


  • The Chesapeake Beach Ride 102 mi., 4400ft.
  • Date/Time: Sunday, August 2nd 7:50AM meet-up. 8:05 exit
  • Start: Dixon/BWI STARTMAP
  • Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP
  • Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring an extra): CUESHEET

IMPORTANT: There will be an earlier alternate start for those wanting to begin from Baltimore. Meet @7AM at Carroll Park (south corner). We will ride 11 miles to the BWI start.



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Raindrops. So many raindrops.

In spite of the almost constant light rain from beginning to end, I enjoyed this variation of the On Again/Off Again route.

I met PJ at the new start location, Meadowood park. I’m not sure I like this spot better, but  unlike the Hunt Valley location, it’s easier for city folks to ride to the start. We were both expecting to see at least a handful of riders, but the crumby weather must’ve kept some people in bed. PJ and I rode off toward the NCR trail.

PJ rolling out

PJ rolling out

The approach to the trail is a very nice morning cruise through the county- Thornton, Cuba, Quaker Mill, all classic Baltimore Bike Club roads. We dropped onto the trail at Glencoe and took the short leg up to Monkton. Mike was waiting for us there. He’d begun at the trailhead in Ashland. And then we were three.

Still mostly dry, we began the steepest ascents of the ride, up Wesley Chapel, down to the trail, then up Bentley rd. Big climbs. I was glad to get onto the “plateau” north of the Mason Dixon. The original On/Off went all the way to York. The shortie has it’s turnaround in Glen Rock where I thought we’d have lunch there, but Mignano’s was closed on July 4th. So instead, I had us loop back around to New Freedom using the much more gently rolling roads west and south.

Mike rides past a long line of July 4th flags

Mike rides past a long line of July 4th flags

PJ and I rolled through New Freedom and pulled up to the Seven Bar. We’d arrived more than 30min. before their opening time and we were soaked. The rain was never hard, but it had been steady for more than an hour. We squeezed out our hats and waited for the owner to open the door. Thankfully, it wasn’t long- he’d seen us outside and let us in early. We had a couple beers and waited for Mike. When he arrived he was in an easy mood and then pointed to a big fresh bruise on his shin. He’d gone down on wet pavement. Youch! I was thankful that nothing worse had happened. Mike looked pretty stoic about it, chalked it up to Ramble adventure and ordered a beer. In fact we all had a couple, and enjoyed some great food too. Seven Bar is a great refueling stop if you’re up in NF.

Sign sez it all.

Sign sez it all.

After lunch, we cleared out for the remainder miles, the 3 of us a little chilly from the wet clothes and air conditioning. On the return, the Maryland part of the trail had gotten much muddier. I was coasting and scrubbing speed through puddles often. My legs were covered in trail grit and socks were dripping. And that’s with a fendered bike! We had to portage over a downed tree and Mike was tormented by having to fix a pinch flat. But the miles got ridden, even though they were a little miserable.

PJ and I said a final good night to Mike at the lot in Ashland. He made a strong offer to drive us the rest of the way back to Baltimore. Though wet and tired, I’ll always do my best to get home by bike. The remaining miles back to Baltimore weren’t nearly as scenic but they were at least cleaner than the trail. Soon enough I was home, showered and beginning to reminisce about all the good parts.

Thanks, PJ and Mike for a great ride.

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On/Off Shortie Cue Sheet and notes

Here is the cue sheet:

and, a couple notes:

  • the NCR trail had muddy sections when I did my pre-ride. These were a little too wild on 28mm smooth tires. I suggest wider and with a little tread
  • glasses are a must on the buggy trail, but lightly tinted ones will help you see sticks and mud more quickly
  • if you have one, bring a bike bell to alert other riders & peds on the trail

See ya saturday.    -Bob

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Ride on the On Again/Off Again ride again

The On Again/Off Again ride is one of the earliest rambles. I rode the first version of it seven years ago. It uses the NCR/Heritage rail trail for half of it and uses the surrounding steep terrain on either side of those trails for the other half. It’s a ride of extremes. During the early years of the ride, I thought a lot about it and changed a lot about it. It has since settled in to a stable route that I don’t think needs changing. This ride is not a replacement as much as an alternate.

Mike and Tom on the trail in 2014

Mike and Tom on the trail in 2014

It is on July 4th, a rare Saturday Ramble. Start time will be early again, 7AM, to avoid some traffic. We’ll be mostly on smaller roads so we shouldn’t see many cars. We start at a new place: Meadowood Park (Falls rd, just north of the beltway). From here we ride roads to the trail in Sparks. We take the trails and roads north to Glen Rock, then turn around and stop in New Freedom for a lunch and a beer at Seven Sports Bar & Grill. South from there on roads and trail back to Hunt Valley, thru Lutherville and back to our start.

For the trail, you’ll want wide tires and for the roads, narrow. A comfortable, sturdy bike with tires around 28-32mm would be ideal. There are some tough climbs on this ride. You’ll need low gears and/or strong legs. 2 quick rest stops in Monkton for bathroom and water break. I’m hoping to be back by mid afternoon.


  • On/Off Shortie 85 mi., 4800ft.
  • Date/Time: Saturday July 4th 6:50AM meet-up. 7:05 exit
  • Start: Meadowood Regional Park STARTMAP
  • Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP
  • Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring an extra): CUESHEET


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Rambling into the unknown

(BTW: Next Ramble is SATURDAY July 4th: an 85 mile variation of On Again/Off Again.)


Sam was waiting for me in Woodberry at 6:30AM for a ride to the start of “Lunch in Leesburg”. We hadn’t gotten 100ft. down the road when we both, nearly simultaneously, wondered aloud whether we’d be able to ride 150+ miles today.

The weather was beautiful. The forecast was great. Even so, I brought a jacket and warm cap. I packed them because, I was recalling a ride I took through the Susquehanna valley years ago, that ended with me waiting for a ride home, bonked and shivering. It was nearly 80 degrees out. It was not pretty. Was today going to be a repeat of that ride?

IMG_2203_2Sam and I got to Carroll Park and met Tom, Mike and Vinny. We all were asking one another the same thing: are we able to finish this 150 miler? At 7:o5AM, it was time to find out and off we rode, into the unknown.

Baltimore city was politely quiet as we moved west on Wilkins ave. Coming up on Rolling rd in Catonsville, I got a pleasant shock to see Isaias smiling and ready to ride. He took his place near the front of the group and acted as our lead-out on torn up Frederick ave. The county had recently removed the surface of the road and the utility covers were dangerously raised above the surface. Not a fun descent into Ellicott City.

As we cleared the bridge onto Main street, I saw another rider looking our way as he pushed off the curb and up the hill with us. It was Moji, a sometime Ramble rider and Balt Bike Club member. Great to add him to our group. So, now we were seven strong as we hit the steeper climbs up Rogers ave. There had been no sign of Carl and I feared we’d missed him, the group being a bit quicker than I expected.

IMG_2208_2The long grind up to Old Frederick rd. was worth it. Many waving cyclists were out ahead of us and behind, traffic was light and the sky was a beautiful blue illuminating the Howard county farmland. It was a nice time to take in the scenery and catch up with friends. Soon enough we were rolling through the old arches up to Mt. Airy. I quickly went against my own advice and sat down eating a veggie sub for breakfast. I tried to be quick.

We were soon back on our bikes, headed south and west of Frederick, MD, over big rolling ridges.  The geography has a more ancient quality to it along this stretch. Mountains and rivers seem timeless, I suppose. Eventually the land began falling toward the Potomac valley. In the final descent to Point of Rocks, I passed Dan and Joe who’d begun their ride outside of Mt. Airy. We regrouped, snacked and rehydrated quickly at the rest stop. I glanced at my watch again and noticed we were about 30 minutes ahead of my guestimate time line.

IMG_2217_2It’s necessary to take the lane as you cross the Potomac river on route 15. The cars waited for us and it didn’t take long to make to the VA side. Once across, we took to the “small roads”. Lovettsville, Taylorstown and Loyalty roads got us most of the way to historic Waterford’s streets, which are lined with restored antebellum homes. The wind out of the south had mostly been at our side, but now it was in our faces, and, as wind can do sometimes, it was getting a little annoying. To our rescue: the W&OD trail, a downhill, woodsy and winding roll all the way into downtown Leesburg. A quick left and we’re at our lunch stop: Fireworks Pizza. Tom, Isaias, and Moji were first from our group into town, but we were also greeted by Tom’s friend, Kathy who’d ridden up from DC. She quickly secured us an outdoor spot right next to the bikes. We were all set, just needing a beer.

IMG_2228_2Carl surprised us by showing up soon after we were all seated. He’d been chasing us all  the way from Ellicott City. Fireworks Pizza did us right, serving great food quickly to the whole sweaty group of ten. Highly recommended. After a quick group shot by Kathy, we said goodbye and rode north a few miles to the White’s Ferry crossing. The ferry was on the other side when we got there and we had to wait about 20 minutes to cross. By the time we began pedaling in Maryland again, we were behind the Bob schedule by more than 30 minutes.

Somewhere along the after lunch stretch, my stomach began arguing with itself. Then it seemed to just shut down. All the snacks and fluids I was taking in felt like they weren’t going any where. I could feel my energy lagging. If this continued, I certainly wouldn’t be getting myself home by bike. Mike must’ve known something was wrong since I didn’t have my usual sassy humor. Luckily the terrain was fairly flat, very scenic, and we had a little tail wind. Soon I pulled up to the McDonalds in Clarksburg. Carl had touted their sweet tea. I took his advice and it was golden. Slowly over the next 20 miles I could feel my digestion returning. Isaias, Moji and Tom were waiting for us when Mike, Sam and I rolled up to our final rest stop in Glenelg.IMG_2245_2

Glenelg is nearly close to home. Amazing, I thought to myself, I might just pull this ride off. I kept up the sweet tea regimen and supplemented with ice cream. Everyone looked tired and in good spirits. There was a lot of discussion about who was cutting out when and where. Sam and I still had 25+ miles to get back to Hampden. Nonetheless, after 130 miles, this group of seven stuck together all the way to Ellicott. My legs were tired, but feeling better than they had in the last 3 hours. Go figure.

Sam and I said goodbyes as Mike and Isaias peeled off and we made our way slowly and safely back to the rough and tumble world of Baltimore. City folks were out on stoops and  listening to the O’s game. Friends yelled out to friends. Some people were out riding their bikes to who knows where?

Big thanks to all the successful riders: Mike, Sam Tom, Carl, Joe, Dan, Isaias and Moji. BIG kudos to Vinny for dropping back to check on slower riders, and then finishing the last 50 miles alone. Inspirational.

Many more pics here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27976837@N00/sets/72157654241709112

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