B to A to B

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did. Way too much driving, so I’m eager to get out on a ride.

The Ramble is doing an “on again-off again” of the Baltimore & Annapolis trail this Sunday. I’ve made a few changes to the old route. We won’t get a lot of daylight this time of year AND, there’s a Ravens game downtown from 1PM-4PM. So I’ve made the route shorter, omitted the lunch stop and moved the start to Middle Branch park. We’ll begin promptly at 8AM. The route takes Belle Grove and Camp Meade down to the B&A trail. Then a long diversion over to Sandy Pt. park and a quick rest stop. South through Annapolis and down to Thomas Point park to get another big view of the Chesapeake. Returning north, we’ll have our 2nd rest stop and get back on the trail for the return to BWI. I’m hoping for arrival back into Baltimore by 2:30PM which should give us a safe window for getting home while the game is still going and the sun is still up. Beers will have to come afterwards.

Middle Branch park has easy parking and porta-pots, but no water. Rest stops are 30 miles apart.

 

DETAILS:

  • The B&A 87 mi., 3000ft.
  • Date/Time: Sunday, December 4th. 7:45AM meet-up. 8:00 exit
  • Start: Middle Branch 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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We had great weather and great riding on last month’s Olde Roads ride. Thanks all.

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The B&A

Next Ramble will be Dec. 4th.

A nice winter roll down to Annapolis with diversions to Sandy pt. and Thomas pt.

Details to follow but similar to the version we did in 2014
https://randoramble.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/the-ba-route/
https://randoramble.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/a-quick-hello-to-the-capital-city/

 

-Bob

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Gettin’ back to it.

Next ride, Olde Roads, will be on Sunday, Nov. 13th.

The route is a rough, hilly, beautiful tour of unpaved roadways above and below the Mason Dixon. It’s 75mi. and hilly. We’ll climb nearly 100ft. per mile on at times, loose rocky surfaces. The Rambles always have a easy pace, but you’ll still need the stamina to haul yourself up those grades. I haven’t ridden over 20 miles in 3 months, so I’ll be slow and easy on this one. Come and keep me company. Start is in Manchester, MD. Lunch is in Glen Rock, PA at Mignano Bros.

You’ll definitely want a bike with minimum width of 32mm tires and LOW gearing for climbs. Be sure everything on the bike is tight or it’ll rattle loose on this route. Ask questions if you’ve got ’em.

DETAILS:

  • Olde Roads 74 mi., 7400ft.
  • Date/Time: Sunday, November 13th. 8:15AM meet-up. 8:30 exit
  • Start: North Carroll Plaza in Manchester 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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And now for something completely different– the ride report from a dream I had a while back:

I am leading a ride that is going thru some industrial city. I don’t know where, but there is rough concrete and old dilapidated buildings. After a few miles of riding I notice up ahead that riders are stopped at a railroad track. When I get there I see that there’s no more roadway, no trail- just loose rocks. I realize there must be something really wrong with my cue sheet, so I start fumbling for maps, trying to figure out where to go. Soon, the other riders get impatient and start walking their bikes along the tracks. I try to keep up behind them, still looking at paperwork and walking with difficulty on the rocks. We step up onto a railway platform. A train pulls up. Without hesitation, the group gets on the train like it was next on the cuesheet. I guess it could happen on one of my rides, right?  I’m really confused at this point, but quickly shove my way onto the train having no idea where it, or the ride, is going.

The train is crowded and chaotic. I can barely see the other riders. I’m still fumbling with maps and my bike, but now I’ve got gloves and hats, extra helmets, and other accessories I don’t even remember bringing. My stuff is falling all over the place and I’m bumping into commuters with my bike. I hook my bike to a railing. The train pulls up to a stop and riders begin getting off. What?! How do they know where they’re going? I better get off before the door closes.

I try to gather up my stuff but its too much to hold in my hands. The bike is tangled up in the railing. When I pull on the bike, the bars break off at the stem. Dropping gloves and papers and a broken bike, I get to the door just as it closes. All the other riders are on the platform with their bikes. I see them outside the window yelling at me to get off, but the train rolls forward. I get out at the next stop alone with a broken bike and half of my stuff.  

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See ya on the 13th.🙂

 

 

 

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Big ideas. Big circles.

 

The Ramble will take a couple months off now that we’re done our big July ride. There’s a ton of centuries out there in late summer for you to pick from. See ya in October.

This ride started with a grand idea: encircle the northern part of the largest estuary in the US by bike in one day. After I sketched it, i saw that it would be too long and probably tedious. The notion hung out in my head for few years until a bridge opened to cyclists. Voila.

It’s been a few months since my alarm was set to go off before 4AM, but I’m ready before it does. Shower, dress, coffee, grab the fixed single gear bike and out the door. I’m smiling in the dark as I head to Middle Branch park. I don’t know what the day will bring, but I know it will be long, and exciting whatever it is.

On my way I see a cyclist cross ahead of me and I yell knowing it can only be one person, PJ on his way to the Northern Chesapeake Circumnavigation ride. We ride through the bright of the city to the darkness at the edge of Baltimore’s south harbor. There are ten bike riders there to meet us. Most I’ve never met and they glow in the blue of LED bike lights. At 4:59AM there’s nothing else to do but begin.

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5AM at Middle Branch park

As a ride designer, this is the best part: the test. The long, long test. Muscles, chain rings, personalities all challenging their abilities to make it back to the start. And the cue sheet, a simple set of instructions, binds us all together on the same path. There’s a lot of trust going on here.

Baltimore is full of road hazards. All of us keep together nicely as we snake through downtown. With our lights and bright clothing, we are a ridiculous anomaly to stumbling late night drunks. It feels like a bike party of twelve as we take the empty lanes on Pratt street into east Baltimore. The sky begins glowing.

As the group crests Lombard st. bridge there are catcalls for the sunrise. It becomes our fanfare as we exit the city. Crossing the Eastern ave. bridge, the sky becomes a fantastic blaze of color. The water of Back river shimmers like mercury. The group of twelve is still single file as we make the last few turns through Essex and over to the wide, but uncertain shoulder of RT40. This stretch of road will keep us for many hours– the next turn will be in northern Delaware.

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energizing colors of sunrise on Eastern ave bridge

Normal riding begins and gaps open up. I notice that Ken and Casey are no longer behind us. The downhill speed of the group is too fast for my one gear. I know not to push cadences into the red on long rides. By choosing to ride a fixed gear today, I’ve made my bed. I’ll have to lay in it. I start riding at a more comfortable pace and watch the group pull away. It’s a little sad, but I remind myself how much I like riding alone in groups of other riders– together and apart at the same time. The big group looks fucking great as they roll up and down the Pulaski hwy rollers ahead of me.

Alone now, I get to thinking about the other side of this 180 mile route. I’m  currently in Edgewood. Due east of me is Blackbird, DE– it’s almost 100 miles of bike riding away or about 35 miles straight across the Chesapeake. I’m wondering what will be in my head when I get over there. I hope I’ll still be enjoying the ride. Will I remember being over here on the west side? The big long, waves of roadway on RT40 help me find a nice rhythm. Relaxed spinning down hill, and easy steady climbing. Good stuff.

Who’s that guy on the side of the road taking my picture? What? Oh, it’s the East Coast Greenway folks here for the opening of the Hatem Bridge to cyclists. Awesome. I give them my best smile and a peace sign and start the climb up the foot of the bridge. I’ve been over the Susquehanna on a bike a few times: at Conowingo (crazy), and at Holtwood (majestic), and at Wrightsville (historic). The Hatem is nothing much. I was wondering why they hadn’t opened it to bikes years earlier. The toll plaza attendant didn’t seem to care one way or another if I paid her $8. I think the toll is so that other drivers don’t get pissed at cyclists for supposedly not paying “their share”. The big group was waiting on the other side. Ken and Casey rolled up a moment later.

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Ken and Casey use their EZ Passes on the Hatem Br.

And then we’re off!    And, then… I get a flat. <sigh>

I watched the big group get smaller as I pulled to the side. It was bound to happen– we’d been riding on the glass strewn shoulder all morning. Ken and Casey nicely stopped to help. I managed a pretty quick tube change, and we were off! … and then Ken gets a flat. His had a good loud bang associated with it. We got his tube changed pretty quickly too and were finally off again– this time for good. The next rest was in Glasgow, DE.

We stopped for free water, used the toilet and quickly rolled out. I checked my watch. We were 20 minutes ahead of the Bob time estimate. Our next excitement was the wonderful, wide-open RT9 bridge. Love that one. Big views of the ICW, the salt marshes and the Hope Creek nuke plant. Fishermen (and fisher-women?) lined the bridges over little streams. Egrets stood erect. Salt grasses swayed. The wind must have kept those nasty flies off of us, but it made riding solo a bit harder. Ken, Casey and I occasionally drafted off of one another, but mostly we rode side by side or were spaced apart. It’s harder riding that way, but allows you the freedom to pick your own line on the road or to look off into the distance without endangering anyone. Our lunch spot at Willey farm came up quick and there were a lot of bikes leaning out front.

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down the backside of the RT9 bridge over Del. river

Jon, PJ, Ben and others mentioned the giant sized subs. That sounded great to me. I wasn’t really expecting to see the front 8 again that day, so it was good to get another round of news about their ride experience. I got a small veggie sub and what was handed to me was about the size of a football. We sat and took our time eating and checking out the market. I only managed half of my sub. The other half was too heavy to consider carrying with me. Great food though. Bottles filled and back on the bikes, I looked at my watch and we were right on time.

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lunch and re-grouping at Willey farm

In a couple miles we were weaving down tree-lined Blackbird Forest rd. I was passed by a car and realized how little traffic we’d had so far today. It was even kinda light earlier on RT40. This area of Delaware had enough undulations in the land that you could get out of the saddle on little hills to stretch your muscles. The three of us, the “white jersey boys”, kept up a good steady rhythm together. We were in the heart of Delmarva at this point and had several stretches riding through miles of corn. I had done my best to rout us away from stinky chicken farms. These long straight parts can become a grind– your body’s tired and the ride starts feeling old. Knowing that there’s still 70 miles more can be a bit disheartening. Nonetheless, the miles go on, the company is pleasant, the weather is perfect and my legs and the bike begin to blur together. My mind wanders and finally I remember being over on the western side of the bay earlier this morning. Ha! I’m all the way over here now. I pull out my camera and snap a pic of smiling Ken and Casey. Perfect.

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the white jersey boys.

We make a quick stop in Sudlersville for a much needed water break. Sweet tea hits the spot. Comparing notes on aches and pains, we realize there’s nothing to really complain about. Back on the bikes, and oh yeah– we’re still on Bob time, to the minute actually. More miles roll on until we come into Centerville, MD. I routed us into town through the back of Centerville using the Mill Stream trail over the Corsica river. A welcome change of scenery and good for the brain. We call the front group on the phone to find out that they’re still a single group and are calling for their shuttle over to the other side of the bay. Good to know.

Next town is through historic Queenstown. We roll down the small attractive main street leading out of town and into… OUTLET HELL. I’m not sure what the front group encountered, but the three of us were nearly massacred at 5 MPH by hordes of SUV’s driven by deal-frenzied drivers unconcerned with what was going on outside of their vehicles. After going through that mall parking lot, crossing RT50 seemed relatively safe. Soon enough, we were in Stevensville eating pizza, drinking beer,  and awaiting our shuttle. Kent Island Shuttle were quick efficient and very nice. AND we didn’t pay a dime. Were we treated to the shuttle by the front group?

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loaded up and ready to roll. Thanks to Kent Island Express

It felt funny being driven across the bridge after all the biking we’d done, but I accepted the rest. Once on the other side, we hit a few Severna Park roads before getting on to the forgiving and familiar B&A trail. That was a nice and easy roll up to Glen Burnie. At this point we were really smelling the barn. The only challenge was Hollins Ferry hill which had somehow gotten steeper than truth in my head. Actually, it was nothing.

And then… we were done. Just as simple as that.

Well, Casey did sprint the last hill just to show that he’d left some gas in the tank. Ken offered me a ride back into town and a pitcher of beer. I didn’t refuse. My watch showed 7:50PM. Right on time.

Thanks to PJ, Ken, Casey, Jon, Tyler, Martin, Barry, Che, Geoff and Ben for riding.

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15hrs later and back to the start right on time.

 

More pics below:

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The Northern Chesapeake Circumnavigation

Isaias or not, here is the scoop:

DETAILS:
Northern Chesapeake Circumnavigation: 180 mi., 4900ft.
Date/Time: Sunday July 3rd, 5:00AM start (yes, that says 5AM)
Start: Middle Branch Park START
Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP
Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring an extra): CUE SHEET

NOTES:

  • Tell me if you are coming on this ride.
  • The start location was chosen because there’s ample parking and it’s easy to get to by car from nearby highways. We’ll exit through the city when it’s quiet in the early morning and when coming back we’ll be done before going into Baltimore. That should be easier on the nerves. There’s no water stop at the start. There are Royal Farm Stores nearby HERE and HERE2
  • I’d recommend putting an extra copy of your cuesheet in a baggie in a pocket, just in case the other gets destroyed by sweat, or if your Garmin poops out.
  • The Hatem bridge will cost you $8 cash. I don’t like it, but I’m willing to go for it just this once.
  • There are 5 rests on the cue. Plan to take longer/re-grouping breaks at the 1st and last stops. The middle 3 should be quickies.
  • Bay bridge crossing: we will re-group and/or contact one another by phone in Stevensville. The Kent Island Express (410-604-0486) costs $35 for one bike and $5 for each additional bike. If we can re-group here we’ll save money. If riders are spaced far apart, the ‘A’ group can decide if they want to go ahead with a van before the end riders get in. There are no more official rest stops once you get back across the bay.
  • Sunrise is 5:44AM, Sunset is 8:37PM. Assuming 15mph ave moving speed plus breaks, I’m thinking this will be in the 15hr range and we’ll be getting back around 8PM.
  • Tell me if you are coming on this ride.

 

Rider roll call:

  1. Bob W
  2. Ken F
  3. Jon P
  4. PJ
  5. Geoff D
  6. Casey F
  7. Tyler P
  8. Che H
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Up & Over, Around, Across and back Home

July’s ride is a big one: The Northern Chesapeake Circumnavigation, 180 miles.

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Did you ride Lunch in Leesburg last year? This route will be 25 miles longer, but have half as much climbing. Like Leesburg this route has two river crossings: the Hatem RT40 bridge and a car shuttle. And, like Leesburg I don’t know what to expect.

This is what I do know: The route is good– I’ve given it lots of ride check out. Early on there will be a lot of miles on busy roads with wide shoulders (safe but annoying). The Hatem bridge should be a fun crossing, BUT they’re charging $8/bike to cross (sheesh!). The car shuttle across to Annapolis will also cost you and add some complication.

Like all the Ramble rides, you need to understand the risk and be self supported. If you are thinking of riding, PLEASE contact me.

DETAILS:
Northern Chesapeake Circumnavigation: 180 mi., 4900ft.
Date/Time: Sunday July 3rd, 5:00AM start (yes, that says 5AM)
Start: TBD (in Baltimore)
Route Map (click EXPORT for GPS files): ROUTEMAP (preliminary)
Cue Sheet (print one, or ask me to bring an extra): Coming Soon

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Storm dodging in Taneytown

The weather hasn’t been very cooperative with our rides this year. However, what we’ve lost in comfort, we’ve made up in adventure.

The June ride up to Taneytown was threatened by terrible weather forecasts– severe thunderstorms. The forecasters kindly added the word “scattered” the day before. That was good enough for Dave, Ken and myself. It was cloudy and mildly threatening when we headed out of town from Druid Park at 8AM. It has been a while since we’ve begun a ride on Franklintown and Dogwood roads. The two of them make for a lovely exit out of Baltimore.

 

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believe it or not, we’re still in the city. 

I’m not sure who was driving where, but the traffic began picking up as we got out into the county. And, for a Sunday morning, some of the drivers were surprisingly aggressive. That can weigh on your nerves. However, there were some really peaceful stretches as we made our way to Sykesville. Loved Marriottsville #2 and Arrington roads– thickly wooded and deep green. Our first rest stop was quick, and off we went into Carroll county hitting some wonderful remote gravel road stretches. The clouds were still warning us of nearby storms, but up to this point we were comfortably dry and cool.

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gravel stretches of Roop rd were delightful on Hetre tires.

There was talk of pancakes as we rolled through Union Bridge, MD. home of the famous Pancake Interception Ramble, but we didn’t stop there. At this point we were finished with the worst of the climbing. I loved stretches of Hapes Mill and more fun gravel sections on Stover road.
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A few miles further and I was rolling through Main st. in Taneytown. Tonys Cafe was in a strip mall near the east side of town. I tucked my head in the door to see what the interior was like and the woman at the bar surprised me by inviting us in with our bikes! Very cool. We had great service, great food and a well-needed rest and refill. Thanks.
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After lunch on Trevanion rd, we hit a little more traffic. The temps were going up and I was thankful for the occasional shade. I was also wondering where those severe thundershowers were. At the top of unpaved Jasontown rd we re-grouped and took some pics of the corn and sky. This 3rd section of the ride was the longest, but we weren’t in a hurry. There was a lot of sunlight left in the day. On we rolled towards Reisterstown.

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I was noticing the clear skies ahead of me all the way to Deer Park rd, but at some point I looked in my rear view mirror and saw black. Uh-oh. I was ahead of Dave and Ken at this point and didn’t feel like the courtesy of waiting up would do them any good, so I pushed ahead as hard as I could. I felt like I was trying to out ride a scary monster. And I thought I might out ride it, but it was too big and too fast for me. I felt cold drafts and the first few drops as I rolled down towards the Lake Liberty crossing. I didn’t even make it to the bridge when the sky opened up. I was soaked in 30 seconds. Alas. There was nothing else to do, but squish the pedals down the last few miles into Reisterstown. I got an ice cream and waited for Dave and Ken.

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Safety first in the rain. 

When they arrived, I realized how lucky I was to have gotten hit by the storm at the mostly traffic-free end of Deer Park rd. Ken and Dave got an ice cream and rested their frayed nerves. The rain cooled everything off and I started shivering even with a jacket on. Time to get moving! Coming back into town with wet roads was not comfortable and again we encountered a few super discourteous drivers, but we managed. Soon enough we were back in Hampden and ready for a congratulatory…  (you guessed it) BEER!
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Huge thanks to my riding buddies for the day, Dave and Ken. More of my pics below.
Dave’s got great pics and a short write-up HERE

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