Thus, I set out at 7AM last sunday to the start of the Point to Point ride to see what the day would bring. I figured I might spend some time shivering at the front gate of Fort McHenry, and then after no one showed up, I’d have a brisk ride back to bed. However, the first person to end that silly notion was Isaias swinging around the corner of Lombard and Light sts. With his L&M 600 front light ablaze, he pulled up next to me. “Chuck and Crista called- they’re on their way” Nice. Then, as the two of us head down Fort ave we see more crazies- Mike and Ben, both regular DC Randonneur riders. Hopefully the weather won’t be quite as bad as they say because this is definitely a ride.
Fort McHenry (Locust Point) is disappointing as a vista due to the construction going on to stabilize the berm around it, so we all leave directly from the gate. North and west into the wind and the wet.
The beginning of this ride is rough. Both because there are many quick turns through Baltimore and because the road surfaces go from intentionally rugged (cobblestones) to unintentionally ragged (cracks and potholes). I am worried that our visitors from DC Rand won’t appreciate the worth of going through this urban slalom or that the numerous out-and-back sections will get tedious. We curve around Baltimore harbor and out to the end of Broadway pier in Fell’s Point, continue along the water passing Lazaretto Point in Canton where we can clearly spy Fort McHenry across the water.
Continuing on, we roll through Dundalk, a very handsome blue collar town, down Peninsula hwy towards Sparrows Point. I love rides where while riding in a flat valley section you can see the mountains looming up ahead, dwarfing the landscape around them. Riding down Peninsula hwy. you can appreciate the visual parallel as the mountainous Bethlehem Steel facilities tower above the landscape. Bethlehem Steel encompasses an area almost as large as Baltimore City. At mid-century it was the largest steel mill in the world, serviced by three railroads and employing tens of thousands. The plant rises high above the Patapsco and is surrounded by a matrix of steam pipes, power lines and railroad cars. Riverside dr. and Tinmill rd takes us through the train yards bisecting the property and inbetween the lower warehouses and the behemoth steel processing plant. Riding through this area on a bicycle is still very exciting to me.
Next we head over to North Point and Fort Howard. I like the view from the water’s edge at the old VA hospital. The US Gov’t is very unclear about the visiting privileges for this property. We arrived during open hours, but the gate was closed. Everyone felt comfortable about going in so we rolled through the stone gate to the somewhat cloud obscured views across the water. Bethlehem Steel, the Key Bridge and Fort Smallwood park are all visable. On clear days you can see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Kent Island from this point. On the opposite side of this same peninsula we take our first of three views of Hart Miller Island from Cuckold Point.
We’d been feeling wind from the side mostly up to this part, but now we headed NNW facing the headwinds. The rain was beginning to fade to almost nothing and the streets started showing dry spots. Hmm… where’s that snow now? At a coffee stop I notice my tire has a slow leak. I find the glassy culprit and replace the tube and the group heads up to Eastern ave again and over the Back river bridge. Before I can get to the next point (Cox), the tire is going flat again. Argh. I tell the group to meet me up ahead and fix flat #2 finding another sliver of glass.
Filled up on Oyster stew and MD Crab soup, we headed back to Eastern ave, the backbone of the route. Mike decided to take the metric century option so we waved goodbye to him as he peeled off to the southwest. We had four more points to see.
Nestled in a small community next to Martin State airport is Wilson Point with a very nice newly-constructed boardwalk and rec area along the lower branch of Middle river. Up to Eastern ave again, past the famous Bengies Drive-In (I didn’t get to a single show there this year), down Bowley’s Quarters rd. to Briar Point and Miami Beach Park. No bathing beauties to be seen at this time of year, but the stop offers a good opportunity to shed some riding clothes. The day is getting warmer!
Next up is Marshy Point with an intriguing looking nature center that I’d like to go back to check out as well as a great view from the end of the pier. We rode our bikes out on it and I have to admit I gave my brakes a quick test before getting near the end. Chuck looked down to the thick mat of weeds in the water and remarked that if you did go off the edge you surely wouldn’t sink too deep. True, but you’d be in need of a very long hot shower.
We reach our final vista of the day near Chase, MD in the Gunpowder State Park. A view of Dundee Creek from the fishing area in the park. I could not find the name of that point though. Dundee Point?
The roll back towards Baltimore is made not so bad by a slight tail wind. And, the late afternoon sky is showing a bit of sun tearing through the clouds as we wind our way back. I often get a little introspective nearing the end of long rides and this was no exception. I watched Isaias and Ben up ahead of me acting like teenagers- sprinting one ahead of the other. In my rearview mirror I could see Chuck and Crista’s tandem, the mother-ship, cruising smooth and steady behind me. Baltimore is noisy and harsh, but it still gives a warm and honest welcome to bike riders coming back into town. To continue the good vibe we all decide to meet up at John Stevens in Fell’s Point for some tasty beer and grub.
More pics here: point to point ride