I suspect all the ramble riders had a tough time deciding to mount their bikes for last Sunday’s “To Frederick, On Frederick”. I was out of the house by 6:15 to get some coffee and muffins in support of anyone who might ride. Baltimore’s streets were mostly clear. The worry in my mind was the little little bit of slush left in some areas and the below freezing temps. I arrived at the start at 7AM. The park was beautiful in the snow. A few minutes later Isaias arrived. He talked about where he’d ride if no one else showed. And then, Pedro arrived. And, then PJ and Dave and Mike and finally Brian. Everyone had some coffee and a muffin and then they were off. It was pretty strange seeing the Ramble roll out without me. My feet and hands were already cold, but I was envious anyway.
Gentlemen, who’s got a ride report for the day? (see below)To Frederick On Frederick
On Saturday night, I inflated the tires to 70 psi, oiled the chain and checked the brakes. I filled the pannier with a U-lock, extra base layer, extra socks, extra cuesheet, mini tool, pump, tube, patches, tire levers, bungee cord, and snacks. Good to go.
I woke up around 5:30 and drank some coffee and ate a bagel. To combat the cold, I wore long johns under my bike sweats and two layers under my jacket. I also decided to wear snow boots. They’re a little heavy and clumsy, but they managed to keep my feet reasonably warm for the entire ride. I also wore leather gloves over wool ones which held off frost bite. Balaclava and hat worked well, too.
By 6:35, I was on the move. There was snow and ice on the side streets so I had to take it slow. Druid Hill Park was beautiful draped in snow. The only sound was the snow crunching underneath my tires. Dave said later that he spotted by tracks, I can hear him saying” Now that’s definitely a Schwalbe…” I wasn’t the only cyclist out there, one brave soul was riding laps around the reservoir. My thermometer read 19 degrees. Inaccurate maybe, but it was darn cold.
Monroe was pretty much clear so I picked up the pace, but had to be careful of the bridges. As I got closer to Carroll Park, I could make out Bob’s Nova. It was a blue beacon in an otherwise white and grey landscape. Pedro and Isaias were already there, and Mike, Brian and Dave soon joined. Bob was nice enough to bring coffee and muffins to the start. Much appreciated. Bob seemed thrilled that so many riders showed up on this cold morning to ride 100 miles on sketchy streets, but bummed at the same time because he couldn’t ride. Doctor’s orders.
Rather than use the GF trail, five of us decided to go back up Monroe and work our way to Frederick Rd. We were concerned that the conditions on the trail would be too treacherous. Not Dave. He had brought his Santa Cruz mountain bike with studded tires just for that purpose. I believe he rode the GF trail and was going to meet us at Ellicott City. He later sent me an email stating that he returned home.
Bobless, we headed out to find Frederick Road, which we would more or less ride all the way to Frederick. The ride out to Frederick was uneventful (at least for me). I had Jefferson Airplane’s “Hey, Frederick!” playing in my head most of the time. By and large, we rode together as a group, switching places now and again. Pedro would often pull ahead and then slow down for the rest of the group to catch up. I got to speak with everyone on the way out. After 30 miles or so, my bagel started to wear off, so I was elated when we reached the Starbucks in Mt. Airy. By this point, my water bottles had frozen over, too. Isaias mixed his water with a little salt to prevent freezing. I’ll have to remember that for next time. Anyway, after a sausage egg biscuit and large coffee, I was feeling pretty good. Brian thought he might be getting cramps, but we couldn’t decide if it was that or just the effects to the cold.
Back on the road, we reached the Frederick city limits by 11:30; we were making good time, I thought. Mike had the idea (I think, it was Mike, nevertheless, it was a great idea) to go to Brewer’s Alley for lunch and refreshments. We had to wait 15 minutes for the place to open, but it gave us an excuse to take some pictures. I mistakenly dropped my hat when we entered the restaurant. The hostess picked it up and handed it to me. The hat was just soaked with sweat. Yuck. I hope I tipped well enough. Most of us had burgers and beer. I had a couple beers; maybe not the best move. I really enjoyed lunch, though. Good food and great conversation. Pedro told us a story about how 2 of his bikes got stolen in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, where bicycles abound? That surprised me, but I guess it shouldn’t. Understandably, Pedro was a little leery of leaving his bike outside the restaurant. Glad I brought my lock.
When we were getting ready to leave, I noticed small snowflakes falling outside. No big deal, I thought. We left in a pack, but quickly broke into separate groups once we got outside the city limits. Pedro headed out in front, Mike closely following. I tried, but I couldn’t keep up with them. My goal was to just keep them in my sights until we reached the Dunkin Donuts in Mt Airy. Isaias and Brain were close behind me. Or so I thought. As it turned out, I never saw them again. By the time we reached New Market, the snowflakes were huge, blowing toward us at an angle. With wet snow hitting my face, I struggled to peer over my glasses to see the road. Luckily, the snow didn’t last for long and did not cause us any problems. It was mostly uphill into Mt Airy, and I was beginning to tire.
Approaching Mt Airy, I was looking for both Ridge Road and Pedro and Mike. I spotted the leaders but missed the turn because it was marked South Main St. After a few minutes, we got bearings and found the Dunkin Donuts. Isaias and Brian were not there. We figured that they rode by earlier, and not seeing us, decided to ride on. As it turns out, Brian had called the cavalry in Lisbon. Isaias had kept going and didn’t stop until he reached Catonsville. The three of us stopped for coffee and a snack. By the time we left, it was after 3 o’clock and we had over 30 miles to go before we got back to the city, and almost 40 miles to home. I had to get back in time for the Super Bowl kickoff.
My trek back to Ellicott City was miserable. I was cold and my legs were starting to sting. The rollers kept coming. I was constantly shifting the gears on the bike, using the big chain ring to build up speed and momentum down a hill then switching (not too quickly as to lose momentum) to the small ring to and the large cogs to get up the next hill. The bike performed well, though. No issues. I went over some wet train tracks too quickly and didn’t slip. The one bright spot was going through one lane tunnel. Where was that?
But, I was really drained on this stretch. Why? Was it my snow boots? Did I bring too much stuff with me? Heavy tires? Nah, it wasn’t the beer…. Anyway, I was embarrassed. I was struggling while Mike and Pedro seemed to cycle effortlessly. They had moved far ahead and waited up for me a few times. I told them to go on, but they stuck with me. Thanks guys.
All I could do was put my head down and concentrate to keep the pedals turning. We hit Ellicott City around 5 p.m. Mike and I said good-bye to Pedro and we headed to the trolley trail. Mike continued on home. I had to stop and take a break. I had nothing left. I scarfed down a power bar. An old lady walked by with ski poles and said hello. All I could manage was a grunt in return. After 15 minutes I got back on the bike. I waited too long and got cold. Shivering, I slowly made my way up the trolley trail.
I warmed up by the time I reached the city. I felt better. Now confident that I would make it home, I picked up the pace to make it home by the 6:30 kickoff. The dealers on Frederick Rd. gave me some encouragement, too. Downtown, I made a left on Paca, right on Mulberry, left on Charles. Before I knew it, I was home. 6:29 p.m.
Nicole had buffalo wings, chips and beer for the Super Bowl. Sweet! I watched the game with the family and warmed up next to the fire. Satisfied.
Cyclemeter recorded: 107.46 miles, average: 14.26 mph, ascent: 6233 ft.