I must admit, I was excited about the 3 Glens Ride. Apparently I wasn’t the only one: there were a lot of new hits to this blog. The day before had been a rainy mess and Sunday’s forecast was for perfect weather. I suspect that that attracted a lot of long distance riders to the Ramble. Nice weather is a cheap lure, but I’ll take it.
If you’re a rider with several bikes in your stable, I bet you select a bike that is best for the route you’re riding. Being a ride leader, I got to do the reverse. My multi-geared bikes have been having problems lately so I’ve been riding my Surly fixed gear exclusively. I knew I wouldn’t make it on another 8,000 footer so I picked a route that was best for my bike: The 3 Glens Ride, summer version.
First meet up was at Carroll Park in Baltimore city where we picked up PJ, Mike, Brian, Pedro, Tiffany, Mike, Esther, Greg and his son. Mike was playing it all cool and normal even though he’d run a 17 mile footrace the day before. Tiffany and Mike were rocking fixed gear bikes. We all took off to BWI, getting there well before 9AM. Here, there were at least 12 more riders. Some faces I knew, some I met along the way. There was chatter about cue sheets and sign-ins. Mike and Marg Harris were frowning over the badly torn casing on the rear tire of their tandem. It was holding air, but was not right for a century. That was not the last we’d see of them though. By 9:02 twenty Ramblers rolled out of the park and began cruising down WB&A rd.
The first 25 of this route is a good loosen up with long stretches and few turns. The group panned out 2 or 3 abreast and got chatty. Along tree-lined Generals Hwy we singled up quickly snaking our way down Crownsville rd to our first rest stop. We’d made good time here however I noticed that several riders continued on past without stopping, opting for a quicker arrival to lunch. I grabbed my second cup of coffee, lingered a couple minutes and was ready. I gave the lead out onto Defense hwy. Fixed gear bikes are not good speed companions with geared bikes. I can’t imagine I kept a cadence that was comfortable for anyone but me. Nonetheless, I had a long string of riders tucked up behind me all the way into Bowie. The last long stretch to Greenbelt was along Beaver Dam rd. I love that road. It’s real pretty, and it’ll quickly determine whether you’ve got any loose bits on your bike… or on yourself.
Lunch was at the friendly New Deal Diner. A bunch of us loitered in the courtyard out front, Mike and Tiffany snacked up and took off for the tough 3rd stretch of the route (fixie power!) and the rest of us settled into the back room and enjoyed a Dog Fish brew with lunch. I took my time to enjoy the meal.
We gathered up the crew and took off around 12:30PM. The first few miles of this segment are pretty wacky- I’m glad I was able to lead. First, we crunch our way on the gravel trail around Greenbelt Lake, then a series of quick turns to the west to the MARC train track overpass. If you’ve never ridden your bike on this overpass you should give it a whirl preferably on a non busy weekend. It’s a combination of ramps and tight switchbacks within a dizzying network of railings and chain link fence taking you up and over the tracks. On the other side, you repeat going down this time. There were shrieks and shouts behind me as I followed Isaias into this contraption. I couldn’t tell whether they were issued in fear or excitement. Probably both. That’s Rando Ramble style.
From here we turned north past College Park. The route got simpler and the roads got hillier. I found me and my fixie caught in an opposing accordion pattern to the rest of the group. When Carl flatted, I continued on with Isaias while most stopped. I ground my way up the next few miles of hills with Isaias matching my speed. Just before the Glenelg stop we found Mike and Marg Harris on their tandem. They’d changed tires and were catching up with the group for a few miles. As Isaias and I rode the last mile to Glenelg, I thought about the MARC train switchbacks and what a challenge that would’ve been with the tandem. We would’ve gotten it through there somehow I guess.
There are two convenience stores in Glenelg and the group split between the two. We waved to each other as the first wave headed off after the break. Mike, PJ, Isaias and I rolled out together, but the three of them very quickly out paced me down the long descents. Carl quickly came up behind me, thanked me for the ride and also dusted me. At the bottom of the hill in Ellicott City, PJ and Mike were waiting for me. Mike asked if we wanted to stop by his place for a beer. The late afternoon air was still delightfully dry and cool. What a wonderful day of riding.
I can’t remember if PJ and I ever actually answered Mike about the after ride beers. The answer was just assumed.
More pics of mine here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27976837@N00/sets/72157634946712775/
Pics from PJ here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/89177255@N05/sets/72157634944911335/