How nice was that, being able to sneak in a long ride in the middle of a tough weather. Very cool.
PJ, Daniel and I had a reset for the ride northeast to Pylesville on Sunday. Not perfect weather. Gray skies and wet roads with temps about what they were when we started last month. Thankfully, no rain. And the temps slowly rose as the day went on. We even got a little peek of the sun towards the end of the day.
I was excited to take my new Soma Smoothie for it’s first century. On my ride over to the start at Lake Montebello, I met another local rider, Tom, who was familiar with my rides, but who wasn’t planning on riding with us. Tom and I chatted as the Ramble crew rolled in. Jon and Bill had ridden up from south of Baltimore, Mike H. and Tom F. drove in from outside of town and PJ, Jack and Brian rode from their homes. Tom decided to ride with us a few miles and became an escort as the group rolled up Harford and then Old Harford roads. I had a twinge as I passed the section of Satyr Hill where I’d fallen last month.
There were spots of ice along the road edges as we moved through Loch Raven, making it important to keep speeds low. Daniel joined us on this stretch and Brian and Tom peeled off for shorter rides. As we churned our way up Morgan Mill, Jack voiced his interest in qualifying for an entry to Paris Brest Paris 2015. Be great to read his blog posts about that. We kept a pretty steady 15-16mph pace down Manor and Long Green roads. After the bridge on Bottom road we slowed for the unpaved section. It is so beautiful back here that I wouldn’t want to ride fast if I could. West of Bel Air we stopped briefly for a snack. PJ texted Ken F. and Dave Hops and told them where we were. Hops was ahead of the group and Ken had left late and was about 20 minutes behind. We caught up with both of them at the lunch stop.
Once past Bel Air, we were deep in rural Harford county, not to see commercial development for another 50 miles. Beautiful wandering stretches of old roads like Walter Mill and Macton brought us within a couple miles of the Susquehanna (east of us) and the PA line to the north. As the group rolled into the parking lot of Amorosos restaurant, we noticed Dave’s new bike locked out front. He was digesting lunch inside.
We ordered and compared route experiences with Dave. The restaurant TV played a show about alligator hunting. Ken F showed up and we nearly filled the front room. Great catching up while enjoying the hot meal. Daniel and Jack had schedules to keep and left sooner than the rest of us. We watched their wet tire markings on the second half of the ride. By now, the temperatures had risen enough that ice was less of a concern, making the riding a little more relaxing and a little quicker too. We’d trade places in front and back as our moods and energy levels dictated. PJ must’ve had a good lunch since he took the lead, not to be seen again until Hunt Valley. Some beautiful scenic sections along Jerrys and Harford Creamery roads with rugged rolling farmland slathered with snow. There was still some tough climbing, but the pitch was beginning to be more downhill. A big flying descent on Carroll road and through the tidy historic town of Phoenix eventually brought us to our third rest stop in Hunt Valley.
This is where the “On Again, Off Again” ride begins and I mentioned wanting to schedule that as soon as the trail is clear. I ate an ice cream. The weather was improving. Bill and Jon hopped back on their bikes to finish the trip all the way back to Ellicott City. Mike, PJ, Tom and I finished up the remaining miles without any problems through the city and back to the Lake. The sun was shining. It was time for a beer.
Thanks all for a great day on the bikes.
More of my photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27976837@N00/sets/72157640484128005/
Ride Report on Bikes n Coffee: http://bikesncoffee.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/pylesville-winter-shortie/
PJ’s pics from the day: