(BTW: Next Ramble is SATURDAY July 4th: an 85 mile variation of On Again/Off Again.)
Sam was waiting for me in Woodberry at 6:30AM for a ride to the start of “Lunch in Leesburg”. We hadn’t gotten 100ft. down the road when we both, nearly simultaneously, wondered aloud whether we’d be able to ride 150+ miles today.
The weather was beautiful. The forecast was great. Even so, I brought a jacket and warm cap. I packed them because, I was recalling a ride I took through the Susquehanna valley years ago, that ended with me waiting for a ride home, bonked and shivering. It was nearly 80 degrees out. It was not pretty. Was today going to be a repeat of that ride?
Sam and I got to Carroll Park and met Tom, Mike and Vinny. We all were asking one another the same thing: are we able to finish this 150 miler? At 7:o5AM, it was time to find out and off we rode, into the unknown.
Baltimore city was politely quiet as we moved west on Wilkins ave. Coming up on Rolling rd in Catonsville, I got a pleasant shock to see Isaias smiling and ready to ride. He took his place near the front of the group and acted as our lead-out on torn up Frederick ave. The county had recently removed the surface of the road and the utility covers were dangerously raised above the surface. Not a fun descent into Ellicott City.
As we cleared the bridge onto Main street, I saw another rider looking our way as he pushed off the curb and up the hill with us. It was Moji, a sometime Ramble rider and Balt Bike Club member. Great to add him to our group. So, now we were seven strong as we hit the steeper climbs up Rogers ave. There had been no sign of Carl and I feared we’d missed him, the group being a bit quicker than I expected.
The long grind up to Old Frederick rd. was worth it. Many waving cyclists were out ahead of us and behind, traffic was light and the sky was a beautiful blue illuminating the Howard county farmland. It was a nice time to take in the scenery and catch up with friends. Soon enough we were rolling through the old arches up to Mt. Airy. I quickly went against my own advice and sat down eating a veggie sub for breakfast. I tried to be quick.
We were soon back on our bikes, headed south and west of Frederick, MD, over big rolling ridges. The geography has a more ancient quality to it along this stretch. Mountains and rivers seem timeless, I suppose. Eventually the land began falling toward the Potomac valley. In the final descent to Point of Rocks, I passed Dan and Joe who’d begun their ride outside of Mt. Airy. We regrouped, snacked and rehydrated quickly at the rest stop. I glanced at my watch again and noticed we were about 30 minutes ahead of my guestimate time line.
It’s necessary to take the lane as you cross the Potomac river on route 15. The cars waited for us and it didn’t take long to make to the VA side. Once across, we took to the “small roads”. Lovettsville, Taylorstown and Loyalty roads got us most of the way to historic Waterford’s streets, which are lined with restored antebellum homes. The wind out of the south had mostly been at our side, but now it was in our faces, and, as wind can do sometimes, it was getting a little annoying. To our rescue: the W&OD trail, a downhill, woodsy and winding roll all the way into downtown Leesburg. A quick left and we’re at our lunch stop: Fireworks Pizza. Tom, Isaias, and Moji were first from our group into town, but we were also greeted by Tom’s friend, Kathy who’d ridden up from DC. She quickly secured us an outdoor spot right next to the bikes. We were all set, just needing a beer.
Carl surprised us by showing up soon after we were all seated. He’d been chasing us all the way from Ellicott City. Fireworks Pizza did us right, serving great food quickly to the whole sweaty group of ten. Highly recommended. After a quick group shot by Kathy, we said goodbye and rode north a few miles to the White’s Ferry crossing. The ferry was on the other side when we got there and we had to wait about 20 minutes to cross. By the time we began pedaling in Maryland again, we were behind the Bob schedule by more than 30 minutes.
Somewhere along the after lunch stretch, my stomach began arguing with itself. Then it seemed to just shut down. All the snacks and fluids I was taking in felt like they weren’t going any where. I could feel my energy lagging. If this continued, I certainly wouldn’t be getting myself home by bike. Mike must’ve known something was wrong since I didn’t have my usual sassy humor. Luckily the terrain was fairly flat, very scenic, and we had a little tail wind. Soon I pulled up to the McDonalds in Clarksburg. Carl had touted their sweet tea. I took his advice and it was golden. Slowly over the next 20 miles I could feel my digestion returning. Isaias, Moji and Tom were waiting for us when Mike, Sam and I rolled up to our final rest stop in Glenelg.
Glenelg is nearly close to home. Amazing, I thought to myself, I might just pull this ride off. I kept up the sweet tea regimen and supplemented with ice cream. Everyone looked tired and in good spirits. There was a lot of discussion about who was cutting out when and where. Sam and I still had 25+ miles to get back to Hampden. Nonetheless, after 130 miles, this group of seven stuck together all the way to Ellicott. My legs were tired, but feeling better than they had in the last 3 hours. Go figure.
Sam and I said goodbyes as Mike and Isaias peeled off and we made our way slowly and safely back to the rough and tumble world of Baltimore. City folks were out on stoops and listening to the O’s game. Friends yelled out to friends. Some people were out riding their bikes to who knows where?
Big thanks to all the successful riders: Mike, Sam Tom, Carl, Joe, Dan, Isaias and Moji. BIG kudos to Vinny for dropping back to check on slower riders, and then finishing the last 50 miles alone. Inspirational.
Many more pics here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27976837@N00/sets/72157654241709112