I lingered a bit longer at the bagel shop in Federal Hill, enjoying my coffee and gazing out the window. There was a guy outside being patient with his geriatric Chesapeake Bay retriever. The dog was not a graceful one, stumbling with arthritic joints. Nonetheless, he managed to wag his tail, give a little squirt to a nearby tree, and look excitedly up the leash to his friend. I think he knew it was a good day to get outside and see what life might bring.
I put on my jacket, helmet, gloves and headed up the hill. No one was near the entrance, but I could see a group of riders in the corner of the park. A lot more riders than I expected. What’s up? Ramble riders? Yep. At ride start time there were 15 riders ready to go.
Off we went. First stop: a locked gate at Fort McHenry. I checked my watch to be sure it was after 8AM and then noticed the big sign announcing the new gate time of 9AM. Apparently, gov’t sequestration caused the later open time. Turning around we quickly got onto the harbor promenade rolling along the waters edge. Once on Clinton st, I looked across the harbor to the inaccessible Fort McHenry. I love that you can see many of the points on this ride from previous or later points.
After passing the marine terminals we roll through Dundalk and head to Sparrows Pt. on the long and straight Peninsula Pkwy. The 40 story high Bethlehem Steel furnace is gone, but the remaining property is still striking. The backdrop of the Key Bridge and the mouth of the Patapsco makes a spectacular view into Baltimore’s steel-making history. Another u-turn and we head to the tip of the peninsula at North Pt. state park. The newly renovated jetty gives us a view nearly due east across the upper bay towards the eastern shore. Each of these viewing breaks give us the chance to chat and enjoy the nice December weather. It also eats up valuable riding time while it’s still light. Always a balance. I like it.
From North Pt. we dodge traffic a bit, finding the small roads within the maze of highways in the Essex area. We continue further down the road to Rocky Pt. Here you get a nice view of Cuckolds Pt., around the corner from North Pt. State Park. Directly across the water is Hart-Miller island, a party boat destination in summer months and to the north we see the mouth of Middle River, where our lunch spot lies. Making me hungry.
The miles are taking their toll on some of us. It’s a flat route, but with rugged roads, traffic and perhaps too much stop and start. We’ve got more shore line to cover and north we go, across this finger of land and up to Bowleys Quarters on Middle River. Our riverside lunch stop is a good one: Sunset Cove, quiet today, and happy to get the business from a bunch of sweaty bikers.
It’s nearly 2pm when we gather to get riding again. Luckily, we don’t have many more miles to go and should be back before dark. Further north on Eastern ave we roll up to Chase, MD and the Hammerman area of Big Gunpowder state park. There’s a nice scenic circle around the park- no need to stop. Out of the park, we roll down Ebenezer and Bird River rds, breaking into smaller groups, chatting and getting lost.
The scenic views are mostly over. It’s just a ride back home. Legs are tired, but Jeff and I make it to the final point, Fells Pt., to get a drink and a plate of oysters. Charlie and Dave join us a few minutes later. Some riders weren’t able to finish the whole ride, but any miles exploring on the bike are good miles in my book. I hope everyone enjoyed their day out. See ya for the next ride, January 10th, route TBD.