At 8AM, PJ, Tom and I, hadn’t quite decided on whether to ride. The winds were fierce, but predicted to ease up by 10AM. The beautiful blue skies hinted at the possibility of great weather. Each of us, individually, decided to ride.
I was concerned, but reminded myself that the first few miles of the route wound through protected neighborhoods. We had several safe miles of riding before we got out of town. It was hard riding, concentrated riding, but not out of control or dangerous. By the time we crossed Loch Raven Reservoir without issue, it was obvious we were committed for the full day, as difficult as it may be.
The geography was hilly which was taxing on the legs. It also protected us somewhat from the hard wind. 2500 ft. of climbing in the first 30 miles, but with a lot of beautiful distractions. Green rd with it’s fantastic curving drops and lovely tree-lined properties, breaking out in spring blooms. This was what I had been wanting.
Forsythia and blue flowered Vinca vine breaking out on Moore’s rd.
The roads were peppered with downed tree limbs. I was thankful that the wind had already brought down the loose stuff many hours before. Curtains of leaves would shoot across the road ahead of us showing us it was time to brace for an oncoming gust. The small amount of vehicle traffic we encountered seemed to give us a nice wide berth. As we rolled in to Jarrettsville around 10:30 we were noticing that the wind had gone from unpredictably gusty at the start, to steady and strong.
Tom, climbing in the early miles
The next stretch was a pretty one and mostly downhill. Using the unpaved forest-lined Knopp rd, we dropped down to Rocks State Park, along and over Deer Creek. Bounding down Street rd and through Pylesville, we were running downwind on Ridge rd, getting beautiful views of the landscape to the south. I stopped to snap some pics on Walters Mill rd. Tom and PJ were beyond my view up ahead. Deer Creek Church rd is a beautiful one, but I think it took some years off my legs. I was feeling good knowing that lunch in Bel Air was getting close.
Walters Mill rd.
I expected to be the last rider as I entered Bel Air, but by coincidence and a bad cue, the three of us converged a mile away from MaGerks. We had a tasty, much-needed lunch and then suited up for the 30 remaining miles home.
We used the Ma. and Pa. trail to move out of town. It was scenic and nice to see all the afternoon strollers on the trail. What really surprised me was how confusing the route was and how hilly: almost 400ft. in 4 mi of riding. That’s something for an old train line!
Verdant rye grass was rippling in the wind.
Once out of Bel Air, the three of us got separated during a difficult crossing of Fallston rd. We were probably within a few miles of one another, but each of us rode alone for the last 25 miles. Such is the funny irony of long-distance riding: frequently we’ll be riding alone, but all together. I loved rolling along Laurel Brook rd and smiled as I hit the unpaved woodsy section of Bottom rd. Beautiful. Just before the bridge, there was a fallen tree that was leaning on power lines. BGE had closed the road, but I could see PJ and Tom’s tire tracks in the grass off to the left. I followed them and was quickly past it.
Sorry, no cars get through.
Thanks to all the reasonable drivers on Manor and Glen Arm rds. Busy, but respectful of cyclists. Next up was Cub Hill, a real grind, but I knew it was the last tough hill of the day. I made it, and back to the Lake and back to home in Hampden. At 6PM, I was tired and smiling, and the weather was beautiful.
Thanks PJ and Tom for being there. I would not have ridden with out you.