We started out at 4:30 am in order to afford Chris the chance to make a date with his fiance that evening for a concert. That also let us ride in the dark early when were fresh and ensured we'd finish in daylight.
There was some minor ice along 424 and Rt 2 early where melting snow re-froze, but none of it was really problematic. I'm glad I took the studded tires off for this one, as we rode mostly on clear pavement and the extra weight and rolling resistance would have been rough.
At the 25 mile point we stopped at a convenience store to refill our water bottles and eat a small snack. The sun was getting up by then and we could look forward to it warming up.
For the rest of ride to Solomons we enjoyed bright sun, very little traffic and a slight tail wind. We made great time and arrived in Solomons just before 9 am. 6 other riders from the SPP were to follow at a 7:30 start. So we thought we'd leave them a couple of surprises along the route. We put up a group picture of the SPP on the "Solomons Town Center" sign just after crossing under the Patuxent River Bridge. Unfortunately the group reported later that didn't see this one. But there would be more.
We stopped at Roy Rogers for a quick breakfast and to get our control cards signed at mile 57. A 20 minute stop. We felt refreshed, and were glad to keep the stop a quick one. Back on the road, we had turned north so our tailwind was now a bit of a head wind. But it was still a great day and were looking forward to more back roads and less time on the MD 2 - 4 highway.
The big loops through communities east of the highway still left us with a few short stretches on the main highway north bound before we reached Prince Fredrick and left the highway for good. We kept an eye out for the other group southbound, but never saw them. Apparently we passed each other while Chris and I were off the main road.
At about mile 70 I got a flat. A small staple punctured the rear tire and the tube went slowly but steadily softer. It was fortunate that this happened in daylight. The thing was so small, I would never have seen it in the dark and certainly ruined another tube almost instantly after reinstalling the tire. While we worked a driver stopped to check on us and make sure we had what we needed. Very nice of him. The NASCAR pit crews don't need to worry, their jobs are safe, at least from Chris and I. The total change took almost 20 minutes ugh, but then we were back on the road.
Mile 75, we stopped at a small convenience store to refill water and adjust our clothing as it warmed up a bit. Really enjoying the scenery and light traffic on the rural roads.
Mile 92, stop at Sweet Sue's coffee shop in North Beach, to get our control cards signed and have another snack. What a pretty town, right on the Bay. We met three other bikers there who set out for a short day ride from Galesville to North Beach and back and visited with them for a few minutes. All five of us set out at the same time headed north, but they were much fresher than we were and had less distance remaining so we let them go. This part of the ride was just beautiful, right on the Bay with bright sun on the water and the snow.
At the information control, mile 100, we left another small surprise for the other SPP crew following us. The information control is a trivia question you have to answer to prove you were there and could find the information. In this case a mail box number. We put up a picture of Chris and I with a caption suggesting we changed the question: "Who are the best looking guys in the SPP?" They did see this one and got a nice kick out of it.
The next 23 miles continued through nice rolling countryside on rural roads. A few hills were enough to leave me winded but it was a fun ride and we were pushing to make sure this ride finished with a better time than Ashland last month.
The last 3 miles on 424 were just a quick sprint to the finish. We made it in 11:34 total time, shaving 23 minutes off of our Ashland time, and the other SPP group didn't lap us! A successful day.
At this writing my Garmin is not playing nice and I can't get the history file off of it to import. :-( I'll be in touch with Garmin Tech support and hopefully can re-post this once it's sorted out. In the interim, here's a map I produced ahead of time using the cue sheet. Sailing to Solomons Map. I'll also add any pictures I receive from Chris or the others later.