Monday, August 23, 2010

Through the Big Woods to Woodsboro

I rode with Theresa Furnari, Gardner Duvall, and Dave Waas (my uncle) "Through the Big Woods to Woodsboro" yesterday, a 200K permanent, RUSA perm #773. It's a hilly route with a lot of rollers and a few short but very steep climbs. The forecast threatened showers all day and the skies looked like that would be the case when we started. We did see a few light showers and the cloud cover kept the temps down the first half of the ride. After lunch in Woodsboro the skies cleared and the temps warmed in to the high 80s.

The route owner Lynn Kristianson, met us at the start to give us revised cue sheets and control cards. She'd made a mistake on the originals and had us stopping at a control that would be closed early on a Sunday morning. So the revision took that control out and added an information control at Sugarloaf Mountain. Four control cards, four different questions from the same information control stop. The volunteers like Lynn who support the Randonneuring program certainly have to put in a lot of homework and attention to detail to prepare and maintain these cue sheets. The cue sheets are remarkably accurate and the routes well researched to identify scenic and challenging routes. I used an auto-generated sheet from when I rode to the beach last month and realized how much I missed those nice detailed cues provided by Lynn, Crista and the other volunteers at DC Rand who make this all work. On top of that Lynn got up on a Sunday morning and rode her bike through the misty weather to meet us with the correction. Thanks Lynn.

Leaving Bethesda in the morning, the world was quiet and there was little activity. Once outside the Beltway we passed through the land of McMansions in Potomac, MD and then it became progressively more rural and more scenic. The homes we could see from the road in Potomac were huge, and a few looked very sad, clearly abandoned to foreclosure with the driveways overgrown, fences falling down and otherwise neglected. I can't imagine what the mortgages must be like on these places.

Once we cleared Potomac we entered the scenic farm country. After the first big climb on Old Hundred Rd, Dave was apparently enjoying this stretch immensely. He blew past the turn at Dr. Perry Rd and no amount of shouting by Gardner and I could get his attention. So I got my interval workout, and a bonus mile, for the day chasing him down and yelling myself hoarse. THEN we got start the next climb up Dr. Perry Rd.

Lunch in Woodsboro was nice. It's a small town with only a few places to choose from. The cue sheet recommended Trout's Towne Restaurant. My tuna salad sub with a side of applesauce was very tasty and service was reasonably quick. I also liked that they had pictures of local residents who have served in the military on the walls and a sign offering 25% off of the check for any service member in uniform.

The sun came out and it warmed up considerably after lunch. While the forecast for heavy showers and thunderstorms wasn't very appealing, the reality of cloudy skies and only occasional light showers was actually rather pleasant all morning. Now it was hot and muggy as the ground began to dry out. It's an out and back route so the return trip offered the opposite side of the same hills and essentially the same scenery.

Shortly after the Dickerson Market control, with about 25 miles left, my chain started to give me fits, constantly skipping, and occasionally even jamming in the rear derailleur. This combined with the heat and previous 100 miles of constant up and down climbing and I fell of the pace a little bit the last quarter of the ride. It wasn't until we finished that I found the culprit, one pin had let go on one side of the chain. Remarkable that it didn't separate completely. My ride mates were patient and pulled up for me two or three times to make sure I was okay and I managed to nurse it all the way in. I gotta take a maintenance class this winter and learn how to do a better job cleaning and caring for the machine.

Gardner summarized the day well in an email last night:

Today this permanent was completed by Theresa, Mike Binnix, Uncle Dave and me. Nothing ever goes to plan, so we started in some rain, with the prediction of plenty more to come. The prediction threatened to be pretty accurate until we finished lunch, after which we rode in sunshine, high humidity, and temps above prediction. We handled this unexpected challenge nicely. I've never heard comment about this route, which I highly commend, with a big caveat. The first and last 17 miles are in and out of Bethesda. Apparently those folks all drive luxury cars and sleep late, which makes for a great start but mixed results into the finish. The climbing is mostly jammed into short steep pitches, and I think climbers could really roll this route. Everybody finished whole and happy.

That's 8 down towards the R-12. Next up is the 300K with Chris in NJ on September 18th. We still need a driver to help with the logistics if anyone is interested, please let me know.


  1. Damn, that looks like a great ride! You almost passed my parent's house in Frederick. Nice pace too!

  2. Even with the chain trouble at the end, it was a fun ride. The hills made for a good workout.