Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011 - Hello 2012

Well another year is winding down and I feel compelled to join the trend. To summarize the year gone by and look forward to next year.

Here are the goals I published in my last post of 2010 and  a quick note on how I did.

  • Ride 9000 Miles or more for the year - Completed! - I rode 9018 miles this year!  It was no slam dunk.  I set a schedule for myself recognizing the trend that winter weather would restrict mileage somewhat and I would have to double down during the warmer months with more daylight.  But I fell way off my schedule early and spent every month from April on trying to catch up.  I didn't get back ahead of my year to date schedule until the Boxing Day 200K on Dec 26th.  But I did make it, including a big final push of 872 miles in December!
  • Get my weight down under 200 lbs - FAIL! - I'm now about 10 - 15 pounds heavier than I was this time last year.  I completely lost site of this one. My diet lately has worked strongly against this goal and I think my training / riding efforts will require more focus on intervals, non-bike exercise and the like if I'm to succeed here.
  • Take and publish more pictures while riding - Partial Credit - I did better with this early in the year than I did later.  I flirted with capturing helmet video but found it very time consuming to edit and publish.  My thoughts on the blog have also changed and as I wrote less this was also affected.
  • Spend more time with my family on and off of the bike - Partial Credit - I specifically had in mind taking my two youngest sons on more bike excursions both long and short when I wrote that.  I'm taking partial credit for this one though it didn't work out as expected.  Zach (age 10) spent much of the year with his arms in casts so his biking opportunity was quite limited and that made biking with Erik (age 8) tough due to the effects of sibling rivalry.  But I've been more active with the Cub Scouts and attended more sport events than ever.  Like most families we can always do better, but I feel good about the year.

A quantitative analysis might yield a net score of 2 / 4 or 50% for that, which in most endeavors isn't very good. But I actually feel pretty good about the year.  Here are a few highlights not noted above...
  • I completed my first 300K in May.  The Frederick 300K was a big milestone for me.  I'd stretched at least 50% further than my previous longest ride and I finished with enough gas in the tank that I could envision even further distances.  I felt like it validated all the lessons I'd learned riding the R-12 the previous year.  Prep the bike, dress correctly and above all keep eating and drinking correctly and I can ride on for incredible distances.
  • In October I combined two events in a 24 hour period for a total of 226 miles or 363K.  With 6 others we rode the Eastern Shore Reversed 200K perm starting at 7 pm then headed north to Salisbury for the Seagull Century at 7 the next morning. 
  • These and other big days on the bike have improved my confidence.  I no longer approach them with a sense of apprehension. But rather of deliberate preparation.  It's a good feeling.
  • We've cemented our team assignments for next year's Fleche.  In April I'll join 4 others in a 24 hour team ride with a minimum distance of 360K.  That simply wasn't a realistic plan until recently.
  • I RODE MY BIKE 9000 MILES THIS YEAR!!!!  - I'm psyched about that so it bears repeating.  :-)
  • Another child has left the nest.  Our son Justin left this fall for his freshman year at The College of New Jersey in Trenton, NJ.  We now have two in college and they are both thriving. The four younger ones still at home are also doing quite well.  As much fun as I've had on the bike, that is the most rewarding thing of all.
So yes, it's been a pretty good year.  To Tivy, Taylor, Justin, Morgan, Jessica, Zach and Erik - I love you all and am proud of every one of you.  Thank you all so much for your support.

As for 2012,  here are a few things I plan to do next year:
  • Complete the Fleche successfully in April.
  • Complete the Supper Randonneur series of rides: 200K, 300K, 400K and 600K in a single calendar year.
  • Loose this darned gut once and for all.  I will get my weight down to 200lbs.  Most of it needs to come off this winter and early Spring to support the Fleche and S.R. rides.  It's simple, less weight will take less energy to haul up the hills. These rides will confront some significant climbing. Diet and training will get serious focus the next few months.
  • Figure this blog thing out. - I need a new vision and theme for the blog.  I'll still report on the big rides, but a mile by mile log simply doesn't hold my interest any more and I can't imagine it makes good reading, even for my friends who are too polite to say so.  Some ideas I'm kicking around: product reviews, movie and book reviews, and a few more posts around themes like lessons learned commuting, fueling strategies for long rides, pointers for new riders, etc.  These sorts of things would serve to summarize my experiences and learning the last couple of years and just maybe, be useful information for others.  I would welcome any suggestions you care to offer.
Here's wishing everyone a safe and prosperous New Year in 2012!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A full day of cycling fun...

I've written before that one of the best things to come from cycling these last few years is all of the new friends I've made along the way.   Yesterday I got to know two more friends a bit better and then celebrate the year with a huge group of them.

About 10 pm Friday I found an email from Ed (The Daily Randonneur) and Mary (Chasing Mailboxes) that they were going on a pre-party century ride leaving out of Crofton; just a few miles up the road from home. As I'm still in the hunt to finish the year with 9000 miles, it seemed like a great step towards that goal, the weather forecast was clear and cool, and a day with a small group sounded like a good time.  I wrote that I'd meet them at the start.  I gathered a few essentials, laid out the clothes and went to bed.

I intentionally arrived at the start at Caribou Coffee early. I love their breakfast sandwich and wanted to be sure I had time to enjoy one.  As I came out of the shop Ed and Mary were busy unloading the bike (they were planning to ride a tandem) and getting ready.  Then Mary walked over and admitted she'd forgotten her helmet... doh.  We contemplated a quick dash to my house to fetch a spare, called a few other club members who lived even closer to see about borrowing one and finally determined that the K-mart 2 miles in to the ride would be the quickest option.   I'm not ashamed to admit I took a little too much pleasure at Mary's expense teasing her about the Sponge Bob or other cartoon helmet she might end up with.  After the helmet crisis was solved (plain white or grey?, no Fred here) we were on our way.

This was the first time I've ridden with a couple on a tandem and me, no other cyclists along.  The first thing I found is my usual group dynamic was reversed.  My excess ballast around the waist usually lets me descend a little quicker than my svelte companions and then I struggle to keep up with them on the subsequent climb. With  the tandem it's just the opposite, they have the weight and power of two but the aero resistance of one rider and fly down hills. But they climb at a more scenic pace, taking time to see what's around them. So they'd zoom ahead on the descent and I'd slowly reel them back in on the next climb. (But let's be clear, Ed and Mary are both fitter and far more experienced than I am, I have no doubt they could have left me if they were in a hurry and so inclined.)

As the miles rolled by we rode side by side where traffic and room would tolerate it and visited about all sorts of things.  A few sea stories from my Navy days, ride plans and goals for next year, holiday and family plans coming up the next few weeks.  The virtues of wool clothing on a cool day, hoping the sun would peak through the clouds.  I got a lesson in the mechanics and merits of the disc brakes they use on the tandem and we talked about other recent rides and plans for those coming up.

At mile 40 or so we came on a closed road where it dipped to cross a small marshy creek.  It appeared it had been washed out during the tropical storms of late summer and early autumn and had yet to be repaired.  Ed took advantage of the pause to adjust the rear derailleur on the tandem while Mary and I assessed our chances of fording the stream around the washed out road.  We concluded the gap was just a little too wide to get across in bike shoes carrying a large tandem, especially since the garmin showed a detour would only be a couple of miles. It didn't seem it was worth risking a turned ankle or dropping a bike in the creek.  I'll put up a link to the pictures, Ed and Mary take lots of great pictures, when they get them up.  But pics won't convey the unique aroma of that particular valley. I counted three deer carcasses by the side of the road all right next to that washout.   All of them had ribs exposed but also still had some skin and other soft tissue left. I suppose it's possible they drowned in the flood, but I suspect someone dumped them as road kill or left overs from poaching.  Either way they were quite ripe.  It was the only unpleasant part of the trip.

The cue sheet had lunch built in a little past half way at mile 58.  The detour pushed this out another couple of miles.  By the time we got to Jerry's subs, I was hungry.   An 8" cheese steak sub and fries hit the spot just right.  Then the final push to home.  We took an option on the cue that cut 9 miles from the total as we lost a few minutes at the start and a few more with the detour.  Even so I had 96 miles on the day.   About 10 miles from the finish we had to make another detour around a washed out section of Patuxent River Rd.  But by this time we were back in familiar territory and I saw it coming before we rode down to the actual washout.  So that detour cost little if any distance.

I love that tired, accomplished feeling at the end of a big ride.  This one ended at the same coffee shop where we started.  A large hot cocoa made with white chocolate REALLY complimented that sensation well.  We exchanged high fives and hugs and then parted company while we got ready for the SPP annual Christmas Party a few hours later at Clint's house.

Ed and Mary joined us at the Provenza's home for the party. There were about 60 people in attendance. The club party is always full of great food, great beer and great people.  One of the traditions for this affair every year is recognizing one rider for big accomplishments on the bike and contributions to the club and the sport.  The 2011 rider of the year was Bryan Nelson. In one year he finished the R-12, the Super Randonneur series and completed the fleche as part of the SPP team.  Well deserved.

But we also surprised Clint. He was unanimously acclaimed Tete de Peloton which I'm assured translates as Leader of the Peloton.  THAT recognition is well deserved and very long overdue.  He was completely surprised.

It was great day with the many friends I've met on the bike the last few years and fun time to get to know two of them a little better.

Friday, December 9, 2011

'TWAS The Night Before Christmas - Revised by USMC






















This poem was written by a Marine.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A charmed life....

Wow what a nice morning!  I set out at 7, the thermometer read 32 deg F and the frost on the windshields of the parked cars suggested it was really a little colder. forecast it would warm quickly once the sun got up.  So I layered on two thin wool base layers, my riding jacket, vest and balaclava.. all the things I need to stay comfy at or just below freezing.

I met the SPP at 7:30 as usual and 10 of us rode downtown for breakfast.  The sun was rising bright and clear.  A little blinding even on sections of the trail where it runs Southeast, directly in to the rising sun at this time of year.  Crossing the Naval Academy bridge the sun was downright brilliant.

Breakfast was fun. I struck up a conversation with a couple from Toronto. He's in town to take a 4 day class at the Annapolis School of Seamanship and learn to clean up the "gremlins" (his word) in his boat's electrical system.  She asked about how to find a tour of the Naval Academy while he was in class.  Nice folks.

Being the weekend and a nice day, someone ordered a beer with his coffee and bagel and soon half the peloton had either beer or spiked their coffee with a shot of Bailey's (that's what I chose).  So it was a festive breakfast to say the least.

Stepping back outside I found was right. It was warming nicely.  I shed the baclava and the jacket, opting for a cycling cap with ear flaps and the vest.  Love the Ostrich handle bar bag. Easy to stow the spare clothes.  Had a nice conversation riding back with Chip Adams then got home just as the pancakes were coming off the griddle in our kitchen.  Sometimes it's quite clear I lead a charmed life!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Progress, slow and steady

First two days of the December push went well, 97 miles so far this month.

Year to date: 8243 / 9000 miles.

Remaining for 2012 goal: 757 miles.

Stay tuned to this channel for regular progress updates.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The push is on....

If you've been following along, you know one of my goals for the year was to ride 9000 miles.  I finished November with 8145 miles, 205 miles less than the schedule I set for myself to hit 9000. 

So I need 855 miles in December to close the deal.  In the summer months i've done that several times over.  But in December weather and reduced sunlight make it a tougher job.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Great Holiday Weekend

I had a wonderful holiday weekend.  Biking, family, household chores, and of course the opportunity to give thanks for many, many blessings and good fortune.

I rode the bike every day.  Bikes and Breakfast seem to go well together.  Wednesday through Saturday I rode with some group or another to breakfast everyday. The weather was marginal Wednesday with rain threatening but never materialized.  The rest of the weekend was awesome.  Cool each morning, just above freezing at sunrise and quickly warming up as the sun got higher in the sky. This afternoon I didn't ride until after I got chores done.. Then I took a quick spin by myself to Sandy Point, St Margaret's then back home.  The weather was really nice with temps in the 60s. I rode in shorts and a jersey.  Not sure I'll get that opportunity again this year.  Total Wednesday thru Sunday:  202 miles.

I'm now just shy of 8100 miles for the year.  With 3 days of November and all of December left to ride, I might just make my 9000 mile goal if the weather cooperates and I keep my eye on the ball.

Thanksgiving dinner was a great reunion with the whole family.  We gathered at my folks' home in Annapolis.  Dad deep fried a 25lb turkey in peanut oil.   My brothers, their families and a friend of my daughter's from Argentina all gathered to share the feast and count our blessings.  19 people in all.  Such family gathering are always among my favorite events.

Saturday after I got home from biking,  I rallied the kids and we got the front and back yards cleaned up and completely leaf free.  They did a great job and with so many kids it only took a few hours. Today's chore was repainting the ceiling of two of our bathrooms.  A shame to work indoors on such a nice day but it needed to be done and I'm glad to have the work complete.

Tomorrow it's back to the grind.  But I sure enjoyed the weekend. I'm ready.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

My writing muse has been AWOL this month.  But I've still been riding, and if you were paying attention, you might have noticed I've kept the odometer updated lately.

Had a great ride this morning with the SPP.  13 riders met before dawn for a crisp cool morning ride to Annapolis.  As we crossed the Naval Academy Bridge the early pink of a fantastic sunrise was growing over the Eastern Shore.  We enjoyed a nice breakfast at Hard Bean.  Then 9 of us continued on for a spin around Bay Ridge to enjoy more of the sun on The Bay.  I was back home by 8:30, and all my sleepy family was just beginning to stir.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone.  

To those deployed in harm's way this holiday season, a special "THANK YOU" to you and your family for all you do for us!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 2011 - In the books

Today's ride to work was cold, with temps just below freezing when I left the house.  An eerie fog hung in the air as I left my neighborhood but it had mostly cleared out by the time I got to the Ranger Station. The ride home this evening was much warmer with the winter over pants and the heavier of the two base layers I wore in the morning were packed away in my trunk bag.

October's mileage of 823.7 is respectable but I had hoped for 900+ which would have made four months in a row and brought my deficit vs my schedule for the year down under 200 miles.  But 4 days off last week to recover from a cold and find my motivation pushed that out of reach.  But I think my 9000 mile goal for the year is still in reach.  I'm 267 miles behind schedule for the year.  But the schedule assumes I'd taper down quite a bit in Nov and December.  Instead I need to get in 800 miles each month to round out the 9000 for the year.  Daylight and weather will conspire against me but I'm not ready to give it up yet.  Consider I was over 700 miles behind schedule at one point,  I feel pretty good about where I am now.

The highlight of the month was the double ride on the 14th and 15th when I rode the Eastern Shore Reversed Perm Friday night with 6 others from SPP and then about 3 hours later clipped in for the Seagull Century.  227 miles in 20 hours was a new one-day personal best and bodes well for my goal to ride the Super Randonneur series next year. 

Also fun this month was keeping up with MG's Coffeeneuring Challenge. 7 weekend rides to coffee shops over a period of 6 weekends.  It was fun to keep track of these and at least once it got me on the bike when I would otherwise have ridden the couch.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A New Perm and Coffeeneuring Number 7!

Gardner D has been working to plan a couple of new RUSA 200K permanent routes.  I joined him this morning to test the cue sheet for one of them on the Eastern Shore.  Family commitments this evening kept me from riding the whole thing so we agreed I'd accompany him the first 42 miles and then take a direct route back to the start.  I got to see the first third of the new ride and enjoyed a total of 60 miles on the bike myself.

The route is a rough triangle from Centreville, MD to Rock Hall to Chesapeake City and then back to Centreville.  We set out from the start about 6:45 and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise that highlighted the fall colors. West of Chestertown as we headed to Rock Hall, every pond we passed was filled with huge flocks of geese and we saw a doe run for nearly half a mile across the plowed fields.  One of those clear fall days meant for spending outdoors.

It was also the coldest ride so far this season and acclimating will take a bit.  My heart rate seemed to run a bit higher than I would expect in such gentle terrain at 16 mph.  But the cold gear all worked just as it should.  Wool is wonderful stuff.

The perm Gardner is planning proceeds west from Chestertown to Rock Hall then doubles back on itself for a few miles before turning north towards Chesapeake City.  At mile 42 Gardner continued on following his prototype and I split to return to the family and Dad's birthday party.   A large flag at the intersection where we parted told the tale.  I'd enjoy a tailwind the next 18 miles back to Centreville while Gardner would have to ride into the wind to Chesapeake City. 

I stopped on the way for breakfast and coffee at Higgy's Farm Market and Country Cafe (5306 Church Hill Road Church Hill, MD 21623) in Church Hill.  There I enjoyed an omelet, bacon, muffin, cup of fruit, coffee and glass of juice.  Just what a hungry coffeeneur needed!!  The last 12 miles downwind to Centreville were bright, sunny, and uneventful.

I enjoyed the ride and based on the first third I think it will make a fine perm.  Later in the day Gardner sent an email and confirmed the rest of the route exceeded expectations.  Though a few adjustments are still need to get around a section of dirt road he encountered unexpectedly.  I'm looking forward to a new perm on the Eastern Shore.

Higgy's T-shirt Biking 2011

The Surly at Higgy's Biking 2011

Higgy's Biking 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Coffeeneuring in the Rain 6/7

This is the last weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge and coming in I still needed two more rides.  So despite the lousy weather I HAD to get up this morning and go for a short ride for coffee. My wife wondered on Facebook if the coffee was that good or I was crazy.  I'm just too stubborn to let a challenge like this go, even if means a rainy ride in 40 deg temps.

So I dug out all of the cold & wet weather riding gear and quite enjoyed a 10 mile ride to the Rangers Station on the B & A trail before turning back and stopping at The Big Bean right here in Severna Park. It was a good reminder that when tempted to bag a ride due to wet weather, I do in fact have the right gear to wear, specifically plenty of wool layers and the ShowersPass pants and jacket.  The V.O. fenders on the Surly are a big help too.  I was actually quite comfy despite raw weather.

The Big Bean (558 Baltimore and Annapolis Blvd.  Severna Park, MD 21146)  is an awesome neighborhood coffee shop.  The back of the shop opens right on to the B&A Trail park, our very own neighborhood rail trail and home turf for the Severna Park Peloton.  The proprietor, Deb Hoffman, keeps a warm bright shop with great coffee and tea drinks, snacks, WiFi, indoor seating, and an outdoor picnic area right on the trail.  It's a fun meeting stop and I enjoy being a regular customer whether I arrive by bike, on foot, or by {cough cough car, hack cough}.    When the SPP Fleche team set off  this spring, The Big Bean was their opening control.  They opened early and had an extra barrista come in so the whole SPP could turn out and launch the team with a proper Bonne Route!!  Come to think of it, the weather that day was similar to today, cold and rainy.

This morning I enjoyed a large hot Big Bean Blend coffee and a couple of peanut butter cookies before getting back on the bike to return home and begin a busy day of family fun stuff (football, cub scouts, home chores, etc).

The Big Bean Blend is a delicious coffee Biking 2011

My SPP Cap at Big Bean Biking 2011

Big Bean's Pumpkin Spice is an annual treat. Biking 2011

Friendly Friday

After a gorgeous Sunday last weekend I came down with a cold and took much of the week off of the bike.  By Friday I was finally feeling better and rode to breakfast with the SPP for Friendly Friday.  At B'fast I peeled off for Chick N Ruths and caught up with old friends Keith, his wife Kathy, Doug W and Doug B.  Then Earl joined me and rode to my office before parting company. 

It was the coldest day so far that i've ridden this year, about 40 deg F just before sunrise.  I had read of other riders wearing wool socks and continue to use their biking sandals with temps down to freezing.  So I gave it a shot, with my SealSkinz wool and water resistant socks and a pair of GoreTex socks over those.  FAIL. My toes were numb by the time I got to the office.  I think my limit with the sandals is 50 deg F.  Upper 40s at the start of a ride if the warm up is likely.  It didn't ruin my day, I wanted to find the comfortable limit for the sandals and I did.  My other clothing choices were appropriate and I was otherwise comfortable.

The ride home was uneventful for a total of 58 miles on the day.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Still Riding

I backed off a little after the big weekend last weekend.  But I haven't retired my bike just yet.

Monday - rode the mosey Monday ride with the bike club at 5:45 am.  26.2 Miles
Tues and Wed - No rides
Thursday - Another light, early morning ride with the bike club.  22.5 Miles

Friendly Friday - Followed the normal routine in the morning and rode with the club to breakfast then to work.  40.8 miles.  No ride home.  My father called mid-day and asked if I'd take his care home from the airport (my office is 1 mile from the airport).  So we put the bike in the back of Dad's car and I took him to the airport to catch his flight,  then drove home.  This was NOT the ride of shame. It was a beautiful day.  Instead I was simply being a good son and doing Dad a favor.

Saturday - Coffeeneuring 4/7 - got in a quick ride to Java Diva's for a cuppa joe before heading to NJ for the day to visit Justin for family weekend at The College of New Jersey.  It's his freshman year and my first visit to the campus.  Among other highlights we saw him sing The National Anthem at the TCNJ homecoming game with the Chorale Group he belongs to.  A great day.

Java Divas is at 8355 Ritchie Highway. Pasadena, MD 21122  an 11 mile round trip from home by bike.  The serve good coffee, a nice selection of danishes, muffins, and other snacks to go with the coffee. And the baristas... well they are just very lovely young ladies.  

The Surly at Java Divas From Biking 2011

In addition to coffee and snacks, JD offers other products as well Biking 2011

Sunday - Coffeeneuring 5/7 - Then intercept the OC 13 crew.

I set out from Stevensville at 10 am.  My first stop was The Trailways Truckstop 610 Ruthsburg Rd Centreville, MD 21617 at the intersection with US 301.  It's a truck stop.  They serve fresh, strong, hot coffee and breakfast dishes heaping with eggs, hashbrowns and your choice of bacon, scrapple, sausage or ham.  It's filling and tasty.  But you can't order a latte or a frapacino.  

From Biking 2011

After a cuppa joe and hearty breakfast I continued on in search of the SPP OC 13 riders. They were westbound from Ocean City on day two of OC 13 - SPP's 13th round trip journey to OC from Kent Island.  I couldn't join them for the full trip since we had family plans to check up on the freshman in New Jersey Saturday.  But Sunday I was free to ride.  So I rode their planned route backwards. The intercept worked just as I'd hoped. I found them after 43 miles on Knifebox Rd and then accompanied them back to Stevensville were we toasted the lovely weekend with beer and burgers.  

Total mileage for the day: 86.9

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Night and Day on the Bike

I did it.  227 miles in just over 20 hours.  That's a new personal record for me in a 24 hour period.  Here's how it all unfolded...

Eastern Shore Reversed

I opted to drive to the start of the Wallops Island ride Thursday evening and spend the night in a hotel. It allowed me to coordinate my work commitments more easily Friday from one place all day with phone and internet (instead of spending all afternoon driving) and let me arrive at the start fresh, rather than stiff from the long drive.  It worked well for me.

Seven of us met in Wallops Island for a 7:00 pm planned start.  By the time everyone arrived, unloaded bikes and checked in to the control, we were a few minutes late pushing off.   That made some of our crew a little impatient since everyone prefers punctuality.  But it's a flat route and there was never any pressure on us trying to meet the control time limits the rest of the evening. The turn around control shuts it's doors at midnight but the brevet time limit gave us until 1:52.  So had the business been closed we would have had to find some other "proof of passage" but as it was we arrived about a half hour before they closed for the evening.

Each rider had one or two bright white head lights on the bike based on his preference, and a helmet lamp.  Multiply all of this times 7 riders and we must have made a very imposing sight for on-coming cars and trucks on a dark country road.  Several times through the night the drivers coming the opposite direction would actually slow down until they could better see what was coming at them and be sure we were clear of their travel lane.

Probably 2 dozen or more deer crossed our path in the course of the evening.  Once or twice they crossed the road so close as to startle the lead riders and cause a bit of sudden braking.  After that we tried to make a habit of scanning the open fields with our helmet lamps, looking for the reflection from their eyes and saw several more groups at a distance that let us enjoy the spectacle without risk of collision.  One group included two small fawns following the larger deer across the road.  Really beautiful creatures, even in the dark.

If I'd written a script in advance, I would have been pretty darn close the night we actually had.  The weather was about as perfect as we could ask for.  Clear, with cool temps, a bright moon, a light breeze that was mostly a cross wind and not really a factor in the ride.  This route is also on mostly rural roads with very little traffic allowing us to ride two or even three abreast most of the night and talk while we rode.  I've written before that even though randonneuring is designed to emphasize individual self-reliance, I enjoy the friends I've made,  the camaraderie, and the team work that often makes for a successful finish.   126 miles cycling in the dark is a great adventure and lot of fun when riding with friends.  It was my first all night ride and also the first half of what would be my longest day on the bike.

Many thanks to Chip, Dave, Bryan, Dan, Jeff and Earl.  It was a lot of fun, and I appreciate that some of you might have preferred a bit of a faster pace but that instead we rode together and enjoyed the great night on the road. 

The Garmin reset after the first 9 miles, this is the rest of the ride.

Seagull Century

We finished back at Wallops Island at 4:30. From there Dave, Dan and Bryan were heading home for a weekend with their families.  Chip, Earl, Jeff and I were headed 40 miles up the road to Salisbury for the Seagull.

I grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich and juice at the Royal Farms, changed in to a fresh kit, then packed the bike and headed north to Salisbury. Once safely in S'bury I managed about an hour nap in the truck before the 7 am start.

Earl and I had planned to ride together for both events.  At Wallops Island we were 7 guys in the dark.  No SAG van, only each other for support.  It was prudent to stick together on the night ride. At Seagull we were with 8000 other riders on the best supported charity ride on the East Coast, with bright sunny weather.  There was no reason for concern and it made sense to regroup so everyone could ride at his preferred pace.  Chip and Jeff rounded up a few like minded friends from home at the start and set of at a brisk pace.

Earl and I set out to finish. And with a little help we did just that.  It seemed at every turn we were saying hello to friends from home there to enjoy the great weather. They knew what we were up to with the double ride and kept offering encouragement.   Some went zipping by, others were at the rest stops the same time we pulled in.  But it was Mike C, Doug and Alex who hung with us much of the day and pulled in to the head winds when the course turned west.

Somewhere around mile 50 Earl got bored and decided to liven things up with an acrobatic display.  He touched Mike C's rear wheel and lost control of the bike.  If he'd had a shoulder to work with he probably could have pulled it out.  But instead the roadside was tall, wet grass leading down to a dry, sandy ditch.  As the bike stopped abruptly in the sand Earl was unclipped and ready for his big dismount.  The crowd roared it's approval as he launched over the bars, tucked his shoulder and rolled to a safe landing on a bed of pine needles.

Okay it was really one of those moments where time stops and the action unfolds in slow motion.  I was behind Earl and swerving to avoid him hoping I didn't crashing in to any other riders.  Watching him flip off of the bike was a terrible sight.  A small crowd, including at least one car stopped to make sure he was okay, and remarkably, he was.  He jumped up, we brushed the sand from rider and bike, inventoried all the critical parts on both and got going again.  The whole thing was over in 5 minutes.  Fortune was smiling on us.

At the Assateague stop we took the time to refuel.  If you've ever ridden the Seagull you know the support stations are extremely well stocked with food, drink and helpful volunteers.  We took full advantage of this at each stop and enjoyed the hospitality to top off our tanks.  But we also knew the tough part was still coming.  Up 'til now the wind had been either a cross wind or tail wind the whole way.  Now it would be a head wind most of the way to the finish.

Mike C, Doug and Alex stuck with us the whole way and we accepted their assistance, especially Mike's as he pulled much of the next 40 miles in to the wind.  We still owe you guys a few beers.  Some confusing hand signals from the police directing traffic at a busy intersection caused a sudden stop and another incident of bumper bikes though I was lucky the incident started at slower speed and I had more room to work with to the right of the road than Earl did so I managed to stay up.  But the decaleur holding my bar bag broke loose. We jury rigged it with velcro and zip ties and kept going.

At the last stop at mile 85 they serve ice cream and apple pie.  After I found a patch of grass to lay down the bike and sat down myself I was too tired to move.  A few minutes later Earl was shaking me awake. Mike brought me my pie and filled my camel back for me.  I was exhausted and frankly a little embarrassed to realize I let them wait on me like that.  Thanks guys.

Then we mounted up and rode 15 more miles in to the wind and the finish.  227 miles in just over 20 hours time!!  My longest stretch on the bike by over 40 miles.  After the ride everyone stowed their bikes, and changed clothes, then we regrouped in the beer garden to congratulate ourselves.  It was a big day. I was exhausted and very satisfied that it turned out so well.

I knew I'd be in no shape to drive at that point and had another room reserved a mile from campus. A hot tub and then a bed, never felt so good.   I slept 12 straight hours Saturday night.

Seagul Century

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mosey Monday

Met the 5:45 Club ride then rode on to work.  There were 8 of us and we had a good time going over plans for the big night ride Friday evening and Saturday.  I'm getting excited about this. We plan to meet in Wallops Island, VA and ride the Eastern Shore Reversed 200k perm.  We'll start at 7:00 pm and ride through the night.   Then we'll head up to Salisbury and ride the Seagull Century.  That'll be 225 miles in about 18-20 hours. 

The weather forecast is shaping up very well.  We should have a clear night with moderate temperatures in the 50s and 60s, calm winds, and moonlight all evening.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coffeeneuring (3/7)

Had a great ride this morning with Chris and Bob to Caribou Coffee in Gambrils (2638 Chapel Lake Drive Gambrills, MD 21054).

Caribou is a real treat.  They serve an incredible sandwich with egg, cheese and sausage that has a hint of maple in it to sweeten it up.  The coffee selection is fantastic and very tasty.  I took a second cup in my thermos to go after we left.  We lingered there almost an hour enjoying the nice outside seating as the sun got a little higher and the morning warmed up.  The three of us hadn't ridden together in months and it was great to catch up.

After the coffee we continued to Annapolis and passed briefly through downtown Annapolis to gawk at the Sailboat Show crowds then we all returned home to resume the day with our families.

I may have committed a coffeeneuring foul. Chris snapped a picture of us at Caribou but I forgot to get one myself.  I will link to Chris' photo when it's up and throw myself on the mercy of the chief coffeeneuse.

This ride: 35.9 Miles

Bob and I at Caribou - Photo Courtesy of Chris Lane
Added after initial publication of this post. Biking 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Coffeeneuring (2/7) Navy Football Tailgate

Saturday I took it easy.  It was a gorgeous, clear morning and there were 2 or 3 club rides going.  When the alarm went off at 5, I just couldn't get moving.  I slept until after 9 and enjoyed a lazy morning reading the paper.

I headed out just before noon for the Navy Football tailgate party in Annapolis. I stopped at Naval Bagels in Arnold (1460 Ritchie Hwy Arnold, MD 21012) along the way for a coffee and a bagel.   It's conveniently located adjacent to the B & A trail which provides for great people watching while sipping a cup and enjoying a bagel.  Their coffee is basic and not for the connoisseur.  But it made for a nice pick-me-up before I headed on to Annapolis.

At the tailgate festivities I saw my old roommate and several other classmates I hadn't seen in years. It was a great reunion and totally unexpected.

Total Ride: 15.2 Miles

Naval Bagels Biking 2011

The Surly enjoys the tailgate party Biking 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Still Riding

Yep, still riding regularly, just fell behind jotting it down here.  A quick summary since my last post.

Thursday - Nice day, uneventful ride to work and home again.

Friday - Rode to breakfast then to work.  Left work a bit early and enjoyed a great ride home.  Until the last half mile.  Had a terrible close call in my own neighborhood.  I came out fine but quite conflicted about how I responded. Particularly in light of my mild rebuke of another rider whose reaction inflamed the situation only two days before.  I've drafted the whole story and will post it once I've a little more perspective of time to reflect on the whole thing. (Sorry that's not meant to be a tease, though I suppose that's how it may come off).

Friday - Sunday - camping with the Cub Scouts.  Awesome fun, even if it was a little wet.  No biking over the weekend though.

Monday - Another day off the bike

Tue - rode to work with Bill C. First time we've been able to connect in months. Good to see him out and about.  Had a pleasant and uneventful ride home.

Wed - Rode with the 5:46 club ride then to work.  Also a pleasant ride home. Love this Fall weather now that the rains have stopped.

Today - another Cub Scout meeting this evening. So I rode 30 mi with the club at 5:46 and then drove to work to allow a quicker return this evening.  Still loving the clear Fall weather.

Upcoming Plans:

Friday - Road trip to Richmond, VA tomorrow for work so no ride planned unless we get home early enough for a quick spin in the evening.

Weekend -  chock full of fun, Cub Scout popcorn sales, football for both boys, field hockey for my girls, Navy football; the sailboat show is in town and I hope to ride another 80 miles.  So much fun to be had.....

Next weekend - epic ride planned.  I will join 6 friends from the bike club for a midnight ride that's become a tradition of sorts for some these guys.  We'll set out from Wallops Island, VA at 7 pm Friday evening the 14th for a 125 mile round trip to Cape Charles, VA through the night.  If all goes as planned we'll finish around 4 am. But.... we're not done yet. Then we tool up the road 40 miles to Salisbury, MD and clip in at 7 am for the Seagull Century.  225 miles in about 18 - 20 hours!  Let's hope for more of this CLEAR, cool, Fall weather.  I'm really excited about it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Can't we all just get along?

I had a great ride this morning with the 5:46 riders and then continued on to work.  I was going to write about peer pressure as an aid to keep us working out.  But then my ride home happened....

At the intersection of Dorsey and WB&A Blvd I was leaving the trail to head south on WB&A.  A cyclist who arrive at the light just ahead of me had already hit the pedestrian walk button and we waited for the walk signal.  Just as we clipped in a wave of eastbound traffic arrived on Dorsey Rd slowing to stop. (coming form our right).  In a span of about 3 seconds I saw this all unfold:

  • a car came in much too hot and finally stopped very abruptly, blocking the cross walk as we were trying to... cross.  He apparently didn't see the red light and he certainly didn't see us on the bikes, and a jogger who had joined us.
  • the rider ahead of me moved to ride behind this car then in front of the other traffic, all stopped a reasonable distance back.
  • at this point our impatient driver realizes he's blocking the cross walk and puts it in reverse, almost striking biker number one who puts his left hand out and touches the trunk as the car lurches to another sudden stop.  I was yelling to the driver at the same time to STOP!
  • rider 1 makes a profane remark to our driver
  • our driver puts it in park, returns the profane greeting and raises him one by getting out of the car
  • rider one takes the challenge and circles to the front of the car.
  • blows were avoided when biker 1 realized he didn't have his cell phone and could not snap the picture he wanted of driver's plate and nose extending beyond the stop line
  • additional "pleasantries" are exchanged and everyone parts company as the light changes again, all riders and pedestrians safely across the intersection
 Fast forward to my own neighborhood a half mile from home.  Manhattan Beach road is a comfortable, wide blvd past the gas stations and up the first rise then narrows abruptly as it crosses in front of the American Legion post. I typically try to "take the lane" as I crest this hill.  From the top of the rise until I make my left it's all down hill with little shoulder.  It's simply safer for me to hold the lane the last 1/4 mile until I make my left.

Just at this crest where things neck down a speeding car comes up beside me despite my position in the middle of the lane.  She gives me much less than three feet clearance and immediately brakes, slowing to match my speed.  Then turns left in to the American Legion parking lot.  She made an unsafe pass around me in to oncoming traffic to save herself one or two seconds over the time it would have taken to simply slow down and follow me.  I doubt any sober driver would try the same move if I'd been in a car but she couldn't be bothered to follow a slow vehicle an additional 50 feet!!

The first driver was wrong and knew it, and simply got angry when called out.  Biker 1 inflamed the situation by resorting to profanity and yelling rather than simply letting it go.  Driver 2 was also in too much of a hurry to be bothered slowing for cyclist.

What's the hurry folks? Slow down, smell the coffee and let's all get where we're going safely.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend at Elon

My wife and I traveled to Elon, NC this weekend to see our oldest daughter Taylor, now in her Junior year at Elon U.  I've known this for some time now, but it was quite apparent this weekend as Taylor introduced us to her friends and professors and shared a bit about her role as a resident assistant....  my little girl is now only a memory.   She's grown in to a beautiful, self assured young woman.   I miss her already.  We had a great weekend including an exiting football game. Elon beat The Citadel in overtime 18-15.

I took the bike and managed a couple of rides while we were there as well.  Saturday morning I got up at O Dark Thirty to get in a quick ride before we met Taylor for a full day.  I had also hoped to hit the local coffee shop right off campus and score my first of 7 Coffeeneuring Challenge rides.  But the coffee shop doesn't open until 9 am on Saturday's!!  So the coffeeneuring was a big "fail", but the ride was fun, though a little foggy and of course, dark.  I was glad to stretch my legs after the long car ride the night before.

Sunday I opted out of the receiving line at the University President's house and went for a longer ride through the central NC country side. It was great. At that hour on Sunday there was NO traffic. The fog was burning off slowly and the heavy dew was shining on the fields, the grass, even the spider webs. When I got back to Elon, The Acorn coffee shop (116 North Williamson Avenue, Elon, North Carolina) was open for business and bustling. I enjoyed a Pumpkin Latte and a chicken salad sandwich.  Coffeeneuring 1 / 7 complete.  Then caught up with Tivy and Taylor for another great day on campus.

The Acorn Biking 2011

A sandwich, pumpkin latte, and water at The Acorn.
Perfect post-ride meal. Biking 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

An easy pace for Friday

My wife and are traveling this weekend to see our oldest daughter at college in North Carolina.   So my routine is starting a little differently today.  Rather than riding from breakfast in Annapolis all the way to the office I simply came back home.  After a half day of work chores from here we'll set out around noon time.

The trail and roads are wet from rain overnight and more expected today.  Though we lucked out and had a nice break from the time I left at 5:15 until I returned home at 7:45.  Friday tradition and the wet conditions kept the pace down and we could enjoy a conversational pace.  9 riders were out this AM and 7 of us went on to breakfast.

I joined the riders this A.M. at the Hard Bean for breakfast instead of C & R and we had a great time then back home to wrap up work stuff and off to visit the young lady who used to be my little girl.  She's still mine, but she's no little girl any more.  Proud of her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A fast start to the day...

I met the SPP morning ride for the 5:46 start before pedaling on to work.  I hadn't done that mid week in some time and it was good to see everyone.  Several riders have started using to track rides over familiar territory and compare each others performance.  The numbers on a one mile stretch of Old County Rd. show I generate more power in my legs then the lighter faster guys, but they're still faster.  Not sure I need a GPS and fancy web site to tell me that.  It was fun and I think I'll try to make a habit of meeting them a couple of times a week.  Another bonus, the extra miles in the morning mean I can take a direct route home in the evening and still hit 40+ miles on the day.  My habit lately has often been the other way around.

Tonight on the way home I rode to my first ever parents planning meeting  with my Cub Scout den.  I held it at Bill Bateman's Bistro (a local pub if anyone not familiar with Severna Park is reading). which might have contributed to the strong turnout.    I think we're off to a good start. The meeting schedule through the end of this year is set and I don't have to lead the lesson plan for a single den meeting!  The other parents are all willing to lead various activities, all I had to do was ask.  Then I pedaled in a light rain the last two miles.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Uneventful rides both ways.  The weather was really nice this morning.  It was tempting to just keep going rather than let work interrupt a nice bike ride.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Catching Up

I took Wed and Thursday off of the bike to give my legs a rest and accommodate a busy schedule.

Friday I followed routine and rode first to Annapolis for breakfast then to the office and finally home in the evening.  Breakfast was fun.  Old high school friend Andy joined us at Chick n Ruth's.  Andy now lives in Indiana with his family.  He came to town with his son Leigh who is applying to the Naval Academy.  They were to visit the admissions offices and tour the place.  Great to see him again after all of these years. Wishing Leigh all of the best in the application process. Rod and I, as alumni of the place, stand ready to assist where we can.

On the way home Friday evening I rode straight to Kinder Park to watch Zach's football team take on Crofton under the lights.  My folks were in attendance as well as Tivy and I.  Zach is playing on the line on both sides of the ball and is on both the kicking and receiving teams.  He was literally on the field for every play the entire game.  This with a broken right arm!   The cast stops below the elbow and the coaches wrapped it in foam and duct tape to limit it's damage as a weapon.  The referee inspected the padding and the doctor's note before agreeing to let him play.  Zach and his team won a close one against Crofton under the Friday Night Lights.  My chest was 3 sizes bigger for the final 5 miles riding home after the game.

Saturday I participated in the 1st riding of the Iron Furnace Fifty miler in Snow Hill, MD.  That's a long way to drive for a 50 mile bike ride, but I'm glad I made the effort.  It was organized as a charity fund raiser for Furnace Town and the local Snow Hill Rotary club.  Another old friend, Allan G sits on the board of both organizations and was instrumental in organizing the thing.  He had appealed to me to participate when they first announced it back in the spring and I agreed.

The route overlaps and follows portions of the Seagull Century run every year from near by Salisbury.  Of course it's flat and tours the farm tracks that cris-cross so much of the Shore.  Quite pleasant, traffic was non-existent.  They paid a service to design the route and document the cue sheet.  I suspect they'll get an earful from some riders about a couple of points of contention that may lead them to believe they didn't get their money's worth.  Here's my take:

1) the route was great, no major roads to cross or ride along. Traffic was almost non-existent.  That should not be overlooked how nicely that contributes to an enjoyable day.  I will not recommend any changes to the route when I submit feedback.
2) the cue sheet correctly documented the mileage along the road route, but did not take in to account the 1.5 miles from the main road to the actual rest stop inside of a state park.  That added 3 miles to our bike computers and made the remainder of the route a little tougher to navigate without GPS. (I have a gps and had pre-loaded the route, but many riders of course do not).
3) The hard core roadies with carbon frames and 23 millimeter tires inflated to 125 psi will also register their displeasure with the rough condition of the state park roads.  On my 32s with a steel frame I just took it as an excuse to slow down a little.
4) with about 7 miles to go the route retraces a small stretch of road ridden earlier in the ride in the same direction.   On the first time past this intersection the ride turned right.  The cue sheet and stencil marks on the road documented this clearly.  Fast forward 40 miles the route now calls for the rider to go straight.  But the cue sheet is much more vague at this point and the same road stencil is still there pointing right.  That needs to be cleaned up.
5) the rest stops around the route were well stocked and staffed by helpful volunteers.
6) the lunch and beer at the finish were included with the registration fee and were fantastic.

In short the route is fantastic.  The documentation needs to be cleaned up slightly and perhaps the state park rest stop moved to a more convenient spot.  Not bad at all for a first run by a team who'd never done it before.  I'll go back again next year of the schedule permits.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More clear weather...

Uneventful rides both ways to work with beautiful, clear weather.  Sorry to read that some riders don't get to enjoy such nice weather in Great Britain and other locales as summer winds down.

Met several others of the SPP for Tuesday Night Pizza.  Not sure how many more of these we'll enjoy since as the evening daylight fades.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Can we bottle this weather?

We're heading in to the nicest weather of the year as autumn approaches.  The rains have cleared and the floods started to drain.  The humidity has broken and the temps have moderated. While we're not immune to the occasional rainy day, the next 6 - 8 weeks should be great riding weather. 

The pavement was still wet this morning; but otherwise it great to be outside, cool and clear.  With a little luck I managed to intercept the SPP 05:45 ride this AM as I headed to work and rode with them for a couple of miles.

The ride home this evening was just spectacular.  I took the long way round WB&A to Burns Crossing to MD 175 and back up Genl's Hwy.  The work at Burns Crossing and Old Mill hasn't begun yet.  So the intersection is still passable by bike despite the "Road Closed" sign.

The weather was just awesome.   I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A slow, lazy tour of AA County

Motivation was weak this morning when I woke up.  I wanted to get 60 miles in to preserve my streak of 200-mile weeks (M-Sun).  I finally did make it out the door so beginning the week of July 18-24 my streak now stands at 8 consecutive weeks of 200 or more miles.

My first stop was Heroes Pub which opened early for the 9/11 anniversary to toast and remember the firefighters and other victims of that terrible day. It was packed.   I had a guiness and breakfast sandwich while visiting with a few of the firefighters and their families there.  As the place filled up it seemed making room for others after I finished my meal made more sense than having another pint or two.  So I said goodbye and moved on.

I took Defense Hwy West to Rutland Rd. towards Davidsonville and followed the familiar rando route for Sailing to Solomons.  My plan was to continue on Rt 2 south to Harwood Rd and then pick up the end of the route back to Davidsonville.  But washouts on Harwood Rd (still passable by bike) and Patuxent River Rd. (not passable even by bike) forced a detour.  I ultimately took Queen Anne Bridge Rd back to 214 and continued to Riva Rd to Annapolis.

I stopped in downtown Annapolis for another sandwich and a drink then finished the day by climbing up St. Margaret's Rd to Sandy Point and then home.   I'll notify Crista and Dave about the impact of the washed out roads on their respective permanent routes by email.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Making up some miles...

No excuses.. I was a weather wimp this week and stayed off the bike while the left overs of Tropical Storm Lee thoroughly soaked the area.  We had more rain this week than we often get in a month.  It just kept falling and falling and falling.  By Wednesday every creek, slough, and river was full to bursting, at which point road surfaces and bridges starting giving way.  Several in the club continued to ride each morning.  More than once I went to bed and resolved to join them in the morning. Each morning I'd see the curtain of rain in the street lamp near our driveway and opted for an extra hour of sleep instead.

So finally this morning I got on the bike and joined the club for the Saturday "Bagel" ride to Annapolis.  It felt great to get back on the bike.  After coffee and a breakfast sandwich at City Dock I rode out to Arundel High School in Odenton to watch my youngest son Erik, play football.  He and his team carried themselves well but were outplayed by Crofton and lost 19 - 0.  So they are now 1-1 on the season and still have some opportunity to keep improving.

Then I felt compelled to make up for a few of the miles I missed this week and headed up Burns Crossing Rd towards the airport.  A small section of Burns Crossing has been closed because the road surface was washed out where it crosses Severn Run near Old Mill Rd.

From Biking 2011
This one shows the damage to the road surface on Burns Crossing Rd.

From Biking 2011
Here's the debris pushed by the flooding creek up against the guard rail. The creek flows from the left just out of view of this shot.

Amazing what the force of water can do.  A bulletin on the AA County Police Dept page indicated officers had to help a couple stranded in the running water Wednesday evening at this location.  The elderly gentleman lost his footing and fell in to the water, the police had to hold him up so he could breath until additional officers arrived and they could safely help them out of the flood.  I think we're well served by the AA County PD.

From here I continued up and around the Airport Loop. On the east side of the airport about a mile north of Dorsey Rd I encountered another cyclist who had stopped and was sitting on a bench holding is phone in one hand and balancing his bike with the other.  Most riders and runners sitting on these benches are simply stopping to rest or to take a call on the phone.  I'm not sure what made me ask if he was okay but I'm glad I did.  He wasn't.  He was feeling faint and had just called 911.  I stowed his bike behind the bench, confirmed he had in fact reached the emergency dispatcher and then helped him lay down on the bench.  John remained conscious and answered my questions for the next couple of minutes until the cavalry arrived.  I left him in the capable hands of the BWI Airport Fire Dept paramedics.  The Dept of Transportation police also arrived and promised to look after his bike.  I hope all is well for him, but there was little else I could offer at that point and continued on my way.

After all of that I arrived back home about 2:30 pm.  Another 60 miles logged in.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ride to DC

The SPP kept it's holiday tradition of longer club rides today.  Several of us expressed an interest in riding somewhere we'd not been recently (or ever) and Fran put together a nice route from Millersville to DC.  I had no idea DC's trail network was so extensive.

Unfortunately we displayed our lack of familiarity with the nuances of riding in dense urban areas.  The trip was uneventful on the open roads until we reached the more crowded areas in the city.  Then we had a few clipout accidents and close quarter bumps with one another navigating the tight turns on the DC trails.  The worst of these occurred on the way home when one rider braked a little too hard on the NE Branch Trail and went over his own bars.  Fortunately no one (and no bikes) were hurt though the bar flip was a bit scary.

Despite the bumper bikes the ride was a lot of fun.  Our destination was The Dubliner Restaurant on North Capital street.  There we had our choice of breakfast or lunch fare everyone seemed to enjoy their meal.  I had eggs benedict with salmon and a pint of Guiness.  Yumm!

Mary (Chasing Mailboxes) and Ed (The Daily Randonneur) are members of our neighboring club the DC Randonneurs and honorary members of SPP.  They live in DC and met us for breakfast to share stories about their big ride on PBP in France.  They also joined us for part of our ride out of town.  It was great to see them.  Here are some pics Ed took along the way.

Many thanks to Fran for the leg work to plan the route.  It was another fun day on the bike.

The Nanny State Run Amok

The blog entry above tells the story of a mother, Teresa Tryon, in Elizabethton, TN who has been told by the police that she may be guilty of child neglect for letting her 10 year old daughter, a 5th grader, ride her bike to school, a trip of 7 - 9 minutes according to the mom. 

The story makes the specific point that Mrs. Tryon asked if her daughter had done anything wrong and was assured she had not.  Only Mrs. Tryon is accused of any wrong doing.  So that would seem to rule out riding on roads where cycling was specifically prohibited.

I don't spend much time in TN and have no personal knowledge of the town of Elizabethton.  I don't know this mom, I've not interviewed her nor the police to get both sides of the story.  So it's quite possible there are relevant details, such as vehicle speed along the girl's route, or the local crime rate, that have not yet come to light.

But in addition to the details above, here's what what I could find on Google...

The town of Elizabethton reports a population of 13,900 and change living in 5900 homes in an area of 9.5 square miles  A look at the map and Google Earth shows that New Stony Creek Rd on the east side of town appears to be the only road in town that has the travel lanes for each direction physically divided, a couple of other thorough fares run east to west across town and would likely support more than simple neighborhood traffic.

That leaves many, many blocks on a neat grid that look to be mostly residential.

If the girl rides at 9 - 10 mph (the speed my 10 year old son typically manages over any distance) that would mean her 7 - 9 min trip is between 1.17 and 1.35 miles.

My wife and I give our kids boundaries that let them ride a similar distance unsupervised in our neighborhood. Unfortunately a very busy 4 lane highway lies between our home and their school so the commute to school is not an option for our family.  But that seems unlikely to be the case in Elizabethton.

We have all kinds of negative trends in this country that would suggest biking or walking to school would be a good way to start addressing them: air pollution, dependence on foreign oil and childhood obesity come to mind as just a few.

What ever happened to the days when we let our kids assume more and more independence as they grow and trusted a parent's judgement to decide when and how to extend those boundaries?

I hope the police in Elizabethton either point out quickly to the Tryon's why Miss Tryon's cycling constitutes neglect by her mother or apologize to Mrs. Tryon and then go find some real public safety problems to solve.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Football by bicycle

The challenge:

Erik's Football game at 10:45 at Kinder Park
Navy Football tailgate party Navy Marine Corps Stadium 12:30
Navy Football kickoff 3:30 - but I need to leave the party for Zach's game
Zach's Football game at 16:00 at Kinder Park

How to get out of Annapolis just as the game is about to start and traffic is at it's worst?  The answer was obvious; "commute" to the games by bicycle.  That way I'd be largely immune to traffic.

I started the day at 7 and met the SPP for the bagel ride.  I skipped the Bay Ridge loop after bagels and returned straight home with Chip.  That was a great chance to hear about his PBP adventure in France.  It was quite a ride.  I'll post his summary here once he sends it out.  But the support he got when his frame cracked re-enforces the best in human nature and even casts the French in a pretty good light.

I then proceeded to each game by bicycle; had a great time, and racked up over 60 miles on the day.  I would have liked to have stayed and actually watched the Navy game but the overlap with Zach's game made that impossible. So I enjoyed the tailgate party with several Navy classmates including my old room mate Donny Wright then bid them adieu and pedaled back up the trail to Zach's game.  Eric, Zach and Navy all won.  It was a fun day, my commuting plan worked perfectly and I was largely immune to traffic.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday rides

Met the club for the Friday breakfast ride to Annapolis this morning.  Other than a little wet pavement it was an uneventful ride.  On the way to work after breakfast I helped an older teen who was riding a kid's BMX style bike that was way too small for him.  The crank was loose, he used my multi-tool to tighten it up and we each went on our way.   Later I met Isaias O'daniell coming the opposite way.  We stopped and spent a few minutes catching up.  He's on a mission to catch the leaders of the Endomondo mileage challenge.  He has quite a task, but he seems determined.  The ride home this evening was uneventful.

Weekend plans changed a bit.  Instead of Tivy and I heading to NJ, Justin is coming home for his birthday.  Football tomorrow and bike rides are still on.

The power company is making progress re-connecting the final customers to the grid.  Earl had a big day, he got a new bike and his lights came on.  The pics of his new fixie look nice, a bit of retro look with clean lines like a fixie should have. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Slowly getting back to normal

The disabled traffic lights, downed trees and other obstacles thrown along my commute by Hurricane Irene last weekend have mostly been cleared.  Power was restored to our home Wednesday afternoon.  Not all of my friends and neighbors are so fortunate.  There are plenty still without power.  Depending on their circumstances the impact of this ranges from mildly inconvenient to a critical health risk.  One friend relies on a well for water, no power, no well pump, no water.  He and his wife are experiencing all of this at significantly greater inconvenience than my family and I did.  Another friend has a child with significant, chronic medical challenges including the need for breathing support when she sleeps.  They have had to take turns keeping an eye on her through the night to make sure she isn't overcome by sleep apnea.  That's far beyond mere inconvenience.

If there's a silver lining in all of this it's been the weather.  Since the storm left the area Sunday afternoon the weather has been almost idyllic.  Low temps each night have been 58 - 62 deg F and highs during the day around 80 deg F.  Humidity has been low, the skies clear with no further rain and only light or calm winds the whole time (sailing races were cancelled last night due to lack of wind).  So no one has suffered from either heat or cold during all of this and the utility crews have not been hindered in their work by weather.

The great weather also made it easy to stay motivated and keep riding despite the other challenges of storm clean up.  After 5 straight days I took yesterday off.  Then this morning I joined the 5:45 ride with SPP and THEN rode on to work.  This evening I took the long way home for 55 miles on the day.  Tomorrow is the usual Friday breakfast ride with the opportunity for another big day on the bike.  Then a 3 day weekend.

It will be a busy, fun filled weekend. Football games Saturday for Erik, Zach and the Naval Academy.  On Sunday Tivy and I are driving up to The College of New Jersey to visit Justin for his birthday (do I really have a 19 year old son?) and Monday will likely be a nice long bike ride with the club.  Hmm, none of that leaves much time for yard work or chores does it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can we bottle this weather

58 deg F this morning when I left the house.  Mid 70s for the ride home.  Clear, calm, if I could only skip the 8 hour stop at the office in the middle of the ride it would be perfect.  Met the SPP for Tuesday Pizza night. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Traffic Lights Still Out

I'll never swear or curse at a traffic light again.  As impatient as I may get waiting for them to change, living without them is downright hazardous.  Two days after the big storm, major lights are still out on Dorsey Rd, Rt 3 and Rt 2 along my commute home.

Let's be careful out there and look out for one another until the utility crews can get us all back on the grid.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Community Service Ride

I met several other SPPers for a post hurricane ride to see to community and how much damage was sustained.  Fortunately Irene spared us her worst.  There are many down trees and the resulting power outages, including my own home, will linger for days.  But overall it wasn't really that destructive in our area.

We stopped and cleared what we could from the trail where we encountered fallen trees or limbs blocking the path.  One in particular between Severn and Boulters was too big for us to muster without a chain saw to break it up first.  Another across Boulters Way dragged some power lines down to the road and was guarded by a county police office who refused to let us pass even though we could see a clear path under the wires.  So we took MD 450 instead and came back the same way, just as we often do in the winter when the path hasn't been cleared of snow.

So after doing our small part to aid the cleanup we finally made it down town Annapolis.  It was mobbed, everyone enjoying the nice clear evening and dining out if they didn't have power at home.  We settled on the Severn Inn back on the north side of the river and enjoyed beer and appetizers on the deck.

Tomorrow it's back to the daily grind at work.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pre-Hurricane Century

I've struggled this week to keep to a daily routine on the bike. Earthquakes, hurricanes and especially back to school season, simply disrupted the normal flow of family life at the Binnix family compound.  But things fell in to place nicely this morning to catch up on the missing miles.

With preps for Hurricane Irene largely done last night, including a last minute decision to purchase a 2500W emergency generator, I didn't wake up this A.M. feeling compelled to attack the "to do" list that often comes with weekends. Further the kids' scheduled games this weekend were already cancelled due to the pending storm, but the forecast said that Armageddon likely wouldn't start until mid afternoon or early evening, so it looked like I could steel away for the entire morning and even a little beyond lunch if needed.  I did just that.

I started at the Ranger Station at 6:00 with the usual club ride of zippy speed demons. But both Bill C and I opted to let the racers go early and rode the Solley Rd route at a more moderate pace.  Carl B originally set out with the fast kids but decided he'd prefer our company and hung back until we picked him up about half way round the course.  We got to Java Divas with 15 minutes to grab a cup o' Joe before joining the 7:30 ride at the rusty bridge.

This was well attended with 17 riders heading downtown for a bagel and to see what the city looked like for hurricane preps.  Not much to see except for the sand bags stockpiled near by and ready to block flooded door ways as the water rose.  The group thinned some after bagels and coffee then 12 of us headed around Bay Ridge.  The Bay looked grey and threatening.  But several kite surfers and wind surfers were ejoying the first breezes from Irene.  The anchorage for commercial shipping was also impressive with over 10 ships at anchor, I presume planning to ride out the storm.  Normally one would expect only 2 - 3 vessels at time there, waiting for their loading piers to open up in Baltimore.  Today they stretched in a line well south of Thomas Point.

On return to downtown Annapolis I couldn't sell a ride through Crownsville to anyone and parted with the rest of the club to keep stretching my legs. I made it through Crownsville and to within about 8 miles of the airport before I saw any rain.  At the airport I made for my office and stopped to check that all of our non-essentials were secured and the essentials correctly attached to a UPS.  Then I turned for home.  The fleet of utility maintenance vehicles BGE has mustered on an empty lot off of Elkridge Landing Rd, staged for storm response was impressive.  A state trooper stood sentry to control access.  Good to see the authorities taking the approaching storm seriously.

To round out an even hundred miles and catch up on my weekly goal of 200, I rode past our neighborhood while heading south on the trail and continued all the way to the trail head at Boulters Way then returned and threw in a final lap around our neighborhood before I returned home   100.5 on the day and 202 miles for the week.  I got home at 1:30 a bit wet but before any heavy rain or wind came through.  So I've met my weekly 200 mile goal for 6 straight weeks.  If there's a window after the storm tomorrow afternoon, that will be a bonus.

So now we hunker down and ride out the wrath of Irene.  Prayers for the safety of all in her path, including my home and my neighbors'. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fighting for every mile

Nothing about this weeks' schedule as been 'normal' or 'routine'.  In the last seven days we've experienced or prepared for: earthquakes, hurricanes, kids away to college, first day of school for younger kids, car breakdowns while delivering kids to college, and a visit to the Ravens to play a scrimmage at half time.

So I've been left to fight for time to ride every mile.  Got a brief ride to Sandy Point and climbed The Wall this afternoon.  Looks like tomorrow morning before Hurricane Irene crashes the party will be the last chance to get a ride in.  May start very early and try to stretch it a bit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick update

Updated the mileage after a good morning ride with the club.  I'll catch up on thoughts about the earthquake and other excitement when I get a minute.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Catching Up

Catching up...

Get To The Point

Sunday I made plans to join Crista Borras for one of her weekend DC Century training rides.  She organizes these on Saturday AND Sunday many weekends year round as a way see the beautiful countryside, enjoy a little of it's cuisine, and prepare for randonneuring events.  I've met Crista and Chuck at several brevet events sponsored by the DC Randonneurs but I'd never joined them for one these less formal events.  My training and personal schedule came together nicely Sunday and Crista's chosen route in southern Maryland offered a little less climbing than many other events in Frederick and points north and west.  So I made plans to join the ride named Get To The Point through Charles and St. Mary's counties.  Another attraction was that I'd never ridden in that area.  I shared my plans on the SPP mailing list and Doug Corby put his hand up to join me.

We met Chuck and Crista at the appointed time and place Sunday morning. It was only the four of us, Chuck and Crista on their tandem, Doug and me. Many of the other regular participants are in France riding the Paris-Brest-Paris Grand Randonee, a 1200K ride held every four years.  More on that below.

The weather was slightly warmer than pleasant but it's August and it could have been a lot hotter.  The forecast warned of a chance of pop-up storms late in the afternoon and we discussed the idea that we might want to take one of the short cuts already documented on the cue sheet if the weather looked threatening. 

Not 2 miles into the ride my cell phone started beeping with alerts about a problem at work. Fortunately a quick call to the data center corrected it.  I juggled all of that on the bike worried I'd have to ask for a break or encourage them to ride on and I'd try catch them at the first rest stop.  Fortunately it didn't come to that and I could enjoy the country side.

The farm country was pretty with corn crops, horses, sheep, tobacco and evidence of exhaust from the buggies used by the Amish community in the area. Most of the countryside is flat but every so often we'd encounter a few stingers to get our heart rate up and make sure we were awake.

Chuck and Crista are fun to watch on the tandem. The epitome of team work.  At a point when any rise would approach they'd stand up in unison.  But as far as I could tell they either weren't speaking at the time or the conversation was about anything but the bike and standing to attack the climb didn't interrupt the discussion.  They just knew when to stand up and sit down together.  I've seen other tandem teams who.. to put it delicately... weren't quite as smooth.  If I ever get one, I'll be reaching out to them for tips.

About 15 miles in Chuck indicated he wasn't feeling well and we took a short detour to a convenience store.  At that point our leaders decided it was best to turn back.  I was a little concerned about letting a friend head back with only one bike while feeling ill, but these are two of the most experienced riders I know and they encouraged Doug and I to ride on and enjoy the day. Reluctantly we agreed and did just that.  Later we got an email assuring us they made it back to the car just fine.

So Doug and I enjoyed the countryside and each others company while looking forward to lunch at Morris Point Restaurant that Crista recommended on the cue sheet.  Lunch did not disappoint.  As the name implies it sits on a point between two creeks, a couple of miles by water from the Potomac River.  The proprieter Chris Soussanin offered us a pitcher of ice water and two cups before we could say a word or find a seat, he knew simply by the way were dressed and the sweat on our brow that we were thirsty.  A bowl of diced water melon and cantaloupe also came out without asking, a real treat.  I had a crab cake sandwich and Doug the soft shell crab.  Delicious.  If you're not a seafood fan they also offer a few "turf" options on the menu but this is a seafood place offering views of the water and friendly service.

As we left they asked us what bikers like to eat.  They have signed on as sponsors for an upcoming charity ride and will be manning a rest stop and providing food.  They took notes as we rattled off suggestions.  It was well worth a 50 mile bike ride.

Checking the weather it looked like the chance of storms was increasing so we opted to take a couple of the short cuts built in to the cue sheet and cut our century plan down to 83 miles on the day.  We finished in a light drizzle the last 2 miles but missed the big weather.

The local randonneurs know that Crista's cue sheets are very precise and easy to read.  She also has a knack for picking routes through scenic, rural countryside with light traffic and finding great eateries to look forward to.  Apparently she puts the same planing effort in to these less formal century rides and since they are not ridden "for credit" the options for short cuts are included too.

Thanks Crista for sharing all of the great planning and research. We were sorry you couldn't join us for the entire ride and glad to hear that Chuck was feeling better.  I'm looking forward to joining another ride sooner than later.


Several friends are in the French countryside as I write this are riding the Paris-Brest-Paris Grand Randonee.  1200 kilometers held every 4 years with thousands of riders from around the world.  So a late Bonne Route!! to Chip, Clif, Mary, Ed, Nick and all the others taking part in this big adventure.  Early reports on Twitter show they've had to tolerate some heavy rains. Clear skies and tail winds the rest of the way friends.  I'm looking forward to hearing about it when you come home.