Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ocean City

I finished out the #30daysofbiking challenge in grand style Saturday.  18 riders gathered at the Stevensville Middle School in Stevensville, Md the 12th edition of the SPP ride to Ocean City.  The weather forecast was postcard perfect.  Temps near 50 deg F in the morning would warm to the mid 60s.  The reality started a little overcast but otherwise lived up to it's billing.  It was really great day for a bike ride.

We were all decked out in new outer wear to match the club's kit.  In cool weather the jersey was often covered by vests or jackets.  Now we have vests and jackets in club colors too and they look great.  The cool start was also the perfect conditions to try out the new vest and I'm happy to report it worked quite well.

At the start. See more.... OC 12

Chris Lane and some friends of Jeff Schultz met us at the start to take some picks and wish us well.  Then we had quick briefing on the route, the need to stick together and we were off.  Riding with such a large group is always a lot of fun. New friends to meet, old ones to catch up with, and an incredibly efficient peloton when the angle on the wind isn't optimal.   This route also lends itself so well to a social ride.  Most of the miles are on rural country roads. Traffic is light, the terrain is flat and we can easily ride 3 or more abreast to talk.  It's really a lot of fun that way.  That the wind was pushing us along just added another nice note to the day.

The miles rolled by very quickly and effortlessly.  It seemed like it was no time at all and we were rolling in to the breakfast stop at Dave's Place in Ridgely, MD approximately 1/3 of the way in to the ride.  The origin's of SPP's tradition to include Dave's Place as a regular stop on this ride shift a bit with each telling.  But generally include some variation of looking for shelter and calories when the weather was cold and rainy on an early edition of the ride 5 or 6 years ago.

Dave's Place is a bar in a rural farming town and by it's appearance would be a very unlikely stop for a group of cyclists.  It's not normally open at 10 am when we roll in.  But on that first visit years ago Chip and Clint charmed the owner Mary Ann and she has been opening up to fix us breakfast ever since.  We called ahead with our orders.  On arrival Mary Ann had coffee, fresh baked cookies and brownies, and breakfast sandwiches with each rider's choice of bread, cheese and meat.

Once we're all served, Mary Ann came out to hold court. She's quite a character, gregarious, generous, and entertaining.  She always has a couple of small gifts for us to raffle off.  This year it was a set of lottery scratch off and powerball tix.  Earl, Bryan and I all won the raffle to receive the lottery tix, but unfortunately none of our tix won.  Maybe next year.

Breakfast at Dave's Place. See more... OC 12

After a group picture with Mary Ann we set out again.  At this point three of our group turned back.  This was planned, not due to any problem, the routine lends itself well to that and allows some to participate who might otherwise have to settle for another tour of Anne Arundel County.  So Bennie, Ray and Jeff Scho turned for the start and 15 of us continued on our way.  Freshly fed and with the weather warming slightly, we made a few wardrobe adjustments and pulled any supplies needed from the Bodine's SAG van, then we were off. 

The miles continued to roll quickly.  The last clouds cleared and as the course turned a little more southerly, the tail wind started to push us a little faster.  We were flying across the countryside at 20+ miles per hour and having a great time.  Lunch at the Irish Eyes in Milton, DE was quick and delicious, then we pedaled a few blocks across town to the Dogfish Head Brewery.  They brew a great series of exotic ales, and they are also a sponsor for Randy Mouri's RAAM adventure.   Randy rode with us Saturday. The DFH convenient location along our route, the tasting room with free samples, and the gift shop with great looking jersey's are reason enough for us to visit. Randy's affiliation with company gave it extra significance.

So our time in Milton was rather extensive before we got back on the bike to finish the trip to Ocean City.  Again we picked up our spirited pace and the wind just kept pushing even faster.  The group was also full of a bit of mischief.  As fast as we were moving, one or two of the group wanted to go faster still and the group would break in two as some tried to hold the faster pace while others preferred to keep their heart rate below zone 5. After two or three cycles like this the team took action to hold back the instigators.

Fun and games on the road. See more... OC 12

Such shenanigans continued much of the last leg, until attention shifted to final sprint the barn. As we approached the final turn on to Hwy One in Ocean City six of us started sprinting hard for the finish about 2 miles out.  Earl and I couldn't really hope to hold with the others and just pushed ourselves as best we could.  Just then with a half mile left we had our only close call of the day. An inattentive driver pulling out of a parking lot didn't see us despite white strobes on the front.  Earl recognized his slow drift in to traffic might be dangerous and pointed him to me.  I shouted with my best military command voice to catch his attention and he looked quite startled.   Incident averted.

Then we were done.  Chip and Randy turned around and rode back through the night after about an hour's break in OC with us.   Remember Randy is training for RAAM and this sort of thing is routine for him.  Earl's wife Lori drove my van to OC to meet us.  This allowed Earl, myself and 3 others to head back home for Sunday commitments after a delicious dinner with the crew in O.C.

We had the route in hand that Randy and Chip were following so after dropping Earl's daughter in Salisbury we were able to plot an intercept course and check in with them about 10:30 in the evening.  They reported they were doing well and didn't even accept offers of water or spare calories we still had in our bags.  On those small country roads it was really dark, no light pollution and brilliant stars.  Their LED tail lights were brilliant and we easily spotted them a half mile away.  An email this morning confirmed their safe arrival in Stevensville shortly after 2 am.  Another confirmed that the 8 riders who returned today also had a safe and successful ride.

In addition to the photos, I shot some video but that may take a while to get edited.  Earl also wrote a nice report on the ride. I will add my video and links to other folks' photos as they get them posted and share it with me.

Many thanks to John and Janet Bodine for the SAG van support (they each ride one way and drive one way), and all of the planning for the hotel, dinner etc.  Thanks also to Lori for driving the second van to allow several of us the luxury of a one way ride.  Finally thanks to the other riders, I had a great time.

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