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.

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