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?