Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Utilitaire 7 or 12 - Commute to Work

Date: 2/28/2012
Destination: Work - KMSI Offices Linthicum, MD
Miles Completed: 33.3 miles round trip.
Learned / observed: The spring flowers are already blooming
Dark Ride: Yes on the way home.

Another beautiful day.  I saw these flowers blooming already on the way in.  While on the way home, I was complimented by a driver at a stop light on my reflective gear and lighting.  Very good to hear, thank you.  Otherwise it was a pleasant, uneventful day on the bike interrupted by a day at the office. 

On Feb 28? What do the flowers know that the groundhog doesn't?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Utilitaire 6 of 12 - Coffeeneuring

Date: 2/25/2012
Destination: Hard Bean Coffee - Dock St Annapolis, MD
Miles Completed: 25.5 miles round trip.
Learned / observed: It was WINDY crossing the Naval Academy Bridge over Severn River
Dark Ride: No

A cool, windy morning.  I met a few others of SPP for a ride to Annapolis for breakfast. The west wind was so strong that I had to keep pedaling on the way DOWN from the peak of Naval Academy Bridge over the Severn River to keep my momentum.  Normally that descent is good for 30 mph if I just get down in something resembling an aerodynamic position.  But on this morning we had to pedal ourselves down off the bridge.  Not sure the wind would have stopped me dead, but it certainly slowed me down.  Also provided quite boost on the way home.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Utilitaire 5 of 12 - Sporting Event or Concert

Date: 2/23/2012
Destination: Erik's Basketball Game - Severna Park Middle School
Miles Completed: 35.3 miles round trip.
Learned / observed: My shadow makes me look skinny with the sun at my back!
                                    Racing a motor scooter on my bike is fun.
                                    I love watching my kids play sports.

Dark Ride: Yes at start and finish, but also daylight portions near the office.

Wow - what a great day to be out on the bike. It was warm, 50 deg this morning.. in February!!  I left the house a little later than normal about 6:10 am or so and enjoyed a fantastic sunrise. A few miles later I had to stop and take the shot below.  I love how the sun at my back in early morning or late evening creates long shadows.  Makes me look skinny!!

My usual routine when I get to work is to clean up, change in to work clothes, and spend a few minutes browsing my favorite blogs and comics on line while I enjoy a cup of coffee and snack, usually a banana or a granola bar. Then I begin my work day.  Today's blogs included a very entertaining post by MG about how bikers simply can't resist racing each other when there is usually little point to it, especially while commuting through the urban jungle.  She's right, there is no point, and yet we often can't help ourselves.  Read her post, she tells it better than I do.  I enjoyed it and my coffee then got on with the work day.

But the real fun was after I left work. (Isn't that usually the best part of work?)  I was headed to the middle school to watch my son (Erik age 8) play in his 2nd playoff game of this basketball season. That's right they won the first playoff game last night!!!

On the way as I was heading south on Oakwood Dr crossing under Rt 100 by the hospital; a fellow on a small motor scooter pulled up awkwardly to my right in the same lane even though I had positioned myself  at the light to the right side of lane.  Not sure what he was up to, and since he had a motor, I let him pass when the light changed to avoid any conflict.  He puttered on ahead and I thought that would be it.  Well there is a gentle descent leaving the hospital at that area followed by a gentle rise.  I could see he wasn't exactly setting any records once he reached the bottom and started to climb.  I was going about 20 mph down the descent at that point and clearly gaining on him.  The chase was on.  I caught, and then dropped a guy puttering along with probably 50 cc's while climbing a 3%  grade!  Pointless.. absolutely.  Dangerous... not there but it could be if one isn't careful.   Filled with self righteous pride and feeling a little smug... ABSOLUTELY!!  It was a few miles later as I approached the middle school on Jumpers Hole that I recalled MG's post and realized I'd done exactly the same thing.

At the ball game I was drafted for clock duty. I look silly enough in a day glow yellow bike jersey and my riding glasses with my little wire mirror attached sitting by the sideline cheering.  Now I was suddenly thrust in to an important role as part of the officiating crew.  This was a big deal.  I was in an important position now and feeling a little self conscious in my bike kit.  Okay not really, I just sat there starting and stopping the game clock when the refs blew the whistle.    Everyone enjoyed the game though Erik and his teammates came up a few points short.  In the brutal arena of single-elimination playoffs that meant the end of their season.  They played well and held their heads up like great sports.

After the game, the sun had set and I rode the final few miles home.  There I enjoyed a great beef stew dinner that my wife had prepared in the crockpot and caught up with the kids and their day.  Now I'm posting this and then heading to bed to do it all again.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Utilitaire 4 of 12 - Breakfast

Date: 2/11/2012
Destination: Hard Bean Cafe Annapolis, MD
Miles Completed: 25.4 miles round trip.
Learned / observed: The bamboo along B&A trail lays VERY low over the trail 
                                     with heavy snow on it.
Dark Ride: No.

Met Steve H for a ride to Annapolis for breakfast.  It was a beautiful morning, with a heavy wet snow falling gently  but not sticking to the roads or paved trail.  We enjoyed an easy pace, both noting that the rain pants we wore against the wet weather (snow forecast to change back to rain) sapped a little extra energy out of the legs.  Clint met us at Hard Bean and we enjoyed a great breakfast watching the grey morning over Chesapeake Bay.  

Bamboo drooping across the trail

Friday, February 10, 2012

Utilitaire 3 of 12 - BANK

Date: 2/10/2012
Destination: Bank of America 601 Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard
                      Severna Park MD 21146

Miles Completed: 51.5 miles round trip.
Learned / observed: The county has finished repairs on the B & A Trail 
                                     between the Ranger Station and the Rusty Bridge!!
Dark Ride: yes. Lighted with SON Hub, Edelux Headlight and Dinotte 400R battery tail light.

Started the morning by riding 3 miles to meet the SPP and ride to Annapolis for breakfast.  From there I rode to work up by BWI. Riding home from work that evening I stopped at the bank to withdraw some cash from the ATM.  So that's at least 3 possible utilitaire classifications that might apply here, a community meeting for the group to breakfast, a ride to work or a ride to the bank.  I'll take the bank since the work and breakfast are regular things and I can only use each twice. 

From Biking 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Song of the Salamander 200K

Earlier in the week the forecast for Saturday was quite pleasant.   Temps at the start would be just above freezing and warm towards the upper 40s with mostly sun and calm winds.  By ride time it said we'd have a 50% chance of showers in the afternoon.  Seven of us set out anyway.  The team: Gardner, Theresa, Janet, Jack, Bill, Dan and myself.

The first two thirds of the ride were pleasant and drama free.  It was overcast and we never saw temps above 40 but the day rolled by pleasantly.  The first few miles across Rockville, MD from the start are a bit of a navigation challenge with cues every quarter mile or less from roads to trails, round the barricade at a dead end street and so forth, the kinds of tricks bike messengers in every major city always master.  Then after 8 or 10 miles it settles in to a more typical ride across the countryside.  The trip across the Potomac River at White's Ferry was a fun novelty. It's a cable ferry relying on a huge steel cable across the river to guide the barge across and line it up for easy docking at each end.  

Once across the river the route picked up the W&OD trail for a few miles from Leesburg to Purcellville, VA before striking out for Middleburg via Snickersville Tpk.  It's beautiful horse country with big estates and rolling hills.  We got to the turnaround at The Market Salamander just before noon and enjoyed a very good lunch. 

The return leg largely follows the same route.  We had a little excitement on the trail just before Leesburg when JBo fumbled her water bottle, over-corrected, and swerved up the bank adjacent to the trail.  Fortunately the only casualty was a crack in her bar mirror.

After a brief fueling stop at the 7-11 in Leesburg we set out for the ferry ride back to MD and a light, cold drizzle started.  Everyone broke out what rain gear we had and we made the ferry a little damp but without further drama.

From the ferry we had about 31 miles to the finish.  It starts with a long, shallow climb away from the river followed by a fair quota of gentle but continuous rollers until the outskirts of Rockville.  We got a little strung out on the climbing and rollers once or twice and then regrouped before the final leg through Rockville.  All the wile the steady rain continued and everyone got more and more damp.  The last 8 miles resumes the same urban cyclocross we followed on the way out. But now the sun had set and the rain was changing to snow.  We'd been riding in a cold rain for for almost 3 hours and for some, body temperatures were starting to fall, my helmet lamp battery died and snow kept building up on my cue sheet holder.  The GARMIN, after calling the route faithfully all day started to get confused whether we were outbound or inbound and was offering mostly useless recommendations.  We still had about like 5 million cues to follow across the last few miles. The quirky challenge at the start was now a daunting obstacle in the cold, wet, evening.

Despite my lighting challenge, the bar bag that held my cue sheet was still the easiest to read among the group.  We fell in to a pattern where I called out the cues reading by street light as we went and got about 4 miles from the finish before I was stumped and just couldn't reconcile the cue description at Park Rd and Stonestreet with the road in front of us. It's POSSIBLE my brain was a little bit starved of calories and rest by this point.  But I prefer to blame it on the odd geography of that neighborhood. The intersection is actually split in to two lights a short block apart and very difficult to describe in a short written description. In daylight while fresh it would not have been a big deal.  But we were all wet and exhausted so we took shelter in a Metro Coffee shop to regroup.  It wasn't until we were inside that I realized 3 of our party were now quite hypothermic and shivering.  One severely.  Our challenge was bigger than just finding our way through unfamiliar urban streets in the dark.

Out of the weather we took our time to regroup.  Hot food and beverages brought our cold comrades back to life very nicely. Inventorying our gear we shuffled spares among ourselves until everyone had suitable clothes and lights to get going again.  A call to the route owner to confirm the details of the cue and we regained our navigation plot and found the bike path we were looking for (less than a block away).  The last few miles included one more wrong turn but it only took a couple of block's to figure it out and turn back.  A Safeway store never looked so good as we rolled up to the finish.  All seven of us finished safe and soggy.

Team work and cool heads kept a problem from becoming a crisis.  I don't recall hearing anyone complain all afternoon.  Dinner after the ride provided a chance to pat ourselves on the back and celebrate another successful adventure.  Some details about lessons learned and equipment choices will serve as fodder for another post.

Added 2/6/2012:  Dan took some nice shots of the ferry, the W&OD trail and the horses along the way. SOS Album

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Utilitaire 2 of 12 - BIKE SHOP

Today was Utilitaire 2 of 12. I set out for my office in the morning and lucked out to meet Bill C at the Rusty Bridge headed the same way. Despite the light rain we enjoyed an easy ride to our respective offices near the airport. But no Utilitaire fans I'm not taking credit for a ride to work today. On the way home I stopped for an errand at the Bike Shop. I had to pick up a wheel they were working on for me. The photo below shows how I carried a bike wheel home by bike. The guys at the shop were nice enough to help me strap it on with rim tape and then snap the photo.

Date: 2/1/2012
Destination: Bike Doctor 935 Ritchie Hwy Arnold, MD
Miles Completed: 34 miles round trip.
Learned / observed: You CAN carry an extra wheel on a bike if you put your mind to it.
Dark Ride: yes. Lighted with SON Hub, EDelux headlight and B&M tail light.