One of my most frequent riding partners is Lisa (@ramblingrider). We can’t quite recall where we first met. It might have been Friday Coffee Club. (I think she was one of the founding four.) In any case, we’ve done the Hoppy 100, the 50 States Ride twice, the metric (62-mile) version of the Backroads Century, at least one Vasa ride, and almost certainly many more. We are well matched since neither of us can climb hills worth a damn and we like to talk while riding.
Lisa asked me if I’d be interested in riding the Ocean to Bay metric century in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Sounded like a good idea so I agreed to join her, her husband Robert, and some other friends of theirs for the ride and, not insignificantly, some pre- and post-ride vittles and grog.
I packed Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, into the trunk of my car and headed out after work. The Nationals and the Wizards both had games Friday evening and the rest of the world was on the same clock as me so I had a lot of fun driving with tens of thousands of others through Alexandria and around the Beltway. We were having so much fun that we decided to join up with a few thousand more auto enthusiasts near Annapolis for the 2014 Bay Bridge Parking event. Suffice it to say, it took over 3 hours to drive what is normally a much shorter drive.
I stopped in Bethany Beach to pick up my ride number and other materials. The event staff gave me two long sleeve shirts, one from last year and one for this year’s ride. Both fit me perfectly and are really comfortable. They will get a lot of use.
I drove up to Rehoboth to the Team RamblingRider official hotel, the Canalside Inn, quite a nice place. I rendevoused (dang, can we torture a language) with the team at the Pickled Pig Pub where I enjoyed some craft beer and a sandwich with pulled pork, bacon and ham. (They should call this sandwich The Goy’s Delight.)
At 6:30 I drove the 12 miles to the start of the ride. Parking was a snap since most sane people were still in bed. In a little park next to the car, I saw a statue of a boy leaning into the wind with goggles on his face and feathers protruding from the back of his outspread arms. He was facing north. Alas, we were soon to learn that this was a realist rendering of live in Bethany Beach.
Lisa and Robert showed up a few minutes later. I rode my bike to Wawa (I do need my Wawa) for coffee.These days, I don’t eat apple fritters but I recently tried to educate Nelle from WABA on these sugar encrusted pastry bombs. I had to eat one in the interest of education.
I rode back to the car making sure to spill a third on the coffee on my hand and writs. It turned out to be West Virginia coffee, so weak you can drink it until midnight without losing sleep.
Jane and Nathan (who also rode Backroads with Lisa, Robert and me) arrived. It was decided that only Lisa and I would do the 62 mile ride. The rest of the superfriends would do the 50 miler and eat quiche along the way.
Lisa and I set off and were soon headed north on the Coastal Highway into a relentless headwind. 4 1/2 miles of nothing but grinding it out. Thankfully, this was an out-and-back segment of the day’s route. The ride back was pretty much effortless. Once back to Bethany Beach we discovered that the 30, 50 and 62 mile routes all overlapped. We were engulfed in bicyclists of all shapes and sizes. We saw triathlon bikes, racing bikes, hybrids, tadpole trikes, mountain bikes, beach cruisers, Bike Fridays, several Tour Easys (Big Nellie would be proud), a few tandems (including a Co-motion with S&S couplers), and a velomobile.
We managed to enjoy the swarm of pedalers, all of whom were enjoying the fact that this course had no hills whatsoever. (Lisa and I joked about our hill riding skills whenever the road rose five or so feet over an waterway.) The first rest stop was in a state park on the water. We decided to forgo waiting in the long line for food and headed back onto the course.
We rode through farms and woods and small neighborhoods of modest houses. Many of the farms grew a crop that I saw in North Carolina a few weeks ago. I still don’t know what it is. It was green, grass-like and about 8 to 12 inches tall. Speaking of North Carolina, the ride I did down there was flat and the roads where straight as an arrow. The roads near Bethany Beach that we rode were plesantly curving, taking us on a meander through the fields and woods. Auto traffic was light for the most part so Lisa and I rode side by side when the wind wasn’t howling.
At one point after the second rest stop, we had a nice tail wind for about five miles. This kind of riding is cycling bliss. Just a pretty country road, some recently tilled fields and blue skies. Too bad we had to turn aronud to get back to the start.
About 50 miles into the ride we came to the final rest stop. It was in a resort development. There were new houses by the score, very nicely designed. All I could think of was “Who has the money for this?” The ride was put on by the Chamber of Commerce so this side trip into the resort was understandable. In retrospect, I am surprised more businesses don’t use bike rides for this kind of marketing.
The last of the ride took us into the wind. It was a bit of a grind but the scenery stayed pretty and became increasingly suburban as we neared the start. When we crossed the finish line, crowds cheered and a band played the Washington Post March. (Not really. Maybe next year.)
All in all, a pretty nice little ride, definitely a good way to get the warm weather riding season going. We celebrated with a late lunch at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Rehoboth. Robert was aghast that the macaroni and cheese on the menu had peas in it. I couldn’t resist. It went down with a nice Belgian white ale called the Namaste.
Here are the pictures I took.
Here’s Lisa’s account of the day.