Indian Head 100 – Okay 98.5

 

After beating my body up yesterday, I got up before dawn in crisp 58 degree air to ride the Indian Head (a.k.a. Southern Maryland) 100.  Indian Head is a town that time has passed by. It would be nice if this ride did something for the town’s economy but, from what I could tell, the town has no economy. I should look up why this place is called Indian Head but I am too lazy. Regardless it’s a better name than Dead Strip Mall Village.

 

I started a little after 7 am which is appalling given the fact that this is a holiday (Labor Day). I didn’t see anyone I knew. Most people I know had the good common sense to be asleep. I wore a vest and arm warmers for the first 18 miles. The cold air also made my asthma kick in so at the first rest stop I took a couple hits of albuterol. I ain’t messing with lung problems anymore this year, thank you very much.

I was riding Deets, my Surly Cross Check. After the first year of fiddling with the set up, I have this bike dialed in perfectly. I was zipping along at 14 miles per hour. (For me with knobby tires, this is zipping.)

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For the entire ride I kept my cellphone stashed. No tweets. One picture with a camera. Just me paying attention to my body. I tried to keep my respiratory rate stable. Except for a few nasty hills, I succeeded. I also focused on keeping my pedaling efficient. Don’t mash, spin with even pressure on the pedals all the way around. It occurred to me that paying close attention to my breathing and to specific parts of my body mechanics is rolling meditation. Every so often I had to double check to make sure I hadn’t missed a turn.

One thing that kept me from getting too zoned out was the fact that my bashed up left knee, arm, and shoulder were aching on and off. It’s going to take a few days to get them back to normal. One thing that didn’t hurt at all was my back. This never happens. Deets is definitely dialed in.

The first 40 miles were low effort. At one point we rode on a road with fresh pavement and rolling hills. Zoom down one, tucking for maximum speed at minimum effort, then take the next uphill with only a few pedal rotations. I love hill hopping. I thought of @BobbiShafoe who  hill hopped the Backroads metric century we did a few years ago.

There are several abrupt climbs on this ride. At one point we were making our way up a hill when the road turned to the left. Just before the turn someone had painter the word “HILL” on the road. We made the turn and there was steepage. About a dozen cyclists had dismounted and were walking. Not. Gonna. Happen. I dropped into my lowest gear and went at it. Pedaling to the rest stop at the top was sweet. This old man on a cross bike with knobby tires and no granny gear felt like feeding quiche to all the walkers. That would be mean. Anyway I didn’t have any quiche so I grabbed a snack and pedaled on.

This section of Charles County Maryland has some truly beautiful country roads. I do have two complaints. Some of the prettiest roads, country lanes almost, are paved with chip seal. It’s cheaper than asphalt but it’s much less smooth. The other complaint is the depressing rural poverty. We were 35 miles from DC and I saw people living in dilapidated mobile homes with portapotties in the yard. Many of the single family houses lacked paint. It’s like an economic black hole.

My measured breathing and pedaling paid off during the second 50 miles. I did lose a little speed but that may be attributed to the temperatures rising into the high 80s. Riders were cramping up all over the place. I drank energy drink at rest stops and lots of water.  I knew that near the 90 mile mark was Rose Hill. This one nearly did me in the first time I rode it a decade ago. I was shocked that I rode up it today with no problem, even without a granny gear. Go Deets.

The  last ten miles were a breeze.  At mile 93-ish we turned onto the Indian Head Rail Trail. In past, shorter Indian Head rides, I have found this to be frustrating. It’s a false flat. It looks flat but gradually rises. When you are tired and hot and want the ride to end, a false flat can really mess with your head. It didn’t bother me at all today. In fact, I was surprised to see the end of the trail.

I rolled into the finish at 98.5 miles. I would suspect that my odometer was off but I overheard some other riders saying the same thing. We call it 100, okay?

So it’s on to three bike commutes, a night baseball game (or two?), and Saturday’s 50 States Ride. Can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

Dumbo in Trumbo Hollow

Reading on the deck just wasn’t happening this morning. It was beautiful out. You know, puffy white clouds, gentle breezes, low humidity. So I decided to go for a hike.

I chose Trumbo Hollow because I was getting started late and wanted to make sure I could find a place to park my car.

The highways were all but deserted and there was ample parking. So an hour after I left home I was on the Appalachian Trail heading south.

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Think you can find the AT?

After a half mile of gently flat trail, I started up. And up. Switchback after switchback. Rocky footing. Eventually the hill and rocks  gave way to a grassy meadow. This was a first for me. Mostly woods lead to more woods. After the meadow came a downhill to a street. Then across the street and uphill again. You’d think they’d designed these trails so that they don’t go up and down and up and down. Just for me because I am the only important person in the universe.

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Rocks
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Meadow

There were quite a few other people hiking today. This included a group of about 14 hikers who were getting their social fix where introverts like me go to get away from people like them. I am grateful that they were heading in the opposite direction.

There were some couples here and there out on a date hike. It’s apparently like a bike date except you leave the bikes at home. You know you’re getting somewhere with your date when she tells you to bring a tent. Hike dates are not at all subtle that way.

The hike took me a little over 3 miles to a shelter that served as a landmark for the turnaround. One of the date couples I saw earlier had passed me and were hanging out there. She was on the phone. In my book she is not tentworthy.

I turned around and headed back. About a mile later, on a mostly smooth part of the trail and a rock reached up and tripped me. I swear it moved. I went down HARD on my forearm. Thankfully I landed on a rock-free part of the trail. My forearm just missed landing across a basketball size rock. This would have been ugly. Snap. Scream. Blood. Pain.

But it wasn’t. A stabbing pain went up my arm into my shoulder nonetheless. Ow. F-word. This HURTS. I stayed down for a minute as the pain subsided and came to realize that I didn’t break or dislocate anything. In all the arm fun, I missed the part about my left knee whacking the ground. It was bloody and aching. Both my palms hurt too. Suffice it to say a bruised knee and two bruised palms is a less than idea condition to ride 100 miles with. So tomorrow’s century ride will be interesting indeed.

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Albino caterpillars have been known to trip hikers

I dusted myself off. Poured water over the bleeding bits and continued on. But for the limp and the icky blood I was having a pretty good time. About a mile from my car a through-hiker came barreling toward me, aided by his adept use of two hiking poles. These hikers are in phenomenal shape. He had earbuds in. This kind of ruined my mental picture of through-hikers, but maybe he could hook up with phone girl at the shelter.

I made it back to the car in one piece but my knee was stiffening up. After stopping for some nutritious food (an M&M cookie ice cream sandwich counts, doesn’t it?…Oh, shut up. Don’t judge. I had a boo boo.),  I drove home. After a shower and some real food (involving a bagel, cheese, and a tomato) I came out on the deck and made good use of some frozen veggies. And a beer.

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Deets Turns 2 and a Blast from the Past

I rode Deets, my Surly Cross Check, to the barbershop. I wore a baseball cap. I always get the same haircut. This time the barber must have mistaken me for a second grader. The short haircut became a buzz cut. Ugh. Good thing I had the baseball cap. I’ll be wearing it for about six weeks.

I rode to Old Town along the Mount Vernon Trail. The weather was breezy and just warm enough. Perfect. Just north of Belle Haven Park police cars were parked next to the trail with their lights flashing. A police officer was taking down yellow crime scene tape along the river side of the trail. I couldn’t see any desperados or axe murderers so I rode on.

I made it to the bank and did my business with the magic money machine. When I turned around there was Emilia. We did the 50 States Ride together in 2014, one of my very best days on a bike. It was also a very hard ride. She hasn’t talked to me since. (Just kidding.) What a great surprise.

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Emilia Shows Off Her Trophy

I dawdled a bit in north Old Town before heading home with a very pleasant tailwind. A police officer was still sitting in his car at the scene of the mystery but I decided to leave it to some other citizen crimestopper to find out what was going on.

On the way home, Deets decided to hit a milestone: 2,000 miles. He’s all ready to ride the Southern Maryland 100 on Monday and the 50 States next Saturday.

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