Spring Sprung Yesterday

Today’s post is dedicated to all my friends who moved away from DC.

Yesterday marked the first day of spring in DC. Not the meteorological spring. Not the vernal equinox. The cherry blossom bloom.

The last couple of days, the National Park Service has banned cars from the Tidal Basin area. For those of you unfamiliar with DC, this is the odd man-made lake of sorts which is lined by cherry trees and three memorials (Jefferson. FDR, MLK). If you go at sunrise, this is the place to check out the blossoms on foot. If you go any other time, you’ll encounter crowds, although judging by today, much smaller crowds that usual.

Of course, the best way by far to see the cherry blossoms is by bike. I rode to DC and took the 14th Street Bridge which ends right at the Jefferson Memorial. Then I rode east on Ohio Drive along the Potomac River. At the intersection of Buckeye Drive there is a stand of early bloomers that are amazing. Buckeye Drive took me across East Potomac Park which is a short man-made peninsula in the Potomac. Buckeye dead ends into Ohio. I took a left and rode 3 miles down to Hains Point and back. The entire way was lined with trees nearly all of which were in full bloom. I was in a tunnel of cherry blossoms.

After the 3-mile ride I was back at Buckeye Drive. I re-traced my route but instead of going to the Jefferson I continued upstream along the river to the turn off for the FDR and MLK memorials. The path along the edge of the basin was nearly full of people but the road that I was on 50 yards or so away was empty.

At Independence Avenue I took a right and rode with the big metal boxes. They were going about 10 miles per hour so I was very safe but on guard against drivers distracted by the blossoms. I followed Maine Avenue and rode clockwise around the basin past the Jefferson then back over the bridge.

Five miles. Five bazillion blossoms. Perfect.

Tomorrow I’m going back. If I feel spunky I may ride up to the Kenmore neighborhood in Bethesda. It is packed with cherry trees. And, unfortunately, cars.

It Gets Harder at the Finish

In marathon running, the race is 26.2 miles long. The half way point is at 20 miles. That’s when the bear jumps on your back.

Riding 10,000 miles in a year has some resemblance. It seems the last 200 miles are going to have some challenges.

A New Route

We had terrific weather over the last three days so I banged out 111 miles. I discovered a new 41-mile out-and back ride that has lots to offer. It follows the Potomac Heritage Trail to Fort Washington National Park.

I ride 5 miles to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Then I go over the bridge and down a fun spiral ramp that takes me further down to a cove near National Harbor. Just before the harbor, I turn east through a corrugated steel tunnel and climb a half mile past the MGN casino complex and up Oxon Hill.

At the top, I bang a right on Oxon Hill Road and ride through three roundabouts. They do a good job of calming traffic and they make you feel like a little kid for some reason. Whee! There is an bike lane, sometimes protected, often with glass and other debris. (Not the greatest design but at least a B+ for effort.) After my rotary service, I take a right on Fort Foote Road for three miles of rolling suburb. This takes me back to Oxon Hill Road. A right turn begins a fast descent off the hill to Livingston Road where I take a right. This road isn’t very pleasant but I’m only on it for a mile or so when I take a another right onto Fort Washington Road. A half mile later the PHT turns right on Riverview Road for a tour of a pretty fine suburban neighborhood. Many of the homes face the Potomac River. (There are a few big houses down long access drives. I think they are safe houses or owned by mobsters. Feel free to check this out on your own.) I go past a marina and over Swan Creek.

Next it’s time for some golf. The PHT winds through a golf-based development for another mile or so before returning to Fort Washington Road where two short but challenging climbs bring me to the gates of Fort Washington Park. I ride to the fort and, if I am in the mood, take some time to check out the view of the river. (Fort Washington is directly across the river from Fort Hunt. Riders on the Mount Vernon Trail can get a good look at it.)

After reaching the fort, I retrace my steps. There are only a couple of nasty hills, one leaving the park, and one going back up Oxon Hill.

Beware the MVT

On Sunday I did my 35-mile route up to the Arlington Triangle, and back. About 26 miles of this ride are on trails. The 60-degree weather brought out all kinds of people making the ride truly annoying. Twice I came to a dead stop because traffic backed up behind a slow mover. Then there were the people who stopped and chatted on the trail. (Lovely day. Look at all the bikes. Those riders look upset. Can’t imagine why.) Must not kill. And there was the one guy walking his dog with a friend. He decided to do a crazy Ivan (a quick, no-look turn around into oncoming traffic). Something told me to be ready. Good thing I had my hands on my brakes.

I have come to expect that trail users who are chatting as they go filter out audible warnings from passing riders. That’s what happened in this case. I just missed taking Ivan out. He said he was sorry. Would have been a lot sorrier if I hadn’t been paying attention.

In Rosslyn I passed the site of a hotel implosion earlier in the day. It was an immense pile of rubble. I pulled over to the left to take a picture from the side of the trail. A pathlete zoomed by me without warning. I yelled “Passing on your left!” sarcastically.

Later the ride included getting stuck behind seven riders going at a crawl. (Try passing seven bikes at the same time.) During the delay we came to a cluster of people blocking the trail. It was a group of seven walkers. Three were blocking the left lane. Four had just crossed a busy road to our right. One of the four, a toddler, decided that now was a good time to flop on the ground and whine. With mom and dad distracted, their six year old was darting back and forth across the trail.

Once I cleared all this humanity, I found my self speeding along with a tail wind. The ride home was not half bad, except for the running of the tourists in Old Town Alexandria. The passage under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge just south of tourist central was scenic relief. (This picture was taken at the same time of day on Friday.)

Fed up with trail chaos, I left the trail and climbed the Park Terrace hill. This beast is exactly 20 yards higher than my legs will go. I stood and pounded away at the pedals. My thighs felt like they were on fire. All I had to do was to get past the parked Volvo at the top. Not gonna happen. I had to sit and use my granny. Dang.

The End of the Line

Today featured cold rain. We’re back to December. The last 100 miles will be tough. Tomorrow I’ll ride in 40- degree weather. I don’t wanna! Then we expect snow for Wednesday. After that I’ll pick and choose my last three days of cold riding. Temps will top out around 40 for the remainder of the week. Nothing like having a polar bear on your back.

Barring a catastrophe (don’t laugh, it happened three years ago), I should be at 10,000 miles by Sunday or Monday. On Saturday, I am joining the indefatigable Judd Lumberjack who is organizing volunteer work crews to do maintenance on the Mount Vernon Trail. Our assignment is to clean and nail down boards on infamous Bridge No. 1. I crashed on this bridge about 30 years ago. I cut my arm to the bone, dislocated my left knee, and nearly destroyed my bike. Vengeance will be mine.

Next up, on December 23, I am going to the Bloodmobile down the street to donate blood. Maybe I can throw them a clot or two. In all seriousness, I am ashamed to say that I’ve never donated before. I picked a good time to donate because I think they give a covid antibody test to all donors. Can bears get covid? Seems only fair.

Rock Creek Parking

One of the very best things about living in the DC area is Rock Creek Park, a wooden canyon right down the middle of the city from north to south.

When I first moved to DC I signed up for a 10-mile road race in the park. It began at Carter Barron Amphitheater on the eastern rim in the middle of the park. I was unfamiliar with the park’s topography so I attacked the course with confidence. The course went down into the park then up the other side then down into the park then up the other side then down into the park… You get the picture. I was trashed at the finish.

Mostly I use the park for bike riding on the weekends when the main north-south road, Beach Drive, is closed to cars. I ride the Mount Vernon Trail to Georgetown where I pick up the Capital Crescent Trail. This paved trail takes me gradually uphill to Bethesda, Maryland. Then I ride east a few miles east before turning south into the park. For the next ten miles it’s gently downhill. The road follows the creek as it winds its way back to Georgetown.

The National Park Service operates the park. A few years ago they repaved Beach Drive. The smooth pavement makes for a sweet ride.

This time of year is the best time to ride in the park. The angle of the sun is low. The trees are turning. Leaves are falling like snow flakes. And the cool temperatures mean that you don’t end up a dehydrated mess (which is pretty par for the course around here in the summer.)

The park was quite busy today. I saw dozens of families with little kids picnicking near the creek, biking on the road, and hiking the trails.

Today, for the first time, I decided to ride with the big dogs. Normally, I get off the road near Pierce Mill, a mile or so north of the National Zoo. From here south, cars are allowed on the roadway. Today, however, I stayed on the road all the way to Georgetown. Traffic was light and the downhill grade helped me maintain 18 to 20 miles per hour.

About halfway to Georgetown, Beach Drive widens from two to four lanes. No worries. The light Sunday traffic left me with a lane all to myself for about two miles.

At the K Street overpass, cars were backed up from a traffic light near the Watergate complex. I diverted to the side path to avoid the wait. As I did I saw a tall red-headed woman running toward me. She looked familiar and sure enough it was my physical therapist. I didn’t ID her until just as I was passing her. She didn’t recognize me because she was focused on getting across an intersection without being hit by cars, scooters, bikes, runners, baby strollers, etc. Also, between my helmet, sunglasses, and Buff, my own mother could not have identified me.

The 15-mile ride home along the Potomac River was pretty splendid, even with a headwind. Having taken yesterday off from the bike, I managed to ride 51 miles today without the least bit of difficulty.

Time for a nap.

Trails to home

Today was the first day since the before times that we allowed our bi-weekly cleaning service back into our house. This meant that my wife and I didn’t have to spend a good part of the day cleaning. It also meant that we needed to get out of the cleaners’ way. Normally, we would go to a diner then a library. With that off the table (or booth) my wife made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. “Why don’t we drive someplace, I’ll drop you off and you can ride your bike home?”

Sounds like a plan to me.

So we jumped in my dusty Accord and drove to Purcellville, Virginia at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I would ride east 45 miles on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail back to Arlington. There I’d pick up the Four Mile Run Trail for a couple of miles before turning south on the Mount Vernon Trail.

With the pandemic still in evidence, the drive to the start was uneventful. I left my wife to check out the bakery at the trailhead. (Thumbs up on the eclairs, she reports.)

I expected the ride to be mostly downhill. It is. Purcellville is at 575 feet whereas the low point of the ride near National Airport is at 15 feet. Of course there are a few long grades both up and down along the way, as well as a few abrupt rollers to keep things interesting.

What I wasn’t counting on was the headwind. Having an invisible hand on my chest put a damper on my speed. I did do a few miles at 18 to 20 miles per hour but not as many as I had hoped.

The trails were not crowded at all, except for one group of eight old folks out for a meander. Old people suck. Oh, wait….

Anyway, a few minutes delay is not much to complain about.

I had two small energy bars left over from my 50-States Ride goodie bag. That’s all I ate. I was surprised that I didn’t bonk. I also drank two large water bottles. Maybe my modest intake is to blame for the cramps that came on during my post-ride stenosis physical therapy session.

Outside Purcellville I saw a momma and a young deer. They were too shy to be photographed. Later I saw a Dad with his daughter examining a box turtle that had inched onto the trail. My final critter of the day was a rather large groundhog that was standing at attention a foot off the trail in Vienna. It seemed not the least bit concerned about me as I rode past.

The trees are turning. I had hoped for more reds but today offered more browns and yellows. One big leaf decided to hitchhike on my front wheel causing a racket when it got stuck between my tire and fender.

I was sorely tempted by the breweries and brew pubs along the trail. There seems to be one every five miles or so. You could get a serious buzz on if you stopped at each one.

East of Vienna the trail is undergoing work. There’s a detour that I couldn’t quite figure out but once I got straightened away, I found it: a on-road protected cycletrack (two lanes, one in each direction). Well done. In Falls Church city, the trail is being doubled to accommodate traffic. (I wonder if people opposed the trail when it was being built, thinking nobody will use it. Can’t imagine what they’re thinking now.) The detour around the construction is on road and unprotected. There’s hardly any car traffic so no worries.

At the eastern end of the Falls Church construction is a new bridge that will take the trial over North Washington Street and do away with a dangerous at-grade crossing. It looks like the bridge is nearly done. It’ll be a huge improvement.

Back on the street near home, drivers weren’t allowing me to move over to make a left-hand turn. I kept riding straight and overshot my turn. Before doubling back I could see the line for early voting at the government center down the street. Yesterday the line extended nearly a half mile along the sidewalk. Today, it was considerably shorter but my wife says that’s because people were a bit more bunched together. These two days brought to mind the lines at the polling place on election day 2008 when the prospect of the first black president brought an incredible turnout.

It’s been a while since I did a point-to-point ride, the stuff of bike tours. DC-area trails are limited in coverage and connectivity but if you play your cards right you can ride 57 miles and do 54 1/2 of them without a big metal thing breathing down your neck. Not a bad way to avoid a cleaning crew if you ask me.

Biking and sleeping and reading

Somehow the weather in the DC area has been nearly perfect for about two weeks. Temperatures in the 60s. Low humidity. Sunny days with puffy white clouds (mostly). You’d think that I’d be out riding sixty-mile days one after the other but you’d be wrong. This is perfect sleeping weather. Having endured over 8,000 miles of bike riding so far this year, my body is making full use of the opportunity to re-charge itself.

Still, I’m out there nearly every day, spinning away for three or four hours. I’ve pretty much carved a rut in the roads and trails near home. I’ve been watching the trees closely. Only now are the leaves starting to turn. There are a few showoffs here and there but green still predominates.

Today was pretty typical. I rode my Cross Check across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (I-95 and I-495, or more familiarly the Beltway) into Maryland. Then a half mile up Oxon Hill. Once at the top I turned to the south and rode a bike lane through three small traffic circles. I get my thrills wherever I can find them. Then I did two 4 1/4 mile loops on Fort Foote Road. It’s middle America suburbia. Nothing to write home about but it has nice rollers and a few fun curves.

On the way back across the bridge I heard some people up ahead looking over the railing, clapping and yelling “YAY!!” I stopped to check out the scene. The people on the bridge were applauding a wedding down below on a pier. By the time I got my phone out the deed had been done and the bride (in a faded pink gown) and groom were making their exit. That’s them just after they stepped off the pier in the picture.

Wedding on the pier

When I get home from these excursions I shower, eat snacks, and settle down to read. My daughter has been supplying me with books, nearly all novels, all summer. I left this biography for last. It’s about 740 pages of small print. It’s going to take a while. Chernow is a wonderful writer but the bike rides and the weather are conspiring to knock me out every 10 or 20 pages or so.

I read Chernow’s Grant biography last year and loved it. So I have no doubt that this book will be worth the effort.

In case you were wondering, I saw the Kennedy Center production of Hamilton last year. And I saw the Disney+ filmed version a couple of months ago. I’m not really big on musicals but the stage production of Hamilton is mindbogglingly good.

I have always been fascinated by creative people, musicians especially. They spend a decade or so absorbing all kinds of influences and then there’s an eruption. Stevie Wonder in the early 1970s is a good example. How Lin Manuel Miranda went from the book which is a straightforward biography to a hip-hop musical is beyond me.

Well, it’s time to get back to Mr. Hamilton. When I’m done with this I’ll be moving back to novels. The new Nick Hornby and Fredrik Bachman books are calling me.

Hit or Miss Forecasting

Before going on a bike ride, experienced bike riders always check the weather report. When I woke up this morning the reports called for heavy rain all day. Then, just a little before I left on my ride I saw this report from the @capitalweathergang on Twitter:

DC area forecast update, 10a: Radar shows very little rain in the region and the forecast for today has improved. We no longer expect widespread heavy downpours. Just hit or miss showers. Some could be heavy later on but dry more often than not.

I left the house into the slightest of sprinkles. No problem. Within 2 miles of home the rain started falling more heavily. No problem. A raindrop managed to make it into my right eye. Sting. Can’t see. Problem.

The rain intensified. Now I am riding in a downpour with raindrops all over my glasses and one eye pretty much out of commission. Just before descending a half mile hill on Fort Hunt Road, I pulled over to get the sting out of my eye. I realized that the best way to keep this problem from recurring was to lower my forehead to keep my eyes under my helmet’s visor. It worked but I had to keep my speed down below 10 miles per hour. At this speed I look over the top of my glasses and see about thirty yards ahead, enough to avoid crashing into the construction worker’s pick up truck parked on the shoulder in the middle of the hill.

This was the hardest rain I’ve ridden in since Iowa on my 2018 bike tour across the country. I was riding downhill at over 30 miles per hour. My old cantilever brakes were utterly useless. It was terrifying. Last year I replaced them with mini-V brakes at the suggestion of a mechanic at my local bike store. As it happens, I did some maintenance on them before yesterday’s ride so they were ready for today’s challenge.

Speaking of local bike stores, mine caught fire last year and has been closed ever since. I turned off Fort Hunt Road to check out progress on its re-construction. I am happy to report that there is now a roof on the place and some framing for walls inside. Yay, progress.

I’d have taken a picture but the rain was coming down in sheets. Ugh.

I continued northward along Fort Hunt Road and took a trail over to South Washington Street in Alexandria. At South Washington Street I pressed the beg button to cross the street. I rested over my handlebars while waiting for the light to change. My back felt like I was in the shower at home. The rain was just pelting down even harder.

After a short descent I stopped underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I was a tad moist.

Here’s a shot of the playing fields to my immediate right in Jones Point Park. The Potomac River is just beyond those trees.

I continued into Old Town Alexandria down Union Street. At King Street things look a tad damp.

Flooding here is pretty common. What’s not clear from the picture is how fast the water is running toward me on the left side of the road. No sooner had I taken this picture than the rain intensified again.

I escaped uphill via an alley and re-connected with the Mount Vernon Trail on the north side of Old Town. I continued on the trail to the Four Mile Run Trail near National Airport. I turned off at Four Mile Run and made my way to the chicane that connects to the Potomac Yards Trail. The adjacent staircase was a waterfall.

I followed this trail back south. When I came to the trail head at Braddock Road I could see water gushing off the adjacent playing fields rail. The water cut right across the trail and down the curb cut into Braddock Road. (In the photo below, this is at the yellow sign on the right beyond the bridge.) I rode into this water and quickly realized that it was over a foot deep. Dang. Not wanting to pedal into a submerged obstruction I dismounted and started to walk up Braddock. The water was running fast and within two steps it was up to the top of my knees. (If the components on The Mule could talk they’d be pretty pissed off at me right about now.) After about 50 yards I reached dry-ish ground. The rain had abated. I stopped to take a picture of some pedestrians trying to get down the street I had just walked up.

Thankfully, the rain lightened. I headed back home. I swung by River Farm, the home of the National Horticultural Society. I turned in to ride the half mile loop and was rewarded with a close encounter with three turkeys. I decided to call them the Capital Weather Gang. They were spreading their wings to warn me off so I kept my distance.

A mile from home I could see a large dark cloud forming over my neighborhood. I called it a day after 28 miles. Apparently the cloud moved away. It hasn’t rained since I put my bike away.

For what it’s worth the area I was riding in had two to three inches of rain. Hyattsville, Maryland about 25 miles to the north had six inches!

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

On Sunday night I stayed up late watching a movie with my wife and daughter. The following morning I awoke after about six hours of sleep. Several cups of coffee later I was driving to Solomon’s Island in Maryland to take on oppressive humidity and rolling hills aboard my Cross Check.

The first ten miles of the ride were mostly along Route 2, a four-land highway and the only major north/south road in the area. I was still a bit groggy from my lack of sleep as I started my ride. The highway had wide paved shoulders which were occasionally guarded by rumble strips next to the right travel lane.

For the uninitiated, rumble strips are sequential cuts in the roadway that run in a line parallel to the travel lanes. These particular strips were about one foot wide. These cuts resembled a tractor track like you’d find on a dirt road. Their purpose is to alert drivers that they are leaving their lane and driving off the road. Properly designed they can be helpful to bicyclists because cars that hit the rumble strip make a distinctive, loud rumbling sound. If you’re riding and hear that sound it’s a really good time to take evasive action.

After a few miles I was getting into a nice pedaling rhythm, bombing along the shoulder at 15 miles per hour when I came to a long downhill. My speed increased quickly. I looked ahead and could see some vegetation obstructing nearly the entire width of the shoulder. This debris was probably caused by recent storms.

I rather absentmindedly started to drift to the left to go around the debris when I found my bike and me shaking violently. I had drifted right into the middle of the rumble strip. I’ve ridden some rumble strips that were no more disruptive than riding on an unpaved trail like the C&O Canal towpath. These strips, however, were composed of deep cuts in the roadway. They were so deep that the bouncing I was experiencing had slowed my speed into the mid 20s.

Even at this somewhat reduced speed, the shaking was making it impossible to control the bike. My butt kept coming off the saddle. The bike started to wobble. Instinctively I reacted by veering to the left. Freed of the rumble strip, my bike accelerated straight across the right travel lane.

I peeked at my mirror and saw nothing coming in my lane but, far behind, a vehicle was indeed approaching from the passing lane. Just as I was about to cross the dashed stripe into that lane I managed to get control of the bike and steered hard to the right, across the rumble strip, and onto the shoulder, well beyond the pile of debris.

This was the closest I’ve come to a high speed crash on a bike in years. It scared the crap out of me. I am very lucky that both travel lanes were empty when the rumble strip ejected my bike and me.

It took my several miles to calm down. In about 30 minutes the route took me across the highway onto back roads. Although these roads were quite hilly, unlike the highway, they were shaded. Temperatures had climbed into the low nineties. The high humidity made it feel like over 100 degrees.

There’s nothing quite like grinding up a series of steep hills in sweltering heat and humidity to take your mind off a homicidal rumble strips.

Evening the score

A few weeks ago I drove to Easton, Maryland on the Eastern Shore to do a clockwise ride from Easton to Oxford to Saint Michaels to Easton, using a ferry to get from Oxford to Saint Michaels across the Tred Avon River. As luck would have it the ferry was not operating so I had to back track and take a land route.

The weather forecast for yesterday was promising so I decided to give it a second shot. This time I checked online to make sure the ferry was running. Not wanting to do things exactly the same I decided to ride the loop counterclockwise. This resulted in me riding all kinds of extra miles trying to get out of Easton.

Once on route the way to Saint Michaels was pretty straightforward. Highway 33 is a two-lane, 50-mph affair. The road lacks shade which turned out to be a bit of a problem as the day wore on. The road has huge shoulders with very little debris and the cars kept close to the speed limit.

After checking out St. Michaels, a very cool town with many old residences along narrow lanes, I decided to head further along US 33 to Tilghman Island. After passing a few golf courses there wasn’t much to see. Farms and estates lined the highway. Each had a long straight, tree lined driveway to a posh house. One exception to this style of homestead was a geodesic dome house next to the road.

Geodesic home sweet home

The only hill of any sort was the ten-foot rise on a drawbridge to get to the island itself. Not exactly Alpe D’Huez.

Waiting for the drawbridge. The woman in front of me was very fast.

Once on the island I kept riding until I reached a gate blocking the road near a U. S. Navy installation. The trip from St. Michaels turned out to be 16 miles. I took a few minutes to check out the Chesapeake Bay and have a snack before heading back the way I came.

The Chesapeake Bay south of Kent Island

After passing back through St Michaels, I turned toward the Bellevue-Oxford Ferry. The ride to the ferry was along a sleepy, windy, mercifully shaded country road. When I arrived at the ferry pier I saw no cars in line, indicating that I had just missed the eastbound ferry. No worries, with no cars in line, bicyclists and pedestrians are supposed to pull a rope to activate a simple signal to tell the ferry that you’re waiting. The signal is a hinged board painted yellow on one side. It opens when you pull the rope. (How they see this signal in fog is beyond me.) As soon as I pulled the rope, a car pulled up. It’s a bit like lighting a cigarette to bring a bus to your stop on a cold winter day.

Call signal deployed

The ride across the river was pleasant. The breeze off the water felt great. It grew stronger as we went. I looked over my shoulder back west toward the bay and saw why. As late afternoon approached a summer storm was building over the bay. No time to dawdle.

Crossing the Tred Avon River

As soon as I disembarked in Oxford, I hopped on the CrossCheck and rode as fast as I could directly toward Easton. This mean I was lopping off some of the route through farmland east of town, but the notion of being out on the road for a fierce summer storm did not float my boat.

Normally, I cruise along at 11 to 12 miles per hour. My ride from Oxford to Easton was more in the 18 to 20 mph range. As luck would have it the road I was on went directly back to where I had parked my car. After getting the bike and my gear configured, I drove a mile to a gas station convenience store. I was inside about five minutes. When I came out the skies opened with cold, hard rain.

The whole ride ended up being 65 miles, considerably longer than my previous ride here. Now that I’ve evened the score with the ferryman, I want to come back and explore some of the side roads in this area.

Rock Hall Ramble

The Washington Area Bicycling Atlas included a ride on the Eastern Shore of Maryland called the Rock Hall Ramble. I lost the book but used the Google to find a cue sheet to the ride online. And off I went.

The ride through Kent County begins in Chestertown, Maryland. Founded in the early 18th century, Chestertown is a quaint place with just over 5,000 residents on the Chester River. The town is filled with lovely eateries and old buildings, as well as Washington College, a small liberal arts college founded in the late 1700s.

The ride makes its way southwest on quiet country roads to the town of Rock Hall on the Chesapeake Bay. Here you can dine like a proper Maryland savage by ripping crabs limb from limb. Ick.

Heading south from Rock Hall, the route enters the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge. I saw a deer and a rather humongous vulture, as well as bunches of noisy ospreys. The road dead ended at a rather drab field so I turned around and checked out a historical marker. It was a memorial to the dead son of a colonial landowner. The son it seems died at sea captaining a ship during the Revolutionary War.

On the way back to Rock Hall I stopped at Bogles Wharf for another view of the Chester River.

Once through Rock Hall the route became rather disappointing. The road was flat but the scenery did not inspire. Basically, this is a highway to the town of Fairlee.

Then it’s back to Chestertown. The town closed High Street, the main drag, for a farmers market in the morning. It was re-opened when I arrived after my ride. As I was leaving I noticed it was closed again. Moving traffic barriers is a full time job here.

All in all the ride was not half bad. Low traffic. No hills worth mentioning. Decent views of the Chester River and the bay. A respectable place to pedal 52 miles.

A fine ship in Chestertown
Soy left. Corn right. Clouds up above. Works for me.
The dock of the bay in Rock Hall
Lost at Sea
Mural in Rock Hall

I like my cigar…

There’s the old story about Groucho Marx. I heard it as the reason his TV show was taken off the air. The details vary in the telling. While interviewing a man/woman/couple that have been married for 10 (or more) years, they related that they have 12 (or more) children. Hearing this Groucho says to the husband, “I like my cigar but I take it out once in a while.”

It never happened. But it’s a good story.

Well, I’ve ridden my bike for 22 days in a row. I woke up today and decided that I like my cigar, but it’s time to take it out.

Instead of riding I mowed the lawn in suffocating heat and humidity. Then I did about an hour of light yard work. I wore a t-shirt, sun sleeves, and swim trunks in anticipation of a sweat fest. When I was done, I was soaking wet. My sun sleeves were so wet they slid down to my forearms.

After a snack and a rewarding nap, I am ready for another string of bike rides. I am in striking distance if getting on a pace to ride 10,000 miles this year, but I need to bang out a few longer rides. Lately it has been so hot and humid that I haven’t dared to try to ride over 50 miles.

I found a bunch of rides online in Kent County Maryland. The shortest is called the Rock Hall Ramble. It’s about 50 miles but can be easily expanded to 70 miles by riding a spur into the Chesapeake Bay. Two other rides are over 80 miles. All three start and end at Washington College in Chestertown. I’ll probably do the ramble and save the other two rides for another day. All of these rides are ideal for a recumbent but cross winds on the Bay Bridge make me weary of hanging Big Nellie off the back of my car. Getting blown into the Chesapeake can ruin your whole day.

Time to fill some water bottles and make some snacks!