Any Road Tour: Day 2 – Ridges and a Desert Rose

Last night my left arm and knee were screaming at me. I took some ibuprofen PM to knock me out. It killed the pain but even with drugs I was too pooped to sleep.

The hotel breakfast was later than lame. Bad coffee, OJ, toast, and Rice Krispies. It would have to do.

Everything was packaged in plastic. So depressing after reading this:

After a brief tour of charming Frederick, I turned west on US 40 and began to climb into a headwind. For about an hour I went up Catoctin Mountain, in my granny gear. I thought I’d descend to a valley but after a 1 minute screaming downhill I was climbing again. Up and down over and over again. Will this ever end? I mean how far could Rice Krispies and last night’s gas station food take me?

As it turned out I had one minute more climb to go. I saw the sign for the Appalachian Trail and I knew I was creating South Mountain.

The downhill was glorious. A few more inconsequential rollers later I was in Hagerstown.

The hills were about as bad as I expected but my granny served me well. Not once did I run out of breath. Knee cartilage is another story altogether.

The Google showed me the way and I found US 11, a highway that follows the Cumberland Valley to Williamsport on the C&O Canal.

I stopped at the Desert Rose Cafe for food and karma. Ryan, Kevin, and I ate here on the No Wrong Plan Tour from Pittsburgh to DC two years ago. Good food. Nice people.

As it turns out, Rose does some shuttling of people around washed out areas of the canal. Good to know.

Rose told me the towpath was in good shape but I decided I wanted to try my luck on the roads. I stupidly expected level ground but got more granny worthy hills. The scenery was pretty epic but I found this stone farm most interesting.

I forged ahead and stopped to admire this roadside tribute to one Lancelot Jacques, maybe the best name ever.

I finally bailed out at Fort Frederick. Lots of stone here as well.

I didn’t stay because a towpath inspection awaited. Thankfully it looks to be in great shape.

I diverted to the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail and cruised the last ten gloriously level miles into Hancock.

I had planned to stay in the bunkhouse at the bike shop in town but it looks almost as rustic as camping.

With all the rain, the thought of camping near the river isn’t floating big my boat so I decided to check into a Super 8 motel just uphill from town. ($60 plus breakfast and a Nats game on TV. Also they have bike cleaning rags that I put to good use on my chain.)

The AC seems not to be cooperating. I probably won’t need it overnight though.

So for today 58 1/2 mostly very hilly miles. Total mileage so far is 127.

I am beginning to wonder why I am carrying all this camping crap. I’m sure I’ll get around to using it.

I am pleased with my progress. And with the prospect of a dry towpath to Cumberland in the morning.

Further.

Pictures of the Year 2015

Pool Noodles for the Win: Sam got us organized. We were going to occupy the Pennsylvania bike lanes to get barriers installed between 13th and 15th Street to keep cars from making illegal u-turns. Somebody got the idea of using pool noodles as props, to indicate where the barriers would go. Afterward, Dave carried them off. I think they took him to the nervous hospital later.

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We all had a blast. Human bollards come in many shapes and sizes. Here’s the Katie Lee model. It’s generally impervious to u-turning cars, but can be moved aside with tickets to Packers games and Phish concerts.

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Here’s Sam, the mad genius behind #biketivismdc. It’s funny what getting run over by a car does for your determination to make streets safer.

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Kelly Biked to Work!: Kelly sits across from me at work. She had hip surgery which meant she couldn’t run for weeks. So she took up bike commuting. The smile means it was a success.

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To her credit she really got into the bike commuting thing. Here she poses at an underpass on the Four Mile Run Trail. A few days before rising water during a downpour caused her to abandon shelter and head into the maelstrom. She survived and added a snorkel to her bike commuting gear.

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Like Father Like Daughter: I went to a bunch of baseball games this year. Katie Lee and I attended a couple of games together. She is a meticulous genius at scorekeeping, an art she learned from her late father. At one game, there were two little boys in the row in front of us attending their first baseball game. They were trying to figure out how to keep score. Katie moved down and gave them a game long tutorial. It was an act of kindness that just knocked me out. Somewhere her dad is smiling.

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Posh Bike Parking: For some inexplicable reason, our office building started getting all environmentally conscious this fall. Without telling anyone, they replaced their absolutely crappy bike racks with a pretty awesome, secure bike room. Combined with the gym and showers one floor above, it’s a pretty darn bike friendly place to work.

Here’s the before shot.

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Here’s the after.

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No Wrong Plan: Ryan, Kevin, and I rode from Pittsburgh to DC. It was my first bike tour in a decade. Here we pose in Georgetown’s Waterfront Park at the end of our trek. Any resemblance of me to Hoss Cartwright is entirely coincidental.

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In Williamsport, Maryland, we stopped at the Desert Rose Cafe for breakfast. They made us sandwiches for lunch. Inside the bags they included napkins. Each one had a personal message. Such nice people. Such good food. Eat there. (They speak veggie and vegan too!).

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Going Up: I did quite a lot of day hiking this year branching out to Shenandoah National Park for several exceptional hikes. All my hikes were solo except for this one with Ultrarunnergirl. She kicked my ass all the way up to Little Hawksbill, the highest point in the park. Then the mountain kicked my ass all the way back down.

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On my 60th birthday, I hiked Old Rag. It was a tough hike and convinced me that rock scrambles are for the young and frisky. Also, the thin.

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Glory Days: Mrs. RC is a very talented quilter. When I had to quit running about 25 years ago we talked about using my race t-shirts to make a quilt. Nothing came of it until she made the quilt as a surprise for my 60th birthday. What an amazing gift. Oh how I wish I could run like that again.

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Around the World in 19 Days: My kids were living in Sydney, Australia and Phuket, Thailand. We decided to go visit them. While in Australia, Mrs. RC and our daughter Lily went to Uluru for dinner under the stars. Here we enjoy a drink just before sunset.

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After trips to Melbourne and the north island of New Zealand, we headed for Phuket. The island is very hilly so everyone rides a motorbike like this one my son Eamonn uses.

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We paid a visit to Big Buddha. He was aptly named.

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Lily made friends with a baby elephant.

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Cookies and Cider: I did a bunch of event rides this year. The Cookie Ride had a good hook. Cookies at every rest stop. Here I pose with a human cookie along with Paris and Lisa.

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I missed my two favorite rides of the year, the Backroads Century and the 50 States Ride, which both occurred while I was traveling. I swore off the Cider Ride last year but decided to give it a go after they moved it into November. Finishers got this cool mug. Thanks to Michelle for her event magic on behalf of WABA.

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Sunrise: The year is nearly over but I am pretty sure that the new one will start something like this. Thanks for reading.

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