13 Banana Peels, 2 Dead Skunks, 1 Ipad, & 1 Coffee Maker
You never know what you will find along side the road on a 200k. There is only one route I know in the area that will yield more than a dozen banana peels; Sailing Down to Solomon’s 200k. It was President’s Day and one sure fire way for me to take a day off work on a holiday is to climb on a bike and do a long ride.
As I planned the ride, it looked like it was going to be another solo ride. Then Steve H. signed on. Then, an ACP ride was postponed because of weather on Saturday and suddenly I had 5 more riders going with me. No one needed to ride alone to count banana peels.
With the exception of Steve, this was a very experienced group of riders. This was Steve’s 3rd 200k. We arrived at the start in plenty of time, and all pushed off right at 7:00 am, after a brief confab on the anticipated stops. It was a very chilly 23° F with the forecast of sunny skies, light winds, and temperatures getting into the upper 30s. Early on, it was clear that we would not all be riding together the whole day. There were some fast riders, slower riders, and even slower riders. Much of the day for me was spent trying to negotiate the proper speed so that I wasn’t riding alone.
Our first stop was at mile 36 where water bottles were topped off (temps had risen to freezing), bathroom break and the cup of hot chocolate and snickers bar seemed to be the perfect choice for me. Although I had liberally applied chapstick to my face, the red ring where my skin had been exposed was quite apparent. A quick blast from the hot air hand dryers made quick work of a damp balaclava. Since it was now above freezing, a layer of clothing was able to be removed … for me that was simply one layer on my head and my wool glove liners. Vents were opened in my jacket and I remained comfortable in those temperatures.
On the next leg to Solomons, we easily settled into 3 different groups. George and Scott were off the front. Janet and Gardner were riding together. Mike, Steve and I brought up the rear. Mike took it slow uphill, but we still had a reasonable pace and enjoyed the day. We were settled into the fact that this would be a longer day. As we left the information control at Solomons, not only did Gardner and Janet show up (they had taken a wrong turn), but I noticed that my front tire was getting soft. I pressed on, and made it to the planned lunch stop without having to stop and change the tube.
Let me tell you. If you are going to get a flat on a winter ride, do it at your lunch stop. It really makes everything easier. I removed the wheel, took it and the repair kit inside, and while waiting for my food, found the piece of glass embedded in the tire and changed out the tube. My hands were warm and dry. Best flat tire repair ever!
From Solomons, the ride is a gradual uphill and there are sections where each of the hills have their own character. They are all quite familiar to me, and I don’t like a handful of them. Rather, I don’t like most of them, I despise a handful of them. Our pace slowed because of the hills, but the slower pace meant that I never really got myself into trouble. Steve commented at one point about how much better he felt with the slower pace than the pace he maintained on his last 200k … last weekend.
Without incident, we moved through North Beach and to another planned stop at Rosehaven. It was there where we caught Gardner and Janet and Bill W had ridden down on his motorcycle to visit with us at the control. We stayed long enough for hot chocolate and another cheese steak, bracing ourselves for the last 30 miles with the most rolling hills and long climbs. Gardner and Janet stayed close the rest of the ride, sometimes getting ahead but waiting at key intersections for us to arrive.
Those last 30 miles seem to take forever. It begins with a very long steady climb, followed by a short, fast descent, followed by a long steady climb, short ups and downs, and sections that look just like the last section. At Harwood, we stopped just long enough to don reflective gear and break out the headlights as the sun was very low in the sky and the upcoming curving roads sometimes traveled through forested areas with no shoulders. Better to be seen in the diminishing light than to be hit by some vehicle coming around a curve.
We finished after sunset, at around 6:15 pm. It was my slowest 200k “on the bike”, but not my slowest in terms of elapsed time. Despite three significant stops, including two “meals” we managed our off the bike time pretty well.
It was a nice day to be out on the bike, even if it was pretty chilly most of the day. I dressed properly and never really got cold.
I’m always amazed and disappointed at the amount of trash along the roadways. What are people thinking when they toss stuff out the car window? Banana peels I can partially understand. They will eventually decompose. (I count these because of my first ride on this route in icy/snowy conditions. I thought that slipping on a banana peel in icy conditions would be rather funny.) I’m reduced to looking for interesting trash among all the debris along the road. The Ipad was smashed. Can you imagine the fight in the car that caused that to happen? The coffee maker … who knows?
Ride number 7 in this next series of 12 consecutive months of riding at least a 200k for the second R-12 award is in the books. It is time to start planning the March ride. April will be the Fleche. May and June will likely be within a few days of one another. That’s as far as I can see right now.
The only photo I took was in the bathroom at Rosehaven. It seemed like good advice.
This Ride: 128.7 miles
Month: 233.9 miles
2013: 650.1 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 20,423 miles