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A tailwind this ride makes (OC-12a)

by on May 1, 2011

This Ride: 113 miles
Month: 723.8 miles
2011: 2,207.5 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 8,327.2 miles

There are epic rides because the conditions are so bad that they leave an indelible mark on your mind.  I experienced that on the Ashland Brevet.  Our SPP 2011 Flèche Team experienced it in the rain and flooded roads a few weeks ago.  These kinds of epic rides serve to convince us that we can indeed ride even when very few will venture out.

I learned Saturday that there are also epic rides because of perfect weather conditions.  There is nothing quite like a 113 mile tailwind!

Saturday was leg one of our biannual SPP Ocean City Ride.  Unfortunately, I was able only to ride the leg from Stevensville, MD to Ocean City, MD because of the need to conduct worship on Sunday.  I wasn’t able to get the Sunday off.  We had 18 riders gather in Stevensville for the start.  We were decked out in our brand new SPP wind vests, arm warmers, racer caps, and other gear.  The vests were perfect for the day, and were ordered particularly because we wanted to be able to wear our “colors” externally.  Some of our longer rides occur in spring and fall when we might be inclined to cover up our jerseys with other wind vests/jackets.  A group of three local riders stopped by to wish us well.  Photos were taken.  Rules were discussed.  We were ready to go with the 53° temperature higher than what had been forecast.  We were delighted to have Randy M. on the ride.  Randy is a SPP member from Virginia who is riding the Race Across America (RAAM) starting June 15th.  He had been off the bike for a couple of weeks due to an illness, and he is a great rider to have with us.  Chip was riding his fixie.

As I fired up my Garmin, I noticed something peculiar.  My Garmin indicated several devices were detected.  It instructed me to press <Enter>, I did, and everything registered fine.  Or so I thought.  As it turns out, my Garmin heart rate monitor detected Mike B’s heart rate sensor and locked on to it.  If I wanted my heart rate reading, I needed to check with Bryan.  His Garmin had my heart rate connected to it.  Needless to say, ignore any heart rate my Garmin link below shows.

We rolled out of Stevensville at about 8:05.  It was mostly cloudy and we were excited about the temperatures and the tailwind.  I didn’t anticipate the benefit it would give us, especially in the last half of the ride.  We were in great spirits.  The route to Ocean City was familiar to most of us, and we knew that it is very flat (less than 1000 feet climbing in 113 miles … we do more than that on our 25 mile ride to Annapolis and back).  As we climbed the bridge to take us over Hwy 50, Mike earned the King of the Mountain points.  He was proud.  In Centerville, Mike was determined to claim more King of the Mountain points, but Bryan saw Mike’s push up the hill, caught him and captured the points.  I caught the points for the only other noticeable hill on the route.

It was a comfortable pace to our first planned stop.  We were not pushing it much at all as we got used to riding with one another.  We spent most of this first leg two or three wide, with a lot of conversation and some “getting to know you” opportunities.  It felt as though we were on a very casual stroll.  Before we knew it, Clint was calling in our breakfast order, and shortly after 10:00 we pulled into Dave’s Place.

A bunch of bikers in a biker's bar for breakfast

I sometimes wonder if these long rides might not be better described as eating trips using a bicycle to get from one place to another.  Mary Ann at Dave’s Place was in her usual fine form and excited to have us there.  She had not arranged for much help, so it was a bit of a wait for our food to arrive.  I heard no complaints.  The coffee was hot.  The pitchers of ice water was cold.  The homemade chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies, and baskets of potato chips were enough to keep us occupied.  When it arrived, the food was good, and it also meant that we had Mary Ann out in the dining area, giving us the grand tour and not only telling us the history (stories we hear each year, but are great for the newbies) but also the raffle (this year the prizes were scratch off lottery tickets and a Powerball ticket).  Bryan, Mike, and I won the raffle.  None of us hit the Powerball jackpot.  Mary Ann will be sorely disappointed.

As we loaded up the left over cookies and brownies for our later happy hour, took the obligatory group photo with Mary Ann, and prepared to push off for our next food stop, we were trying to guess clothing needs.  It was still pretty cloudy and it had not warmed up much at all.  At first I thought about just wearing my jersey, but at the last minute pulled on the wind vest and arm warmers.  I’m really glad I did.  Even the short fingered gloves were a little cool for the first half hour.  We also said farewell to several riders (3?) who turned back because of other obligations later in the day.

After breakfast, we picked up the pace, taking advantage of the tailwind and the food.  It was not uncommon to look down and see our speed at 22-24 mph.  We kept having to ease back to make sure we didn’t drop anyone.  We had long stretches of road with no vehicle traffic, no stop signs, and nothing to slow us down.  We had no dogs chasing us.  We just pedaled and spun away the miles.  Occasionally we were concerned for Chip on the fixie, but he never complained about the RPMs he was having to turn in order to stay with us, and he never really drifted back.  We had a 20 mile stretch where our average speed was over 21 mph!  Thank you tailwind!

Before we knew it, and before I was really hungry, we pulled into Milton and our next food stop at Irish Eyes.  We had pretty fast service.  I had a “Grown up Grilled Cheese Sandwich” and Tomato bisque soup.  It was delicious.  We were kept busy updating family and Facebook and preparing for our next stop, less than a mile away.  Those who had them, put on their Dogfish Head Brewery jerseys and I know I saw at least one photo with half a dozen people in the jersey.  We climbed aboard and within moments we were at the brewery for a tasting.

Bikes indicate bikers in Dogfish Head Brewery

Dogfish Head has a tasting room where there are 4 beers to sample.  I noticed that they ones being served were all 10 – 12% ABV.  I wasn’t very fond of the Black & Blue (the blueberry was much too sweet for my tastes, and was glad to finish with the stout.  We bought new Jerseys, beer for the happy hour later, and for some … finally were ready to go.  Between Irish Eyes and the brewery, we spend quite a bit of time in Milton.

Next stop: showers, happy hour, and dinner at Lombardi’s!

It was as if the horses could smell the barn.  Again, we picked up the pace aided by the wind and covered ground pretty fast.  There were a couple of potty stops (trees and a non-public restroom at a convenience store) because the fluids at lunch and post lunch were running through us pretty quickly.  As we approached 10 miles remaining, a group of 6 started jockying for position for the first place finish and the greeting by the finish line girls (my wife and daughter).  I was able to close a 150-200 yard gap through sheer determination, and then remained part of this group until the turn south on Ocean Highway.  Mike and I just couldn’t keep the pace, and so we accompanied one another to the finish.  It was during this final push that we had the one and only dangerous interaction with a vehicle.  A driver, pulling out of a driveway apparently didn’t see us and was ready to pull out into our path (we had flashing headlights on at this point).  I alerted Mike to his presence, and he yelled loud, startling the driver.  Collision averted.

My wife and daughter greeted us as we literally rode into the lobby of the hotel for the finish.  She was surprised I finished strong and near the front.  The truth is, I was in the front for 90% of the ride, often the lead rider.

A quick shower, happy hour, and dinner followed as planned with a lot of recapping of the day.  Two riders, Chip & Randy skipped dinner, jumped back on their bikes, and started the trip back home.

Our bikes loaded into a van (driven over by Lori) we took my daughter back home to Salisbury and then using our cell phone maps and the cue sheet, located Chip & Randy around mile 50 and made sure they were ok.  They reported doing great … no problems except wondering why our vehicle was not passing them.  We all couldn’t believe how dark it was out in the middle of the Eastern Shore.  Note to all: Yes, you can see those Planet Bike rear blinking lights from over 1/2 mile away at night.  They are very effective!

This ride’s accomplishments:

  • Fastest ride this year:  I’ve only had one other ride faster.  That was the Seagull Century at 19.4 mph average speed.  I was trying to go fast on that ride and it didn’t involve as much food.
  • I’ve now traveled more than 1/3 the way around the planet since January 1 of last year.
  • I exceeded my mileage goal for April.
  • I felt strong and was in the lead group for the vast majority of the ride.  That was important for me as I prepare to ride this same route (solo or with one other rider) on June 2nd, and will be pressed for time.
  • The maximum speed of 29 mph is not going downhill.  It is on the flat (yes, there was a tailwind) as I accelerated to catch a “breakaway”.
  • I may have an announcement in the next week or so that I’m absolutely excited about, but need to wait to see if the details get worked out.

This was a great day and a great ride with great friends.  The return riders are now back home.  The encountered some light rain showers that were not in the forecast when we left Saturday morning.

I’m disappointed that OC-13 falls on a weekend that I need to perform a wedding.  I may only be able to ride the return trip … if any at all.

From → Cycling

  1. You write of 100+ mile journeys with a casual manner most people use to describe a pleasant car ride to the beach. Great job (as always) and I look forward to learning of your next challenge!

    • ponderingpastor permalink

      Just keep working at it and it will be true for you too. Wait until you hear my big news for June! I’m waiting until it is a sure thing to announce it here.

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