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Ocean City 15: Into the Edges of the Storm

by on October 29, 2012

Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, the Severna Park Peloton rides from Stevensville, MD to Ocean City, MD one day, and returns the next.  Some of us have recently named this the “Gateway Ride” since it is often the ride which convinces participants to become randonneurs.  This was the 15th ride, with 15 riders, 2 of which were “newbies”.

We gathered at the Elementary School in Stevensville at 7:30 am and were treated to spectacular colors as the sun rose to a mostly cloudy morning.  People were on time.  We got the obligatory group photo.  We pushed off at the planned 8:00 am departure.

SPP ready for departure

Those first few miles are full of energy and excitement, and yet Gary M took the lead and held a rock-solid steady pace into a headwind for the first 7 miles.  Gary really set the tone for the day.  We would be pushing headwinds and strong crosswinds all day and a steady pace was the norm.  We made our two most dangerous crossings of highways at the Queenstown Outlets without incident, and yet we had to really focus on these crossings.  After the crossings, a newbie, KD set himself on the front where he could be found most of the day.  He was a machine … or he just didn’t like following anyone.

Most of the first 30 miles found us riding mostly single file dealing with the wind.  Occasionally we would ride two by two, but the wind would get in our faces and we would settle in behind one another.  We followed this pattern for a while, but eventually we rode two by two and just dealt with the wind.

We hit our first planned stop exactly at the planned time at 10:00 am.  Dave’s Place in Ridgely is probably our favorite stop.  Mary Ann opens the biker bar early for us twice a year.  We call in breakfast sandwich orders as we leave Stevensville, and they are ready for us when we arrive.  I had wheat bread, cheddar cheese, bacon, and egg.  She has chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, brownies, and potato chips out on the table for us.  There is coffee and water.  We wolfed down the food (that bacon was very thick and perfectly cooked and the cookies were fantastic).  Along with our meal, we get a raffle ticket, and about half of us win prizes.  I didn’t win anything this year, but Janet won again (as she has every time).  The stop at Dave’s Place ends with the group photo and hugs with Mary Ann (who always comments to someone that she doesn’t mind hugging a bunch of sweaty cyclists).  As we climbed back on the bikes, Steve H took the lead and led us relatively slowly away from Dave’s Place.  That actually worked perfectly … because our bellies were pretty full.

Dave’s Place Departure

The second leg of the ride is nearly 50 miles.  We experienced a lot of wind, great conversation, many miles, one crash and one “bonk”.  We were lucky there were not more involved in the crash.  Jake got too busy talking in very close quarters, and his moment of inattention resulted in him touching wheels with the rider in front of him and he went down hard.  His left leg was scraped raw by the rough chip seal surface.  He put a hole in his hand through a glove.  Other small abrasions were also noted.  Some attended to his injuries.  A close-by home construction site had a first aid kit.  Other attended to his bike, re-aligning his shifter/brake levers, seat, and derailleur.  Jake was determined to continue, and rode off into the lead before the rest of us were ready.  Later he was seen holding his injured hand close to his chest while he pedaled on.  Shortly after this incident, a rider encountered the first of four flats on the day.  Eventually, we arrived in Milton, only to notice that another rider had slipped off the back.  Curran, our youngest rider at age 18, had been experiencing cramping, and had stopped.  We quickly located him and treated the cramping.  It was his father who had fallen earlier.

Milton is our longest stop for the day.  We ate at Irish Eyes, which has good food but generally slow service.  I had “Grown Up Grilled Cheese” with tomato bisque soup.  It was very tasty!  I had been looking forward to this meal for many miles.  It is the same that I had last time.  At Irish Eyes, Curran and his father decided to abandon the ride.  After the meal, we mounted up for the short ride to Dogfish Head Brewery where we do the beer tasting.  There were some very tasty beers we had, including the 120 minute IPA which is somewhere between 15-20% ABV.  Of course, we spent more time at Dogfish Head than we wanted to, and eventually pushed off with hopes of more of a crosswind than the constant headwinds we had been encountering.

On this final leg, Mike had a double flat and a few minutes later, the final flat of the day was encountered by another rider.  We made short work of both of these, and pressed on into the building wind.  Chip was getting antsy, and challenged us to some very fast stretches.  That worked for some of us, and gave us a break while the others caught up after we stopped.  There were longer stretches with limited conversation, mostly as we battled the wind.  As we turned east toward Ocean City, the wind seemed to pick up again and was a quartering headwind and as always on this last leg was brutal.

And then there was bliss for the first time of the ride.  As we turned south on Coastal Highway, we had the first real tailwind of the day.  There were cheers that were raised and the pace down Coastal Highway was very brisk, well above 20 mph and we hit most of the lights green.

After showers, we had happy hour in the Bodine suite, then on to Lambardo’s for a meal.  Most had arranged rides back to Severna Park because Hurricane Sandy was on her way.  I got home around midnight.

This was a great ride, full of memories and it goes in the book as another successful SPP ride to Ocean City.  Only two riders planned to ride Sunday … the hard men Chip and John.  They made it back in good shape.

This Ride: 112.6 miles
Month: 615.7 miles
2012: 4,975.4 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 18,829 miles

From → Cycling

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