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Long Solo Day in the Saddle

by on May 29, 2013

For the third year in a row, I decided to ride to our church’s Assembly in Ocean City rather than drive.  Two years ago, Jeff and I rode together.  Last year, I rode the fixie in the rain.  This year was different than either.

My lovely spouse was willing to drive me across the Bay Bridge for a 6:30 am start in Stevensville.  She was anxious about my going off alone on the bike again, but knows how important riding has been for me these past 3 years and simply takes a deep breath and steels herself for the day.

It was a lovely morning for a bike ride.  The skies were mostly clear.  The sun was tinged pink from the humidity in the air.  A breeze was blowing from the SSW.  That breeze would build all day and really made the last part of my ride quite challenging.

I had loaded the route from OC-15 into my Garmin and turned on Virtual Partner so that I could compare my ride to what we did as a group ride in October 2012 as we rode into the teeth of Superstorm Sandy.

I made pretty short work of the first leg into Ridgely.  I was 6 minutes ahead of last October’s ride … and that was with no drafting!  Occasional tailwinds are a nice thing.  I would get comfortable at a particular speed, then increase the gearing by one or two and push harder to pick up more speed.  This seemed to work pretty well all day.  I stopped at the Subway in Ridgely (Dave’s Place only opens for our OC rides).  It was a short stop of only about 20-30 minutes, long enough for a cup of coffee, a small sandwich, bathroom break, and refilling of the water bottles.  I was intensely focused on hydration since the forecast high for the day was about 90 degrees F.

Rolling along after Ridgely, I started to really zone out.  At one point I looked down and was surprised to see a German Shepherd 6 inches from my right calf.  He had been silent.  I yelled in surprise and the owner also called out at the same time so it distracted the dog and I spun away without even so much as saliva on my leg.  That was a close call!

It was starting to get pretty warm, and occasionally I’d stop in the shade to blow off some of the heat I was generating.  I had the most fun heading into Milton with the best of the tailwind of the whole day.  I considered bypassing Milton itself, but I was down to only a partial bottle of water at that point and knew that I would be turning from a downwind run into a quartering headwind.  I stopped in a coffee shop just as a group of about 10 riders were leaving.  They were on a 40 mile ride.  I had already logged 77 and was looking at another 40 or so to go.

I had half a tuna salad sandwich and a strawberry smoothie.  I think it took until the brain freeze from the smoothie to stop sweating.  Water bottles were filled and the camelback got loaded with ice and water.  I absolutely loved putting that on my back as I pushed off.

True to the predictions, as I left Milton I encountered strong quartering headwinds … sometimes just headwinds.  I had previously calculated the wind speed at about 15-18 mph by riding downwind and noting my speed when I started to feel wind in my face.  Temperatures climbed and I stopped having fun.  In Millsboro I stopped, had an ice cream sandwich and poured refrigerated water over my head to cool down.  The Garmin was reading 96, although the bank thermometers were reading about 88.  I would push on for 8-10 miles, then stop in some shade for a little while to cool off and catch my breath.

When I turned south along the beach, the wind kicked up another notch.  I tried drafting the busses for a while.  They stopped too often, even though their speed was about right. When I passed the Comfort Inn where we end the Ocean City Rides in the spring and fall, I was 3:16 ahead of last year’s pace.  Of course, I did not have a one hour stop at Dave’s place, a one hour stop at Irish Eyes in Milton, and did not visit Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton which are all formal stops on those rides.  Even so, I was pleased with the speed.

By the time I got to my hotel at 21st Street, I was ready to be done.  I averaged 17.1 mph on the day solo.  That’s respectable, especially with the headwinds the last 40+ miles.  I sat outside to cool down for a while.  When I went in to register, my room was not yet ready.  I had to cool my heels at the bar drinking the darkest stuff they had … Yuengling.

The shower felt great.  I wandered the boardwalk until I found a place serving all you can eat ribs and sat down and polished off a rack and a half.  I could have had more, but that was enough.

Despite application of sunscreen, my arms really darkened and I have nice sharp tan lines.  My knees fared much better.

You can click here to see my route and stats.

This Ride: 117.6 miles
Month: 570 miles
2013: 2515.3 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 22,288.2 miles

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From → Cycling

One Comment
  1. Pastor Earl, you are some guy! Can’t believe that you rode all of that by yourself. You should be VERY proud of yourself. Were Pastor Robert Koons your age and in the DE-MD Synod, he would have loved to have accompanied you. He used to ride to the Blue Ridge Pkwy. from Lynchburg on a gearless bicycle back in the last 60’s.

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