Saturday, July 07, 2007

The ride that had Steve Cope with his head up Kevin’s A##.

Saturday July 7th found the Smits along with Ron Clanton and Steve Cope all pulling into Brugers in time for quick assembly of bikes and a short coffee and bagel. It appeared to the group as though Jay Brainard and Bieth Gonzoliz had already parked, unloaded and were on the roads trying to beat the heat. As the group was assembling a gentleman rode up on his bike looking for some one he had met before. Kevin quickly asked if he was here to ride with anyone. The group learned that this lone riders name was Frank and he had ridden on the 4th of July with one of the ladies who normally rides the smell the roses ride. Introductions were shared, Frank was welcomed into the group. As this was unfolding we saw Tim Travitz ride up to the group. Tim had ridden from home because he was going to have to pull off the ride early due to a prior commitment. The group was fully assembled. Theresa and Frank would make sure the smell the roses ride was completed. Kevin, Tim, Steve Cope, and Ron Clanton formed a tight group and off everyone went. The ride was a typical one with the smell the roses setting their pace early causing a large gap between the two groups. Ron and Steve rode side by side with Ron setting an early strong pace that only quickened as they rode past Green Hope High School, and continued to the corner leading to Up-Chuck Hill. Tim and Steve fell in line to attack the hill with Kevin and Ron struggling to figure out what gear ratio would help them today. Right turn at the top of Up-Chuck put the small pack on rolling hills with lots of road damage to dodge due to heavy construction vehicles. Left turn onto Mount Pisgah Church road after Steve faked going straight to see if he could pull anyone out of the pack leaving them with a gap that would take extra effort to catch up. The pack chuckled at this feeble attempt. Ron had his GPS dialed into today’s ride and was scratching his head trying to figure out why Steve thought the route went straight. I wonder if the Tour riders use GPS for any of the Stages of the race?
The group remained in tact as they turned to take the alternate route that led would lead them to Green Level Church and ultimately a very short ride on 751. This is much more relaxing to the nerves than the long pull and climb on 751 to Martha Chapel. The group rode well with no one attacking. The riders did not form a solid draft line but rather rode in a disorganized clump allowing for lots of chatter among the riders. The group turned right onto 751 and then the quick left to see the progress of the 60+ foot yacht that is being refurbished next to the Junipers. Again the pack never formed and had the constant shifting with each rider changing who they rode with. These changes changed as often as the subject matter of the chatter. Right turn onto Farrington had the group working to decide what distance they wanted to accomplish. Discussion led to an agreement of 50 Plus miles for the days ride. Tim knowing he had to get back let everyone know he would turn off at Martha Chapel only to ride hard to get home in time for his prior commitment. Steve Cope, Ron Clanton, and Kevin Smit all stayed straight on Farrington headed for Lystra and Big Woods. Ron had suggested that there was a parallel road to Lystra that the group needed to explore. Ron’s GPS validated that the road was there and tied into Big Woods. Following the GPS the group turned left off of Farrington just after crossing the bridge over Lake Jordan. All eyes were looking for a road that would lead over another bridge and intersect with Big Woods. The pace slowed as the group road into the parking lot and staging area for one of Lake Jordan’s boat ramps. No Road was discovered. The group speculated that the maps and GPS were showing an old road that had since been flooded when the Corps of Engineers built the lake. On out of the ramp and back onto Farrington the Three Amigo’s rode. A tight left turn at Lystra the group sweep on. Kevin saw a lone rider preparing to mount their bike at the gas station on that corner. Lystra unfolded in front of the group. Ron announced that Lystra is the longest and tallest climb in the 3 surrounding counties. The group all nodded having climbed Lystra last season a couple of times. They have not yet elected to accept that challenge this year. As the group closed in on the Corner at Big Woods Kevin spied a single riders working hard to close the gap between himself and the group ahead. Just as the 3 riders reached the turn at Big Woods the lone rider jumped into the group and asked permission to join. Steve Cope was the first to respond. “$5 to each rider to join”. It’s a deal was the reply from this lone rider. He assured the group that he was good for it and would put the check in the mail once he made it safely back home from the days ride. As this banter continued Steve and the new rider missed the left turn onto Big Woods. Ron’s GPS was whistling, and tooting, and banging, and buzzing with the announcement of the required left turn. Ron and Kevin made the turn with ease as Steve and the new rider had to pull up, slow, and perform a u-turn to finally align themselves with the next leg of the ride. This section would prove to be one of the swiftest. We also learned that the new rider knew Theresa Smit. He works for IBM and in fact Kevin had meet him a couple of times at various events that Theresa allowed him to attend. The lone riders name was Jim Palistrant, he proved to be a very strong rider. He and Steve Cope really hit it off both on the conversation level and the biking level. They set the pace on this 20 mile out and back stretch. They rode hard and talked non stop. Ron and Kevin took turns falling behind and then trying to catch. Back to the corner of Lystra and Farrington the group stopped at the gas station were Ron bought the group water to fill the empty water bottles. Each rider had been doing a good job of hydrating on the days ride as the temperature and humidity climbed well into the 90’s. Back on the bikes everyone was slow to get to speed due to the stiffening of leg muscles. Steve and Jim wanted to push the pace while Kevin and Ron wanted to enjoy the slow build-up to speed. The group splintered as Steve spotted a lone rider in the distance ahead. “Lets catch him’ Steve shouted with excitement. “Go ahead” Ron and Kevin responded in a low monotone.
Jim said nothing. He jumped out of the saddle and with several quick pumps of the bikes handle bars he sprung into the attack. This caught everyone by surprise. Steve looked around trying to absorb what just happened and then sprung into his chase of Jim. Jim had made a substantial break away that would take an effort from Steve to eliminate. Soon the two were working together to chase down the lone rider in the distance. Kevin and Ron continued at there respectable 21 mph pace and watched the battle up ahead unfold. Jim and Steve caught the lone rider as they crossed the bridge over Lake Jordan only to let him go at the turn of Martha Chapel road. It was hear the Jim elected to leave the group and continue his planned ride. The group was back to the 3 amigos as they began the gradual climb up Martha Chapel to 751. Once again Kevin saw a lone rider coming up from behind. This rider asked to join the group. “$5 to each rider” Cope again announced. “Forget it” this new rider announced. No introductions were made. We did no learn this rider’s name. Steve did strike up a conversation only after sizing up the rider and his machine. “I will bet you drop a lot of scratch for that Ride” Steve announced.
“Ten Grand” the rider announced. A custom Titanium Seven with Nikon pre-stretched cables in full pvc housings, and Zero Gravity Brakes the group was informed. “You must be a Brain Surgeon” Steve shot back. “My wife is I work for the State” the rider replied.
Once at the corner of Martha Chapel and 751 the group announced the right turn. “ I am going Left” announced the yet named $10k bike rider who works for the state.
It was back to the 3 amigos once again. The group stayed on 751 until the left turn onto Luther. The chit chat was much less known as the ride was well into 40+ miles having averaged close to 17 mph. Right rurn onto Green Level, right turn onto Wimberly. Long slow climb past the water treatment plant to the corner at Jenks. The ride on Jenks was smooth and steady even with the 50 mile mark close at hand. Each rider was thinking of that last climb up old Jenks towards High House. Kevin and Steve had rode on ahead with Ron still visable behind as the group approached the lights at High Way 54. Green light for Kevin and Steve. Will Ron make the light? Kevin slides on past the light Steve close to his rear wheel and off Kevin’s right shoulder, Ron still approaching the light. Kevin still ahead with Steve tucked close behind as they approach the left turn onto Holt. “Car Up” Kevin announced as he grabbed the brakes to slow. At that very moment Steve’s Front Tire protruded thru the space created between Kevin’s right leg and bike frame. Kevin had stopped peddling with his right foot at the top of the peddle stroke as he slowed for the on coming car. This allowed Steve’s tire to fit neatly in that small space created by Kevin’s right leg and his bike frame. “Crap” Steve was heard to say as he deftly lowered his head to help him balance his bike and absorb the impact of his momentum against a slower larger mass. His head placement not only helped him balance but also was the only body part he could call into action to help push off the mass that lay in front of him. Steve’s head placement was ideal he already had it lowered as he was looking back to see if Ron was going to make the light just as Steve’s tire passed between Kevin’s leg and bike frame . Steve’s head found a very soft and large area to absorb the impact. Kevin’s big Butt. Kevin simultaneously let up on the brakes to allow for both riders to continue with their momentum rather than stopping which would have resulted in a nasty crash for both. Kevin and Steve demonstrated solid bike handling skills with both making the sharp left hand turn. “Holey Crap” both said at the same time only to crack up laughing and congratulating each for a miraculous save. Ron made it safe though the intersection and the 3 amigos were once again a team. The Banter was now all about what the EMT’s accident report may have looked like. “Dispatch we have two bikers joined head to A##”. “What is the procedure to Separate?”
Kevin then said he could imagine that Steve would have made matters worse by turning his head to look around. The banter did not last long as the climb up old Jenks was just in front. Each made it to the top and rolled into the left hand turn toward High House.
Once on High House Steve again spun hard to sprint down the hill towards the bagel shop. Great ride covering 57 miles averaging 16 mph, with the group dynamics changing as riders dropped and joined and dropped. Also great bike handling skills were demonstrated on this ride.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hoopers Is. MD, Tuesday July 3, 2007

The morning was calm and relatively cool, perfect for a ride! Learning from yesterday’s pain, Theresa downed some caffeine and a bottle of water. A quick light b-fast and we decided to head south-west to Hoopers Island and target a local restaurant called “Old Saltys”. The estimate from a biking map we picked up at the Information Center yesterday in Cambridge had the round trip at 40 miles.

By the time we actually got our bikes out it, the wind had picked up from the south so heading out would be slightly against the wind. The day would not be without the Maryland “hills” aka wind. We exited from the gravel driveway in sandals carrying our bike shoes, then left the sandals by the mailbox, reset the odometer and away we went. The mission for the day was for Theresa to draft as close as she could to Kevin. Kevin had to not only maintain a steady line but had to endure his old saddle that had left a raging welt on his derriere so any movement or bump in the road was excruciating. But he gritted his teeth because after all he was biking next to water with Theresa what could be better? (Stop laughing!)

Heading south on Hwy 16, Kevin set a steady 16 mph pace and Theresa pulled in to the vortex behind him as tight as she could. The roads wound a bit so she would shift to the left or right or directly behind sucking within inches of Kevin’s back tire. Kevin slowly increased the speed. He had no instruments on his vintage touring Boch so Theresa announced whenever the speed reached 17 mph. At the 6 mile mark we turned to the SW and even more into the wind. A short water break and back into formation. The next 7 miles we cruised at 19 mph with only short butt breaks to let a little circulation into the lower regions. Theresa begged for a stop at the 14 mile turn to Hoopers Is. So far the route duplicated the roads from yesterdays ride, now we turn to new scenery and Theresa took out the camera and snapped a few shots while peddling! The road no longer had the wide shoulder but the traffic was light as not too many vehicles have any reason to venture down to the end of Hoopers Island. We rode for another 4-5 miles and reached Fishing Creek, a quaint village with small cottages and lots of docks and remnants of a thriving fishing community. Here we made a hard right and then left to see our destination Old Saltys! Oddly there were no cars parked, what could it be closed? Oh well the scenery was so enticing we decided to venture on a bit further in hopes of finding another landmark, the famous “Suicide Bridge”. We asked a local if she knew where the bridge was and she said that it was no where near. We also asked if there where any other eating establishments and she indicated that Old Salty’s was it. We recalled a Deli not far back. Going on just a bit further we turned around at the top of a bridged connecting 2 parts of Hoopers Island; this would mark the highest peak in Dorchester Co MD and 22.5 mi for us.

We stopped at the Deli , parked our bikes never to worry about securing them and tapped into the deli with our bike shoes and sat down. We consumed massive calories and soda then bid farewell, 20 miles to go with the wind now behind us, Kevin was hoping to compress the journey into a little over an hour. No pressure, Theresa! We warmed up slowly as any blood supply was still in the digestive tract! Back out of the village and again into formation. Theresa had camera in hand ready to capture pics that were noted on the way in, stopping was out of the question! Snap at the top of the bridge a few more pics on the rode and then the last shot was the field of sunflowers, who can resist that photo opp! Much better than some old big boat on the side of the road that some one is working on!

Theresa put the camera back in her pouch and now it’s down to business, we have a goal to make…. Kevin began the pace, Theresa quickly announced 17, then, 19, then 20, yikes 21. Theresa shifted into the large chain up front just to keep up, varying her position behind Kevin’s back tire as the road curved. We made easy work out of the first 14 miles back, then a short stop and a turn to the right to home meant even more wind at our back and Kevin raised the challenge to get to 23 mph! Right, well off we went, the wind did not prove to offer much assistance to accelerate much more that 20mph and frankly Theresa’s legs just did not have much more, so we backed off a bit to the 17-19 mph pace and cruised the rest of the way back.

We were both pleased with the ride and were very ready to get our butts off the seat and take a dock walk! And do this write up which we hope you enjoy!

Ride stats: 45 miles, 15.5 mph avg, head winds, Theresa “wheel sucking”, again awesome scenery!

Monday, July 02, 2007

BlackWater Wildlife Refuge loop, MD, July 2,2007

After the ride with the group on Saturday we did some work around the Smit compound including reengineering the Pond and then went and bought out Sam’s for wine and food for the trip to Maryland. Never go to Sam’s hungry!

We filled not 1 or 2 but 3 coolers and Kevin loaded up the bikes, Theresa’s only rode bike and his gently used touring bike (yes the one that has fenders and a luggage rack). The alarm was set for 4:30, however there was little movement until 6am… Gas and coffee and we were on the rode by 7am.

Theresa had the laptop and wireless card on board as we contemplated which path to use to invade the Maryland peninsula; south from Virginia Beach or north thru DC and Annapolis. South was more scenic and novel as we get to use the Chesapeake tunnel/bridge, which serpentines under and above the water for 26?? miles.

We got in to my bother’s place (just south of Cambridge, MD) at 2pm. Just as we pulled in there was a deer frozen in her steps just starring at us. I got out my camera and clicked a few pictures. What a great greeting! We unlocked the house and proceeded with the ritual “dock walk”. Dock walks must be done at least twice a day, first in the morning (coffee in had) and in the evening(beverage of choice in hand). Purpose of the dock walk --- make sure the dock is still there!

We made ourselves at home, and a very nice home it is… filled up the frig and prepared dinner. I scoped out a prospective ride using Google pedometer for the next day.

We planned to wait until the morning ‘traffic’ would be passed for us to start riding. That gave us time to fix some eggs, bacon and toast. (and of course do a dock walk).

After 7+ hours in the car we were both quite stiff and not ready for placing out butts on the bike seat. But off we went. The plan was a 33 mile loop around the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The wind was brisk about 15-20 mph steady form the NW. The road was flat in fact the total ride elevation was about 10 feet and that was a small bridge.

We headed south west first on Rt 16 near Woolford) as that was as good as any direction for this route. The roads had very wide paved shoulders and lots of “Share the Road” bicycle signs so this was a blessing for Theresa. At 5 miles into the ride we had a 14-15 mph pace and were still loosing up the joints. The scenery was spectacular, marsh and rich farmland, marinas and boats, yards with crab pots stacked up 10 high. Very different form the NC rolling forests. We turned left onto Smithville Rd, and played leapfrog with the garbage truck. It is inevitable that on a bike, you meet oncoming RV and passing utility truck all while crossing a bridge! Why is that?

Smithville Rd wound in and out of clearings, marsh and trees as it boarded the Blackwater NWR. At the next turn RT 335, we stopped for a bio break at the boat service center. Theresa’s back and almost every thing else hurt! No turning back now, onward and into the wind! We made our left onto 335, the bike lane disappeared, traffic was more constant as was the wind. Kevin kept up the 15 mph pace, but Theresa kept drifting further behind battling the unrelenting wind and all those aches and pains. Sitting behind a computer for hours on end every day does not prepare one for this kind of physical abuse. We reached Key Wallace Drive (22 mile mark) that leads in to the Blackwater NWR and Kevin not knowing the route did the vulture circle waiting for Theresa to arrive at the intersection then we preceded on 335 skipping our loop into the NWR… Maybe next time. Theresa was ready to smell the barn and get this torture over!

The rest of the ride was grueling as Kevin kept wondering “Where’s Theresa?” and even looped back to find her still moving at least. Trying so hard to keep even 12 mph pace. We reached Church Creek at the 25 mile mark and headed into the home stretch. The wind did not give us any break and seemed to be always in our face! At last we arrived at Brooks Rd, which was the entrance to my brothers place. We were so glad to have done the ride, had our beverage, dock walk and then crashed for a much deserved nap!

Ride stats: 30 miles, 13.1 mph avg, head winds, awesome scenery!