Perspective Shift

A quick afternoon ride on a  gorgeous late summer afternoon –  good for the spirit.  It shifted me from feeling like I’m sinking in a sea of work to feeling on top of it all. Maybe it was the extra oxygen circulating or just the sheer beauty of the outdoors. Whatever. It made me feel a lot better!

Howard Chapel Cemetary

During a recent weekend ride, John and I stopped at Howard Chapel Cemetery. Curious about the African American community the sign referred to, I looked up Howard Chapel on the interwebs this a.m. The property is now a part of Patuxent State Park and there’s a detailed written and photographic record of it’s history [here]( George Enoch Howard, a former slave who bought his freedom in 1857, purchased the 289.5 acre property for himself and his family. He purchased it from the heirs of his former master. I am trying to imagine this. First he bought his freedom. Then he bought the property from his former owner.

He later built a church and a school on it for the community. Burials began in the cemetery in 1901. Now all that remains is the cemetery.

Up, Down and All Around

Yesterday’s 38-mile loop through Montgomery and Howard counties started out at the Laytonsville Shopping Center.   Just Riding a Bike , an area bike store, is located right next door.

It developed into a hot and humid day. The route  was beautiful (not counting the first mile on Route 108 – traffic-y and not much shoulder). Pretty much the entire route is hills and by the second half I for one was feeling it. We were not surprised that John’s Garmin recorded 2000′ of elevation.

Along the way

Along the way

Burial Ground - Ancestors of Original African-American Community of Howard Chapel

Burial Ground – Ancestors of Original African American Community of Howard Chapel

2013-08-31 13.05.12

Some of the gravestones were very simple rectangular pillars with just an initial engraved.

Soma taking a break

Soma  – taking a break

On the way home we made an unplanned stop at the famous Olney Ale House.  Perfect finish to a good workout!

Enjoying the deck at Olney Ale House. (One of the beers was mine!).

Enjoying the deck at Olney Ale House. (One of the beers was mine!).

Pictures from the Shorefire Century

Lots of this kind of scenery

Lots of this kind of scenery

First and Third Rest Stop

First and Third Rest Stop, Clayton DE

John and I rode the 65 mile metric  route with the Shorefire Century today. The weather was ideal, or close to it. The high reached 81 and the only challenge were occasional vigorous headwinds.  Of course the strongest came at the final 10 miles of the ride. It was a great day to be out riding. Riding along the sound of the wind was surprisingly  loud. Accompanying it was the cicadas’ late summer song.

This was my longest ride on new Soma. This bike has made me faster. I noticed that the first time I rode it; it’s changing my idea of my capacities as a cyclist.

Riding the ANT, much heavier and, I now realize, perhaps needing to be better fitted to me,   I am hard pressed to reach 10 mph and fall below that on hilly terrain. Today even with wind, fatigue and a bit of muscle soreness that closed in on me for the final 8-10 miles, I averaged a little better than 13 mph. Not super fast by any means but a decent pace. This makes the century we’ll be doing in October seem much more possible.

Now That Was Fun!

I wanted to fit in a quick ride this morning, as I have a 2.5-day business trip, leaving this afternoon and returning late Thursday. This will be a busy couple of days with no time for cycling, so the Brompton isn’t coming along.

I started out on Rolling Rd to Selford, a trafficky route at rush hour.  On impulse I turned right on Francis, a 4-way stop where I usually turn left. I found myself in a beautiful neighborhood.

Historic Relay

Historic Relay

I’ve seen mention of Relay but until this morning didn’t know where it was. At this sign I had the choice of turning right or left.  I chose left, riding along Rolling Rd S, a narrow 2-lane road, which (happily) had very light traffic.  After a mile or so I saw a sign for “State Park” and soon came to the Avalon entrance to Patapsco State Park, just as  Rolling was about to intersect Rte 1. I didn’t quite know where I was, and I have zero sense of direction. Even so, I was pretty sure that I’d soon find myself in a familiar location. If not, plan B was to turn around and retrace my route.

Indeed I soon came to a sign pointing toward Glen Artney Rd/Grist Mill path and took that well-known route out of the park and to River Rd.  Along the way I saw just few other people jogging or cycling. Nice way to start the day!




Practice Run

Saturday we loaded up our panniers and headed out for a 30 mile ride. We wanted to see how tour-ready we and our gear are. My new Swift Short Stacks performed well. I did pretty well myself, even hauling the extra weight. In fact, I realized my ANT bike, built for fully self-supported touring, seems to handle best, even a little faster, when loaded. At least it did with the light load I had that day.

The year I got the ANT we went on a self-guided credit card tour. I was so worried about my ability to do the trip, I don’t think I noticed much about the bike’s handling. Since then, I’ve ridden the bike a lot. I’ve commuted on it, ridden for fun, and done two supported tours. It took until this weekend’s ride to appreciate how it’s optimized for touring. Good to know!

The Swift panniers were easy to attach and detach, stayed in place, and in appearance are fun, jaunty and visible. They’re a great design, with one large open pocket with a drawstring closure, a detachable pocket lid and a small zippered side pocket. They hold a lot. There is also an elasticized pouch on each pannier, perfect for carrying a water bottle. That’s an excellent feature if like me you are small and so is your bike. My bike frame can only hold 1 water bottle cage and I am always fussing with ways to carry a second bottle. These panniers take care of that hassle I have yet to find out how the panniers perform in the rain. This test ride was on such a beautiful day. I have a feeling that by the end of the tour I’ll be able to comment on that. Stay tuned.

Tour Time

Riding these past 2 months has been a little tough. It’s been either non- stop rain or incredible heat and humidity since June.  We’ve gotten out there as much as possible and I think we’re ready for our tour, which starts next weekend.  It’s Adventure Cyling’s Lake Champlain inn-to-inn, which starts next weekend. We’ll leave and end up in Burlington VT. This is a pretty low mileage tour, with 218 miles planned. It’s in the foothills of the Adirondacks. We’ll be carrying our own clothes and gear. I expect that the terrain and the light loads we’ll carry will add a bit of challenge.

There are some thing you can do to get ready for a tour.  You can get yourself in shape.  You can make sure you bring the clothes and supplies you’re likely to need, including emergency items like spare tubes, tires and first aid items. You can figure out whether to bring a book or your iPad for that short interval after you lay down and before you fall asleep.

There are some things you can’t do much about though. Like having a tooth go bad right before the trip.  Yup, I did that. Goodbye to tooth #31. Oh,  did I mention my intense fear of dental procedures? The tooth was pulled yesterday.  I’m feeling pretty good today, aided a great deal by Tylenol with codeine. I can now be as active as I want to be now, says the oral surgeon.  No one, least of all me, wants a tooth extracted but this went as well as it could have. So lets turn our thoughts back to the trip.

I’m excited to have a week where my sole purpose is to have fun, to cycle new territory, meet the tour group and try out my new Swift Short Stack  panniers.  By the end of this trip I’ll should have plenty of feedback about them.


New Short Stack Panniers

New Short Stack Panniers

It’s crunch time now as by next Thursday night those panniers need to be packed. This takes a lot of thought as you try to bring exactly what you’ll need and no more. My first tour was our self-lead trip on the Eastern Shore. We stayed in hotels and B&Bs. I brought just one off-bike outfit, a light-weight dress. I figured I’d always have just showered when I put it on. That worked out, other than I got so sick of that dress I wanted to burn it by the end of the trip!


Lucky Day

I’ve been getting out for  early morning rides during this very hot, humid week.  (Thanks, Pat!). Today I had time for just a short ride. I chose a route that includes quite a bit of climbing. At the peak of one of the hills, I stopped with the plan of taking a photo of the climb I’d just completed.

But wait!  I no longer had my cell phone. I retraced the route  to see if I could discover where it had jumped out of the rando bag’s pocket .  No luck. Once home, I opened the Find My iPhone app on my iPad. There it was, a little blue dot near the bottom of a steep hill about 2 miles from home. I returned there  by bike,  on a mission to rescue my device. I rode past the place where the phone should be and slowly walked my bike up the hill looking for it. Still no luck. Plenty of thick tangles of weeds and deep puddles, but no phone.

Back  home, I checked in with the colleague who organized a 2-hour conference call due to start soon. She was ok with me missing the start of the call, so I headed back out once more, this time by car. After parking about 1/8 of a mile from the phone’s location I started walking, making myself methodically scan the road and berm as I went. I paused as I got close to where it should be.  And lo,  a faint, electronic voice,  in a familiar monotone said:, “Endo paused.” My phone! I was tracking the ride Endomondo and now it was commenting rather derisively on the long wait.  There was my iPhone, laying face down  and undamaged in the dirt beside the road.

That was just plain lucky. What can I say?



In Which We Beat the Storm, Lose and Find Electricity and the Cat

It was an August weekend in Baltimore. In case you live elsewhere that means it’s extremely hot and humid. We had things to do, weekend rituals like going to the farmer’s market, walking the dog, folding laundry, that kind of stuff. It was 2 pm before we got on our bikes, when the temperature was peaking. If it wasn’t 100 it sure felt like it. We kept the ride short (15.6 miles).Lets just say I was thankful when it ended!

Perhaps it was our new Compass tires that got us back ahead of the storm, which hit earlier than expected. John got the tires first and thought I’d like them so I ordered a set too.  My  Honjo hammered fenders fit over them with plenty of clearance, which I am very glad about as I am very attached to those fenders.

These tires replaced Schwalbe Marathons which we’ve both been using. Great tires, especially if you want to be sure you won’t have to worry about flats. Other reviewers like the Marathons  (see this review by Brooklyn by Bike, for example). I never felt dissatisfied with them, but these new tires are really something.

So far I’ve ridden on the Compasses twice.

Pros: The Compasses roll with so much less resistance than the Schwalbes.  They are also amazing at absorbing the rough spots in the road, making the ride much more comfortable. As the Compass site warns, you may never want to go back to your old tires once you’ve tried these.

Cons: None noted. Well one very small one. I wish they had the reflective sidewall (is that the right term?) that the Schwalbes have.

I can’t speak to their flat resistance, but John rode on his through the Bon Ton Roulet this year with no flats. And we saw lots and lots of people changing flats throughout the ride.

The sky was darkening as we finished the ride. Thunderstorms were predicted for the evening but it appeared they would arrive early. John went out to buy a new water bottle cage. I laid down and promptly fell asleep, to be wakened a half hour later by thunder, lightening and pouring rain. The first thing I noticed was that the electricity was out. The next thing I thought of was the cat. She had been lounging in the back yard when we came back, uninterested in coming inside.

I looked for her everywhere I could think of that might provide a hiding place for her, calling her name, but no Lucy. John got home and joined the search. In a flash of inspiration, he looked under a large, overturned planter where she had cleverly taken shelter. While it continued raining, we sat on the front porch enjoying  some wine and a watermelon from our backyard garden.  As we relaxed there (and wondered if we’d be able to shower this evening) the electricity was restored. So all ends well, cooler temperatures, less humidity, cat safe and sound, kabobs on the grill for dinner.