Sea Gull Century

SALISBURY, MARYLAND

Even taking 15-20 minutes to get ready at the car I was still wheels down two minutes before sunrise. It was a day to wear my rain jacket. Call it what you want, either a light rain or mist, but it was enough to make me wet and keep the roads wet.

I didn’t know anyone and was determined to ride alone. Although I hoped I would run into the contingent from the Blair Bicycle Club. I would follow the Assateague route, fully aware they had another one called Snow Hill. (I think.)

It rained (mist) for the first 90 minutes. Even if I wanted to jump in a pace line, wet roads and road spray convinced me not to.

I had a helmet sticker that wasn’t too sticky. In fact, I felt it come off just 5.5 miles into the ride. I felt bad about not stopping to pick it up (and I saw others) but I wasn’t in a position to do it safely. But then I came upon the “Beware of Walnuts” sign. There were two, actually, and I was prepared, almost, for a photo op. I safely maneuvered to a stop, turned around, and there on the road was a blinking rear light. I picked it up so that was a litter offset. Good find.

I came into the town of Snow Hill. It is a lovely town with its own lovely river (Pocomoke). The rivers on the eastern shore always fascinate me. The town was decorated for Halloween with a “scarecrow” on every block.

As much as I liked Snow Hill, I cursed myself for making a wrong turn. I was sure I was on the Snow Hill Century route. Any chance of running into friends was eliminated. Eventually I came to accept it and make the best of it. My two goals for the day were (1) don’t crash and (2) see some wild horses. Now I concentrated on not crashing.

Just four miles outside of Newark I came upon a sign which said Assateague – 22 Miles. I was on the right route after all. I perked up.

I continued to ride solo until Assateague with one exception. A huge group flew passed me. I bet there were 50-75 riders. I jumped in at the end. We were going 27-29 mph. Into the wind. I briefly thought about riding on their wheels but the roads were still wet although drying out. But I didn’t know about their bike handling skills. And honestly, this was not a free ride. My highest heart rate and highest speeds were recorded while I was riding with them.

I came to Assateague and found my horses. I was happy. I ate a banana and grabbed some Fig Newtons. I don’t get my money’s worth for these rides. I went past the first two without stopping and only ate a piece of fruit here.

I saw the group that I think I rode with. It looked like it swelled to 100 or more riders. Not for me. I had five guys pass me then I jumped in with them and rode to the next stop. (Potato chips). I briefly let them go when we came upon to riders who crashed by overlapping wheels in a group. At the rest stop I didn’t wait but continued on. I never saw those guys again. I’m not a fan of long rests at the rest stop.

Again, I was solo but eventually was caught but then joined a small group. We rode a comfortable pace to the finish. Well, almost comfortable. At the overpass over US 13 (Mile 100) I followed them right up to the top then a couple of them had a sprint to the end of the bridge. They gapped me at first and then I cramped. But I worked through it and stayed with them to the finish.

The arrival features an underpass and about 200 yards of sidewalk. A slow ride to the finish. It may have knocked down my average speed. Last year I averaged almost 17 mph. Even with the slow finish, I averaged 18 mph today. It was my fastest, and longest, ride of the year. And wettest too (I’ve been lucky.)


 

 

Cook Forest River Ride

COOKSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

My fundraising for the Keystone Country MS-150 in July bagged me an unexpected bonus: Entry in the Cook Forest River Ride.

Disaster struck as I went to get dressed. I grabbed the only clean bib shorts I had and discovered they were the ones with knee covers. It was chilly but not enough for those.I thought about wearing a dirty pair but that would be gross. Better to be too warm. I had gone out to the car to check to make sure those were the only clean ones remaining on this trip. They were. My fashion choice also slowed me down on leaving the hotel.

Last night I checked the time and distance to the start and determined it was a 30 minute ride from the hotel. This morning it was a 42 minute ride. Not sure what happened but I came into Cook Forest running a little late.

I went to registration, passing my cousin, Kay Walborn, briefly saying hello. Got my swag (t-shirt) and took it back to the car. Riders were queued up. I went to the back of the group but lost Kay. I just couldn’t find her.

I started dead last then started making my way through a couple hundred riders trying to catch Kay. I stopped for a couple photo ops but generally kept going.

The course follows the Clarions River for 17 miles and some riders would do a 35 mile out-and-back. We turned across the river then started climbing. I saw a rider up the road and didn’t think I was gaining on him but eventually passed him. On the top I was by myself.

At Mile 30 I pulled into a rest station. And Kay was getting ready to roll out. She waited for me to grab some water and 1/2 banana. She was shocked I was behind her. She thought the entire time I had taken off ahead of her and she was trying to catch me.

We had been hammering the route trying to catch the other. We were probably never more than 3-4 minutes apart on the road at any time. We rode well together. I had a big advantage in going down hills (weight) while Kay had an advantage going up the steepest hills. One topped out at 22% according to my Garmin. I could not hold her wheel on that climb.

We passed a rider struggling and I told him he had just been passed by a 69 year old woman. She was kicking his butt. Mine too.

Back at Cook Forest they has served up a nice luncheon for us. We ate and then headed back home.  Not sure I would do this ride again but it was quite nice. And great weather today. Kay said that was a first.

 


My Past is Past

DAYTON, PENNSYLVANIA

This wasn’t the trip I planned but this was the trip I got. I drove to Dayton with the intent of doing a 30-35 mile loop around Mahoning Dam up to North Freedom.

I arrived in Dayton to begin my trip. I had preloaded a course on my Garmin and was determined to follow it. I went about 500 yards and turned onto a dirt road. Oh crap. Not sure how long I could do this. Thankfully it was less than a mile.

I followed my course for about four miles when Garmin told me to turn. It was a dirt road. I decided to forgo my plan and ride the “main” road. The main road was a chip and seal road. There were no flats. It was up and up again. Perhaps an occasional down hill. But not many.

I turned to go to Timblin, passing the farm of get link Scrap and Dot Snyder. Scrap is deceased but he was a classmate of my dad’s, and as I would discover later, 4th cousins.

Hard to imagine that 100 years ago this railroad town was a center of commerce. I stopped at the post office and talked to the postmaster, Stacey Taylor. She helped me with some of my roads. I had wanted to go up Brocious Road. I found the road, despite missing a sign, but found it was uphill, turned to gravel, and protected by angry dogs. I turned around.

I found my way to St. James Lutheran Church, founded by my great-great-great-grandfather in 1831. In 1989 I visited the church and was not greeted warmly as the locals were afraid my Uncle http://www.amoreplast.it/?how-to-write-a-personal-statement-for-university-application Tom Sherry and I were there to steal their pastor. We weren’t.

The church closed three years ago and Stacey told me the Lutherans tear down their closed churches rather than let them fall into disrepair. I didn’t have time to walk the entire cemetery but found some of my Sherry relatives. I actually meant relatives named Sherry because the cemetery is full of my relatives.

I left on my planned route and one mile later the road turned to gravel. Although I followed it for a bit, I turned back. I came to Shreckengost Road where I saw a teenage Amish girl. We talked for about 10 minutes. She helped me avoid gravel (go back the way you came).

I went to Ringgold then headed over to North Freedom. I passed Sherry Hollow Road. I understand my great-great-grandfather, buy writing paper online Daniel Sherry’s brother, click here John Sherry, had his farm here.

We lived in the area from 1961-1964. My dad served four churches and I passed the North Freedom Church. I made my way to Salem, or New Salem, and saw the second church. In New Salem I attended a two-room schoolhouse for first and second grades (1-2 were in one room; 3-4 were in another). My teacher for first and second grade was Mrs. Shreckengost.

I left Salem and rode down to McWilliams. Then it was back towards Dayton. My legs were hurting.

I came to the crossroads. Here was Mt. Carmel E.U.B. church which may have close by 1968. It was the third of the four churches my dad served. A forest surrounded it and I thought about the Lutherans. How much better it might have been to simply tear it down.

The sign said Dayton – 8 miles. I knew my planned route was around the face of the Mahoning Dam. And I knew it would be 12 miles. I was very tired and was planning to ride the MS Ride tomorrow. I decided to go the short way.

I got back to Dayton and met a kindergarten teacher at Dayton Elementary School. The school opened in 1963 and we were bused from Salem to Dayton to attend this new school. It has been 54 years since I had been there. She was not impressed.

Back in Dayton, I met a kid on a bike. He wanted to race. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and I told him that I wouldn’t race unless he wore one. Deal breaker.

In a little over 30 miles I had climbed about 4500′. That was extremely mountainous. It was hot. I was toast.

That evening I met my 4th cousin, follow Jody Sherry Scott, in Clarion.  She told me her dad was born in McWilliams. We met at her frozen yogurt place in Clarion, Yo-Licious. I highly recommend it.

 

 


MS Day-2

HOLLIDAYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

It rained overnight and was very gray at rollout. But it wasn’t raining. I was hopeful we would stay dry. I lined up and they pulled the 100-rider rope right behind me. I was in the first group. But last.

99 riders in front of me

As we started out I moved closer and closer to the front and eventually settled in with a group of 10 which might have been the first group on the road. We worked well together although the hairy legged monster I was following scared me by occasionally just coasting causing me to brake.

Ahead I saw a tractor which I spotted yesterday. I told myself that today I would stop so I put up my hand and excited the pace line. I’m sure they thought I couldn’t hang. I could hang.

Once I took the picture I got back on the road and bridged up to a group of three and the four of us worked together to the first rest. It was quick. No mechanic (I was looking for a wrench) but my bottle was nearly empty. Refill then hit the road.

It started to rain. I didn’t get out the rain jacket and we rode for the next 20 minutes in a light rain although we had wet roads for the next hour.

Halfmoon Twp., Centre Co., Pa.

I rode this section solo although I hooked up with another rider. We rode side by side because even though he gave a nice draft he also gave a nice spray. I’m sure I did too.

There was an ice cream stop at Camp Kanesatake. Ice cream, at least mine, was served by Katherine Orczeck, the Blair Co. Dairy Princess (Alternate). When I told her mother I rode over Locke Mountain yesterday she said she cannot imagine. Her car barely gets over it.

At this rest I found the Spokes and Skis mechanic. I just wanted to borrow an Allen wrench to reposition my BarFly mount for the GPS. I had a multi-tool with me but it’s much easier to use a dedicated wrench. Fix completed.

Katherine Orczeck

Leaving Kanesatake, I was passed by two young men who were talking about how to work together. They thought they passed me for good but I blew by them just after Spruce Creek. One mentioned that we were leap frogging. No frogs here.

Sign seen near Arch Springs

At Arch Springs I stopped for a photo. They passed and then I followed them to the lunch stop. I soloed to Tyrone after a quick water stop. I was on my own.

Arch Springs

In Antis I was on a narrow street which has cars parked on both sides. There was not enough room in between for a car and a bike. There was room for a car or a bike (or two), but not both. I was in the lane when an SUV turned to come towards me.

I knew she didn’t have room but she insisted. She sheared off her passenger mirror. I chuckled. She saved two seconds which was the time it took me to pass the line of cars. But then she stopped to pick up mirror pieces.

After the Antis rest I saw a rider coming behind me. I slowed, thought he grabbed my wheel, then rode away from him. Geez.

I slowed again and waited for him and we rode together for about 6-7 miles until I rode away from him for good.

Arriving at the finish line in Hollidaysburg I checked the mileage and went for an out and back for another two miles. I caught the two young guys who were leap frogging me. I leaped them again.

At the finish there was a medal. A woman, confined to a wheelchair with MS, put the ribbon/medal over my head – a poignant reminder of why we Bike MS.

 

 


Out of Bibs

STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA

I arrived for check-in for the MS-150 ride. I did not see then had to ask for a bib to make “I RIDE FOR…” I was told they sent their supplies to another event which did not return any. I was disappointed.

This is how we connect with people. I wanted very much to ride for my daughter, click Bethany, Kayla Bracken, and jobs in creative writing Kristi Wallace. Seriously, how can they be out of the bibs? Press “Order Here.” Without the bibs it is just another group ride. I took out a Sharpie and wrote their names on my bib.

I was delayed. Two groups, supposedly of 100 riders each already left and it looked like ours was the last group.

What starting last looks like

I had been thinking about going over Locke Mountain instead of going to Roaring Spring with the group. Has I been in the front group, or second group, I may have rethought this. But I figured starting last or next to last, I would have to chase to catch the earlier groups to ride in a pace line. And since the pace lines would have already formed, I would be trying to bridge up to the pace lines.

Up Hill Drive. Made me giggle.

Still, I didn’t make the decision until I was on the road. I caught the tail end of the third group then, when it was safe, started to make my way through them. I had three decision points where I could make the move.

West Loop Road. I have no idea what this bicycle route is.

Coming off Frankstown Road was Locke Mountain Road. But there was construction and I wasn’t sure I could get there. Plus there were volunteers manning the intersection. I was past Tel Power Road before I even realized it. On Reservoir Road I continued to work through riders and may have caught some from the second group. As I signaled (bell) I was coming by I passed a guy and his wife. After I passed them I head him say “Wow!,” in apparent reference to my speed. I was doing 18 mph which isn’t exactly fast.

That probably cemented my decision. I really didn’t feel like hearing comments from riders as I passed them (although that may have been a compliment).

Looking out from near the top of Locke Mountain

I came to Loop Road, didn’t see any volunteers, and had gapped any riders behind me. I put out my left arm then turned on Loop Road. I didn’t want any volunteers to see me for fear they may chase me to tell me I was going the wrong way.

Trout Run where it enters Spruce Creek

The pavement on Loop Road was new asphalt. It was sweet riding. Apparently I was on a bike route – it appeared to have a clock tower although I haven’t figured out what it is or where it goes.

BBC Riders on the road

I came to Locke Mountain Road. It was all uphill from there. Most of the lower section, and indeed, most of the climb, showed 14-15% on my GPS. That may have been overstated though – it only felt like 12-13%. There were gnats around my eyes and I continually had to use a free hand to swat at them. Very annoying.

Lunch at Camp Kanesatake

I worked hard. I was soaked in sweat. On the descent I really couldn’t see clearly. Still I had a top speed of 45 mph.

Lunch at Camp Kanesatake

I followed some back roads to Williamsburg. I did not want to be the first rider at the second rest stop. I know there were some people hammering the course and I had cut 13 miles from it. Although I started much later than they did and had to get my fat butt over Locke Mountain I still felt it would be close.

Lunch at Camp Kanesatake

As I came to the end of Shortcut Road I saw a group of six go by. And they were apparently the first. I rolled in and spent a lot of time at Rest 2, mainly because I popped a lens out of my glasses trying to clean them.

Camp Kanesatake

I saw some riders from the Blair Bicycle Club roll in and reintroduced myself to follow Leslie, a woman I rode 100 miles with in October last year at the Sea Gull Century. They rolled out and I wasn’t too far behind them.

Disc golf at Camp Kanesatake

In addition to Leslie, I rode next to Aurora, another rider I rode with last year, although I did not recall her name (until referring to the entry from last year). I integrated with their group of five until we came to the first of the uphills. I pulled through with the intention of pulling but instead rode them of my wheel.

Volunteers thanking riders at the Cookie Stop

On US 22 I soft pedaled some, waiting from them to come back but they never did. I caught Pat, another BBC rider, on the run in to Spruce Creek. He too, was part of our century group from last year, although I forgot. We talked for a little bit but as the road went down I took off (serious descending advantage – see “fat butt,” above).

Volunteers at the Cookie Stop

In Spruce Creek I deviated onto a side road for photos then when I came back I caught the Leslie group. Once again I road with them until we came to a chip and tar road and they slowed down seriously.

Lunch was at the beautiful Camp Kanesatake. I sat down on the bench and left a giant wet mark. I checked where others were sitting and didn’t see any wet marks. I won the sweating contest.

Beaver Stadium, PSU

The BBC group left and I found myself catching two Old Men On Bikes from Allentown. I really never integrated with them except I did without trying. We caught he BBC group and rode together. About four miles from the next rest I went to the front and pulled.

At the rest, two of the five riders went on and three stopped. They left about two minutes ahead of me, never offering for me to join them. Funny how these things work. I never really was part of their group.

I soloed onto State College, never catching or being caught by anyone. Instead of heading to the finish I went onto campus and stopped at the famous Berkey Creamery. I didn’t see a safe place to leave the bike (it is a college campus) so I decided to move one. After all, it’s just ice cream.

Refreshing mister at the finish line in State College

Throughout the day we watched the weather. The forecast was for thunderstorms and once it got dark. But I beat the rain by more than an hour. After I showered I looked out my window and saw riders finishing over the next 2-3 hours. In the rain. I had a good ride.

 


A Smart Decision

BORMIO, ITALY

I had a great week in Switzerland with the weather. I could not ask for more. Well, yes I could. I could ask for two. But I would not get it.

As I prepared to go to Finland on Saturday, Corinne Kolb said to me that it looks like the weather is going to be bad all week. From then I kept an eye on the weather in Bormio, Italy.

My plan was to rent a car and drive to Bormio, stopping in Liechtenstein along the way. I would ride Stelvio Pass from both sides, perhaps one of the most ambitious days on my bike – ever. But the forecast continued to get worse. Daily highs for the town of Bormio were in the 50s with 100% chance of rain.

I’ve driven to New Hampshire where the Mount Washington Auto Road Hillclimb was canceled – twice – because of bad, i.e., dangerous weather. And I viewed going to Bormio with the same risk. The weather on top of the mountain could be 10-20 degrees colder with freezing rain or snow.

When I went with Trek Travel, I at least had a SAG vehicle and extra clothes at the top for crappy weather. This would simply be me all alone against the elements.

I planned to stay two nights plus had the expense of renting a car and gas. I really couldn’t justify the cost of going to Bormio to watch rain. It was a tough decision but I know it was the right one. I decided to return home instead.

My biological cycling clock is ticking. I don’t know if in five years I could get up Stelvio Pass. Or even one. I would like to one more time but not at the risk of death (and one pass over, Mortirolo, is the Mountain of Death). The only time I descended Stelvio I almost crashed head on into a car. It simply wasn’t worth the risk.

And if there was any question I made the right decision, Will Swetnam send me a photo from Stelvio Pass. I made a smart decision.

Stelvio Pass on June 30, 2017

Stelvio – I am hoping I will see you again. In decent weather.

 

Beautiful Bike Paths

LINTHAL, SWITZERLAND

Breakfast was the at Hotel Cafe Huber in Lichtensteig. As I finished the owner came went to the bakery and gave me some bread to take with me. Very nice.

Breakfast at Cafe Hotel Huber. Orange juice and sparking water would be added.

There would be two issues to deal with today. I never get saddle sores but developed those yesterday. Although better, they would stay with me today. And second, those signs…

Lichtensteig

Or more accurately, lack of signs. On a cool morning I rode downhill into Wattwil. That was my reward for riding uphill to Lichtensteig yesterday.

A view from Wattwil

When I came to the town I turned on the main street to follow Bike Route 4. I also uploaded the route to Garmin. I had gone no farther than one kilometer when Garmin told me I was off course.

Bike Route 4 – to Zürich?

I turned around and went back into town. I went another way when I saw the blue Route 4 sign. I lost that trail too. I turned around.

The start of the day’s climb. It’s steeper than it looks.

I decided to follow Garmin no matter what. Leaving town I turned on a road that was not marked with a sign. About one kilometer later, I had to turn and there was the sign. I was on the right route after all.

A cyclist farther up the hill. I would catch him.

Two or three or 10 times during today’s ride I chose to follow Garmin where there was no sign. Eventually, I would be proven right. In contrast to yesterday, I did not ask anyone for directions today.

Hey look! Frisbee game ahead.

I have already decided that it would be next to impossible to follow this route solely by depending on the signs. They simply are not everywhere they need to be. I would not say the route is well marked but “pretty well” marked.

I had studied my route today and knew leaving town I would have a climb. Not too tough (compared to yesterday) and then a descent. The map showed flat or a slight climb the rest of the way. And that played out as expected.

The descent offered gorgeous views of Lake Zürich (or perhaps that is Obersee, the “Upper Lake” portion of Lake Zürich) in the distance and the mountains ahead.

Flat roads ahead. With nice views.

At the bottom of the hill, I lost the signs and went with Garmin. I turned on a narrow road that was flat and straight. It was the right direction.

I was just 25 km in (15.5 miles) and the rest of the day would be flat to trending upward. I would also be on these narrow roads with no traffic although occasionally riding back on a highway.

Where one of the Rte 4 signs leads. This river comes from Lake Walen.

I came to one turn for Route 4 and it went down to the river and followed a gravel road.  I stopped for a snack then waited at the top to see if any road cyclists were on this path. One coming in my direction looked at it and exclaimed in German “they must be crazy if they think I’m riding on that crap.”* He then headed straight and I decided to follow.

Along open road were just cyclists and walkers. I didn’t see any runners. And horses.


I saw a young man, Marcel, and stopped and asked if he would be my photographer. I wanted a picture of me on my bike with the mountains in the background. He agreed.

Mugging for the camera with a Swiss flag

Marcel and I had a nice conversation of at least 10 minutes, maybe 15, standing alongside this wonderful path. Well down, my friend!

Marcel

I really can’t offer much more. The route signs were pretty good but not perfect. But the weather was perfect.

At Glarus Süd there was a festival in progress. The bike route was blocked with signage to take a different route to Linthal.

I figured if the route to Linthal was marked, why not take it, but another couple came by and went passed the closure. I followed them.

I was glad because I don’t know if I would have known how to get back on Bike Route 4 and it was a great alternative.

As I made my way through the people, one woman said “Nice velo.” I liked that!

I found myself pedaling slower than normal, a little in part due to saddle sores but mostly because my eyes were constantly scanning the scenery. No need to race this route and fly by.

Hotel Bahnoff

My hotel in Linthal is Hotel Bahnoff. It is a much larger room than the Hotel Huber and the Wifi is pretty good. Time to catch up and study tomorrow’s route as well.

POSTSCRIPT:  At dinner I sat out on the patio at the hotel. One table over came a Swiss couple who had just hiked whatever pass I am climbing tomorrow. They are from Zürich. We had nice conversation all evening during dinner.

___
*Ha! I have no idea what he said but that was certainly the gist of it. Seriously.


A Mountain and a Rail Trail

HOPEWELL, PENNSYLVANIA

Probably eight years ago I asked some riders from Altoona what the hardest climb in the area was. I was thinking Blue Knob or Horseshoe Curve. One rider told me to find Henrietta Mountain Road. And today I did.

Parking at Hopewell

This was was tough. Although it wasn’t too long, just two miles. It’s always hard to compare climbs but I can compare it to some other two mile climbs or sections I have done.

That’s pretty good company, I would say.

I started my ride in Hopewell (Bedford Co.) on the H&BT rail trail. More on that later.

At Saxton I found the infamous Henrietta Mountain Road. I did no research and instead, just rode. It seemed to kick up to 7-8% right away. But after a quarter mile after an intersection, the real climb began.

It seemed to kick to 12% then went even higher. I have no real pictures because I wasn’t stopping although my body wanted me to. The road was winding but with only one sharp turn I hesitate to call a switchback. It was heavily wooded on both sides. It was beautiful. But it offered no panoramic views because it was so wooded.

Summit of Henrietta Road looking back towards Saxton (the tough side)

I tried to not look up the road because every time I did I could see it was going higher. After two miles, although I had no idea at the time, I could see the top. And here I made a mistake by not researching the climb. I assumed the road went over the top and down the other side. So I simply turned around.

A barn on Rte 26

The descent was steep. Rough pavement. And windy if not sharp turns. It wasn’t fun. I couldn’t let the bike roll. What I learned after the fact was I should have kept going. I could have gone another 3-4 miles where I would have joined Rte 164 coming out of Martinsburg. Then It looks like a straight descent back to Saxton. In other words, a fun descent. Oh well, next time.

Crushed limestone at Hopewell

I rode back to Hopewell and explored the trail a little more. At Hopewell going north for two miles, the trail is crushed limestone in great shape. A road bike is fine although I wouldn’t want to ride 20 miles on this.

Gravel road headed south from Hopewell

Going south the trail was a road. A gravel road that led to a camping area. That was harder on the bike. I rode a couple of miles then decided I had had enough. Wrong bike for this surface.

H&BT trail near Cypher

The signature landmark on the trail seemed to be the trestle over the Juniata River. I had decided the surface wasn’t right to pedal to it.

Bridge over Juniata River near Cypher

The trail head seemed to be on my way back to Somerset where I was headed. So I drove to Cypher to bike that section.

I don’t know if it was good or bad but the trestle was probably no more than a quarter mile away. But it was gorgeous. Maybe even more gorgeous was the cut in the hillside. The trail here was crushed limestone, again.

Bridge over Juniata River near Cypher

It’s a beautiful trail. If there wasn’t the section by the recreational area which was a gravel road, I’d have no problem recommending a road bike for the surface. But this trail needs the wide tires. I may do this on a mountain bike and will not Henrietta Mountain on a road bike. Again.

Cut in the hillside by Cypher

______________________

Atlas

LAMPASAS, TEXAS

The event was the Texas 4000 Atlas Ride, the official first day of the Texas 4000. Riders had the option of riding 25, 50, or 70 miles, often determined by the friends and family that came to the Atlas Ride.

I drove to Cedar Park and met Will Swetnam, who brought along a Garmin mount since my BarFly mount broke yesterday. I made it to the start with five minutes to spare.

After the National Anthem, the current 2017 team of Texas 4000 riders were the first to depart. They were followed by alumni riders. Then the rest of us.

I had no expectations for the ride. At first I was sitting in with a group then decided to go faster and bridged up to the next group on the road. A “train” came by with about 10 riders and I jumped in. We were flying until we came to rest stop one. I stopped but no one else did.

Back on the road I kept my own pace until another group came by. We had a good pace until we came to a rest stop. They all turned right (rest stop). I turned left (70 mile route). I was all alone.

I soloed for about two miles then pulled over to fix my handlebars which were misadjusted. Eventually another group came by. One of the riders was Scott Towle from the 2004 group – the original group. The official story was that Chris Condit, the founder of the Texas 4000, was in San Francisco, when the Hopkins 4K was just finishing. And that brief moment was the inspiration for the Texas 4000.

Later I saw a Hopkins 4K jersey from 2006. I did not get the rider’s name but he shared stories of the early years. He offered his opinion that the Texas 4000 does a much better job at building community within the teams than the 4K for Cancer does.

The 50 mile and 70 mile rides followed the same course except the 70 mile ride diverted to the west, probably 10 miles and found some wonderful grazing area protected by many cattle guards. It was a free message on the bike.

For much of the ride it was overcast but humid. I was drenched. There were some raindrops but nothing of significance until safely in the food tent.

Will and I rode together the last 30 miles. We integrated with a group of 2017 riders and I started talking with Trey Curran, a rider with the Sierra route. As we got close I remembered the Silent Mile. Surprisingly Trey, nor his teammates had heard of it. When we came to the last mile, I slowed and looked for the signs. Jake. Alex. Amelia. I even doubled back to make sure I didn’t miss them. Found them all.

I ended and was greeted by name. I think that helmet sticker (and number) was a clue. I turned into the mail area and saw Ayesha Kang, my Bicycle Buddy from last year.

I got food and sat with the Rockies 2016 team, having met them last year.  Then Vanessa Beltran found me. I moved to sit with her 2014 Ozarks team. While eating the skies opened up and poured. It lasted about 20 minutes but sent water throughout the tent we were sitting under.

I also got to meet my bicycle buddy from this year – Luis Salazar. Luis is a bright and athletic young man. I also learned that he will not make it all the way to Alaska as he will have to return on Day 48 to start medical school. Well done my friend!

After the rain we sought out the signs from the Silent Mile. We then found Amelia Schmidt’s bicycle buddy, Lauren Nix. She wrote a note on the sign for Amelia – to be delivered to her front yard on Tuesday.

As I was leaving, Trey came over to say goodbye. That was actually very touching.

The Texas 4000 does it right. A wonderful event where friends and family can ride with this year’s team – 25, 50, or 70 miles. And very well attended by alumni. I just wish we didn’t need cancer rides.

_____________________

 

A view of the ride using Relive.

 

Ride of Silence

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND

The first hot day of the year, the temperature hit 93 degrees. I timed my day to start a 60 mile ride at noon before heading up to Rockville for the Ride of Silence. Big mistake.

I headed out on the W&OD from Dunn Loring out to Clark’s Gap. Being so hot I didn’t have enough water. After 60 miles I was pretty well drained but looked forward to a brief meal before the Ride of Silence. A 70 minute trip on the Beltway to go 13 miles changed all that.

When I got to Rockville I went to 7-Eleven and got a quart of chocolate milk and a Snickers bar. Then rode to the town center. I arrived the same time Bob and Eveline Roberts arrived.

Wear red arm band if you have been hit by a car. I earned this one in Charles Town, WV in July, 2012.

Bob and Eveline are the parents of the late Jamie Roberts, killed on a cancer ride on June 13, 2014, in Kentucky. The ride organizer, David Merkin, asked Bob to say a few words. Before rolling out there was a report from WHHG TV who also interviewed Bob and Eveline.

At 7:00 p.m. we rolled out, with a police escort, through downtown Rockville. Someone saw our bikes, probably 30-40, and yelled out and ask if this was an organized event. A rider yelled back – “Yes, this is the Ride of Silence!”

Although it was supposed to average 10 mph, we averaged 12-13 mph. At one point going up an incline my heart rate hit 165 bpm. Wow!

We rode 10 miles, in less than an hour. We never put a foot down thanks to the Rockville police.