Ride Reports June 2007
Straight Shot to Emmitsburg
May 3, 2007 by Charles Wilson
The morning was cool and cloudy with intermitent sun that later
turned out to be a beautiful day as we rode north into Emmitsburg. As
this was the ride leader’s first time in leading a ride, he had all the
experts to attend and provide assistance along the way. From
the starting point at Whittier Elementary School the following members of
Frederick Pedalers started the journey in the cool temperatures: Brian King,
George Ruszat, Mike Procario, Ray Gable, Isaac Miedzinski, Jeff Johnson and
Chuck Wilson. Terry Eskuchen joined the group when we arrived at Opossumtown
Pike. Terry stuck with us until the group reached Creagerstown Road, and she
decided to let us continue. I believe that she did not want it to rain on us
before we return from our trip. We met many other cyclists on the route that were enjoying their weekend in
northern Frederick County.
After we all took a short break and had our share of junk food and for some, a good
banana we all headed back to Frederick. We came upon a serious bicycle accident
south of Mount St. Mary's. We only saw the remains of the bike and a police
investigation going on. We pray and hope that he or she survived the crash.
It was smooth ride back to Whittier Elementary School. No tough climbs, but
rolling hills. As we rode into the Whittier parking lot it looked like rain
was on our doorsteps. Thanks go out to John Munn for his mapping and navigation
of this route. Thanks go out to all who attended. I will say that I learned a lot
from this ride and gained lots of confidence.
(Editor’s note: The injured rider was from the Baltimore Bicycling Club. He was
hit from behind by a pickup truck at high speed. The bicyclist did survive, but
sustained numerous injuries.)
Basic Bicyclist Class
May 10, 2007 by George Ruszat
Fifteen enthusiastic cyclists showed up at Utica District Park on April 19th
for the inaugural Basic Bicycling class together with eight club members taking
on their roles as instructors and ride leaders. Classes continued on Thursday
evenings for the following three weeks.
Each class was split into two parts with classroom time of approximately one hour
followed by a ride on nearby roads to put into practice what was discussed in class.
In the first class, the primary subject was safety including equipment and rules of
the road. Week two focused on bike maintenance where everyone had the experience of
repairing a flat tire. In week three, the subject was shifting, braking and riding
techniques and week four was on training, nutrition and equipment.
During the four weeks, we gained additional participants and, unfortunately, lost a
few. Class members who attended one or more classes were Catherine Badger*, Ed Botts,
Jo & Mike Bowersox, Jennifer Eberhardt, James*, Lorraine & Al Joao (James being a high
spinning, hill climbing 10 year old), Rebecca Mathesen, Annie Morrissey, Angela Mulloy*,
Heidi Platt, Margaret Procario*, Barbara & Sheldon Shealer*, Janet Thomas*, Suzanne
Weaver, Susan Weber and Diana Morgan. (* Attended all four sessions)
George Ruszat put together the class curriculum and was the primary instructor. Assisting
were Brian King, Bill Smith, Kathy & Bob Dollar, Chuck Wilson and Mike Procario.
The Frederick Pedalers have had positive feedback and will be planning on repeating the
classes later in the summer. We have helped a number of cyclists become more comfortable
with riding on the roads and have gained several new club members as a result.
Adams County Metric Century
May 13, 2007 by John Fauerby
When ride leaders Lynne Rosenbusch and John Fauerby arrived at the ride
start, they found Jeff Johnson already riding his bicycle. Bill Preston
arrived a few minutes later because this was the only ride other than his
own on the RouteSlip.com website that started in Emmitsburg on Silo Hill
Parkway and somehow that was a good enough excuse to show up.
The ride started promptly at 8:30. The day was sunny and a cool 50 degrees. John
and Lynne started with tights and coats. Jeff was in bicycle shorts, already
warmed up. Bill Preston had an umbrella and was attempting to catch the wind,
but was having a hard time since we were headed into an ever increasing gale
for the first half of the ride.
We took the usual route, but with extra meandering around the Gettysburg Battlefield
on a route recommended by Crista. We went by the Devil's Den (photo stop), then
turned left on an unmarked lane that halfway along had two road signs with different
names less than a tenth of a mile apart. We saw a horse tour and were worried
what was going to happen when we rode past the dozen or so horses. But by the
time our meandering reached their vicinity, they were far enough off the road
to not notice us.
The orchards were a beautiful green with partially hidden white blossoms. We really
had to look for the blossoms. We missed the blossom peak by a week. The views
across the valleys to the mountains were clearly spectacular.
We stopped for a snack at the Arendtsville Getty. As you remember, last fall,
we saw two shirtless and sockless boys teach a younger boy how to ride a bicycle.
On this ride, the two older boys were not present, but the shirtless and sockless
younger boy was riding his bicycle up and down the sidewalk while his girlfriend
was admiring him and secretly trying to figure out how to steal his bicycle so
she could ride too.
While leaving Fairfield, we spotted a soar plane that took our minds off the task
of slowly climbing the second longest climb of the day. Bill Preston was studying
the routeslip elevation profile for most of the ride while not repositioning his
umbrella to catch the wind and suddenly exclaimed, "The first half of the ride
was below 600 feet and the last half except the last 13 miles is over 600 feet.
That is so symmetrical!". This was the first time that we have heard Bill say
anything while actually riding his bicycle.
We were all happy and in good spirits when we finished the ride at 3:42. Lynne
measured exactly the same distance as routeslip had predicted. Jeff was a little
low since his odometer had a short that needed tapping every so often. John was
lower since his sensor was too far from the magnet to pick up the pulses when
going slowly up hills. Bill forgot to reset his odometer at the beginning of
the ride and couldn't remember what his starting mileage was.
May 19, 2007 by Mike Procario
The forecast on Friday night was for a gray and cool day with a good chance of
rain, but when I awoke at 7:30 AM it was cool in the fifties and clear. I geared up
with leg warmers, long sleeve jersey, and a jacket and headed off to ride start.
I met Frederick Pedaler regulars, George, Chuck, Jeff, Ray, and John. We were
joined by two newcomers, Joe and Eric. It looked like another stag ride, but
before we could leave we were joined by the Terry and Beth looking to check out
their new bikes on the hills.
This ride starts off slow covering many miles of flat countryside before the
hills. It is an opportunity to get loose and have some conversation before the
hard work hits. That was not to be the case today as we hit some stiff
headwinds. The trip down Elmer Derr road was particularly bad. Even going downhill
did not help.
Everyone handled the hills successfully. The hotshots flew up them. Others just
kept grinding to the top. At least I was not the last one up. I was hoping that
Brian would be there so we could see him climb Park Mills to Flint Hill on his
single speed, but we had a substitute. Eric was riding a single speed, and I did
see him tacking back and forth across the road on the really steep part.
We had a few mishaps along the way. There were two instances where riders failed
to unclip successfully at a stop. Only their pride was hurt. Ray broke a spoke on
his front wheel on the descent from Marlu Ridge, but he finished the ride. After we left the
Flint Hill General Store we got mixed in with a group of Potomac Pedalers. Jeff
thought he was following Eric and missed our turn on Flint Hill Road. George
tracked him down, we met at the bottom of Flint Hill Road. Jeff discovered his
error when he noticed that "Eric's bike" has grown a cassette and derailleur.
As we approached town, George, Terry, and Ray informed us that they would go
straight on New Design Road into town and not return to the ride start. Beth
also planned to detour before the finish, so I was losing track of who was still
riding. At the last turn I did a check and discovered that we had lost Chuck.
Jeff and I went on a search and rescue mission, but did not find him. When we
returned to the school parking lot, there was Chuck in his truck. He had found
his own way back while we were looking for him.
Overall it was an enjoyable and somewhat eventful ride.
DC Randonneurs 400 KM Brevet
May 19, 2007 by Bill Smith
This past Saturday (May 19), my buddy Alex, along with about thirty other
deranged, clueless fools rode 250 hilly, windy miles - in one day.
We left the Frederick route 40 Holiday Inn at 4 am. Our route took us west on
Route 180 to Brunswick, then over the Potomac on route 17 into Virginia. At this
point it was still dark; the sky was mostly clear and it was chilly - about 46
degrees. The planet Jupiter shone brightly in the west.
On the first page of our four-page cue sheet (a total of 198 turns!), the following
statement appears under the "Emergency Phone #s" section: "tired is not an emergency".
In other words, "you're on your own, pardner". Not very reassuring, is it? So I
brought Brian King's cell phone number with me.
Then we rode on to Lovettsville and Round Hill, watched a gorgeous sunrise and reached
the first "controle" at Airmont VA. A "controle" is a place (usually a store) where
we get our brevet cards punched to prove we were there. Some of you may remember Rose
Ruiz - she caught a subway train years ago on her way to "winning" the New York marathon.
Alex and I could not locate a subway train, so we kept pedaling westward over Snickers
Gap and then north past Charles Town and to Shepherdstown at mile 74. The controle
there was at the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop, where some really delicious food awaited us.
Then came what I thought was the most difficult part of the ride - northwest to Hancock
at mile 111. We rode 37 miles almost directly into the wind, and the terrain was such
that we were always going up or going down - there was nothing resembling flat until the
last few miles to Hancock. We feasted at the Sheetz (motto: no matter what you get here,
you'll still get gas) where I spoke with a local who made this observation about all of
us "Randonneurs" (long-distance, self-supported cycling folks): "You're all OLD."
Then the hills got steep. To the north of Hancock are numerous steep climbs, none of
which were easy. To climb them required straining our legs and knees - I pedaled up
them in my 38 front chainring and 26-tooth rear cog at about 4-6 mph. At 130 miles we
passed a camp store that is marked on our cue sheet as being the last food for 48 miles.
We also had a mountain to climb (Cove Gap). Stopping here was mandatory for us. We ate
and filled up our bottles. At this point, I cannot speak for Alex, but I was very tired.
Four weeks of insomnia has its way of affecting a person in a bad way. I was getting
sleepy as well (I had been awake since 2 am). Our average speed was down to about 13.9
mph at this point. And the ultra-caffeinated GU and Clif Shot gels I was downing were
not much help in keeping me alert.
The best part of the ride came after our Cove Gap descent. From about mile 134 to 178 we
were treated to a tailwind - mostly. This eastward progress took us past Mercersburg and
Shippensburg to Newville PA. Interestingly enough, it was still not raining, despite a
forecast of afternoon and evening showers. (It almost always rains when Alex and I are
in Newville). There were dark clouds in the eastern sky, though. The controle in Newville
was exceptional – unmatched in brevet history. It was at the "Log Cabin Inn" just south
of town. It was a beautiful little place, set at the top of a steep hill (of course)
with a large yard and pool out back. There was a lovely spread of lasagna, cookies,
rolls, salads, cookies, pastries, drinks, cookies and sports drinks (did I mention the
cookies?). This place was so nice – I really could have just remained there until
morning and finished the ride on Sunday.
Our average speed had "shot" up to 14.5 by Newville, but to get to Gettysburg at mile
210 we had to go through Michaux State Forest and over the mountain there. The sun set
just before we reached the store in Arendtsville (203 miles done). The last descent on
PA Route 234 was very scary, as my eyes were tired and sore from all of the road grit and
pollen stirred up by the strong westerly winds. And it was dark. Just before I reached
a curve at 43 mph, both of my eyes watered over. I kept blinking in an unsuccessful
attempt to clear them. I slowed a bit and just made sure to ride about three feet to
the right of the double-yellow line. (This was really scary – I thought that I was going
to crash.) Then we followed two other riders on to Gettysburg - they had very bright
headlights, so it was very easy for all of us to see. As we reached the battlefield my
cell phone rang. I answered it, expecting to hear my wife's voice asking where we are.
I was surprised to hear Sheldon Shealer's voice. We spoke about two minutes, until I
needed two hands on my handlebars to stop at a downhill traffic light. Is it a good
idea to have a cell phone conversation while riding a bicycle in the dark? (Sheldon
was planning on riding this brevet, but needed emergency gall bladder surgery just two
days before.) In the western sky the clouds parted, revealing the moon and the planet
Venus, close enough to kiss each other.
We refueled at the controle in Gettysburg (the 7-11 on Washington St) and then headed
south through town onto PA134. I have memorized the route from Gettysburg to Frederick,
so reading our cue sheet was no longer necessary. At night, that is a wonderful thing –
I dislike trying to read the cues by my dim little handlebar light. We turned onto Barlow
Rd – shortly thereafter our two faster companions went ahead leaving Alex and me on our
own to negotiate by our own dimmer headlights. Sirens sounded in the distance – eventually
as we approached Four Points we could see flashing red lights on US15 near Mount St. Mary’s –
some crash on the highway, probably. Behind the scene we could see the Grotto, shining
like a beacon in the night.
We reached Thurmont just before midnight – 233 miles past and seventeen to go. I was
struggling trying to stay awake and downed another caffeine-laden GU gel. There was no
iced tea to be had – all of the stores were closed (WAWA, where are you?). My butt was
very sore at this point – I really wanted this ride to be over. As a matter-of-fact,
there were numerous times on the ride where I could easily have packed it in. Having a
partner to ride with is a huge help in this way – we each keep the other going. We were
also riding more and more slowly. From Four Points down to Thurmont had been against
an increasingly strong headwind. I remember pedaling downhill on Old Kiln Rd, towards
Roddy Rd, at 11 miles per hour. It was very frustrating.
From Thurmont to Frederick was just a long, slow grind. Those last seventeen miles took
us almost an hour and a half. As we began the descent from Bethel Rd down Yellow Springs
Rd we came upon our two better-lit and faster friends. They had arrived at that point a
minute earlier (it is likely that we caught up to them because we never needed to stop
to look at or turn over our cue sheet (I memorized the route). They flagged us down and
stopped us before we ran into the demolished car in the roadway. A drunken driver had
lost control, gone off the road, glanced off a tree and back onto the roadway. The car
was destroyed. I could see that the airbags had deployed. There was glass everywhere –
I could not find a spot of roadway that was not completely covered by broken glass and
car parts. We could hear the police, fire and ambulance responders off in the distance.
The driver was off in the grass – he was not injured – at least not badly. We carried
our bikes across the stretch of debris-laden road and finished the ride. We thought
that if any one of the four of us been faster by 1-2 minutes, we’d have been in the
path of this misguided missile. In fact, on our initial approach to the crash scene,
when I had seen the mess in the highway, I became emotional with the thought that
someone, either the driver or a bicyclist, had probably been killed. It sucked
from me what remaining energy I had. This scene will remain photographed in my
mind for a long time.
We rolled into the Holiday Inn, 250 miles behind us, at about 1:15 am. We feasted
on a couple slices of pizza and talked to the other riders still there. I wanted to
crawl up in the corner and go to sleep, but instead I biked home; including my ride
to the start I rode 258 total miles. I think that I stood for half of the fifteen-minute
ride home. At that moment, if you asked me if I’d ever do the ride again, I would
have said no. Today I say no. Next year I’ll probably do it again.
(Preliminary reports put the elevation gain of this route at 13,000-14,000 feet.)