Get Outta Town

ellabell2015Dear readers. I’m writing this slow cause I know you don’t read fast.

Monday 4/13/15: Dreadfully tired today. Way too much weekend. Lots of hard miles ridden, sore, bone weary, bleary eyed, wobbly, worse for wear and tear, more rest needed, need coffee, a few days off the bike, well at least today. I’m thinking more and more about riding several short up tempo early AM rides during the week and skipping one of the three usually 50M+ on the weekend. I can’t ride Friday at all if I’m riding Cycle Haus Saturday. For me feeling weak is actually being tired.  It’s April and already hot here making the early ride and beating the heat even more appealing. The breezes start to pick up by midday and the place feels like a convection oven. By June the asphalt will start to melt.

Tuesday 4/14/15: Wow what a difference a day makes. Up before the chickens feeling great and on the bike after a half a cup of coffee  for 20 miles @ 20 mph, all by my lonesome, no wheel suckin’. It’s great out there early. No traffic, cool temps, wide open. I’ve carved out a 2.7 mile loop near the house with good visibility and zero to light traffic even at midday. There’s also very little stop and go and so no Strava / Garmin  auto pause penalty. It’s hard work and I want post good numbers so I don’t want any crap from Strava. Good numbers include upping my cadence a bit. My 20@20 ride is a higher gear thing and my cadence looks a little low meaning that I’m using my leg muscles and sparing the cardio, should be the other way around. Hard to hang in there riding that way, burning up the slow to recover leg muscles.The cardio recovers quickly.

4/18/15: I’m in Atlanta Ga. with the Mrs. and the weather sucks, it’s raining. BUT……………today, Saturday,  Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron saint of bicycling ,smiled, and I’m off to find the Atlanta Cycling Bicycle Shop Saturday MC Ride, north and west of the city, near Smyrna. This looks like Cycle Haus to me…………a bunch of young guns plus me not acting my age. I told them that I was a flatlander from SW Florida and the hills were gonna be a challenge only to hear one rider comment about how Florida Flatlanders have to ride the headwinds, it’s no secret. The roads are slippery wet but I’m hangin’ in there just sitting on the back. The route is hilly and I’m climbing up with the group. There’s a segment named Flags Pkwy SW  Climb and Garmin is saying it’s a 22% grade!  So that’s why my eyes are buggin’ and my tongue is hangin’ out, oxygen deprivation.  Strava has it hidden and flagged as hazardous. Why do I know that people ride it just because Strava flagged it!  Really glad it’s a short segment. I can still hear my sweet mama’s voice telling me to “sit and be patient.” She didn’t know it at the time but when it comes to climbing long and steep she was right. Thanks Mom. The real problem is I’m falling back on the descents, no guts. It’s just too slippery for me, I can’t let ‘er go. I’m doin’ 40mph and the kids are just flying by. After 15M three of us break it off and head back to the bike shop.

These guys were great to ride with. Talking smack with each other throughout but it’s all in fun. I felt very welcome just like everywhere I go.  Cyclist are all about the same no matter the locale. Not long after I’m looking at Strava and sure enough these guys all pop up in a group and I’m there as well. One guy has the best Strava nickname ever….Max Cadence.

Back at the hotel I’m the only one carrying a bike onto the elevator.  I’m getting strange looks but everyone wants to know “how was the ride” or “did I ride in this weather?” “It was great.Yes….yes I did.”  Sunday’s plan to ride the Roswell Ga. Cycle Week Bike Shop Kickoff Ride was a wash. Actually it was blown away. It was like Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz rolled into one out there. There was a tornado touch down nearby like the Wizard of Oz and I was in Atlanta like Gone With The Wind……….. get it? I spent the day watching hockey waiting for Valerie to finish up her Isagenix conference.

elleabell.02 2015Monday the 20th and Tuesday the 21st I rode the Ellabell Ga. area which I’ve well documented in the past. My daughter and her family live there and it’s a great cycling destination, very rural, almost primitive, and flat. Cotton fields surround the remains of fallen down wooden shacks sprinkled amongst upscale suburban developments where those who commute to Savanna live. It’s off the grid about 20 miles west of I95 and the nearest urban sprawl, the town of Pooler. There are truly more dogs than people out and about early in the day. I stayed on very wide open seldom used roads both days leaving my mark on the Whoopin’ Wilma Edward Road Strava Segment.

CHAPTER II

Fast forward now to May 23rd and I’m riding south of Washington DC near Montclair Va. where my son and his family live. The M.U.R.T. along Va. 234 takes me north to Joplin Rd., a 10 mile long old 2 laner just east of Quantico that takes me to Prince Williams Forest Park. This is my favorite route when staying in Montclair, rolling hills and out of the way. If you look back through this blog you’ll run across previous entries about this route. This is one of the few little 2 lane country roads around Montclair / Dumfries/ Manassas that offer any room for cycling other than the M.U.R.T. Most of the others have way too much traffic and way too many blind corners.

On Tuesday May 26th my plan was to ride from Sharpsburg Md. to Gettysburg Pa. but I chickened out due to fuzzy route intel. Google Earth is great but it didn’t show the traffic around Hagerstown Md.  And so I rode from Harpers Ferry Md. to Sharpsburg Md + the Antietam Battlefield instead. As luck would have it Garmin struggled mightily to find itself when I went to upload the data and ……well it never did. Here is my hand drawn rendition of what went on beneath the saddle.https://www.strava.com/routes/2464053
me harper ferry 2015To be fair when I checked the Garmin it showed less total elevation, approx 1900 ft., but that could be because I didn’t calibrate the GPS. This makes me look better so…yes….let’s go with it. Anyway put this route on your bucket list for sure. It’s a lot of climb for a 20+ mile ride but it’s beautiful country side, zero traffic. At one point there were bovine on the road just to make me feel at home. The beginning, Sandy Hook Rd., runs right along the Potomac  and the C&O trail for you gravel grinders. I now get to cross off riding in Maryland on my Bucket List.

Thursday May 28th 2015 finds me in Lancaster Pa. at sister Pammy’s place just for the night with no plans to ride but I’m awake at 5AM and it’s past the crack of dawn already! Lancaster’s  further east than SW Fl.  I used to know these roads like the back of my hand but urban sprawl continues to change the landscape threatening Amish Paradise. Thankfully there are still covered bridges and beautiful farms all around but I’ll go and ride further west in the future.

road va 2015.02Friday, 5/30/15, I drove south to find The Stonewall Jackson Shrine which I did but I also found endless miles of country roads leading to nowhere in particular. The back roads off Va. 606 were put there to be ridden, but……….OH WELL……… I was not prepared and so it’ll have to wait till next time. Did I mention that The Battle Cry Of Freedom and other Civil War tunes such as My Bonny Blue Flag  hijacked the soundtrack of my mind!

ch.01But enough already about rides that didn’t happen. Saturday’s plan was to ride the 234 M.U.R.T. and Waterway Dr. right by my son’s place. There’s a Strava Segment on the M.U.R.T. , Waterway to Minnieville, and I am nowhere to be found, not even in the top 100. This I can’t abide. Time to break out the Cycle Haus Orange, put on the game face and go for it. The best I can do is a top 5 overall on the Waterway to Minnieville segment but at least I was able to leave my mark with room to do better. This would not have even been possible without the  orange. That alone adds about 25 hp. Waterway Dr. is a great 4 lane 5+ mile loop of rollers with plenty of room.

Well that about wraps er up. Lots of talking about myself but it’s my blog, my journal and so what would you expect. By the time this is published I’ll be back in Florida and it’ll be hot and humid by 8 AM. BUT………no pollen to clog up my respiratory like there was in Pa. It rained the day before I rode Lancaster knocking down most of airborne stuff but the farmers had been out spreading……whatever it is they spread, on their fields, very aromatic. Va. late May on the other hand is very mild and the pollen season has past. It’s great  that my family visits always take me too great cycling destinations. Miraculously the stars and planets aligned perfectly on this trip allowing my entire family to be in the same spot at the same time. Daughter Kristen decided to travel north to Virginia to celebrate her baby girl’s first birthday with her in-laws and attend her college reunion and my son and his tribe live nearby and so Valerie and I seized the opportunity and well here we are. I’m truly  blessed.

heisey family 5-31-15 ashburn va.

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