Sunday, August 22, 2010

114 miles of the C&O canal

Well, that was an adventure. Saturday morning I went and grabbed Eric from his parents house at about 630am and headed up to Cumberland, MD, which is where the C&O Canal officially "ends". Of course, we would be using that as a starting point. The drive to Cumberland is amazing. Rolling across mountains with spectacular views and through the sides of mountains that were blasted in half to make the road.

Anyways, we arrived in Cumberland and found a parking deck which was free for the weekend. We had to park on the top level, the only "public" parking level and we set ourselves to prepping our bikes and getting our gear in order. The first thing was stripping and putting on our bike shorts and chamois cream... something neither of us have used before. We had a good laugh at eachother rubbing that shit all over....
And then we headed out to find the canal. It started right on the edge of town.

And then we started off. Our original goal of 124 miles to harper's ferry meant the half way point would be in a small town called Hancock which promised a bike shop (if we needed any more tubes) and a good lunch. The quarter way point was a rather long tunnel built for the canal called the Paw Paw Tunnel. We decided it would be best to take short breaks every 15 miles or so, and since we started off at a good clip, this was great. Unfortunately, by the end of the ride, these 15 mile breaks would cease and we would stop at every water pump we came across.

So, 30 miles in we reached the paw paw tunnel. A few years ago Eric and I did a bit of a crazy hike around these parts and we were looking forward to doing this tunnel again. We stopped there and ate a power bar and had some water before riding through the pitch black tunnel.

And the other side of the tunnel is spectacular. There is a wooden boardwalk that cuts through the mountain with the canal on one side.

With another 30 miles to go until lunch, we took off. During this next stretch we saw many deer and, even cooler, a single black bear running along the drained canal.  By the time I could come to a stop to take out the camera, he was already in the trees on the other side.  About 20 miles later we hopped off the C&O canal and onto the Western Maryland Rail Trail, a 22 mile paved course similar to the B&A I ride all the time. Unfortunately, this trail was uphill all the way to Hancock and there was no water, at all, on the route. I was dumb and skipped a previous water stop, so I had to push through 11 miles with absolutely no water. It was terrible.  Fortunately, this rail trail does shave 5 miles off the canal.

Eventually we made it to Hancock. The pleasant town I was expecting was... not so pleasant. In fact, it was hardly a town at all. More like a few gas stations and that was it. We grabbed a sandwich from Sheetz, a bottle of gatorade, and some bananas and snacked down.

 There was a bum passed out where we wanted to go eat.  We didn't see him until we sat down and thought he was dead.  We checked him breathing then left him alone.  From the bottle of vodka in that blue bag... I think he was sleeping off a rather heavy drinking night.

After we left Hancock, we continued on the Western Maryland Rail Trail until it connected back to the C&O around 70 miles in.  Surprisingly, I didn't even notice we had done a metric century... wish I would have taken a picture.  Oh well.

And then we hit a wall.  Both of us were fatigued.  We slowed our pace down considerably.  I got a stitch in my side and had to pull off for a few minutes to get it out.  When we jumped back on the bike we caught a second wind and upped our pace.  By mile 80-ish we knew, due to daylight, our goal of 124 miles was out of the question.  We called our parents to figure out where to get picked up sooner.  We knew we wanted to get a full 100 miles in and the next closest town after that was Shepherdstown, West Virginia at mile 73 on the canal.  Unfortunately... somewhere along the way, we hit a detour.  Apparently the canal towpath had washed out and we had to head across mountainous side roads.  Up and down hills for 10 miles is not something we looked forward to. 

Eventually the detour reconnected with the C&O and we pushed out the remaining 12 miles or so.  As we hit the 73 mile signpost we saw an opening ahead that would lead to a parking lot where we expected to meet Eric's parents.

And then... after 114 miles of biking over the course of 11 hours.  After dodging potholes and limbs.  After accidently rolling off the side of the towpath and having to bunny hop over a log.  After all that... I freaking fell.  I was drafting Eric as we got to the parking lot and he made a sharp turn to get around a signpost.  I saw it at the last second and slammed on my breaks.  I missed the sign, but with no speed and starting up a hill, and absolutely no power left in my legs, I just fell over.  Feet still clipped in.  Damn.

We went home, I took a bath, ate as much as I could consume and swiftly fell asleep.

Some other random pictures from the trip:

So... the August 150 is officially cleared and done.  my goal of 400 miles for August is nowhere near complete, but I don't think I will be biking much this week.  114 miles on a mountain bike... not bad, not bad at all.

Friday, August 20, 2010

C&O canal this weekend

The guy that came down and road into Annapolis a few weekends ago and I are heading out to Cumberland tomorrow morning to start the 185 mile ride into Washington DC. On day 1 we are hoping to make it to Point of Rocks, which is just 10 miles or so south of both our parents houses. We are going to get picked up and spend the night at my parent's house and then get dropped back off in the morning to continue the ride.

On day 1 we are hoping to do 136 miles, which will more than double my longest ride. The only saving fact is there are enough places to bail out that if we don't make it, then we aren't stranded int he middle of nowhere. I am hoping to wake up and get up to Cumberland to start the ride at 7:30am, which would put us in Hancock for lunch. There is also a small bike shop that we can restock if we need to.

I am hoping to make it to Harper's Ferry for dinner... this is where my mom and I rode to about a month or two ago. If we make it that far, we will call my parents to come scoop us at Point of Rocks, a 12 mile bike ride away.

I am a bit of an analyzer... if there is any data I can scrounge up, I will use it to make out some form of... form. So, while I can promise you on Sunday I will return with "the best laid plans of mice and men..." but in the meantime... if we keep an average pace of 12 mph... this will be our timing schedule.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Performance Sale

Though I doubt it means much to anybody that reads this but Chesapeake Sailor, Performance Bike has just opened a new location in Columbia, MD. Since I worked early this morning, I was able to go over there around noon and picked up some awesome stuff for "dirt" cheap.

I bought a Blue jersey for myself, a red jersey for my wife, a chain cleaner, cycling shorts (finally), 2 tubes, and a pair of sunglasses.

Total was about $150.

The markdowns were this:
Shorts: $45 down to $25
Blue Jersey: $45 down to $30
Red Jersey: $55 down to $35
Chain Cleaner: $35 down to $20
Tubes 2 at $6 down to $2
Glasses: $70 down to $30

And on top of all that, you get an extra 15% off!

Check out more of their deals here

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ram's Head for Dinner + Garmin Goals

Yesterday I had one of my good buds come down for a biking trip. He showed up around 3pm with his brother's beat up old mountain bike (a nice mountain bike... just old... and beat up) and we took off down to Annapolis. I rode my mountain bike as well. Not too much to report on the trip... we ate at a great little restaurant called Ram's Head, where we were able to sit out front with our bikes. We also did a short little tour of Annapolis... down by the city docks, around State Circle then church circle. All in all it was a great day.

Unfortunately I didn't turn off my gps until about 2 hours after I got home... so that is why the 2 and change trip reads at over 4 hours.

And as I mentioned in a previous post, I am using "Garmin Goals" to track both Phil's August 150 challenge and my own August 400 challenge.

Doing this is really simple...yet a bit underdeveloped. You go to Garmin Connect, click on Goals, click on New Goals, and then you get a bunch of drop down menus. Name of Goal? Activity Type (Cycling, Mountain biking, running, etc.)? Goal Type (Hours, Distance, Frequency, Calories)? Value of Goal (you put a number in... so for the August 150, I selected Distance then wrote in 150)? And then how long for you to reach your goal.

After that, any time you upload your gps files to Garmin Connect, your goal sheet automatically gets updated. See below for my progress.

Now there are a few problems I have with this program. First, you can not create goals for the past. So, for example, I started goal tracking the August 150 on August 3rd. It would not let me select August 1st for the start date, which means it wouldn't include the 10 mile mountain bike ride I did on Aug 2. Not really that big of a deal... but I can see it pissing off a person that rode a century on the first before making the goal.

Now the cool thing is it shows you "where you should be".

That is on the Dashboard of Garmin Connect. Basically all it is doing is dividing my goal by the number of days to complete the goal and drawing a line, but it does kinda motivate you to ride a bit everyday to make sure you are ahead. Surprisingly, I am almost at that line for my August 400.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Around Severn River

Today is such a nice day... went out for another ride.  Got down to Annapolis and realized I was close enough to work, I could stop by there and do something that I probably should've this morning.  Oh well...

Anyways, great ride and tomorrow a buddy is coming over to ride down to Annapolis for either a late lunch or dinner.  If he's up to it, I'll see if he has any interest in doing this loop again.

I didn't take too many pictures... these are of the Naval Academy's Stadium.

31 miles this afternoon and 10 this morning. I might just make the August 150!

Back down for some Coffee with the Wife

We did the same route as last weekend, and I think we are gonna make this a weekly thing... perhaps going a little farther each day. We did up our speed by 2 mph which was great, and I saw a coworker along the path as well. Good day! I am going to try another ride in this afternoon... beautiful weather!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Garmin Forerunner 310XT Giveaway

Head over to DC Rainmaker to check out the details!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I saw a deer do it, so can I!

As I previously posted today... starting tomorrow I will be working a lot. Too much. But I digress.

In order to get some frustrations out, I decided to push out to Kinder Farms, where I met Mike, a coworker. Mike is as serious of a biker as they come. He doesn't own a road bike, but has a few commuters and then his pride and joy, his Specialized full suspension mountain bike. This guy is absolutely insane.... rides to work every single day. Lightning, snow, sleet, hell, he rode home through a god damned hurricane. And every weekend he tears up Patapsco State Park, a rather highly technical path around here.

Anyways... we met at the entrance to Kinder Farms on East/West. He had told me stories about Kinder Farms, and I have to admit, I didn't believe him. I had rode through there enough time to know all the paths... and nothing he ever said held much weight with what I knew.

So... let me tell you... this man is not a liar. He took me along paths I was familiar with and then out of nowhere he starts cutting through these hairpin turns along single tracks that were completely overgrown and covered with briars. During a water break he said, "Now up here ahead there was something I wanted to check out. I saw a deer do it, so hell, I figure so can I!"

And then he took off through brambles and down a path that Crocodile Dundee couldn't navigate.

I turned around and high-tailed it around to where I thought he would come out. And there he was, plowing through tree limbs and underbrush only to come flying out the other side completely covered in mud and leaves.

Needless to say, he showed me just about everything Kinder Farms has to offer. We did about 6 miles while inside the park... through fields, streams, a small water reservoir, over hills, around a cemetery, through a pig pen.

Here is Mike with his bike.
From Biking the Bay

Oh... and I know a lot of the people that follow this blog are riding to lose weight (along with enjoying biking). Mike has lost a ton of weight in the last year. He doesn't keep track of anything (miles, speed, weight), but here he is at last year's Bike to Work event.

From BiketoWork2009

Damn awesome if you ask me!

12.93 miles today... and probably the last time I'll be on my bike during the work week.

Goodbye August Goals...

Work implemented mandatory 12 hour work days for this month, including some weekends. Goodbye August goals.... I might be able to pull off Phil's August 150 challenge if I can get out some long rides on the weekends.