I've been busy this year, making sure various shoulder, back and eye surgeons were getting enough business to make all their boat payments, so my biking mileage is down quite a bit. But, I wasn't about to let that stop me from making my annual 85 mile bike ride down to Chris and June's party at their waterfront estate on Mill Creek in Drum Point.
Since Chris has finished the Heathkit airplane he was been building for 24 years, I figured worst case I'd collapse on the side of the road and he and his pilot friends could have much fun playing Civil Air Patrol and locating and rescuing me.
The Chesapeake Ranch Air Force on patrol
This is a long, but relatively easy ride - most rolling hills and overall a 500' decrease in elevation. I chose a new route this year, adding a few miles in length but trading 20 miles of cycling on the shoulder of high speed roads like US301 and MD-4 for more lightly travelled back roads. Definitely improved the ride, though it added a few short steep parts that you don't have on major roads.
I've done this ride in 5 hours (including stops) when I was in top shape, 5.5 hours the last time I did it and this time it took me 6 hours - aobut what I had thought given my conditioning this year. Jacqui asked me what I think about when on a bike for 5+ hours and I instinctively replied "I mostly think 'When will this ***ing ride be over..." but upon futher reflection, the main thing I remember on long rides (outside of the usual daydreaming and head shaking at stupid drivers) is the most popular road kill and roadside trash.
Being September, the most common road kill began with the letter "S" - snakes and squirrels. Maybe in a few weeks it will change to ocelots, otters and onagers. The most common road trash was banana peels - I guess the citizens of Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties are serious about their potassium levels.
i stopped at a 7-11 at the 35 mile mark and fell for the "Two bottles of Gatorade only cost $.25 more than one bottle" upsell, and then got sick of Gatorade by my next stop at the 60 mile point - where I fell for the 2 bottles of coconut water upsell - much tastier.
Since my longest ride all year was 50 miles (and only one ride that long) I was suprised how good I felt leaving Huntingtown. However, at the 70 mile mark my legs and rear end began tweeting "Hey, WTF?? #getoffthisstupidbikeNOW" and the rolling hills of Rt. 4 got steeper and the 5 mph headwind got more jet streamy, and the once friendly sun now began to focus its evil rays on my forehead.
The plan was that I would bike down and Carole, Jim, Jacqui and Carl would drive down in my car. I began to hope they would catch up to me and offer to throw the bike on the car and, lo and behold, at the 82 mile mark Jim and Carl pulled up next to me - in Jim's Subaru, not mine.
It turns out Jim ruined Carl's chance to snuggle with Carole and Jacqui in the back seat of my car on the ride home by deciding to please the terrorists and waste much gasoline by taking two cars. Even worse - they just yelled out a few insults and never offered to put an end to my misery.
So, I slogged out the last few miles and finally arrived at Chris and June's, where everyone came forward to congratulate me - until they smelled me and they all backed off. So, I took a shower and sluiced off the stink and banana/snake/squirrel fragments, and sat down to enjoy the bountiful harvest all the women-folk had prepared.
In past years we'd all be out kayaking and boating on Mill Creek - it is turning into a more sedentary event, but since Chris did finally finish his kit plane, he now could add plane rides to the entertainment mix. Carole took immediate advantage of that, along with Ken and Larry, while I captained Chris's boat and took June and Maggie for a short cruise around Solomon's Island.
As you can see by the grin on Carole's face, a good time was had by all.