Big winds were forecast to move in on Saturday afternoon and I wanted to get some hill riding in, since too much of my mileage this year has been flat to rolling. I had some errands to run, so I combined all of the above, loaded the bike in the car, sent some packages off from the UPS store in Clarksville and then hopped on the bike to ride the roads of Howard County.
At each intersection I tried to choose either the longer way around or the hillier way around. Other than the long eastern stretch on Rt. 216, I was mostly on sharp but short rolling hills with a number of 8% grades in the mix - much shifting up and down. The winds started to pick up when I was headed west back to the start but the big winds didn't start for several hours. Not a long ride - ended up a bit under 31 miles - but it felt longer.
The next day, Carl and I decided to do a two car hike to explore yet another new (to us) section of the trail system along the Patapsco River, from Henryton west to Sykesville. The winds were still active but down from the 50 mph range to the 20 mph range and the temperatures had dropped into the high 30s.
This section is pretty flat, with a few easy climbs over a few hills and ridges. It is also not that long, ended up a bit over 4.1 miles. But it is one of the prettiest sections of the trail system, following some very scenic sections of the river with the rail road on the opposite bank. Several patches of mountain laurel, probably a good stretch to hike in the spring. Didn't see a single hiker or mountain biker - maybe the winds and threats of "widow maker" branches coming down scared everyone with any sense away...
The trail ended at River Road, so we had about 3/4 of a mile of road walking, passing a women walking two poodles - one of which was walking on its hind legs only. Hmm, soon that dog may figure out the mystery of the doorknob and that woman is in trouble. We got back to Carl's car, which was parked in a overflow lot across the street from the new "Shrimptown/South Branch Skatepark" - a concrete skateboarding park, where at about 11am on a Sunday morning many parents were dropping off their kids and their skateboards - about the only activity in sleepy Sunday Sykesville.