ELLICOTT CITY, MARYLAND
Yea, I think I can say that. I'm back!
Many stores open days and weeks before their grand opening. Thus it is with my return to cycling. My "official" return from cancer is my own designed 'Toona Metric Century which will be in Altoona, Pa., on April 3. But it would be foolhardy to jump into a 100 km ride with three massive climbs without riding first. So this weekend were my first group rides at pace since my surgery on November 9, 2009.
The forecast for yesterday was a high of 50 degrees (10 C) -- finally -- but it was only 36 (2 C) when we left The Bike Lane in Reston, Va. And it was windy too. About 30 riders showed up. I felt good. Had no problems keeping pace with the group. In fact, one rider posted that the pace seemed fast for the first ride of the year (above freezing). Plus we had a catered breakfast back at The Bike Lane when finished. Life is good!
Yesterday's mileage was a little less than 28 miles as we had to cut out the access paths due to snow and ice and stay on some main roads. In the afternoon I tacked on nine additional miles to Forest Park H.S. to see a college baseball game that didn't materialize. Bonus Miles!
Today was a Potomac Pedalers' ride call The Hills of Ellicott City. Ellicott City is an historic railroad town, in Howard County adjacent to Baltimore County. It is deep in the Patapsco River valley.
This ride is simple. Ride 13 miles to Ellicott City, find a steep hill, climb, descend, repeat. On our first climb two riders had gone 1/4 mile ahead so our group of nine hit the steep climb on Ilchester Road together. The climb had two steeps sections, one at 18% and the other may have pushed 20% (I was out of the saddle then and couldn't read my Garmin display). I caught one of the two riders that had gone way ahead. And waited at the top from the group.
We also climbed College Ave. (16%) and Westchester (an easy 12%).
I was far back at the start of the climb on Westchester since rather and stop and wait to make my left turn against the oncoming traffic on Frederick Road I continued up the street and did a U-turn when traffic was clear. I caught and passed every rider on the climb until I integrated with the front group of four.
The ride was great. It was a friendly pace today and we tried to keep the group together. When our group of four reached Ellicott City we waited again to reform. We began our last climb out of the valley on Old Columbia Road as one unit.
The ride back had some "rollers" - no real hills - but on each one I kept pace with a leader or set the pace. Temperature was 46 (8 C) at ride time but warmed to the mid 50s. It was a great day for riding!!
The legs felt good today. Total distance - 44 miles. And I was first one back. In a nutshell -- I felt great.
More importantly, I met another cancer survivor on the ride. I had a nice talk back at the parking lot with David LeMond. And most importantly, although I've said it before, I think today I have really turned a corner in my cancer recovery. I hope so. It's been a long four months.
Garmin Map and Stats
Note: Oops. Turned off Garmin at Old Annapolis Road and didn't get it turned back on until Montgomery Ave.