Sunday, May 18, 2014

Western Maryland Rail Trail


My planning was off this weekend. Yesterday I was planning a road ride and ended up on the trail - without my mountain bike. Today I planned to ride near Altoona but it was, well, cold. I mean late-winter type cold, low 40s around 10:00 a.m. I did not bring cold weather riding gear.

Road to left - Trail on right

I drove through Portage to East Freedom, Pa, looking for new cycling roads and passed the first church my dad served as a pastor, in 1958. But it was still too cold to ride.

Western Section Terminus

I drove towards Virginia then stopped in Hancock, Maryland. Andrew and I had ridden here before, probably around 2001 or 2002, but I knew there was a rail trail - the Western Maryland Rail Trail.

Looking down - Canal in foreground
Potomac River in background

The trail is built on the former right of way of the Western Maryland Railway. It is a paved 23 mile trail. If one starts in Hancock, as I did, you are basically in the middle of it.

It was a bit warmer in Hancock, mid 50s, but I still wore knee warmers and a jacket. I headed out a road which seemed to parallel the trail and followed it as long as it seemed reasonable. And once on the trail I found access to the road, or a different road, and rode it as well.

The trail, at least the western portion, is in pretty good shape. The asphalt is in very good condition and there are minimal roots working their way up. I had remembered the eastern section being older and more rooted. But there were a number of small twigs on the path though.

It was an out and back good for 25 miles. It wasn't a high mileage day or any amount of climbing but was a good way to break up the ride back to Virginia.

C&O Canal in Hancock

Saturday, May 10, 2014

4K Training Ride


I was honored that Mary Natoli invited me on a training ride for the 4K for Cancer. I left the house and was 10 miles up I-95 when I remembered I forgot my Garmin. Too late to go back, I didn't know how I could ride without it. I don't use it to know where I'm going but to see where I've been.* But when I don't have it I feel empty.

Katie Gundlach, Anthony Venida, Mary Natoli

We met near Comcast Center on the campus of the University of Maryland. We counted off to form four groups. And whatever group I was supposed to be in changed by the time we hit the open road.

The 4K for Cancer 2014 edition had three riders come out. Three. The level of support of was 7:1 which tells you how much the alumni love the organization.

Before we left, Mary had everyone form a circle and she went over rules of the road for the new cyclists. Then we had the dedication circle. I dedicated my ride to Joe Petrucelli.

Team Seattle 2014
Eric Tien, Jackie Weiss

Once on the road I formed up with Nick Lee, a friend of Mary's from Baltimore, and Jen King, a senior at University of Maryland who signed up to ride cross country with Bike and Build. We were the non-4K group.

Yoshi Williams, Chelsea Robinson, Andrew Porter
Photo Credit: Joanna Freeman

We had a pleasant ride to Annapolis. Some busy roads - very busy. And one beautiful country road. It was partly sunny going out. Lunch was 4K-style; donated food, this time from Chipotle and Subway.

Burritos from Chipotle

As we got underway to return from Annapolis the weather turned for the worse. Hoping to beat the weather, our group was designated as Group 1. We would not honor that title. We knew we left before the support van and there wouldn't be chalked turns but Nick was comfortable knowing the way. Until we missed a turn. It was raining and our focus was on staying upright.

Waiting for lunch in Annapolis

We pulled over and tried to determine whether we needed to backtrack or continue with a new route to intersect the original route. We found a new way through. Our delay cost us but we caught one or two groups and picked up Anthony Venida, my "Pedal Pal" from last year's 4K. We rolled ahead sure that we could see the now-first group ahead.

Jen, Nick, Anthony

And then we lost them. We had missed another turn.

Jen, Nick, and Anthony all went to their phones to check the directions vs. maps on the phone. We continued ahead adding four more miles. A check of the map after the ride showed we could have gone back 1/4 mile and been back on course.

Barry and Anthony

But this was an adventure as much as a ride. We found our way back on course although we finished last. In the last 16 miles we ran into more rain and wind. But we stuck together to bring everyone home safely. I think everyone had a good day. I did. I always do with the 4K.

The Famous Anthony Selfie

It was to be a training day for this year's for 4K. Only three new riders showed up but they got a taste of the 4K. It's an amazing organization that an alum, Mary, would organize such a ride and so many others willingly come out to help. Best of luck and safe travels to this year's 4K riders!

*The map was drawn after the fact and is not from my Garmin - which still sets on the fireplace.