Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chester, MD to Lewes DL, the Long Way

The most direct cycling route from Chester to Lewes is 73 miles.  Which would have definitely been a consideration, if I wasn't trying to collect states for my RUSA American Explorer Award.  So I planned to ride the Seagull's Revenge perm pop to Salisbury, then head back up and east to Lewes, for a total of 130 miles.

When last we left this, I was sitting out a day because of forecasted bad weather - specifically, severe thunderstorms.  So I ate breakfast at the motel, washed my riding clothes, bought an e-book to read, ordered a take-out pizza and breadsticks for lunch and dinner, and watched the weather roll by.  Watched a little tv.  Willed my cycling gear to dry.  Finished that book, checked out an e-book from the library.  Mind you, the iPad had gone north in my duffel; I was doing all this from the phone.

Got everything packed up - not hard!  Slept poorly.  Why, I have no idea.

Up and out the door, planning to arrive at the McDonalds (5.5 miles) in time for breakfast.

Breakfast and coffeeneuring

Right at 7am, I started out.  It was damp and cloudy, but expected to clear off around noon.  The first few miles were retracing my route from the hotel, and then continuing generally east.  The wind was not too unfavorable in the morning.  The crossings of Hwy 50 and Hwy 301 were... interesting.  After looking at them via Street View, I asked the perm owner if it was even legal.  Well, yes, it was, for bicycles.  Cars cannot cross, they can only turn right or left.  Which meant that the median in the middle was also a left turn in both ways, and challenging to find a place to go!

With a bit of patience, both crossings were successful, and I was now not needing to cross any major highways for miles and miles and miles and miles.

Maryland peninsula countryside

Maryland peninsula countryside

The scenery was mostly farms and forest.  The first control was an info control in Ridgely, at the former train station.  A local was walking by and he told me all about the trains which used to stop there.

Ridgley, MD.  Info control here.

Not too far after Ridgely, I turned south, into The Headwind.  I just kept plugging along, hoping for more stands of forest, which blocked the wind somewhat.

Next control was in Federalsburg, at the McDonald's.  Seemed like a good time to get actual food.  I usually order a kid's meal, because that is just about the right amount of food.  I opted for the yogurt, rather than the apple slices.  It was a GoGurt, and it is possible to fail eating them.

Clearing off.

Riding right down the Maryland-Delaware state line

State number 8

Back into the wind, 30 more miles to Salisbury.  The sun had come out, and it was definitely warming up.  Worked my way through Salisbury, got to where the Wawa Market should be (finish control)... and I couldn't find it.  Asked a passerby.  "Baby, it is right over there!".  I haven't been Honeyed or Babied for decades :-) and got a lot of that today.

Finished at 7:24 elapsed time, and enjoyed my first Wawa Market.  They had all the important things (V-8, Gatorade, cheese sticks, nuts, cookies...) and soft pretzels.  There were also sandwiches and other food like that, but somehow, a sandwich just doesn't often call on a ride.

Off the clock, and time to head for Lewes, 45 miles away.  Now I get the tailwind.  The route was generally north until Laurel, MD, then onto Route 9 for the rest of the day, heading north and east.  The roads were quite decent and lightly traveled, and, while Route 9 had considerably more traffic, it also generally had a wide, smooth, and clean shoulder, and I moved right along.  Just after Georgetown, though, I was starting to feel the efforts of battling the headwind earlier.  While there were only 15 more miles to go, I needed something...  Why yes, ice cream would definitely help!

15 miles to Lewes

It being election season, there were many campaign signs by the road.    One position looked like the most awesome elected job ever - Recorder of Deeds.  Well, maybe not quite that epic, but that's where my mind goes after many miles.

Pulled into Lewes and the motel.  The woman I spoke to a couple of nights ago was working the front desk, so I thanked her again.  Ate dinner across the street, and realized that with the ferry not sailing until 8:45am, I could sleep in!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Arlington to Annapolis

Leslie and I had exchanged many emails prior to the trip, working through a route from Arlington to Annapolis.  It ended up like this.

We had a leisurely breakfast, and then she rode with me through the army base (ID produced at the entry) and Arlington National Cemetery, at which point she said: "you go that way".

Arlington National Cemetery

So we said our goodbyes, and I headed into DC over the Memorial Bridge.

Arlington Bridge to DC

I had to stop and take some pictures here and there.

Lincoln Memorial

Washington Monument

Then I headed up Constitution Avenue, on the exceptionally wide sidewalk, as there didn't seem to be a bike lane on the street itself.  All good until Columbus Circle :-)  Eventually I figured out where I was supposed to be going - yes, I had the GPS on, and yes, it was talking to me, and no, the roads were very, very busy and didn't exactly resemble the instructions I was receiving :-)

Navigation became much more straightforward once I entered Maryland; the Anacostia Trail was very nice.

Anacostia Trail, MD

So was the Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Trail, except it didn't go all the way to Annapolis.  There isn't a bridge over the Patuxent River yet.

Farm, MD

Somewhere around Bowie, I stopped for snacks.  It was warming up, and there had been a headwind most of the way.

Saw lots of Bikes May Use Full Lane signs :-)

I love this sign

Lot of lawn to mow

Navigation until the outskirts of Annapolis was reasonably straightforward.  I managed to get lost in Annapolis a few times.  And then found myself passing the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, and headed toward the bridge over the Severn River by the Naval Academy.

Severn River Bridge, Annapolis

Right after the bridge, I pulled over and called the bicycle shuttle company - we planned to meet up at the McDonalds.  He said he'd be there in about 20 minutes.  I'd be there in about the same amount of time.  Three or so miles on narrow, winding roads later, I popped out by the McDonalds, left my bike leaning against a table, and got something to eat and drink.

Coffeeneuring, Mc Donalds, Annapolis

(Iced Tea.  Coffeeneuring)

The shuttle driver arrived a few minutes later.  He told me to not rush and finish eating.  We loaded the bike into the back of his pickup, and he drove me across the Bay Bridge.

Shuttling across the Bay Bridge in a pickup

Once over the other side, he pointed out the McDonalds which was the start for my next permanent populaire, told me there wasn't anywhere to eat right by the motel, and pulled into the 7-11 for me to get some supplies.  Then he dropped me off at the motel.

Now, about those best-laid plans...  The weather forecast for several days had been hinting that a whopper of a storm would be coming in, probably the next day, when I was meant to be riding.  High winds, thunderstorms...  The last time I was in the DC area, the derecho storm came through, and I didn't want to be out riding in anything even closely resembling that.

I checked with the motel - if I wanted to stay over another day, they had room.  I then called the next two motels down the line.  The first one was a "you can't change your reservation" reservation, but I called directly and threw myself on their mercy.  It worked.  The second was easily changed.  Let my uncle know I'd be arriving a day later.  Then emailed the perm owner.  He was totally okay with me riding a day later.  Whew.

50 cycling miles for the day.

Alexandria to Ale House (Olney, MD) and back

First, it was a wonderful wedding and we had a great time with family.  The bike case and duffel went off with my aunt and uncle at the morning after breakfast (my sister: "we have this huge tent, we should get another event out of it!).

Fitz and I then drove down to Alexandria, and had fun walking around town, and having lunch at Gadsby's, a tavern frequented by George Washington, back in the day.

Lunch at Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria

Ducks on the Potomac, Alexandria

He planned to maybe play a bit of golf before catching the plane home.  I sent him off with the last little bit of clothing I wasn't taking with me.  And there I was, all by myself.  Committed.

I was meeting Leslie T. to ride that perm pop which traversed three states (VA, DC, MD).  Yeah, about that.  Route owner Crista was planning to meet us at the turnaround control for lunch.  She discovered that the restaurant was closed on Mondays, and did some rerouting to a different place.  Fortunately this all happened before we left, so I had an updated cue sheet.

In the meantime, Leslie had been in a car accident and was feeling a bit beat up, and maybe wouldn't be able to ride.  But she signed up, and said she'd give it a go.

But, there I was just before 9am, at the Old Town Alexandria Starbucks' (where, if it had been there then, it would probably have been George Washington's coffee hangout).

Waiting to start, Starbucks, Old Town Alexandria

And, a few minutes later, someone said "hi!", and there was a purple Sweetpea leaning against the rack next to mine.  And there was Leslie.  We chatted a bit, and I dumped my mocha into my thermal bottle.  It was time to go.

Two Sweetpeas

I followed Leslie northward on the Mount Vernon Trail, passing right by Reagan National Airport, then over a bridge into DC, and north along the Potomac River.  Eventually we turned under a highway, and rode under it until we got onto the Capital Crescent Trail.

Canal, Capital Crescent Trail

Lock Keeper's House, Capital Crescent Trail

Leslie T on a bridge

We chatted along the way, and Leslie stopped to point out one of the original Washington DC boundary stones.

original DC boundary stone there

The trail goes on for quite some distance; we were on it for about 7 miles, before popping out in Bethesda, and onto the Georgetown Branch Trail.  This trail has a crushed rock surface, still easily rideable, and goes through a tunnel at the beginning, which was fun.

A tunnel in Bethesda

Georgetown Branch Trail

It had been raining off and on, but it was a warm rain, so I didn't bother with pulling on the jacket. Or any rain gear, for that matter. They have different ideas of what is cold, there :-)

We then got off the trail and onto the surface streets.  The rain got rather more insistent, and we had a brief period of misplacement; missed a turn in the rain.

After that, Leslie elected to head to the closest Metro stop; she still wasn't feeling up to riding the whole thing.  11 more miles to go, all on surface streets.  Crista writes a very detailed cue sheet; I had only one moment of deep confusion, when the route entered a country club with no visible way out the other side.

I found Crista and her friend Barbara at the turnaround control (Sisters Sandwiches and Such), ordered a tuna sandwich, and sat down to visit and eat half the sandwich (it was huge).  Wish I'd had more time to visit, but I was on a mission to finish this ride in time!

Crista Permanista and me

Fortunately, this was pretty much an out and back, and I flew low all the way back to DC.  The Capital Crescent Trail was particularly nice for this.  Then I entered DC...  again a moment of confusion looking for the 14th St Bridge (you'd think there would be SIGNS!); a passing cyclist pointed me in the right direction.

Over the bridge, 6 more miles on the Mt Vernon Trail to the finish.  Getting close...  I arrived at the Starbucks with 10 minutes to spare, but the cashier was having an exceptionally long conversation with the two guys in front of me, and then went to grind some coffee for them and...  Thought I'd DIE there.

But all ended well.  Got a coffee drink and sat down to enjoy it before riding over to Leslie's home in Arlington, where I'd spend the night.

Adventure - Prologue

Niece Debbie was getting married in Virginia.  States are small and close together on the East Coast.  Maybe I could take my bike, and ride some multistate permanents...

The original plan was to ride something in the DC area, then get myself up to NJ, visit with family, and get in a ride or two.  I didn't want to fly.  Living out here in bicycle hippieland, I am used to handing my unboxed bike up to the Amtrak baggage car, and retrieving it at my destination.  Not so there - yes, there are trains.  They don't have baggage service.  Not for suitcases, and certainly not for bicycles.

Well.  OK.  Maybe I could ride the bike?  Looking at routes, the Susquehanna River was a challenging boundary - no allowed or safe crossings for bicycles unless one goes far inland.  Maybe I could take the Lewes-Cape May ferry?  No bicycles allowed on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, either.  Further investigation revealed that there did exist a drive-over service.  Rummaging around the NJ Tourism web site yielded a bike route (mostly) along the Jersey Shore.  I could ride up past my grandparents' former homes, then head inland to family.

So I collected lists of multistate perms and perm pops.  Made plane reservations.  Sent emails.  Arranged with an uncle to carry my bike case from Virginia to his home in Freehold.  Tested carrying enough stuff on a PDX-Eugene perm.

That only worked if I didn't carry any raingear and a few other small things.  New Bike Luggage indicated.  I bought the Banjo Brothers Pannier Rack bag.  Compact panniers when I wanted them, and they'd zip up into side pockets when I didn't.  One of the many racks I had would work with the bag, if I extended the deck with a piece of coroplast.

Bag installed, panniers deployed

I settled on the route and registered with all the route owners.  I had ride companions lined up for the two out and back rides.

Printed out all the cue sheets and two of the three perm cards.

Cue sheets, perm cards, and envelopes for the adventure

I also located motels along the way, and made reservations.

Logistics for the first perm pop were tricky.  We were staying out by Vienna, VA.  The perm pop started in Alexandria, which is a bit of a drive, and not one anyone wants to make in the morning, when the entire DC area is trying to get to work.  We swapped our last night to a hotel in Alexandria.  I'd hand off all the stuff going to NJ the morning after the wedding, and send my husband home with the few bits of clothes the morning after that.  Kind of like a rocket shedding its boosters.

Then I went to pack the bike...  There is a reason I do this a couple days in advance, truly.  The rack didn't fit.  Not in the bike case.  Not in my duffel.  I had ordered a packable rack, in silver, from France. It was backordered, and not yet available.  I was going to have to cave and buy the BLACK one.  Duly ordered, with next day pickup at Western Bike Works.  Had a great visit with James during the pickup. Did a little preassembly on the rack, and packed it in the duffel.

And away we go...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Coffeeneuring 2014

Coffeeneur #1, Ava Roasteria, Beaverton Oregon
Sunday, October 5
Even though I live about 2 miles from this coffee shop, I have never been there.  They are open 24/7, so you'd think it would be a great place to locate a perm start, but I prefer Jim and Patty's, as I don't start or finish perms in the middle of the night.  So far, anyway.

I had to return a library book (The Magician's Land) and deposit a check (SPOT Gen 3 refund, yay!), and Ava is right there.

Bike Friendliness: They have a well-concealed bike rack (behind a big post)

Ava Roasteria

Vibe: On a sunny Sunday afternoon, it was extremely popular with the "study in a coffee shop" crowd.

Ordered an iced latte, and enjoyed it out on the patio.

From there, I proceeded to my favorite bike shop, where I met one of the newer mechanics, Ryan, and he found a chainstay bridge bolt for my fender, because the one that was there went walkabout, and I don't need a fender crumpling up and wrecking my upcoming planned bike adventure.  Where I plan to exercise the Vacation Rule :-)

Riding home, I picked up some chestnuts from a couple of trees, some inedible horse chestnuts and some (well only one worth keeping) edible chestnuts.  The really prickly husks contain the edible ones.

(Left) Edible chestnut (right) inedible chestnut

Took a snap of a local Desire Path.  It actually IS on the Beaverton plan, but way far in the future.  Nice now, but will be a sucking mudpit within a month.

Desire path - SW Millikan Way to SW Lombard, Beaverton OR

And a snap of a road with a very bad sight line, which is on my route to Beaverton.

looking north on SW 108th in Beaverton.  Bad sight line.

Total distance: 4.5 miles

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Rare Kevin-Spotting

I haven't ridden with Kevin L since JUNE. Months!  We got out for the West County 100 Perm Pop this past Sunday, and it was great!

As I had time constraints after, I drove to the start, although, after my local routes, this one is the next closest, and not a big deal to ride there.  I was parking, and Kevin rolled up.  He rode to the start.  There was a handoff of Frog pedals, and then we wandered over to the Jackson's C-store for the starting rituals.

So, first we rode out to Banks, then west on Cedar Canyon (info control!), and further west on Hwy 6, our first timed control at the Shell Station.  Long line at the checkout.

We'd had a headwind of sorts to here, and then, was we turned south and a bit east, picked up the occasional gift which is the killer tailwind on Gales Creek, all the way to Stringtown Rd.  It was wonderful.


Stripey Trees Corner

trees turning on Dilley Rd

Rolled our way south past nurseries and farms, to our next control in Gaston.  They still don't have plain V-8, so I suggested they start stocking it.  Such nice people there: "you can fill up your water bottles at the soda dispensers".

We continued east, and as we crossed the Tualatin River bridge on Golf Course Rd, Kevin commented that it was much, much nicer today than it had been the day we were pre-riding the Scavenger Hunt 200k, in which the rain varied from bucketing down to toadstrangling the entire day.  Aren't either of us going to forget that one!

Once we got past the rollers on Tongue Rd, a little old lady in a '70s car passed me with approximately 2 inches of space.  There was no oncoming traffic, nor were there impaired sight lines.  Kevin said he was going to yell, but then he saw that she was about 90 years old, and didn't want to startle her...

Oxidizing, Tongue Rd

A little more wandering around the southern edges of Hillboro, then north and east back to our start.  We decided to finish at the Subway, and did the card thing over sandwiches, chips and drinks.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Willamette Valley Dog and Pony Show 200k

Alternate title: "you never forget your first..."

Steve B put out a feeler for company on Ken's Willamette Valley Dog and Pony Show 200k perm.  He just joined RUSA maybe a month ago.  Like me, he's available to ride during the week.  So we settled on Monday at 7:30, and I suggested he park in the Newberg public parking lot, which is only a couple of blocks from the Thriftway grocery.

I spent Sunday updating my bike's luggage system, so this would be the test ride.  And there I was, at 7:15, in the Thriftway, buying a banana to get the receipt.  Steve appeared shortly thereafter, and we headed out of town.

He lives in Vancouver, WA, so this area mostly unknown territory for him.  For me, it was total autopilot the first 44 miles to Stayton.  The temperature was perfect (60's), and it was overcast.  We had a headwind all the way south, but it has been worse.

"My wife says this jersey makes her eyes hurt"

Howell Prairie Rd

We pulled into the Roth's and explored the wonders of the refrigerated case.  I found deviled eggs, a V-8, and some more Gatorade (new favorite flavor - Strawberry Lemonade).  They did have sandwiches, but they looked kind of big.  I had a couple half sandwiches in my bag, so didn't buy any.

From there we proceeded south to Cole School Road, home of the fabled and legendary "rollers".  Roller number 2 got me again - made it 3/4 of the way up, though.   We stopped to take pictures at the Shimanek covered bridge, then went off in search of the Gilkey covered bridge.

Shimanek Covered Bridge

Gilkey Covered Bridge

On the way to Jefferson, just before the Green Bridge, I heard a semi behind me.  I didn't hear it slowing down (two lane road, traffic, no shoulder to speak of),  So I pulled over, just as a semi towing a very full load of haybales flew past me.  The wind shock was impressive.  Crossed the bridge, and then I heard a second one, blowing its horn.  Again, not slowing down for anything.  I dove for the gravel shoulder just in time.  It flew by, forcing the oncoming vehicle over to the side of the road as well.  A third one drove by shortly thereafter.  I tried to get the company name, but it was going much too fast.  So, for any of you who might know, medium light blue (kind of Gitane blue), maybe starting with "G" in script.  NOT improving the haytruck image.  Not one bit.

When we got to the intersection in Jefferson, a police car was waiting next to us.  So I told him what happened, maybe he'll do something about it.  One can hope.

Off then to find the Buena Vista ferry.  I had only been on it once, way back in 2004.  Not that it was too hard to find - follow Talbot Rd to the end!  Nobody but us on this crossing.

Buena Vista ferry

Excavated ourselves up at the ferry landing in Buena Vista, and proceeded onward.  Except there was a cue with no matching street sign, so we were off by one, and the next turn had the previous cue's description (not a cue sheet error, I might add, both streets had the same name(s)).  So we turned left.

Trees turning, Buena Vista Rd

After we came upon the intersection where Prather Rd came in, and went down Buena Vista, I started getting JUST a little suspicious.  Called a halt, and brought up the route on my phone.  Yes, we were in the wrong place, although I was not sure how we got there.  Steve was all for going on, and I pointed out that we'd end up in Albany, and we weren't going there today.  So, we rode back up what had been a lovely descent (sigh), and got ourselves back where we were supposed to be, on the road to Independence.

The route did not call for us to go into Independence, but we needed some things, so we went to the north end of town, by the c-store and public park.  I picked up a Payday bar, a Red Bull and more Gatorade, and drank the Red Bull on the spot.  We then proceeded toward Salem, and I will say, I did have wings.  Flew up all the little rises all the way to Salem.  Most fun I've had on that 10 miles, ever.

While Salem was supposed to be a bit challenging during rush hour, we didn't find it so.  Got through downtown, and all the way to the Keizer town line, where we turned left into the quiet neighborhoods which are so familiar from the Monster Cookie Ride and just about every other ride that includes Salem.  So, I was again back on autopilot, all the way to the Wheatland Ferry.  Steve was a little suspicious as we cut through on paths in parks and the street changed names.  "Trust me here..."

(cycling gear sidebar) I had switched back to my winter riding shoes, since every other pair of cycling shoes I own are currently making my feet hurt and giving me hotfoot.  These, while not perfect, were MUCH better.  But I'd still like shoes that just fit and I wouldn't even notice them.

Wheatland Ferry

There was a long line of cars at the ferry (who knew?).  But, as the bikes fit in the spaces on the sides, we just filtered up to the front and got right on the ferry.

We then headed toward roads which would take us to Webfoot Rd.  I had ridden on it maybe twice before in the past 20 years, but knew that the north terminus was in Dayton. Passed by Hauer of the Dauen Winery (Hour of the Dawn :-) ) and many farms.  Finally, I could see the Center Market up ahead in Dayton.

We didn't stop.  I had described the route out of Dayton to Steve, and we proceeded all the way to the other end of Ferry St, off-pavement, over the bridge, down, and left onto the gravel road.  And then we joined up with OR-233, entirely missing the whole loopy, traffic-y, narrow bridge part.

From there we merged onto Hwy 99W, never a pleasant experience.  But wait!  New pavement!  Totally new asphalt!  Not yet striped, but wide enough that I wasn't feeling stressed.  By now, darkness was definitely falling (we'd stopped for Steve to light up on Webfoot Rd; I have a light switch on my handlebar), and traffic was, oh, not light.  But I enjoyed that wonderful smooth pavement all the way to the Dundee town line, where it reverted, with additional bits of gravel from the construction.

There was to be a turn off Hwy 99W onto a secondary road, rather than riding all the way into town on 99W.  I applauded that, but we pulled over to check the map, because I wasn't entirely sure we'd be able to find it.  The map said it was just past the Arco station, just after the road became the divided highway/one way couplet through Newberg.  I saw the gas station up ahead, and also saw an immense amount of road construction.  Fortuitously, our turn was right there.  Note: while the cue sheet calls for "Fox Farm Rd", it is signed "Dayton Rd".

Peace.  Quiet.  Very low traffic.  Also very dark, and it does roll up and down a bit.  On one dip, I thought I noticed some movement up ahead in the dark - whoops, about 8 people and 2 dogs all walking on the wrong side of the road in dark clothing!  Ninjas!  Avoidance maneuvers were successful.

Spotted traffic lights ahead... and there was the Thriftway!  Done!

Steve, at the conclusion of his first 200k

Aftermath: We adjourned to Burgerville, because that's what you do when a ride finishes in Newberg.

Steve said it was the furthest he'd ridden in a single day EVER.  It was also his first 200k.  Many more to come, I am sure!