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  1. #7626
    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    Good morning Brian.
    Mt. Wash. to Fort McHenry is a great ride. Well done.

    Were you allowed to ride your bike at the Fort? Previously, the park service did not allow any bicycles on the property.

    BTW look here for rides:
    http://www.baltobikeclub.org/index.p...ndar&Itemid=92
    http://www.meetup.com/Biking-in-Bmore/#calendar
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

    Surly Cross Check - Kogswell P/R G2 - COHO
    THE RANDO RAMBLE . . . (blogs) . . . BIKING, BEER and TOAST

  2. #7627
    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    Just got back from a great four day vacation in OC. Cool and sunny. We went swimming a couple days, lounging on the beach, mini golf, watching the Hot Rods cruising up Ocean Hwy, picking crabs and biking on the boardwalk. That was pretty much everything on the list. (actually, we missed Thrasher's FF's and skeeball)

    On Sat, I rode up to Fenwick on the fixie hoping to go sailing, but the rental place didn't have any boats ready for me. Hmmm... well I guess I'll do the next best thing- ride up to Rehoboth and drink at the Dog Fish Head brewpub. Great day for a long ride and a strong pumpkin ale. Slurp.

    Max, what happened in Codorus? Oh yeah, what happened in NOLA too?
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

    Surly Cross Check - Kogswell P/R G2 - COHO
    THE RANDO RAMBLE . . . (blogs) . . . BIKING, BEER and TOAST

  3. #7628
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    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    Just got back from a great four day vacation in OC. Cool and sunny. We went swimming a couple days, lounging on the beach, mini golf, watching the Hot Rods cruising up Ocean Hwy, picking crabs and biking on the boardwalk. That was pretty much everything on the list. (actually, we missed Thrasher's FF's and skeeball)

    On Sat, I rode up to Fenwick on the fixie hoping to go sailing, but the rental place didn't have any boats ready for me. Hmmm... well I guess I'll do the next best thing- ride up to Rehoboth and drink at the Dog Fish Head brewpub. Great day for a long ride and a strong pumpkin ale. Slurp.

    Max, what happened in Codorus? Oh yeah, what happened in NOLA too?
    GB, sounds like you had a great OC trip! I've been there a few times in the off-season, and I've always enjoyed it. I still need to get to Rehoboth (and Dog Fish! ) sometime, I've never managed to organize myself into a trip there.

    NOLA hasn't happened yet. It's 21-24 October.

    The Codorus trip was hard. As I sometimes tend to do while biking, I bit off just a tiny bit more than I could really comfortably chew. I met up with my friend Dave at his place near Hampden (I guess it's actually Wyman Park -- Beech Avenue). After an enthusiastic bon voyage from Dave's girlfriend and her too-sweet-and-adorable-for-words pit bull, we rode up through the city/county to the southern end of the NCR Trail. I don't know what the route was, I was just following him, but I do recall one long climb -- Seminary Road, maybe? -- and a nice fast downhill on Bellona. 15-ish miles to the trail.

    I think I'm going to swear off any further loaded tour routes that use very much of the NCR/York trails. As was the case on my trip to Gifford Pinchot a few years back, the trails just sucked the life out of me, in tiny increments. The steady slog of the 1%-2% grade, combined with the constant beating from the bad surface, and the fight to keep the bike upright as my rear wheel fishtailed through the many deep-graveled sections of the York Trail . . . it's just not much fun, although the trails are beautiful. My lower back started twinging before we'd gotten halfway to New Freedom.

    We couldn't find the Google-recommended turnoff near Glen Rock from the York Trail to Seven Valleys Road (PA 616), an alleged "Owengarry Lane." (Early New Year's resolution: finally learn how to use that fancy-pants GPS that I bought *ages* ago!! ) With Dave's iPhone, we finally realized we were a bit north of where we wanted to be, got on 616 via another road, and then found our turnoff onto Krebs Road.

    And there the true climbing fun began! It was about 12 or 13 miles to Codorus, most of it uphill. A lot of 3%-5% rollers, a few 6%-8% sections, and then, just a few miles from the park, the hill that finally beat me into submission: the upper reaches of Smoketown Road. When it hit 10%, I slugged it out for a few more yards, and then suddenly my back and knees all tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Okay, you know what? We're done with this." I got off the bike. Pushing a 31-pound bike with 35 pounds of baggage uphill isn't exactly a picnic, itself -- it's just a different kind of pain, and at that point, the most I was asking for was a little variety. As I trudged, I watched the gradient feature on my computer continue . . . 11%, 13%, 14%.

    Another climb (but not so steep) on the main road (Blooming Grove Road, PA 216) leading to the park. We overshot the campground entrance -- the signs weren't very clear -- and turned around, only to be faced with yet more climbing, once inside the park, to get to the campground. I had picked a site in the "roughing it" (that's what Codorus calls it) tent-only area. It was beautiful, the sites were huge, not too many of them, and far away from the RVs and their generators. The challenge: to get there, we had to ride down a steep, curving, rough gravel road. Dave zoomed down, no problem; I think I was ***-shy from having almost dumped my bike on the York Trail, so when I felt the rear wheel start to slide out the first time, I got off and walked down the hill.

    Total mileage for the trip to Codorus was 59.

    It was about 5:30 when we arrived, so we got our tents set up, made some food, perused some campground maps, and were falling asleep at the picnic table by 7:45, despite our avowals to stay up until at least 8:00.

    Neither one of us really wanted to get on our bikes on Sunday, but Dave's caffeine addicition got the better of him: he had forgotten to pack any coffee, and the camp store at Codorus is pretty thinly stocked. With his trusty iPhone, he found a Starbucks just south of Hanover, about 5 miles from camp, and set off for it. While he was gone, I did some wandering around. When he returned, we hiked one of the nearby trails, about 4 miles. Nothing too hard, but I was moving slowly nonetheless.

    Codorus is a huge park, and a lot of the amenities aren't close to the campground. We had thought about renting kayaks, but the rental spot was too far to walk to, and I didn't want to ride there. (With my back still being sore, I realized that kayaking would not have been too smart an idea, anyway.)

    Dave and I were both a little apprehensive about the return journey, in particular climbing back up Stone Church Road, which had been such a long, fast, fun downhill on the way to Codorus. (When we got to the bottom of it on the way in, the first thing we both said: "Man, that's gonna be a bear on Monday!!!") I had been feeling sharp, stabbing pains in my left kneecap every time I got up out of my low camp chair, which was worrying me -- I've never felt anything like that before.

    We were packed up and on the road by 8:15, and the return trip was much easier. Certainly it was more downhill, and of course we were hitting the biggest climbs early on, before we were too tired, but we kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it never really did. Even Stone Church turned out not to be as bad as we had anticipated (except for the short 13% knuckle right by the church itself.) My knee didn't bother me. My back didn't, either, until after we were back on the York Trail again.

    From the beginning, Dave had suggested that on the way back we catch the light rail at Hunt Valley to avoid climbing back up Bellona (he's done that a few times). I've never ridden a train with a bike, so I was interested in trying it out with someone who had done it before. It went well, but I would not have been able to get my loaded bike on and off the train without Dave's help. (Note to self for future reference!) We got off at Woodberry, and rode back to my car. 42 miles for the return trip.

    I was an achy mess last night. I'm feeling mostly normal today (although my legs were complaining a bit as I climbed the stairs to my second-floor office. )

    Overall, though, it was a nice trip. I knew going into it that it would be hard for me, because I've done so little big-hill riding this year. But the weather was perfect, the countryside was pretty, and I liked Codorus a lot. Dave, as he was on our trip to Janes Island last year, was a great touring partner -- good-humored, no whining, up for anything. He did the ride on his Surly Cross Check, with just two large rear Ortlieb panniers. With his much lighter rig -- oh, and sure, the fact that he's young, skinny, and in great shape might have had something to do with it lol: -- he had no trouble with the climbing (although he admitted to being pretty sore and tired Saturday night.) He would generally zoom ahead of me for a while, and then wait patiently at the tops of the big hills until I plodded into sight.

    I took some pics, I'll post them somewhere later on.
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  4. #7629
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    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    Good morning Brian.
    Mt. Wash. to Fort McHenry is a great ride. Well done.

    Were you allowed to ride your bike at the Fort? Previously, the park service did not allow any bicycles on the property.

    BTW look here for rides:
    http://www.baltobikeclub.org/index.p...ndar&Itemid=92
    http://www.meetup.com/Biking-in-Bmore/#calendar
    fort mchenry has signs posted saying bikes must stay on paves surfaces. that being said i walked my bike through the park and was told i was not allowed to have my bike in the park. so to answer your question, i have no idea if bikes are aloud lol. but it was still enjoyable. thanks for the links i will check them out

  5. #7630
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    Here are pics from my Codorus trip:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/emmmcub...57627749734717

    I just looked back at the notes I took before the trip, and it turns out that my baggage weight was actually 43 pounds!!

    Something I meant to mention and forgot was my ever-present geekish joy at experiencing the excellent performance of well-engineered stuff doing what it does: I hit 35 miles per hour for a brief while on a few of those PA downhills, and that behemoth of a loaded bike with those most excellent panniers rolled down them with aplomb -- smooth, quiet, stable, rock-solid. I felt like I was on a slow mosey on a bike path.
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  6. #7631
    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    Great RR and great pics Max. Thanks!

    As those who've ridden On Again, Off Again know well long miles on the trail really start to wear you down and no matter where you get off of it you'll be going uphill. 43lbs seems like a lot of pack weight for that trip. If you had to do the trip again any thoughts on how to reduce that?

    Very cool to look back on a trip like that and know that you did it all on your own power on a bike.

    BTW it looks like Dave must live super close to a nutty friend of mine named Mikal who owns a junk shop up on 36th street. I know that street well.
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

    Surly Cross Check - Kogswell P/R G2 - COHO
    THE RANDO RAMBLE . . . (blogs) . . . BIKING, BEER and TOAST

  7. #7632
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    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    43lbs seems like a lot of pack weight for that trip. If you had to do the trip again any thoughts on how to reduce that?
    I was pretty horrified when I added it up, and had the same thought -- that I need to go through my stuff and see what the deal is! I was thinking that I was pretty sure that my load on my prior two trips had been in the 30's -- but for those trips I may have weighed only the panniers (to make sure I had the load distributed evenly), thus excluding my sleeping bag.

    I can't really pinpoint any obvious problem. I did bring a pair of medium-weight hiking boots this time, first time I've ever done that -- but that should have been pretty much offset by swapping out my old HUGE HEAVY lantern for a tiny, powerful model. All of my stuff is of the "backpacking" class (and some of it even qualifies as ultralight.) One extra indulgence this time was my Alite Monarch Butterfly chair. I could have done without it, but it sure was nice. And it weighs only 18 oz. I used everything I brought with me except for a few pieces of clothing (amounting to at most a pound), some long matches and a few small "firestarter" sticks, and two Mountain House single-serving freeze-dried meals.

    My sleeping bag could be lighter. Packed in the compression sack, it weighed 5.6 pounds. It's a 15 degree bag (but on the other hand, it's a short "small woman's" model, so less material than normal.) But I tend to "sleep cold" when I'm outdoors (at first, at least), and I was "just-right" comfortable this weekend with night-time temps of 48-53. I would have been cold with less bag.

    My tent, too, could be smaller and thus lighter. But it's a 3-person REI Quarterdome UL (an older model, they don't sell it anymore) -- not exactly a heavy WalMart tent by any means. I had already looked into this, actually, and the weight difference between my tent and the equivalent new 2-person model isn't huge; no more than 2 pounds, as I recall. And I'm just not willing to go with one of those coffin-like 1-person models. (And even those don't shave all that much off the 2-person versions.) So I guess I'm just willling to put up with the weight of my tent for the comfort factor. Another person can fit comfortably, and if I'm alone, it's positively palatial. Most of the time, that doesn't matter at all, but when I'm stuck in there on a rainy day, it makes things *so* much more pleasant.

    Hmmm, what else? I did bring a paperback. (I cannot be without something to read. ) I also brought a small, light, cloth chess/checkers game, and a tiny version of "Pass the Pigs." (Possibly the world's dumbest game, but Dave and I got some giggles out of it. )
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  8. #7633
    Senior Member HC203's Avatar
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    Great report Max, I gotta get some sort of loaded trip together, thinking maybe to NYC first week of November if it's not too cold.
    Regarding weight. I ride my Trek 520 back from class at 10 at night and that bike and even one pannier is heavy stuff. Pretty sure it's a steady climb from Mt. Royal up to home. I usually go Charles street, seems safest at that time of night, really nice riding through the city at night with minimal traffic, especially when I get up to the Greenway and Loyola campus.
    This past Monday i took Falls Rd. despite seeming a bit desolate and spooky at that time of night. It was nice, I stayed on Falls and headed up past Bob's house, not sure which on it is, but as I was passing that stretch i imagined Bob flagging me down and us sharing a beer : ).
    It's just maybe an 8 mile ride but without fail I am famished when I get home, serious calorie burn. I guess my point is with loaded touring, patience and low gears, steady progress. It's hard when you're used to riding an unloaded bike and you just want to stand and zip up hills. There is a satisfaction though with the loaded tourer going uphill,purposeful powerful leg strokes and feeling that weight.
    So with weight. I had same problem when touring, too much stuff, and as with backpacking I'm learning to live with less, though with backpacking you need certain layers. I did a short Quebec tour once and on day two shipped all my camping stuff home and stayed at hotels : )

  9. #7634
    Senior Member HC203's Avatar
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    WTF? Did somebody actually ask you to not to ride your bike at Ft. McHenry? We are such a bike-un-friendly culture. Dogs can shi(t) all over the place and take over parks, garbage cans brimming with shi(t) bags, but god forbid you ride a bike.

  10. #7635
    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    Touring and camping sound exciting, but I don't know much more than to take coffee and whiskey and to have a credit card in your wallet for a dash to a hotel. If you're using everything you brought, then I guess you're packing right. I read about ultralight (<20lbs) tourers, but I think they're just riding with much less than normal people would ride with. Doing that seems risky too.
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

    Surly Cross Check - Kogswell P/R G2 - COHO
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  11. #7636
    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HC203 View Post
    This past Monday i took Falls Rd. despite seeming a bit desolate and spooky at that time of night. It was nice, I stayed on Falls and headed up past Bob's house, not sure which on it is, but as I was passing that stretch i imagined Bob flagging me down and us sharing a beer : ).
    Damn. I missed a beer op.

    Quote Originally Posted by HC203 View Post
    WTF? Did somebody actually ask you to not to ride your bike at Ft. McHenry?
    yep. the feds did not allow bikes at the park for the last couple years. It hope they're more reasonable now. Point to Point ride (Oct. 23) starts there and it would be real nice to be able to do a quick loop.
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

    Surly Cross Check - Kogswell P/R G2 - COHO
    THE RANDO RAMBLE . . . (blogs) . . . BIKING, BEER and TOAST

  12. #7637
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    Quote Originally Posted by HC203 View Post
    Great report Max, I gotta get some sort of loaded trip together, thinking maybe to NYC first week of November if it's not too cold.
    That sounds like it would be an interesting trip! There is definitely something to be said for more "urban, credit card" touring where you just find hotels/motels, and not worry about schlepping your shelter along with you. It usually makes the issue of finding food easier, too. I guess the closest I've come to that is those 4th of July trips to Ocean City, MD. They've been fun, too, just different.


    Quote Originally Posted by HC203 View Post
    Regarding weight. I ride my Trek 520 back from class at 10 at night and that bike and even one pannier is heavy stuff . . . I guess my point is with loaded touring, patience and low gears, steady progress. It's hard when you're used to riding an unloaded bike and you just want to stand and zip up hills.
    Wait . . . what??? You've seen me ride. Even on my unloaded Airborne, there is very little "stand and zip up" of any sort going on! Yeah, patience and low gears, I've got. Well, not that low, actually -- my 520 is a 2007, and I think that was the last year before Trek *finally* started listening to all those tourers who had been complaining for years about the 520's stupid-high front gearing. I guess most touring bikes use a 22 as the smallest chainring; my bike, I'm pretty certain, has the "standard road triple" of 30-42-52. I don't know, though; it seems like I'd be going so slowly with a 22 that I'd topple right over! I got up all but the steepest (double-digit) hills on the Codorus ride. I need to lose some "load" off the engine before I start worrying too much about the chainrings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    Touring and camping sound exciting, but I don't know much more than to take coffee and whiskey and to have a credit card in your wallet for a dash to a hotel. If you're using everything you brought, then I guess you're packing right. I read about ultralight (<20lbs) tourers, but I think they're just riding with much less than normal people would ride with. Doing that seems risky too.
    And nowadays, in more and more state parks, you can't even nip at a whiskey while enjoying your campfire -- no alcohol allowed. Barbarians!

    Yeah, I've also read some accounts by those guys who do super-light bike tours. Whatever floats your boat, but it usually seems to me that for most of those guys, weight reduction is the primary end in itself -- the challenge of doing without. I like to enjoy myself a little more, be a little more comfortable (by my own standards), so I'm okay with carrying more crap.

    I'm kind of on the fence about the bike camping trips. On the one hand, it's cool and fun to roll up with everything you need and spend a few nights in a nice outdoors spot. On the other, when I'm staying at a place like that, I would really like to do some moderately challenging hiking, or kayaking if it's available, or other activities. But if I get there on my loaded bike, I'm usually too tired/sore to do much else!
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  14. #7639
    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HC203 View Post
    I gotta get some sort of loaded trip together, thinking maybe to NYC first week of November if it's not too cold.
    I've long been interested in trying a single day ride up to NYC. Not too hilly, but at least 200 miles. I'm sure it'd be a lot of riding the shoulders of busy roads like Rt.1.
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

    Surly Cross Check - Kogswell P/R G2 - COHO
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  15. #7640
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    Cycling Advocate
    http://BaltimoreSpokes.org
    . . . o
    . . /L
    =()>()

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    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    That's a pretty smart survey. Barry, who's using the information and for what use?
    Last edited by greaterbrown; 10-17-11 at 11:02 AM.
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

    Surly Cross Check - Kogswell P/R G2 - COHO
    THE RANDO RAMBLE . . . (blogs) . . . BIKING, BEER and TOAST

  17. #7642
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    Ny

    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    I've long been interested in trying a single day ride up to NYC. Not too hilly, but at least 200 miles. I'm sure it'd be a lot of riding the shoulders of busy roads like Rt.1.
    The route I have mapped is either a one long day ride or two day ride, first night in King of Prussia, Valley Forge area. I wanted to swing up north of Philly as opposed to the direct but probably much more scenic route. Plus, Bucks County can be very nice, stop in New Hope etc.
    My maps-roughly

    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/26704484

    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/26719810

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    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    re: Pt.1 Downington is where Victory brewpub is. (I'm just sayin')
    re: Pt.2 There's a lot of small rds on this one which is very cool. Is that because you know the area or did this route come from somewhere else? Also, I'd love the feeling of riding over the George Washington Br. and into the city at the end.
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

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  19. #7644
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    GB-I've never ridden on any of that stuff up to the Delaware river, I am however a bit familiar with some of the highways going through Bucks as we had looked for a house up there years back, they do get trafficky at rush hour, but Doylestown and New Hope are very nice.
    From New Hope up through NJ would probably be okay until you get a bit closer to the city. I think I have the route going up through Metuchen, NJ where I used to live, so I'm familiar with that area. I have it going to Newark following the Adventure Cycling route-I think and then taking the PATH into the city (bikes allowed). The GW bridge would be cool and I do believe it has a bike lane but haven't mapped how to get up there. Probably more enjoyable to do it as a two day ride. I have to be in NY on Nov 10th for an illustration art judging so would need to be in NY on the 9th, a Wednesday. So not sure about doing this then, but would be cool to get it on the radar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    That's a pretty smart survey. Barry, who's using the information and for what use?
    The survey is by the state of Maryland. Hard to say what it will be used for but at some point I imagine myself or another cycling advocate will be able to look at the data as well.
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    Senior Member HC203's Avatar
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    Thinking about heading out to a BBC ride in Scaggsville tomorrow a.m, weather permitting.
    I know some of you have escape routes out of Baltimore to the south west.

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    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    Harry, there's no easy way to cut across Columbia. I'd take (generally) Frederick rd to Old Columbia rd (in Ellicott City) to Clarksville Pike/108, then drop south using Cedar Lane.
    See the map here: http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Ba...&z=11&lci=bike

    Mess of a commute this morning.

    You coming on the Pancake ride on 11/13?
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

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    Thanks!

    Are you doing a pancake ride intercept? Actually, I'm coming back from NYC that day, then a play that my son is in at THS.

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    Intercept

    Actually-I'm coming back from NY on that Saturday so there is a chance that maybe I can ride on Sunday, though not sure M would be too happy since I will be in NY for 3 days, longer if by chance I ride up.

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    Hello, MD peeps! I've been slacking in my ride report duties. I had a great time on the trip to New Orleans for my friends' wedding. The weather was perfect -- low 80's in the day, low 60's at night, and lots of sunshine. Four of us (and, as it turned out, a few other people that we met at the airport bar who were also going to the wedding) flew down on Friday, arriving in mid-afternoon. Our hotel, the Royal Sonesta, is on Bourbon Street; after we checked in, we hit the "Lucky Dog" hot dog cart on the corner and wandered around for a bit. Some of my friends were in the wedding party and had rehearsal dinner duties Friday night, so three of us hit a nearby restaurant for a very tasty N.O. meal, and then bar-hopped around, listening to some great music.

    On Saturday morning I went for a 2-hour lunch cruise on the Steamboat Natchez -- very cool! It's the last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi.

    Saturday night was the wedding, held in the courtyard of the historic Hermann Grima house (prominently featured, so they tell me, in the movie "Double Jeopardy").

    Following the ceremony, the wedding party and guests walked the several blocks down to the reception location, the Riverview Room in the Jackson Brewery complex, which is on the riverfront. It's a beautiful room, with several balconies overlooking the river.

    When the reception ended at 11:00 p.m., a traditional New Orleans brass band showed up, and the guests were all issued white hankies (imprinted with the date and the names of the bride and groom), and, of course, "to go" cups to be filled with our alcoholic beverages of choice. The bride and groom were given umbrellas. Then we did a traditional New Orleans parade, dancing/marching along behind the brass band and the bride and groom, waving the hankies over our heads -- out of the Riverview Room, down the escalators, onto the street, and then the several blocks back up to the hotel, with a police escort out front clearing the way. It was a hoot!

    Sunday morning, I walked a little over a mile to meet up with the group from the Confederacy of Cruisers to do the Creole New Orleans bike tour. (I had wanted to do the Lower Ninth Ward tour, which is offered on Saturdays, but unfortunately the woman who does that tour was out of town with a sick relative the weekend I was there.) They had asked in advance how tall I was, so my bike was already set up when I arrived, and it was close enough to not need any further adjustment. It was a big, heavy, single-speed, coaster-brake cruiser bike with a basket on the front -- I think my first bike, when I was five years old, was zippier. It had a big, cushy, sprung saddle that had been set so low that my feet were almost flat on the ground sitting on the bike.

    But that was a good thing, because I had a hell of a time riding the thing, especially at first. It's funny how after years of riding with clipless pedals, certain things have just become physically ingrained habit that I don't even notice anymore -- like the fact that I *always* start pedaling by clipping in my right foot, pulling the right pedal up to the top, and pushing off with the right foot. I was fumbling pretty clumsily trying to get started on the cruiser bike's platform pedals -- not helped by the fact that the bike was so heavy, and that my knees were so bent that they were shrieking for those first few pedal turns. But once I was moving, the bike just rolled along comfortably.

    Our guide, Laura, was great, very personable, well-informed, and fun. Like all the CofC guides, she has been living in the city for a number of years. She started off with a brief summation of New Orleans history, and a description of where we would go and what we would see on the tour. She then asked if anyone had any special requests for things to see -- CofC keeps the groups small (I believe there were 7 of us) so as to accommodate ad hoc side adventures as the mood strikes. One of the women asked to see a cemetery, and so that was added to the itinerary.

    The tour started just over the line from the French Quarter, and went through the Bywater, Marigny, Upper Ninth Ward, and Treme neighborhoods, dipping briefly back into the French Quarter just before the end. It was only about 7 or 8 miles, I think, with our detour to the cemetery, and we stopped frequently for Laura to tell us about the things we were seeing. We also stopped midway through the ride at a local bar, and sat outside with our drinks while listening to more scandalous stories of New Orleans history.

    I really enjoyed the tour; it was extremely laid-back and relaxed, but also very informative. I learned so much about New Orleans; its social history is really fascinating and unique. There is so much to see and do there, I was mentally noting all the things for which I need to make a return trip! The weather was, of course, perfect for a ride, and although it felt odd for the first few minutes, I was loving riding along with no helmet or gloves, hair loose, in regular clothes and shoes.

    I'll try to get some pictures up Tuesday night.
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