Sometimes it's hard to fit riding into all of the other responsibilities that an active family has. Work, school, soccer, coaching, music lessons and practice, housework, yard work and other outside commitments all eat into the time I'd like to be on my bike. Add to that a week long bout with a cold/flu that several of us had, and the bikes were neglected. I find that the less I ride, the more grumpy I get (and I'm pretty grumpy to begin with).
Finally recovering from illness, I had planned to get away on Saturday for my monthly climb up Catoctin Mountain. Alas, circumstances tripped me up, leaving me with a worse attitude than ever.
Fortunately, on Sunday, things worked out a little better. Although we had the first hard frost of the year the night before, the weather was supposed to warm up during the day. The Princess Stoker has been riding with me a good deal this summer, and was anxious to try something more challenging, so we loaded up the tandem with some warm clothes and a snack, and headed up the mountain.
The route to the base of the mountain was pretty chilly, but I knew we'd be warming up as soon as the road turned upwards. Sure enough, soon we were comfortable, climbing among the trees, which also served to cut the breeze. The sky was perfect, crystal clear. We saw more cars and hikers out than I have ever seen here before, but no cyclists. Climbing with gears on the tandem was almost easy compared to the fixed gear or singlespeed I usually ride up here, and my stoker called for regular breaks.
It seemed in no time at all we were at the top. Emily was thrilled to see up close the tower which looked so far away from down in the valley. We added back a layer and rode quickly down the gravel to the trail head to the overlook, and down to it. Emily loved the off road stuff and dragged out a promise from me to do more with her. We enjoyed the views from the overlook, climbed around on the rocks a bit, and had a snack. Finally, we headed back up the trail to the road, and zoomed off the mountain, fast enough in the sketchy gravel to elicit some nervous giggles on the curves. Soon we were down in the valley and raced on paved roads back to the truck.
As we packed things up she had a big smile on her face and said to me the eight words that make all of the aggravation, frustration, and hassles of work, life and parenthood, fall away like night before a sunrise.
"I like riding bikes. I love you Daddy."
Thank you Emily, for helping to keep me sane and see what is really important.
The mountain starts past the fish ponds.
A long, but not too difficult climb on gravel roads.
Biker wave in the fallen leaves.
Glorius color against a crystal sky.
Still climbing, time for a break.
What is it about every kid, that they feel the compulsion to throw sticks in streams?
The last of the climb. Woo-Hoo!
Queen of the Mountain. The Princess Stoker has done longer rides with me, but has never done a 1300 foot climb before.
She insisted of taking a picture of me as well.
Some bumpy gravel downhill, and then some trail, and we were at the overlook.
Panorama of the Monocacy River Valley
This is the first time I've had the tandem here. Emily says she is ready for more tandem mountain biking.
Time for a snack and to play on the rocks for a bit.
Another face of the road down the mountain.
That evening was pumpkin carving time.
Thanks Partner. You made my day!
Today's Map. My batteries died during the climb on the western side of the map, so the straight line really sort of follows the creek. The total mileage was only a bit more than logged.