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Under the October Sky

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Under the October Sky

Old 10-19-04, 05:29 AM
  #1  
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Sunday morning arrived clear, cool and blustery. I finished loading up the tandem and just about every item if clothing I could think of – save for the heavy cloves and winter jacket for what lay ahead – an epic adventure! I finally had a tandem ride planned with Elizabeth – who is one of the fastest and fittest female cyclists in the Baltimore area. Elizabeth was to be our tour director. She was tired of the local riding and wanted to head west to less traveled roads. I picked her up at 8:00 A.M. and after a Starbucks stop, we headed west to Taneytown, Maryland – about 40 miles or so northwest of Baltimore. On the way Elizabeth leafed through her binder of BBC cue sheets (she is so organized!) for a suitable ride. This would be our first foray together by tandem and she wanted to pick a route that was challenging, but not necessarily brutal. She settled on a 68 mile ride that would take us west into Catoctin National Park https://www.nps.gov/cato/ and one major climb. It took a little longer to get underway than usual as Elizabeth’s Trek 1200 was fitted with one of those seat posts with two little bolts that secure the saddle (pain!) and just as I got finished topping off the tires, the front went flat! Better to go flat in the parking lot than out on the road. The weather called for a high of 60 degrees (in Baltimore) and windy. After considering the options, I settled on 3 layers on my chest, 2 on my arms and knickers. This proved just adequate as I never took the wind jacket off except inside of convenience stores. Once underway and after a few directional miscues we got on track and strait into bracing 10-30 MPH headwinds! Still, we managed to stay in the 53 most of the time. The roads that were sheltered provided some relief. When we got to Thurmont, Elizabeth wanted to take a detour off-cue that would add a climb. We stopped at a Sheetz store for fluids and she was able to get a free park map that helped out. We crossed Rte. 15 (major 4 lane divided highway) and rode down the shoulder for a few miles before turning onto Catoctin Hollow Road and into the park. And then, we climbed. With Elizabeth stoking, we had a good pace going, in the 30-23 mostly, then the middle ring, then back to the granny as the grade undulated and we weaved up through the boulder-strewn woods, gorges and rock outcrops. I took it easy on the way down, as the road was narrow and unfamiliar. We had to dismount at the bottom and go around some barricades to cross the river as the bridge was under repair. Taking a right onto Rte. 77, Elizabeth saw that Park Central Road was open. Park Central goes right passed Camp David and was closed for a long time after 9/11 and intermittently in recent times for Presidential visits. But since it was open we thought what the heck? Give it a try because one may not get another chance. Let me tell you folks…. Park Central is a long climb!...and steep with several switchbacks but the pavement was fresh blacktop – not the tar and chip like Catoctin Hollow. We were working hard but still setting a decent pace, down in 1st gear occasionally. At the top we took a left on Manahan Road and down we went… after turning left again on Rte. 77 (much more open, better paving and a shoulder) and continuing our decent, I let it rip as the paving and sight lines were good. We were really flying. We tucked in down on the drops, hauling the mail when we passed a group of 20 or so young hikers going the other way and they all screamed their approval as we sped by.

On the way back the route flattened out and we had a prevailing tailwind. We slowed here and there for photos, stopped once more for fluids, food and relief and cruised back in at a good clip.

Our detour added about 8 miles so it was roughly a 76 mile tour. We had a blast! Photos are posted for your viewing enjoyment:

https://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/galen_...lbum?.dir=b575

Last edited by galen_52657; 10-19-04 at 06:20 AM.
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Old 10-19-04, 10:36 AM
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Galen,

So...just where do you find all these great stokers, huh??

Your ride sounds like a bundle of fun. Wish we coulda' been there with ya'.

Eurastus...

Last edited by Eurastus; 10-19-04 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 10-19-04, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Eurastus
Galen,

So...just where do you find all these great stokers, huh??

Sounds like a bundle of fun. Wish we coulda' been there with ya'.

Eurastus...
Eurastus, if you come to Baltimore and hang out for a while (Summer months would be best) and attend some Baltimore Bicycling Club rides I am sure you can find some BBC women's team riders who would be more than happy to help power your ride.
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Old 10-19-04, 12:26 PM
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Oh, no...You read me wrong.

I'm just glad for you, that's all. Back when I was a young and single cyclist, it seems like there were very few female riders. A few yes, but not many.

I used to race in and around Reno, Nevada in the early to mid-80's. One of my main "competators" was Inga Thompson, of '84, '88, '92 Olympic fame. She had so little competition with the other women at the time that she'd usually race with the boys, and gave us plenty of competition, I can tell you. We were a pack of CAT 2,3, and 4 riders that seemed to show up at every local race. Inga had no trouble finishing in the top half of the field most every time. She and I were pretty evenly matched for most of the races, especially the time-trials we did north of the city out toward the Stead airport. It seems that for several weeks in a row, I was positioned to start right after her. I can still remember trying my best to catch that long yellow braid all through the race. Sometimes I'd make up 30-40 seconds on her, and sometimes not.

I think it's just great that you, and other cyclists these days, have the opportunities to ride with the fairer sex on regular occasion. And yes, I include myself in that group, as my #1 stoker happens to be my 10-year-old daughter!!
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Old 10-19-04, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Eurastus
Oh, no...You read me wrong.

I'm just glad for you, that's all. Back when I was a young and single cyclist, it seems like there were very few female riders. A few yes, but not many.

I used to race in and around Reno, Nevada in the early to mid-80's. One of my main "competators" was Inga Thompson, of Olympic fame. She had so little competition with the other women at the time that she'd usually race with the boys, and gave us plenty of competition, I can tell you. We were a pack of CAT 2,3, and 4 riders that seemed to show up at every local race. Inga had no trouble finishing in the top half of the field most every time. She and I were pretty evenly matched for most of the races, especially the time-trials we did north of the city out toward the Stead airport. It seems that for several weeks in a row, I was positioned to start right after her. I can still remember trying my best to catch that long yellow braid all through the race. Sometimes I'd make up 30-40 seconds on her, and sometimes not.

I think it's just great that you, and other cyclists these days, have the opportunities to ride with the fairer sex on regular occasion. And yes, I include myself in that group, as my #1 stoker happens to be my 10-year-old daughter!!
I wish I could talk my daughter in to stoking. But, she is 18 and 'it would not be cool'. She played some team sports in high school but she was never very coordinated. At 6'1.5" tall, she was on the basketball and volleyball teams, but just did not enjoy it. She would make an good cyclist...and could fit my bikes!... if I could talk her into it!!!

Looks like you are fairing better than I....keep up the good work!
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Old 10-21-04, 08:22 PM
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Boy, you easterners sure use the term "mountains" loosely. You need to come out to Colorado some day, and I'll show you some real mountains Beautiful country none the less.
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Old 10-22-04, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ottodog
Boy, you easterners sure use the term "mountains" loosely. You need to come out to Colorado some day, and I'll show you some real mountains Beautiful country none the less.
Hey now... those mountains top out at 1300 feet! Are you dissing our mountains??? Seriously, I would love to come to Colorado to ride (or ski!). However, I have ridden bikes with a few people from California and Colorado who are always surprised by the challenging roads we have on the east coast. West Virginia has some really hard climbs!
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Old 10-22-04, 07:06 AM
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Well as I understand it, we in the West (I currently live in Utah) generally enjoy much longer climbs with the occasional steep stretch to be found over 10%. The eastern folks get lots of relatively shorter but often much steeper hills. Correct me if I'm wrong...

Two local loops I ride several times a year start at a base elevation of 4,500 feet (valley floor). One tops out at 8,038 feet, the other 9,350. I just don't think you can beat 3,500 or 4,800 feet of climbing on rides of 39 and 67 miles in length respectively (that's up, over the top, down the other side, and back around the mountain to the car). Both of these rides are within 15 miles of my home.

However, as far as I know, there's still nothing to match the ol' Markleeville Death Ride, a monster 129 miles with 16,000 feet of climbing. Back in the day (early '80's), it was the big local ride of the season. I rode it several years in a row (though they've changed the course a number of times since then). I did not know it was anything out of the ordinary. Guess I was young and dumb...

Last edited by Eurastus; 10-22-04 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 10-22-04, 07:31 AM
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On the east coast we have Assault on Mt. Mitchell https://www.freewheelers.info/assault.html in North Carolina @6600 feet. At one time there was a tour that climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire https://www.mountwashington.com as well as a hill-climb race up Mt. Washington. Winds can top 100 MPH at the summit of Mt. Washington! I have not climbed either but it would be fun!
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Old 10-22-04, 10:26 AM
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Great photos!

I went to college at Towson. I wish I knew about these rides when I was there.

~Larry
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Old 10-23-04, 12:35 PM
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Answer to the Challenge:
325 miles in 3 days with 22,000[I] feet of climbing in Arizona and finishing temperature was a 'mild' 104 degrees. We were the first duo to do it on a tandem.
Stoker had volunteered to do the ride but declined a repeat performance!
And . . . that was 20 years ago; this ride was originally called the Arizona Challenge and had to be done in 24 hours or less.
Young and foolish, but fun!
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