Tag Archives: Bicycling

East Coast Greenway: Wilmington to Ocean Isle Beach NC

Whaaat?  You’re doing what?

We are East Coast Greenway.  Riding our bikes one week a year, to cover a segment of miles from Maine to Key West, FL – and this year, Wilmington NC to Savannah GA.   Riding the congested east coast, as pioneers, bringing visibility to what roadways need to be more bike-friendly and tour townships on segments that include bike trails and low volume roads.  The East Coast Greenway works with municipalities to form safe bike travels state-by-state – because who wouldn’t want to travel without a car?
Continue reading East Coast Greenway: Wilmington to Ocean Isle Beach NC

A battlefield finish

Day 4:   Bicycling from Elizabethtown, NC to Moores Creek National Battlefield
40ish miles — and bonus points for headwinds

The fourth and final day of our East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour, cut short due to Hurricane Matthew began at the Corner Cafe in the heart of Elizabethtown.  A cafe that is open “All Day” according to the neon sign on the window, or just until 2 PM according to the fine print.  We were certain to be done with breakfast before 2 PM.

Continue reading A battlefield finish

Wine’ing down

Day 3:   Bicycling from Fayetteville, NC to Elizabethtown, NC
43ish miles — and who’s really counting when there’s so much to see?

The third day of the East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour began with breakfasts piled high with ham and bacon and a side of bacon fat with fresh steamed or raw vegetables a distant memory (unless you carried your own).  With Hurricane Matthew dominating the news and expected to take out the Eastern seaboard from Florida to North Carolina, many cyclists who lived along the coast or needed to take care of business went off in separate directions.  Those cyclists who were left behind were grateful for the chance to ride another day.  And a half.      Continue reading Wine’ing down

Hogs, Logs and Miles

Day 2:   Bicycling from Smithfield, NC to Fayetteville, NC
70ish miles — and who invited Hurricane Matthew to the Carolina coast?

The second day of the East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour began with new routines and new grooves setting in.  The pre-ride routine included two trips (maybe more) to drag your luggage and bicycle from your room to the lobby.  Bonus points were earned for not spilling your cup of Joe.   If you made it to the lobby without losing Joe, you treated yourself to a sit-down in the lobby lounge, chatting with bike mates, and planning your departure time for the day’s ride.  Minutes are ticking, and it’s time to keep moving, so you find your way to the luggage truck to hoist your bag onboard — a bag that has mysteriously doubled in weight — and discover there is still time for more socializing.   You then grab a tire pump, one that puts more than 40 pounds of air pressure in your tires, and quickly realize you’ll be riding a lot faster today with air in your tires.   A long glare at your bicycle seat followed by a quick request of the saddle gods to be kind, and your group-du-jour of riders — with bright visibility lights flashing — are ready to cycle on. Continue reading Hogs, Logs and Miles

Transitions

Day 1:   Bicycling from Raleigh, NC to Smithfield, NC
42.5ish miles — or more depending on bonus miles & wrong turns

The first day of the East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour began in downtown Raleigh with nearly 40 cyclists jones’n to get on their bicycle legs.   Many drove double-digit hour-long car rides, tipping the scales of 70 mph speed limits for the right to transition to a pace that resembled something much slower.  Cycling at touring speeds, with the winds at your back if you were lucky.   A pace that averaged 10-12 miles per hour once you factored in the stops – that were many, especially on day one. Continue reading Transitions

Cycling by storm

20567816714_9bc8d13577_zSunday October 4, I’ll join up with 35 other cyclists from various states, to bicycle 325-miles from Fredericksburg VA to Raleigh NC.

The ride is part of the Week A Year Tour in support of the East Coast Greenway (ECG), a 2,900-mile trail route that stretches from the Canadian border at Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida.   We will be riding 6 days — and it appears that on Day 1 we may have a special guest.   Hurricane Joaquin!    While the weather gods are still calculating the storm path, Virginia and North Carolina have already declared states of emergency!   Oh let the fun begin!!!

Continue reading Cycling by storm

Mackinac Island – a haven for cycling

Taking the Ferry - to Mackinac Island for some cycling
Taking the Ferry – to Mackinac Island for cycling

When I first heard that there was a place in the US where cars were banned and travel was limited to foot, bicycle and or horse-n-buggy, I thought — this is a place where I need to be.

Since the late 1800’s – cars have been banned on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  Located amidst the Straits of Mackinaw — where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet separating mainland Michigan and the Upper Pennisula – is Mackinac Island.  Accessible only by Ferry, the island is known for continuing it’s car-less tradition, promoting bicycling or foot travels and no shortage of handmade chocolate and fudge.  Bicycling, followed by chocolate.  It doesn’t get any better than that! Continue reading Mackinac Island – a haven for cycling

A starfish afterlife

starfish
Bennie – the Starfish

My recent art project had unexpected beginnings, twists and turns and a surprising ending. Much like my favorite way of wandering through life. Without knowing the ending. Getting lost in the process. Let me explain.

It started as a bike ride with a long-time friend, along the Isle of Palms shoreline in the middle of January. It wasn’t particularly warm, and the wind was blowing whatever heat could be felt from the sun clear north to Canada. My friend Cindy and I were riding beach cruisers – which have no gears. This means you can’t shift down to make the pedaling any easier. I quickly accept this reality and worked extra hard to keep the bike moving into the challenging headwinds. Just having the opportunity to escape the more northern chill of a Maryland winter — via coastal South Carolina puts me in an excellent mood. The beach was mostly deserted with the exception of a few walkers.

In 30 minutes, Cindy and I reached our southern turnaround point – Breach Inlet. To go further south would require swimming. And, I would not be swimming today. Instead we turned our cruisers around, and quickly appreciated the strength of the new-found tailwinds. Barely pedaling, we are scooting along and catching up on days gone by. When suddenly, Cindy spotted a starfish. I missed it. We were cruising too fast. A minute goes by and this time I spotted 2 starfish. Not alive of course, but washed up on the beach. What a lucky discovery, I thought. Suddenly my mind went into “art mode”, and I wondered if there was an art project I could create that might involve a starfish? There was no time to finish that thought, as we pressed on with our bicycles. Continue reading A starfish afterlife

It takes more than 35 knot winds…

We are on a mini-vacation, which means that we have very limited time, to do way too many things.  On my list of “to dos” is to bicycle hundreds of miles, ride my elliptigo, and run until I drop.  But alas, I’m not 20 years old, and more importantly, Paddy has to buy in to this exercise theme.   I wanted to bicycle ride to Berlin, hang in the historic town among shops that were likely not open (nothing is open, cuz it’s not “in season” along the Maryland eastern shore) – and then ride into Ocean City proper and visit the strip.  But, would Paddy go for all of this?

It is extremely windy.  The kind of wind, that can really push you around – on a bicycle.  When it’s a headwind, you put all of your energy into pedaling, and you don’t go very far or very fast.  When it’s a tailwind, life is effortless, and you are literally pushed along your travels.  When it’s a crosswind, hang on and ride into the wind just enough to keep from being blown off the road, and not too much to end up in the traffic.  That’s the kind of day we are looking at for our bicycle travels.

After researching the best bike route – we found a country road that would take us to Berlin, MD.  What we hadn’t factored in – was the last mile that led to Berlin, was along a major route.  A route with no shoulder and a lot of traffic.  With Paddy on trike and me on a hybrid bike, safety trumped the need to visit Historic Berlin and visit shops that were not likely open.  So, we rode within 1 mile of Berlin, and then turned around, and rode back toward the campground.   But wait, Paddy is feeling strong (it’s the tailwind!), and we decide to keep going – onward to Ocean City!

To get to Ocean City, we have to travel 1/4 mile along highway Route 50, and then get onto this very skinny sidewalk to ride 3/4 mile over the waterway, with winds blowing a steady 25 knots, and gusts to 35.  Somewhere in the middle of this bridge, the fencing disappeared, and we found ourselves riding on a super slippery drawbridge – where the grated metal allowed you to see the water below and feel more wind move your bike.   Let’s just say that riding our bikes on this skinny bridge with the slippery grates in winds blowing up to 35 knots was beyond frightening!   The only thing that would make this kind of effort worthwhile – would be finding a good place to eat.

That was the plan. Finding a good place to eat.  Officially in “Ocean City”, we make our way to the boardwalk, and start looking for a restaurant.  Any restaurant.  Any food at all?   We asked the locals – a postman — “are there any restaurants open“?  And the answer — “not really, the only restaurant open is in Ocean City West“.  Ocean City West, is 5 miles from our campground, and where we have been going for lunches the last 2 days.  OK, so the food is on the other side of the bridge.  Where we were, before we crossed the bridge.

It’s time to think about returning.  With the wind blowing 35 knots, the only way back, is to cross this bridge again.  On a bicycle.  Here we go.  I raced ahead of Paddy, and decided that faster speeds would be better than slower speeds.   With a combination of headwinds and crosswinds, I had all I could do to stay on my bike.   I took the slippery grate section (drawbridge) as fast as I could, and there was no looking back until I had reached land.  Paddy had his share of challenges too.  He was riding the skinny sidewalk on a wide trike with about 3 inches on either side to spare.  He had just enough room to keep the wheels on the sidewalk without crashing into the fence, or barrier wall.

30 minutes after crossing the bridge, we landed at – the Sunset Grille.  Our third day of eating lunch at this one and only restaurant open in the vicinity of Ocean City.  It’s all good tho – as the food is fantastic, and we can see it is a local’s favorite.   After lunch, we hop back on our bicycles for the last 5 miles back to our campsite.  Slowly, with a massive headwind, we navigated back to the campground, and sat inside the RV trying to get warm, with the RV rocking back and forth with the wind.

And we were feeling a bit empowered.  Empowered, knowing that 35 knot winds had not diminished our bicycle adventures one bit.

 

 

All smiles at the podium!

There is a pattern to this fitness madness.   It goes something like this:

  1. Sign up for an event that you are not ready for
  2. Start training for that event way too late
  3. Taper for the event way too early
  4. Carb load when it is not really necessary
  5. Hope that you won’t be the last person crossing the finish line
  6. Throw your biorhythms completely off by getting up at 4am on event day
  7. Setup your transition area with extra food – as if you may be out for the ‘day plan’
  8. Scope the other athletes, and realize no one has an ounce of body fat
  9. Hide your extra food under a towel – as apparently you are the only person obsessed with nourishment
  10. Miss the mandatory race instructions – identifying route changes – cuz you were in the bathroom
  11. And make one more trip to the bathroom with 3 minutes to spare before the event starts

sendoffThere you have it, the Wadsworth Sista-hood each poised on “race” day for our respective Olympic distance events at Fort Richie – located in Cascade, MD.   Sista Jill – would be taking on the Triathlon – which consisted of a 1.5K swim + 40K bike + 10K run, and I would attempt the Duathlon, consisting of a 5K run + 40K bike + 10K run.   We proceeded to get body marked – where your bib number appears on one leg – and your age on the other.  The rationale for broadcasting your private information (age) to a bunch of athletes you’ve never met — is to identify those in your age category – and turn them into your competitors.  Or something like that.

wetsuitjillIn an unusually cool mid-summer morning with the air temperatures ranging from the 60s to low 70s – the water temperature registered at 73 degrees.   Anything below 78 degrees,  makes the swim leg of the triathlon ‘wet suit legal’.  This immediately put Jill in her ‘happy place’.   Wet suit = extra buoyancy = float higher in the water.   It also means that when you look out on the swim course and wonder why they allowed a motor boat to be on the same course with the swimmers, well, that’s no motorboat!   Meet Jill.   More on that in a moment.

The duathlon event started 25 minutes before the TRI.   This gives Jill more time to spend with her pre-race jitters, and gives me a head start on the ‘day plan’.  I lined up with my peeps.  The start whistle blows and the runners sprinted!   I thought this leg was a 5K – and not a 100 yard dash?!   I fought the temptation to sprint (as if I could!) with them, and opted to stay at my pace – slow n steady.   Within the first mile, I had passed a few older men and even a handful of women, but the bulk of the runners were long gone.   And then there was #51…a women.  Someone in my age category.   Someone I did not know.  I scoped her from behind.   I needed to pass her.  I did.   Now I needed to stay ahead of her.  And, suddenly my event that started as the ‘day plan’ turned into an all out competition with some women I’ve never met.

By the time I finished the first run leg – Jill was beginning her swim.  Without a wet suit, Jill swims like a fish with a motor….but WITH a wet suit – she is practically airborne!  The swim course is actually a funky swim-run on land for a tad-swim course.   Basically, the swim course is designed for the shorter Sprint version – so as the sprint swimmers were exiting the lake, the Olympic distance swimmers had to exit too…and then run across the Fort Richie lakefront to the nearest dock…and dive back in again for their second lap.   From the transition area, I thought I heard waves crashing on the shoreline – only to discover later that swim-motor-Jill was burning up the swim course.   She swam the entire distance in an amazing 34 minutes.   I don’t think she even came up for air.

With the 1st leg of the run now over, I managed to have a fast transition onto the bike – and made sure to pack some food and electrolyte jelly beans in my waist pack.   You never know when you’ll get hungry!   I haven’t seen my nemesis #51 – so I wasted no time climbing the first hill away from Fort Richie.

The bike course goes something like this:

  1. Climb this insane hill the moment you exit the Fort
  2. La de da thru a lovely flat wooded section
  3. Notice a big hill ahead of you…and wish you weren’t already in your granny gear
  4. Get to the main road with wide shoulders and descend for miles
  5. Realize that you have to go BACK the way you came…so better enjoy the descent!
  6. Weave off to a 10 mile country farm ride with rolling hills and bumpy roads
  7. Talk to the cows….

And WHAM….#51 BLOWS by me during the rolling hill descent.   I’m no match for her on the downhill – so opt to just keep the girl in my sight.  I’ve started strategizing on catching her on the uphill.   So much for the day plan.

As I return from the 10 mile farm loop toward the main road – I see Jill just beginning this loop and keeping pace with all of the zero-body fat male athletes with the $10,000 bike wheels.   “You go girl” we yell to each other, and I watch momentarily with awe as she keeps up with the boyz at her 100 rpm Tour-de-France cadence.

With Jill outta sight, it’s time to refocus onto #51, who is now within passing distance.   I wait until we reach another climb, in the hopes that she won’t be able to stay with me…and make my pass.  Now I have to stay ahead of her (not sure why?  but I do!) for the 8 mile ascent and return back to the Fort.

Here is what occurs during that final 8 mile ascent into the Catoctin Mountains on the bike course:

  1. You try to stay 1-2 gears above granny – just in case you need her
  2. Pace slows to 8mph
  3. Male athletes with fancy bike wheels pass you as if you were standing still
  4. You get to see all roadkill up front and personal
  5. The ‘day plan’ returns
  6. You try to eat something…but it won’t go down and stays in your cheeks as mush

Back to the transition area, I rack my bike and begin the final leg of the event — the 10K run.  The legs are a bit mushy at first, but within 100 yards – light feet return.   The first mile + of the run is uphill, so I’m breathing heavier than I would like.  No sign of #51 yet, so I have to sustain this pace.  For the final 10K run, we have to do 2 laps on the same course.   This means, as you NEAR the finish line after your first lap…don’t think about it – and turn the other way.   You have another lap to do.  It’s all mental at this point.   Jill had shared with me 4 jelly bean electrolytes – and I had eaten 3 of them during my first lap.   Was holding on to #4 for lap 2.  Turns out that wasn’t the best strategy – as the jelly bean morphed with sweat in my palm – and turned into a sticky mess.   Live n learn!

Still no sign of #51 (i.e. she hasn’t passed me) – so I amped up the pace of the last mile for added assurance – and was happy beyond belief that I had finished before the day was over!    Moments later – I watched Jill finish her first run lap – and begin lap #2.   I’ve never seen Jill with such giddy-up in her run!   She was even smiling and talking – and if you have ever run with Jill before – that is rare!   The run has been her least favorite event — but it seems like for today — she has made friends and peace!   30 minutes later — Jill sprints across the finish line – beating her prior PB in an Olympic Tri!

podiumjanepodiumjill01All the pre-race anxiety was long gone – and there were smiles everywhere.   I met my nemesis #51 – a lovely lady – and we vowed to look for each other in the next event.  As for an added bonus – Jill and I each earned a spot on the podium for our efforts!!   And earned the right to eat whatever we wanted (within limits!) for the rest of the day.

jill_janeatfinish