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

Being retired, I have declared my normal coffeeneuring days to be Sunday and Monday.

Coffeeneur #1, Ava Roasteria, Beaverton Oregon

Date: Sunday, October 5
Drink: iced latte
Distance: 4.5 miles
Bike Friendliness: bike rack concealed behind a post at the door.
Factoid: edible chestnuts have really prickly husks, horse chestnuts (inedible) have slightly spiny husks - see the picture below.

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.

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.

Coffeeneur #2, Mc Donalds, Annapolis, MD

Date: Monday, Oct 15, 2014
Drink: iced tea
Distance: 50 miles
Bike Friendliness: I just helmet locked my bike and went inside...
Factoid: the bike shuttle over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, while expensive ($30!) is a decent deal.  The driver was a super guy; told me all about the bridge, took me to the 7-11 on the east side, and dropped me at the motel.

Because I had just ridden 50 hot, headwindy miles from Arlington, VA, I had iced tea.
This was where the shuttle across the Bay Bridge was meeting me; he showed up a few minutes later.  Super nice guy, told me all about the bridge, and dropped me at my motel on the other side.

Coffeeneuring, Mc Donalds, Annapolis

Coffeeneur #3,  McDonalds, Chester, MD

Date: Tuesday, Oct 16, 2014
Drink: just coffee
Distance: 5.6 miles
Bike Friendliness: didn't see a rack, left my bike in the vestibule
Factoid: Hwy 50/301 does a nice job of creating a moat down the center of the communities there - limited crossing points, and bicycles not allowed at all.  Bicycle crossing is legal, but fraught with peril.

Vacation Rule!

Breakfast and coffeeneuring

Coffeeneur #4, Lewes DL- Cape May NJ Ferry, M/V Cape Henlopen

Date: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2014
Drink: mocha
Distance: 4.5 miles to the ferry, 80+ miles afterward
Bike Friendliness: very much so - bike racks on the car deck, first on, friendly crew.
Factoid: the posts on the car deck are called "staunchions".

Vacation Rule!

Sweetpea in the bike racks between the stanchions on the ferry

Coffeeneuring on the Cape May Ferry

Coffeeneur #5, Coava Coffee, Portland, OR

Date: Sunday, November 2
Drink: latte
Distance: 13+ miles riding, in all.
Bike Friendliness: only one lone parking staple outside; we had to get creative and lock to gas meters and power pole supports.  Later, we saw folks bringing their bikes inside.  We should have done that; there was certainly room, but we didn't know if they were ok with that.
Factoid: Coava also fronts as a handcrafted wood products venue.  Lots of nice woodwork as part of the walls, and all the tables were also handcrafted, and very well done.

A fleche-style coffeeneur; a group of us converged on Coava Coffee.
This is both a coffee shop AND a woodworking showroom - bamboo products; pretty cool stuff.

We all thought they could have had more chairs.  I saw a woman sitting by herself at a big picnic table, and arranged a swap for the four chairs we had at the end of another table, since we were more than four, and she would get a real chair.

Coffeeneur #5, Coava Coffee Roasters, Portland, OR

I was so happy to have a social gathering, with ceramic mugs and latte art.  I had a latte and a croissant.

Our heap of panniers and helmets

Some folks peeled off to go to other things, one more joined us.

After that, we stopped by the New Deal Distillery, so Gary could buy some ginger liqueur.

New Deal Distillery

From there, we rode over to Detour Cafe, for second breakfast/lunch, where there was MORE coffee, and an excellent potato skillet.

Coffee and menu

My potato skillet

I then took myself to Universal Cycles, where new winter cycling shoes were purchased, and then rode in the now-increasing rain across the Hawthorne Bridge and up to the Goose Hollow MAX transit station, and took the train over the hill, then coasted on home.

Coffeeneur #6: BOGZA Coffee, Beaverton, OR

Date: Monday, November 3
Drink: chai
Distance: 5 miles
Bike Friendliness: while The Round has bike racks, the closest ones were far away and in secluded locations.  I elected to lock to a metal bench just outside.
Factoid: The Round has the tallest building in Beaverton (parking garage)

I had heard from a fellow board member from the NW Bicycle Safety Council that there was a new coffee place in Beaverton.  Beaverton could use some new coffee places; mostly we have chains, and a few independent shops.  The menu looked promising.  The husband said he'd meet me there, as I was going to swing by the library, return a book (Divergent), and pick up a new one (The Slow Regard of Silent Things).  I was also checking out my new wet/winter cycling shoes (Lake MX 145, men's version).

Navigation to the library from my house is fairly straightforward; just one caution required street crossing.  Getting from the library to The Round was a bit more interesting.  I elected to ride up SW Hall (one way, three lanes), and turn left on SW Millikan Way just north of SW Canyon Rd, which would put me right there.  I elected to do a Copenhagen Left; as the mass of cars going north quickly evaporates, and then it is easy to cross SW Hall.  Found BOGZA, and Fitz was just arriving.

Since I'd already had plenty of coffee for the day, I ordered a chai and a chocolate croissant.  We went for the squashy chairs in the corner.  The front of all the businesses in The Round (a condo/retail/office development in Beaverton, which, since construction started in 1997, has still not really taken off) are rollup glass doors; this could be nice in the summer.

Coffeeneuring #6

I expect it would be more lively before or after work, as the MAX train stops right there, but at 2:30 in the afternoon, it was pleasantly peaceful.

While preparing to leave, some guys walked by, one: "that is a nice looking bike!  What is the brand?"  Me: "Rivendell".  He said he had an Atlantis, so we gazed at my bike in mutual admiration for a bit, then he moved on.

Coffeeneur #7: Jim and Patty's Coffee, Beaverton, OR

Date: Monday, November 10
Drink: salted caramel latte
Distance: 4.4 miles
Bike Friendliness: The strip mall has a wheel-breaker bike rack which one cannot successfully u-lock to.  I u-locked the Riv to itself, and looped my very sturdy cable through the rack.  And sat where I could see it.
Factoid: Back when it was Coffee People (early 90's), this was their Beaverton location.  After many years of not being here, they reopened in the same storefront.  These are the people who started and nurtured my coffee addiction.

Coffeeneuring #7, Jim and Patty's Coffee, Beaverton OR

The library had a book for me, so I rode over there, then back to Jim and Patty's to have a drink.  I was also seduced by a pastry; hard to say no to "Well of Nutella".

I thought to try something new, so ordered a salted caramel latte.  It was QUITE good; I'd order it again.

Note on the bike-friendliness: the shop itself is not inherently bike-unfriendly; I have started a brevet from here, and they were delighted to have a swarm of randonneurs descending early on a Saturday morning (I warned them).  I'd put it on the cluelessness of the strip mall.

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.