A Weekend in Baltimore.
It’s usually this time of year that I make my yearly pilgrimage to the wonderful city of Baltimore for a birthday celebration that has no rivals. I have a bit of history with that city, almost moving there (maybe kinda) a few years ago. Spent most of a summer there, and long weekends for the following Fall a little south of the Mt. Vernon area. A cool city, a lot better now than I remember though.
Two of my best mates from the UW Cycling Team moved out there, for different jobs, at the same time. Seems like I can’t just leave that city, eh? I’ve helped one of ’em move out there, seen all of the City, and been drunk there now more nights than I can remember – all in good fun! 😀
This trip was for a combined birthday party to celebrate another year of debauchery with said mates, Mike (the Tank) and Alex (I’m a Tri guy, but still can handle a bike … mostly). Of particular importance, Tank hit the big 3-0, somewhere I’ll be in another half decade. Lots of fantastic times, lots of great stories. Among eating at fantastic restaurants for Restaurant Week, “Dude’s Night Out,” celebrations that not everyone is able to remember, and getting out to ride in weather that needed nothing more than knee warmers, it was, as it has been in the past, a bloody fantastic time.
Most of the stories are best left to be told in person, but what I can share that’s directly related to one of the many things I talk about with this blog is a small little ride report.
What I found rather surprising these last couple times I’ve been to Baltimore, is just how good the riding is here. In less time than it takes to get out of Madison, there are great climbs to be had, fantastic scenery, and cycling-tolerant drivers everywhere. If I dare say it, it’s almost more fun to ride out there than it is here. Whether it’s just on the outskirts of the city – through the various suburbs – or through the often hilly country, there’s great variety to be had. Again – something that I was NOT expecting at all.
I went on two rides this past weekend.
The first one I left my trusty Garmin in my bag back at Tank’s, so I don’t have any mapping or elevation to show from this. It was a quite warm 25ºF outside, and we hit up a nice talking-pace ride around the City. With fantastic company from Tank and the famous Dr. K, the 30 mile ride was over before we knew it. One of the better highlights from the ride was watching a couple girls attempt to walk on an icy sidewalk – as the three of us rode by, apparently distracted by how good we looked in our kits, one of them lost their footing and BAM – flat on her back onto the crunchy ice. With a loud appreciative “Oooooooooooohhhhhh!” from us onlookers, the girl seemed rather OK and was up in an instant. A fantastic day.
Sunday brought warmer temperatures, even more sunshine, and a chance to again ride outside the city. In a route familiar from last year, Tank and I ventured out for a little under 3 hours on a gorgeous 40 mile ride.
The ride had a little bit of everything: rolling terrain, river valleys, 2 mile climbs, 45mph descents, small towns, big city riding, and even areas with a bit of ice still on the tarmac. After riding on ice all season so far, and having quite a bit experience with it in the past – as well as off-road adventures on my MTB, it was quite enjoyable to just float my 23mm wide-tired bike through the ice as if it was not even there. It was even more fun to turn around and watch my Road-only buddy cautiously ride, slip, walk, slide, and slowly navigate the same sections of road – all while getting heckled by me.
The ride finally had to come to an end, luckily a mostly-downhill end at that. 55 and sunny made for a fantastic day, I think I was even in danger of finally getting a bit of tan on my calves. The legs were definitely a little tight the next day, and on Tuesday when I rode to work, my legs were just plain SORE. I guess riding a bike that’s too big (59cm Fuji) for 70 miles … and a completely different body position can do that to ya.
The weekend was just the medicine I needed to get over this little bit of rundown I was experiencing. So with a renewed bit of enthusiasm for everything around here … it’s back to business as usual. After catching up on sleep from the weekend, I felt fantastic today.
Spent 1:30 on the trainer tonight, thank goodness for Top Gear. It’s time to get the training really in step now I think. Only a little over a month till Spring Break.
I also discovered why my commute has been so hard lately. Apparently being 10 & 15lbs down in pressure in your front & rear tires makes a huge difference afterall.
25ºF is my limit of low temperatures for riding outdoors now. Should be in the 30s and 40s this weekend, time to work on that Suntan!
I’m also already planning for next year’s Birthday Bash. Alex, afterall, hits a quarter-century. Should be quite a good time again, I imagine.