from the editor:
in an effort to wrap up several projects before my 2nd period assessment of 2010, i wanted to post my debriefing of the actual bicycle-riding portion of the bike odyssey 2010 benefit and ride. so here it is.
BIKE ODYSSEY 2010: A DEBRIEFING
DAY ONE: 7 June, 2010
Today’s ride both began and ended smoothly. I had two flat tires outside of Edgewood (the second because I neglected to remove the metal staple that punctured it the first time), while Boson had one flat. Other than that, things couldn’t have gone much better. The weather was gorgeous, and Sam’s speedometer indicated our average speed was around 14mph.
I originally thought the bridge (Hatem Bridge in Havre De Grace, MD) would be a major issue. It’s essentially the only bottleneck during the entire trip. My original ride–a pickup truck–would have hauled the four bicycles and passengers easily, but they had to back out due to personal commitments/family obligations. So the “plan B” was to request the assistance of my parents, who live locally.
Of course, they gladly accepted the task, but my mother definitely does NOT have a pickup truck. My stepfather does, but he was at work all day and unable to assist. So cramming four bicycles and passenger into my mother’s sedan was simply not possible; we anticipated multiple trips.
Fortunately, that all changed the day of.
We met my mother in the parking lot of a fast food burger joint. As the other guys were inside refilling water and picking up snacks to re-energize, I was outside with my mother trying to most-efficiently arrange my bicycle and some of the other cyclists’ panniers in her Nissan Altima. As I fretted about, she nonchalantly glanced across the car in my direction, and said, “Why don’t you ask that guy?”
Looking behind me, not two spaces away, was a construction contractor sitting in his pick-up truck, chomping away on a sandwich. “I’ll pay that guy forty bucks. Just go ask,” my mother added.
So, two minutes and $40 later, the four of us made our way across the Hatem Bridge in Havre De Grace, Maryland. This easily caught us up on some of our lost time (thanks to my series of flat tires).
For now, the rest of Day One has proceeded without incident. We at at Cracker Barrel for a late lunch/early dinner; it was Boson’s inaugural visit, which he enjoyed via chicken-fried steak. Later I introduced the guys to (an original card game called) “My Pet Robot,” which turned out to be a fun experience for everyone. Boson’s suggestion for a card: “Reverse Direction” which reverses the direction of play, either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
For tomorrow: Sam seems anxious about rain, which is forecast for Wednesday (9th June). So we all agreed we’re going to simply break for a meal in Denton and press on for perhaps another 30 miles in an effort to reduce travel time on Wednesday. If all goes well, the crew will end up at the shore sooner.
We’ll see how it goes. Everyone is enthusiastic.
Highlights from “songs of the day”: “Let Me In,” “What’s The Frequency Kenneth?” and “Star Me Kitten” by R.E.M.; “Never Gonna Get It” by En Vogue.
Other highlight: we passed a signal truck labeled “run-with-jazz.com”, (I couldn’t find the website, BTW) next to which was a young lady running down the road. She started in Los Angeles, CA, and will end in New York City. Her start date was 1 September, 2009 but she was out for two months with an injury. We passed her in Edgewood, MD.
Stats for Day One (via Sam’s ride computer):
3 hours, 39 minutes of biking time
14.6 mph average
32.5 mph max speed
DAY TWO: 8th June, 2010
We started off today with a trip to The Waffle House. I successfully met Boson’s challenge of speaking with an approximate German dialect for the entirety of our breakfast there. Sam was not impressed.
Highlight: we met “Jason” on the road; he’s bicycling from Lancaster, PA, to Salisbury, MD, in one day…a whopping 200 miles! He traveled with us for a bit, then we passed him when he stopped to take a phone call.
Today we chose to stop in Denton (Day Two’s original stopping point) only for lunch, and continue for at least another 30 miles to Georgetown, DE. Only 30 or so miles left for Day Three, and we’re done! Rainy weather is predicted for tomorrow, so we’re planning on starting out at early as we can manage. Our goal is to be on the road by 7:30am. We will wake at 6am.
We saw a llama (or alpaca) farm today! It was on the far side of the highway in Delaware. When we passed, we were hooting and hollering at the animals; it was amusing to watch them stand up and walk closer to the fence to have a better look at us; you could almost hear them saying, “What? What’s that? Hey, who are those guys talking to us?”
Anton and Boson had their first-ever cherry lime-aids from Sonics, and were pleased with them. I had my first-ever “Ocean Water” drink from the same, and was pretty much disgusted. I thought it was normal bottled water or something; instead, it came out looking like the brilliant blue found in an above-ground swimming pool or something.
We are all immensely excited to be down at the shore tomorrow!
DAY THREE/FINAL REMARKS: 9 June, 2010
In summary: the trip went excellently! The main focus for the future trip should be on how to make it even better (but of course!).
PACKING AND PREPARATION:
- packed lightly, as we split repair gear amongst the four of us.
- four flats total, split between 3 of the four riders. This is normal; remember to double-check tires for foreign objects once stopped.
- each rider needs at least one spare innertube (fitting their bike tires) and their own patch kit. I forgot one for my bike ( ! ) and ended up taking one from Sam that wasn’t the proper size.
- major tune-up actions (brakes, truing, lubing, etc.) happen during overnights, unless the repair is essential to keep the bike moving (a broken chain, for example).
- keep food diverse between riders; offer to share.
- me personally: I had a lot of room to spare in my two panniers. I decided to pack extras (camera, board games, fresh fruit).
- make sure at least one rider carries a decent air pump.
- worked great! No complaints, no navigational hazards.
- for next time, I’m considering a two-day trip, 85 miles/day.
- added more miles to Day Two, which reduced time for Day Three. Day Two = 90 miles; Day Three = 30 miles. We biked only two hours on Wednesday, and were finished by 9:30am!
- send personal invites to friends already interested in cycling.
- four total riders is a good (perfect?) number. There’s enough room for the riders and their partners/drivers home at the beach house.
- stress that it’s not a race; it’s about putting one foot in front of the other until the day’s miles are done.
- co-ed seems to be a viable option; keep an equal ratio (2m/2f) if that’s the case.
- maintain communication: who needs to stop, when people want to stop or keep going, etc.
- start each day with an explanation of the route, the day’s plan, etc.
- anticipate a few stops for minor repairs (patching flats, popped chains, etc.) and take it in stride. These are almost inevitable.
- refuel yourself at each stop you make even if it’s just a small mouth-full of trail mix.
- refill water & sports drinks whenever possible. It’s all right to appear to have too much to drink, because you’ll eventually need it.
- no recommendations on specific foods, but eat proteins and carbs. Don’t eat too much at once unless you factor in time to digest.
- always wear a helmet when riding. You are moving very close to automobiles; safety is an issue.
- stay in shoulder area; use bike lane markings and signage to your advantage.
- when crossing merging lanes/ramps/intersections: keep the group together, staying in the shoulder. When lane is available and the intersection/stoplight is near, “take the lane” and cross the merge area as a group. Maintain line of cyclists as close to right-hand edge of the lane. Rear rider should make the “clear!” announcement.
- use hand signals so automobile drivers – and other riders on your team – know where to expect you.
- ring your signal bell when approaching pedestrians or other cyclists, or animals. Make noise so others can learn of your location.
- front rider makes “clear” call at intersections, stoplights, etc. (unless it’s at a merging lane as above, and the group is close together)
- drafting is great! Practice riding together so that bicycles can stay within 2 feet or closer to one another.
- switch order of riders frequently. This eases fatigue for all riders, and increases the group’s pace in general. Practice “off-shoulder” formations (the next rider in line is slightly off to he left of the rider in front of them).
- keep the group together. Packs are more efficient; stragglers are safe in the group. IT IS NOT A RACE.