This ride is all down hill.

Not even close, but I guess it kind of started that way, and ended just the same. I went out on the Saturday morning ride with the Around Town Bikes folks and their crew. On my way to a ride I spotted two folks that I remember from last time I went out with them. The woman who is a bit older than me was floundering with her pedals in a very high speed intersection very early in the morning. Luckily I live on teacher time and I was fully awake because if not, it would have been BLAMO for her. Just not a good way to start a ride. Keep her in mind…she comes back later.

I got to the parking lot of A-Town and it is totally empty. The ride starts at 8 or so and it is already 7:30. No one is there. I start to think that maybe BLAMO lady and her man friend are out for a ride on their own, they just so happen to be heading this way. No this can not be, Tom sent me a message to let me know that they would be around for the Sat. ride. Considering that I usually arrive at rides around half passed late, I thought I had the wrong day, week, location etc. I have done that before, so I know what it feels like. I sat in my solitary car looking at the clock, my phone, my riding clothes next to me and started to come up with a route of my own. I was not wasting this lack of sunlight and commitments. I was going riding.

As I was filling my brain with ride route possibilities and beating up my brain for having the wrong day, week, location etc, the door of the shop flew open and Tom came out. I figured all right. Tom and I could go for a ride together. He is a good guy and rider, it will be fun. Maybe it is just too chilly for everyone else. It was near freezing when I left my parent’s house. All sorts of thoughts were buzzing through my head when like the Egyptians into the Red Sea, the bicycle shod chariots of modern time streamed into the dusty parking lot. All of a sudden there was a group ride. I was happy, but now…I gotta get ready.

I packed my FatCyclist kit. All the way down to the arm warmers and socks. If you are going to wear self emasculating pink, and not win the Giro d’Italia do it right! I guess I just wanted to stand out, and I am trying to give my Keswick Kit a rest, because I am now a team of one…so there are no replacements for worn out shorts. Believe me…you don’t want to see that. I was ready in no time. I took off the commuter rack from my bike and took a quick spin around the parking lot. I leaned my bike on the wall of the shop. Next to the wall is a small bike rack. BLAMO lady had her very nice bike in the rack. I was just going to give the old tires a pump, so I did not need to be that secure. Next to my bike was a Rich Adams custom bike that looks like it never saw tarmac, let alone the sun. Instead of Rich’s name, there was a name of a really snotty private school on the down tube. Why? Do they have a cycling team? Did they ever hear of a sticker on the top tube…that looks so much more pro. Anyway…I guess my bike with it’s own fancy pedigree wanted to show this bike how Boston does it because as I moved my bike out of the way for BLAMO lady to remove hers, my bike knocked Snoots McGoot to the floor. I made my best Jimmy Rollins dive to save this perfect bike from its date with the parking lot, but I failed.

I apologized for my bike and it’s anger issues, but the owner was not having it. He was pretty pissed, but in the best passive aggressive manner….or maybe it was the big dude in pink with all the tattoos that slowed his proverbial roll, but he just gave me a…”Eh…it’s ok.” The damage was done. His Campy (you guessed this guy would be on anything else?) left shifter had a scratch now on the carbon. I did feel bad, but if you lean your bike…stand near it rookie. I apologized for the scratched shifter and rode away to “adjust my bike” and really just avoid the whole situation. That is the best way right?

The ride finally got started and I was just hoping for a nice ride out to the boat launch and back. Our group was a big mixture of ability and style. I rode for a while talking to Rich about Web2.0 stuff and the bike biz then ended up talking to guy who is a relative newbie to road riding and on his second group ride with the Around towners. It was great to see a group ride through the eyes of someone like him. After a good long chat, I headed up the road to really get a semblance of a workout in without trying to be the jerk that flies off the front of the group and then can’t hold out for long enough. There were some fast folks out this week. I found my usual spot of tweener. I am between the fast guys and the not so fast guys. I always find myself around there.

I have ridden and driven this route a million times because my family used to have a cabin up this way, but before I even knew it we were at the boat launch. I guess we were moving pretty good. One of the guys we were with said we were well over 24 mph on the flats. We had to be to make sure that the bubba trucks with gun racks were kept at bay.

I absolutely LOVE the Susquehanna River. Like love it. I grew up more or less on the shores of this dirty slow moving river…that is what it means, but it is so central to  my childhood. Hikes, fishing, swimming, etc. all of it down on this river.

How could you not love it?

When we got to the boat launch, there was talk of going a bit further up the river. The guys were going that way were way too fast for me to hang on long enough to get up to where they were going and make it back to the shop. The second option was to climb Apple tree Rd over to 8th St. The third option, and the most popular was to ride back to the shop on the same route that took us out there. I went with the middle one. I wanted to climb and go out with a group that maybe had a bit more panache.

Apple tree Rd. is a super steep road that follows a small creek full of tiny waterfalls and a few old mill damns. Most of the route we took up until this point is totally flat, except for this part of the ride.

Lets see if you could find Apple tree Rd. on here.

I have to admit…I struggled. I was the first to jump on the hill because I knew I had the granny on my triple disabled, so the top of this thing was going to be hard earned and it was. I was the last one to the top. I persevered and stayed on the bike after everyone had passed me. Our group was much smaller now, so I guess my lack of climbing power showed a bit more.

At the top of Apple tree there is one more short steep kicker then a nice flat ride along Mt. Zion Road. We were warned at the Intersection of Mt. Zion and Apple Tree that we were going to ride “The Nail”. With a name like that, who wouldn’t want to climb it just to say they did. I guess this thing gets a name like that because it is literally straight up. It looks like an old path across a farmer’s field that was turned into a road sometime in the last 50 or so years. Even the light fast guys were making funny noises trying to get to the top of this thing. The reward was yet to be had, and it pushed me up and over. That and the giant legs that my dad passed along kind of helped.

The upcoming reward was 8th St. We were a bit further down on the St, but this is a fun road to just BOMB. The mechanic from Around Town and another one of the hammers that were on the ride joined on with me for an unbelievable decent down the back side of he climb we just did. The three man train was pushing the 42mph range coming down this hill with a smile ear to ear and laughing like little kids. It is one where it is safe to go that fast. We were lucky to not have any cars on our ride down. I honestly think any of them would be afraid to pass us at those speeds. I was the first to the ice cream stand at the bottom of the hill (no jokes) where the three of us just laughed and talked about how awesome that ride down was. Some folks rolled in a bit after us for the ride back to the shop.

Email me for a map my ride link if you want to try this ride.

We took a pretty uninteresting cacophony of back roads and residential streets back to the shop. Some choices were better than others, but we made it back with no flats, mecahnicals or drops. Everything was fine until we got back to the shop. I rode into the parking lot and off to my car alone. Only to make the biggest rookie move of the day…by not making it out of my pedals before I teetered over. Yup…me Mr. cool  guy biker who makes fun of Snoots and BLAMO only to be brought literally to my knees by a slow roll and a sticky pedal. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last!I left a bit of knee skin on the parking lot so I will find my way back around there again.

Thanks to the folks of Around Town bikes for offering coffee and bagels again after the ride. It is great to just hang around the shop and shoot the bull with the folks we just rode out with. Lucky for me, BLAMO nor Snoots were there to offer any more catastrophes.

4 Responses to “This ride is all down hill.”
  1. Jenni says:

    So, that guy leaning his bike was the only “rookie” thing that happened on this day? Hmm? Are you sure this ride report is complete with all the rookie happenings?

    Don’t fall over yourself trying to remember.

  2. surlyrider says:

    I totally forgot, but thanks for exploiting my weakness. You seem to have some perverse affinity for it.

  3. Anthony says:

    The custom rich adams bike with the “Wyoming Seminary” name on the side of it was built for one of the local private schools. They auctioned off the bike to raise money for a benefit.

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