We've not done a lot of organized rides of late . . . Jeff's accident in 2008 put paid to long-distance riding for many months. However, he's largely bounced back, so our lack of event riding is mostly due to our work and vacation schedules. That's changing though, as we really are trying to do more rides, weather permitting. We're working up to once again doing the Princeton Event in August, a perennial favorite of ours. I'd like to do the PE full metric, if my knee will let me (more about that later). Ergo, I've been trying to do longer rides that aren't too hilly and aren't too flat. This weekend's ride fit the bill admirably.
The Baltimore Bicycling Club's annual Flatlands Tour is not a fully-supported event, just a ride with, oh, several hundred of your closest friends, all following cue sheets, taking care of their own flats and mechanicals, and stopping at every WaWa along the way. For a $6 registration fee, you get water, cue sheets, occasional road markings, snacks to take along, and a port-a-potty (very important). I've started many a ride with way less (especially the port-a-potty).
The ride starts out of Chesapeake City, MD, and offers several distances, ranging from 35 to 100 miles. It meanders through both Maryland and Delaware, along a lot of the same roads that we've biked in the past on the Delaware Double-Cross and the Shorefire Century. Needless to say, this area of the Midatlantic continues to be one of our favorites, in terms of roads, light traffic, and scenery. We elected to do the 35-miler; my repaired knee has been hurting slightly ever since we returned from our Indianapolis/St. Louis biking vacation (which I neglected to blog but may eventually memorialize, at least in ImageEvent). 170 miles in 10 days may be fine for most folks, but my joints tend to take issue with too much riding. Still, I think I'm doing a good job of gradually extending my mileage capacity.
But I digress . . . here's how it all unfolded.
The weather guys had predicted a pretty nice weekend, tho' it was expected to be warmer and muggy. So why were huge raindrops spattering the skylights early Saturday morning, just after 5 a.m.? Oh, no! I grabbed my Xoom pad and looked at the weather map. Hmm. Storms were moving through Baltimore; there were some rain blobs up in Chesapeake City, but it didn't look that bad. There was another reddish blob heading east from the Pittsburgh area, but it looked like it might pass to our south. Should we risk it? Sure . . . by the time we got to the ride start, we figured, it would all be OK. Besides, we wanted to go to the Delmarva Chicken Festival afterward . . . surely a fitting reward for so many miles! Out the door we scooted, off to Panera and a pre-ride breakfast.
As we drove up I-95, the skies kept clearing. I kept checking the weather radar . . . as the rains got closer, they appeared to be evaporating. And, as it turned out, we had a completely rainless ride. We arrived at the ride start - Bohemia Manor High School - unpacked our bikes, and registered. It was muggy, but there was still enough cloud cover that we weren't greatly uncomfortable.
As we started out, I pondered the possible reasons why "Bohemia" seemed to be a fixture of the area: the high school, Bohemia Avenue, Bohemia Wesleyan Church, etc. All this did was earn me an earworm: I started singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" as we rolled along. "Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?" We were, of course, very grateful that we did not encounter "thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening . . " I think Jeff was also grateful when I finally stopped singing.
As it turns out, Chesapeake City was once known as "The Village of Bohemia." A chap named Augustine Herman changed the town, its name, and its whole future, merely by being the driving force behind the C & D Canal. OK, that solves that conundrum.
I usually see lots of critters on our rural rides, and this one did not disappoint. Horses, birds, and my favorite, "lawnmower" goats. Yep, a cloven-hoofed family foursome, merrily wandering along the road, chomping grass as they went. Beats owning a lawnmower, I guess. And, evidently, the goats were smart enough to learn to avoid what few cars went by.
It really was a beautiful ride. Lots of tree nurseries, horse farms, wetlands. The roads were surprisingly good - many had obviously been recently repaved. Some of the scenery:
St. Augustine's [Episcopal] Church marker (note Bohemian Manor ref):
Historic building in Odessa, Delaware:
Wetlands, from a bridge:
Looking back at Jeff (turning over cue sheet):
Why? I have absolutely no idea:
Heading back toward Chesapeake City, and its magnificent bridge:
After the ride, we went to Starbucks, changed into civvies, and had a light snack. We then headed for Georgetown, Delaware, home of the Delmarva Chicken Festival. Turns out it's not a really huge event; it reminded me of a little town fair, with a few random carnival rides and local on-stage entertainment (lots of Latino bands). But there were crafters, and exhibitors, and best of all, a HUGE chicken fryer:
I submit, for your approval, the product of this humongous cooker:
Now, this wasn't all fried chicken. There was also: chicken BBQ, chicken kabobs, and for all I know, chicken pot pie. But the big draw was the big fryer, and rightfully so. Yummy. (I didn't eat the storebought roll; I save my bread calories for focaccia and fougasse. Yeah, call me a food snob.)
Oh . . . and there was also a live chicken exhibit. More to the point: chickies! Little yellow peepers! I'm not a country gal; I once got to gather eggs from Mrs. Jones' henhouse, but I've never had the chance to see, or handle, baby chicks. Thankfully, the Delmarva chicken farmers took pity on folks like me and provided a chickie 'petting zoo.' I'm just a big kid when it comes to baby animals of any sort:
And there were plenty to handle. A few of them were squirmy, but many were docile, as I gently lifted them up. Like handling a live feather boa. Awesomely soft.
There was also plenty of hand sanitizer available. Good idea.
They had a few adults too, including this proud fella:
Alas, our day had to end, and as we drove back toward Maryland (the Bay Bridge and Annapolis), we stopped at a couple of farm markets for local corn, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, and S.C. peaches. (Those disappeared today into a couple of peach caipirinhas.) Our chicken snack turned out to be inadequate to refuel our 35 mile jaunt, so we found a nice Annapolis farm-to-table restaurant, Level, and enjoyed several small plates. They make awesome rosemary and garlic fries!
They also make a nice strawberry caipirinha, with lime foam.
I am happy to report that my knee held up just fine, and was largely OK today, for the 16 miles I biked around Baltimore on my Trek hybrid. I need to try a 45-miler next, I think.