Sunday, March 21, 2010

Camp David Metric Century w/ Climbing

Time:  4:54:01  Distance: 64.67 mi  Elevation Gain: 4,182 ft  Calories: 8,185 C (alleged)

Knowing that  The Rebel Yell wasn't in the cards with a 2pm ride start there were some hidden valleys and skinny roads North of Sabillasville near the PA border that I wanted to check out.  The usual route out of Frederick was as good as ever and soon I was rolling along on in the sun on quiet roads.  A couple of crosses over 15 and I found myself in Thurmont.  The plan was to climb 77 and take Catoctin Hollow Road back from Cunningham Falls State Park to Frederick via Gambrill State Park.  I needed to refill my bottles so I stopped by the Catoctin Ranger station.  While tanking up, I couldn't help notice that Park Central Road was open to traffic.  This is the super smooth paved road that skirts around Camp David, the one that I have wanted to explore it for a long time, but it has either been closed or covered in snow.  This was opportunity knocking and I have a penchant for opening the door. 
Well if someone had told me that it was over 1300 feet of climbing and rather steep at the top, perhaps I would have stuck with Plan A.  The security setup is pretty cool.  At this time of year, with no leaves out, you can make out the main perimeter fence which looks like the one from Jurassic Park.  The actual entrance is right at the very peak of the climb.  No stopping here though.  While it appears to be a pretty non-descript nicely-paved driveway, the black poles with cameras, lights, and signs that say "no stopping or standing" keep you moving right along. 
Just after beginning the descent, I was buzzed by 7 or 8 "rice rockets" who probably just did that climb in 1/10th the time I did.  I shifted into the 53x11 and was able to keep in touch with the last rider by carving through the switchbacks at 42mph.  That fun ended after a mile or so as we hit a patch of level ground and then a short climb.  A right turn on Catoctin Mountain Road and several miles of curvy downhill deposited me into the sunny and remote valley that is home to both 550 and the little town of Sabillasville.  
After a short climb North on 550, I made a right turn onto Browns Quarry Road and into uncharted territory.  Browns Quarry also turned upward and led me higher into yet another, more remote, hidden valley where I turned right again onto Eylers Valley Road.  This is the road that looked so good on Google Earth and it did not disappoint.  A single-lane hardpack dirt road that follows a meandering stream through hemlocks, laurels, and Rhododedendrons.  In this direction it was a magical descent.  In the other, it would be one hellish climb (some other day).  A couple more turns and I was back in Thurmont where I caught the guys on the race bikes at a local Sheetz.
It was here that I decided to head home up through the mountains rather than the valley so I retraced my previous tracks for a mile or so and then turned up Catoctin Hollow Road, a beautiful single lane paved road climb by a creek with little car traffic.
Roughly 1000 of vertical later, I reached this intersection that demarcates a brief respite from the pain cave, the vertical pain cave.  It gets worse from here.  Mink Farm and I are getting to know eachother and with each lap we learn more about one another.
Mink Farm Road turns into dirt after the steep climb and then hooks up with Tower Road and they all quickly turn into the familiar Gambrill Park Road.
The run down to Gambrill is peppered with little climbs.  The first one comes after Sand Flats and is the worst of the lot.  Your legs are still stinging from the previous climbing and it is the longest one.  After that things loosen up a bit.  Past Hamburg road there are three (or four) more, but only the last one packs any meat.  Mostly just carrying your momentum through them as if they are just big rollers.  I ran into Sheldon in the tower parking lot near Lawnmower.  He had just finished an epic mt bike ride and was pretty spent.  He spotted me some grape Gatorade that broke the monotony of the lemon lime Gatorade I have been drinking for 4 hours.  From here it's a pretty easy roll back into Frederick, only the little climb up Shookstown Road and then the fast descent into town.
The 8185 calories my HRM says that I burned is even more than what I burned a couple weeks ago on a hilly 82 miler.  Not sure how accurate that count is, but if it is true I burned the equivalent of 15 Big Macs.  Sweet, I consumed only 6 water bottles, two packs of Clif Blocks, and a GU Packet or around 1100 calories.  God knows the other ones have gotta be coming from somewhere.

Cunningham Falls Maple Sugar Festival et al

Adaptability was the theme for this weekend as kid fun, cycling, socializing, work, and enjoying the sunshine were all vying for priority in a seemingly short 48 hour period.......

Friday evening began with Frederick's Friday From Fifth at Five aptly dubbed the "Cluster F" by Jason Judd.  We had a nice jaunt up to Thurmont with a nice kicker on Powell Rd on the return trip.  That was followed up by a date with Michele.  We went to 2010 F3 Opener at Brewer's Alley to grab some tasty eats, meet with friends, and preview some of the films to be shown this coming weekend.
Saturday I had planned to do a 100 mile ride, The Rebel Yell, but woke up to find my wife sleeping on the bathroom floor because she had been sick all night.  Couldn't really check out for 6 hours and leave her alone with the boys.  So the boys and I went to Starbucks, cleaned the BMW, cleaned the fishtanks, washed bikes, went to my office and they cleaned the display windows with a squeegee while I got a couple of things done, we went back home and built a lego space station, and then had some really good Chinese food for dinner.

Sunday morning there was a road ride from my neighborhood at 8:30, but things hadn't improved much with Michele so I took the boys to the Cunningham Falls Maple Sugar Festival.  We arrived a little early so we took a hike around the lake, played with sticks, and threw some rocks in the water (boy stuff). 
The event kicked off at 10am with a hearty pancake and sausage breakfast complete with some MD maple syrup. 
We checked out their maple-sugaring demonstration, did some crafts, watched a movie, and then headed home via some back roads I wanted to check to see if they were paved the whole way (they were).  Thomas had a 1pm playdate and I really needed to get a ride in so we were on a bit of a schedule.
Back at the house, I changed and headed out on the bike knowing I wouldn't be doing The Rebel Yell, but would be able to check out some faint lines I had discovered on Google Earth (see above).

Sunday, March 07, 2010

North to Apple Country

I left Frederick a little after 10am this morning with this group of neighbors (l to r): Dave C., Tim S., Salyer M., and Randy K.  I hopped on their ride so I would have some company for the first part of my ride.  They took me as far as the Sheetz in Thurmont (17.50 miles) where I loaded up on Red Bull and got something to eat.
My route was a loop North up into Adams County, PA do a tough climb and head back.  Through Emmitsburg, past Ski Liberty, up into apple county.  There is a heinous climb called Cold Spring Road that I have done with the Gettysburg crew, but we usually turn on Mt. Carmel about 1/2 way up.  Today I went straight up and over (another two climbs) into the Michaux State Forest.
Rode past the parking lot for the Terror of Teaberry race and then up to South Mountain, PA.  Down Old Forge Road and up another (steep) climb to Blue Ridge Summit.  From Blue Ridge I took 550 South until I could turn into Catoctin Mt. Park.  I wanted to take Park Central Road, the one that loops near Camp David, but it hadn't been plowed.  A couple of more climbs and I was back near the Frederick City Forest.
Had a short section of hard-packed dirt and as you can see there is still alot of snow up on top of the mountain:
Tower Road (above) dropped me onto Gambrill Park Road for the easy cruise back down to Gambrill State Park and then up and over Shookstown Road back into Frederick.
I thought it would be closer to 100 miles, but I did the whole loop as I had pictured it in my mind.  It just took a lot longer than I anticipated due to the climbing - 6 1/2 hours of fun riding and I burned 7000 calories!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Frederick's Friday Night From Fifth

The First Frederick Friday Fifty From Fifth @ Four was a success. 
We took advantage of the shortened daylight to stay close and head up Hamburg Road.

This climb is always a good time. 

As you can see the Parking at Hamburg Road isn't looking real good. 
Neither is the Blue Trail.

We headed over to the Tea House and then back to town on Shookstown - very little traffic, periodic sun, and warm temps made for a nice Friday night ride.
See you next Friday at Four.