Wrapping up 2011

Today is my last bike commute of 2011.  I’ll finish up with 154 rides, 20 fewer than 2010, but 10 more than 2009.  May and June were my most prolific months of the year, with 17 rides each month.  As usual, February was least prolific, with only 4 rides this year.  I rode 11 times in December, which beat both 2010 and 2009, and also 2008 if you don’t count 2 rides to UMBC I took during the holiday break and recorded as commutes.

I rode my 2 road bikes most of the time this year.  Both were tied with 60 rides each (actually, the Giant gets the slight edge with 60.5, due to a one-way commute back at the end of June).  The Rockhopper was a distant third with 34, with most of those coming in January-March.

With the long holiday break looming and its probable lack of rides (I always have good intentions, but the rides never seem to materialize) I wanted to take a slightly longer ride this morning.  I rode down Lawyers Hill Rd and through Patapsco State Park on the Grist Mill Trail, then left on Ilchester and right on Bonnie Branch.  I followed Bonnie Branch its entire length and turned right onto Montgomery, right on Baugher Farm, and right on New Cut.  I took New Cut into Ellicott City, turned right on Frederick, right on River, left on Thistle, and right back onto Frederick.  I followed Frederick about a mile towards Catonsville, turned right on Seminole, left on Idlewilde, right on Montrose, left back onto Idlewilde, right on Hilton, left on McCurley, left on Newburg, right on Pullen, right on Mellor, right on Montemar, left on Bloomsbury, right on Asylum, through Spring Grove, left on Valley, right on Wilkens, and finally left onto Walker into UMBC.  Total distance was about 18 miles.  I’d ridden all these roads before, but never this exact route, and it had been a long time (well over a year) since I rode through that particular area of Catonsville.  It’s not a bad route, with two long climbs (Bonnie Branch and Thistle Rd up to Seminole).  There are two potential bad traffic spots:  the light at Frederick and Rolling (where it’s necessary to take the lane because there’s no shoulder) and the intersection of Newburg and Rolling, where you have to cross Rolling to continue straight on Newburg.  However, traffic wasn’t bad this morning, and I may try riding through here a little more often to see what it’s like on different days.  I’m always looking for longer routes that don’t require long rides on Montgomery Rd.

Well, that about does it for 2011.  See you in 2012.  We’ll see what the new year has in store for riding.

Cold Feet

So, it finally felt a little wintry this morning.  It was 35° out when I left the house at around 7:50am.  We got a lot of rain yesterday evening, and I’m told there were a few flakes mixed in, though by dawn, there was no evidence of snow anywhere.  In a true shocker, schools weren’t even delayed.  All the same, I trotted out the mountain bike with the studded tires this morning.  The only really slick spots on my commute this morning were on the wooden bridges in Patapsco State Park.  I took River Rd. out to Frederick Rd. and into Ellicott City.  Parts of River Rd. were very washed out, so my fenders got a good workout.  But it wasn’t cold enough for widespread ice.

The only real problem with today’s ride was that my toes got really cold.  I’ve got SPD pedals on this bike, and my regular neoprene shoe covers don’t fit over the shoes.  In the dead of winter, I switch to standard pedals and straps, and ride with hiking boots.  This was my first time riding the SPD shoes in colder weather, and my toes were pretty frosty by the end of the ride.  It looks like my cheapo Performance toe covers do fit over the shoes (though it’s a tight squeeze), so I may try riding with them to see if they help.  But in any case, if this is going to by my everyday winter bike, I need a good way to keep my feet warm with the SPD shoes.