Ride notes

It’s our first day back from Bethany, and while I usually go in to the office on Mondays, I decided to telecommute today so that I could take care of a few post-vacation chores around the house. In lieu of my usual bike ride to and from work, I decided to ride a quick loop around the airport this morning, something I had not done on a weekday in a couple of years. Traffic was not all that bad, probably partially because it’s summer. Ridge Rd still seems to carry less traffic than Race Rd and Hanover Rd, at least for now, as I have a feeling that it is going to be getting more developed in the coming years. There’s already a monstrous townhouse development going up just south of the 295 overpass, although that does not seem to have impacted traffic all that much, at least at the times of day that I pass through. Until it becomes unpleasant to ride, Ridge Rd will continue to be my go-to weekday route to and from Elkridge. The BWI loop itself seemed quieter than the last time I rode it on a weekday, which (I believe) was in 2021 — still during the peak of COVID. Including a quick detour to find a cache in a business park along Aviation Blvd., my total distance today was a little over 23 miles. The weather was in the 70s with a dewpoint in the mid-60s, which felt downright pleasant after spending a week at the coast. I rode my Surly Disc Trucker. My next ride will likely be to work on Wednesday, and if it stays dry, I may try to take my mountain bike.

Today’s Ride Notes

I’m trying to start using my long-neglected blog kind of like a daily journal. We’ll see if I keep up with it.

Ever since COVID hit back in 2020, I’ve been doing more weekend bike rides, combining them with geocaching. Prior to that, I used my bike almost exclusively to commute to work. I still commute by bike, but not nearly as much as I used to, so these weekend rides are a good way to get some more biking in.

Today, I rode a 32 mile loop, which included some areas where I hadn’t previously biked: BWI Trail to B&A Trail, then back to Linthicum via Marley Neck Blvd., Fort Smallwood Rd., Hawkins Point Rd., Pennington Ave., and Ordnance Rd. Ordnance through Glen Burnie is not a route I would typically recommend, but it was doable early on a Sunday morning. The rest of the ride was great, and I found 5 caches along the way. I rode my Masi single speed for the first time in several months. The bike had been out of commission because the valve stem on the rear tube had broken, and I was out of tubes that fit the wheel. It took me a few months to get around to buying new tubes, putting one on, and reinstalling the wheel. Also, last year, the bike shop rebuilt the front wheel, because I had been breaking a lot of spokes. I wanted to take a few longer rides on the bike before I take it to the beach later this summer, just to put the wheel through its paces, although I’ve taken several rides on it already. So far, so good.

2020 Memories

I’ve been reading through some of the stuff I wrote here back in 2005 and 2006, and it has brought back memories of things that happened back then that I had subsequently forgotten. 2020 has been such an extraordinary year, that I thought it would be worthwhile to write something about it while it’s fresh on my mind, so I can wax nostalgic in another 15 years or so.

I have been working from home since mid-March. I never thought I would do well as a full-time telecommuter, because of my ADD, but it has worked out better than I had expected. Having a dedicated office in the basement has helped, and over the past 8 months, I’ve slowly improved it, to the point where it’s now a better workspace than my office at UMBC. In early October, I bought an under-desk treadmill, something I had been considering doing even before COVID struck. It has been a real game-changer — it took a week or so to get used to it, but I’m now able to walk for several hours a day while working, which I find really helps both with concentration as well as my overall mood.

I’m obviously no longer commuting to the office by bike, but I am still riding a few days a week. One of the happy consequences of the pandemic (if there is such a thing) is that it has taken a lot of traffic off the local roads, which has made road biking much more pleasant. Some mornings, I ride my regular commuting route to UMBC and back home before work. Other days, I’ll ride somewhere else, like Columbia or the BWI loop, or I’ll take the mountain bike out and do a loop through Patapsco or Rockburn. On weekends, I’ll often head out early, take a longer road ride, and find a geocache or two. I haven’t been caching nearly as much as I did during my heyday of 2014-2018, but I still enjoy the hobby. Now, though, it’s more about getting exercise or spending time with the kids than it is about caching for its own sake.

In summer 2019, we joined the local climbing gym, and have been going pretty regularly (with the exception of 3 months it was closed this year during the shutdown). It’s another great way to stay in shape, but when you’re my age, you really have to take your time and focus on learning correct technique to avoid getting injured. I’m kind of jealous of my 14-year-old son, who is on the advanced climb team and can easily climb circles around me with seemingly no consequences. I hope he enjoys it while it lasts. 😀 We’ve also done top-roping outdoors, which carried a bit of a learning curve, and required an investment in equipment. Once I got to the point where I could safely rig top-rope anchors, the kids and I have been able to go out and have some fun at various local crags. That is something I had been wanting to do for quite a while, so I’m really happy we eventually got to that point.

We got a LOT of use out of our pool this summer. Someone was in the pool almost every day, and I myself probably used it more times than I did the past several seasons combined. Swimming proved to be an effective substitute for my afternoon rides home from the office, particularly on hot days (and we had a lot of hot days this year, especially in July). I tried a swim tether this year, and found that I liked it a lot. Our pool, while on the large side for a backyard pool at 40′ long, is still a little too short for swimming laps, and the tether let me swim for long periods of time without having to keep turning around.

Well, that’s enough for now, but I am going to try to get back into a habit of writing here regularly again. We’ll see if it actually happens.

Happy New Year

Well it’s 2012, and I’m back to work, and by extension, riding to work.  My 2-week holiday break was great, and much needed, but it seems that the older I get, the less my body likes changes to its routine.  I don’t miss work much for its own sake, but I miss the day-in, day-out routine of riding to work every morning, riding home every evening, and eating regular amounts of food at regular times.

I managed to sneak in one ride during the holidaze this year.  I did a quick 24-mile ride out to BWI, around the airport, and back.  That’s one of my go-to routes when I have 1½ hours to spare.

January has started out on a wintry note, with this morning’s ride in the 20s, with wind and flurries, and tomorrow morning looking similar.  But it looks like another warming trend is on the way for the end of the week.  This winter has been amazingly warm so far, warmer than any I can remember.  It’s been so warm that I wonder if we’re going to get any snow or ice at all.  I trotted out the studded tires this morning due to the snow threat, but they have yet to be broken in on “real” ice in spite of being on my bike since mid November.  I guess we’ll see what the next two months have in store.

Back in the saddle

After 2 weeks of business trips, I’m ready to get back into the riding routine.  I managed to sneak in a quick ride around the BWI trail on Monday.  I have today and Friday scheduled as vacation days, but I decided to go in today because it was a good excuse to ride my bike (and I also need to turn in my expense report).  I got an early Christmas present from Baltimore County today..  they re-paved the really bad section of South Rolling Road in Relay that I was always complaining about.  That was always my least favorite part of the commute home (it wasn’t as bad in the other direction, partly because it’s uphill), and I’m sure my rims weren’t crazy about it either.

We’re now officially back on Eastern Standard Time, which means my commutes home will be in the dark until around mid February.  My headlight is charged and I put a few extra blinkers on the bike, so I’m ready for it, but today I’ll probably skip out before it gets dark, as I’m not officially on the clock.

Tale of Two Rides

No work for me this week, but I took advantage of the good weather and rode yesterday and today.  Yesterday I took the fixed-gear out for a 30 mile ride around the BWI trail and Patapsco State Park.  It was the longest ride I’ve taken in quite a while..  my maximum one-way commute is around 18 miles, and I don’t regularly take longer weekend rides.  The Grist Mill Trail was about as washed-out and muddy as I’ve ever seen it after the drenching we got on Saturday.  It was bad enough that I wouldn’t have ridden it had I known its condition.  But, I survived.

Today I had a few things to pick up at the office, and I had a 4-year-old in tow, so I did the logical thing, put him in the kiddie trailer, and rode to the office and back with him, plus a stop at the playground.  It was great fun for all involved.  Total round trip was around 16 miles, and it was probably twice the work it would be sans trailer and child.  Lots of other folks out on bikes today..  must be getting close to Spring or something  🙂

Wind Tunnel

I went out for another ride this morning at 7:15. Took the fixed-gear bike, rode down to the airport, around the BWI trail, and back home. Total round trip around 22 miles. The temperatures were in the upper 20s, but the real story was the wind. It didn’t really become a factor until the second half of the ride when I was riding west on the south side of the airport. At that point, the ride became a real grind.

No PolarTec top on this ride, despite the sub-freezing temperatures. I stuck with a short sleeve top, arm warmers, long sleeve jersey, and windbreaker, which was pretty comfortable for the entire ride. I wore some slightly heavier wool socks, and happily, my feet stayed warm for most of the ride. They didn’t start getting cold until the last half hour, and never got really uncomfortably cold. Oh, and my water bottle froze up. I guess it’s really winter now.

The BWI trail was a mixed bag. On the north side of the airport (which I rode first), it was almost completely clear, with just a few icy spots where the runoff had frozen. The south side was an entirely different story. There were a lot of areas which were completely impassable due to plowed snow. This was mainly on sections adjacent to Aviation Blvd and Dorsey Rd. I had to hop over to the road to get through these. The wooded area near the Dixon Aircraft Observation had a bunch of snowy spots, most of which were passable, but several of which I had to stop and dismount to cross. There was also a downed tree blocking the trail in one spot. The long wooden bridge along MD 170 was still almost completely snow covered. None of this was enough to make me detour off the trail, but the ride did take almost 40 minutes longer than usual. I’m glad I did the north section of the trail first, or I may have decided to detour or abort the ride.

All in all, it was a decent ride. The first half was enjoyable, and the second half will help gear me up for those morning commutes when it’s 15 degrees out with a wind chill of 2. 😉 This will probably end up being my last ride of the week, with more bad weather threatening for Thursday and Friday.