Sunday, June 3, 2012

American Mud

Saturday, Washington, DC to Brunswick, MD, 52 miles riding.

         Let me get you caught up to the present – my AD MUD ride!! Yesterday we just cooled off for a day and relaxed. I had to get a part for the ham radios, of which I have to thank Bill Ross for his assistance in pointing me in the right direction with respect to the parts that I needed and the place to go in MD. So got that, and then later that evening I got my induction into Maryland cusine – MD blue crabs. Went to a place called May’s, and I did the all you can eat blue crab special. Now I’ve had crabs before but never on this scale – platter of 16 large crabs. Honestly, I’d have done half the amount but there was just nothing in between “all you can eat” and 1-2 crabs. So I was the hog of the night.        
Now Judy, Hursh and Sue did regular dinners…while I did the “hog” platter. So thankfully I got the crabs before they got they’re dinners such that I had a great head start on the munching. Hursh warned me that the crabs are a time consuming meal, and damn was he right. Even after a quick “crab cracking” course from the waitress, I was still feeble in my cracking and eating. So fast forward 2 hrs from the time I ordered my crabs… they were all done eating and I was still laboring with 2 crabs to go. God , it was just painful doing all that cracking. My clarified butter had gotten viscous and cold, my crabs were in a state of rigor mortis, and my fingers were getting numb from the prying and cracking. But I finished the damned things! Now I was a mess, what with the butter and crap stained all over my T-shirt and shorts, but I finished.
         Ok, so I was now a definite MD crabber. That Friday was capped off by three major down-pouring thunder storms that rolled through the area – not ideal for trail riding.
Saturday: Time to ride. So the plan today was to just do a little 50-miler to kind of get the ball rolling, but to also be in parallel with Sue and Hursh so we could all hang for one more day. Go up this morning and felt ready to ride – this past week had been the least amount of riding I’ve done in a week for about 8 months, so I really wanted to get rolling to stretch the legs out. Well, I walked into the bedroom and I see Judy laying on the bed with this look of pain in her face…turns out that she was reaching for some cycling gear in her pack and wrenched her back – badly!! Great way to start the trip right? Now the whole day for her was in danger of just going to hell in one fell swoop.
         So we drove down to Georgetown to get on the trail and it was the same cluster(&*^&$ as it was last year – where in the hell is the trailhead. Honestly there is NO C&O trailhead. NO, NO, NO!! Doesn’t exist. I mean there is a mile marker 0 that I have a picture of me standing next to. And then there is no trail. And what really freaking annoys me is the fact that no one can point you in the right direction as to where to go to get on the C&O from the C&O trailhead parking area. It’s like this mythical trailhead that just does NOT exist. Really, we had like 4 people point us in different directions for the trail from the start point ….and none were correct. So Judy soldiered on with her bad back down the asphalt while I shouldered the bike from mile mark 0 up the street trying in vain to locate the trail.
         Sue, Hursh and I walked for about a mile like this in downtown DC looking for the trail. I must have looked like a total ass shouldering the bike and walking down the sidewalks. Well, eventually Sue spotted something up at the top of a sidestreet, so I walked up and saw that that was the place where the trail really started – about a mile from the mile mark 0! So Judy and I started out and I could tell right from the get-go that Judy was just laboring with her back being out. Not only that but we were battling a headwind of about 12-18 mph and a pretty rutted up trail. She could only manage about 5 miles and that was it. I called Sue and Hursh for support and Judy went back to get in the van – quite a disappointment for both of us, seeing that we were hoping she could ride with me the entire day today.
         I continued on into what eventually turned out to be a real mud bath of a day. Those 3 major rain storms that blew through the area, 2 of which were coupled with tornado warnings, just dumped an ocean of rain in the area. So I’m telling you it rained like bloody crazy for half the day on Friday out here. And I’m talking blinding rain! So once I’d ridding northwest of the DC area, about 15 miles into the ride, the trail just turned into a quagmire of crap. I mean it was just this endless span of puddles and mudpits as far as you could see down the trail. To my left, the Potomac River was this bubbling red caldron of water in a partial flood stage, while on the trail, it was just a muddy tire-sucking mess.
         I did my best NOT to just blast through all the mud puddles and mudpits, but to ride to the side, off trail, to bypass the crap. Sometimes it worked and other times it was just futile. I’d end up riding in spurts, from like 4-6 mph around or through the mess, to accelerate back up to 12-14 mph to where the trail was dry. This was just like Groundhog Day for almost 20 miles of riding – crap to good and good to crap, for mile after mile. I mean there were stretches where I was just fishtailing through this crap trying to remain upright! It just beat the snot out of me accelerating like that and working and finessing the bike through the mud and weeds alongside the trail.
         I saw numerous “Through” riders with panniers on their bikes who could not maneuver through the crap like I could and they were just bathed in mud. So I felt kind of lucky in me being able to ride around some of the crap. And as I told everyone afterwards, hell, as bad as the trail was today, I just felt good about being able to ride for half a day – riding is GOOD now matter what!! I just love the challenge of riding no matter what the conditions. I just hope that statement doesn’t come back to haunt me!!
         The day was perfect though, with temps in the low 70’s and very low humidity. So really, life was very good. By the time I reached  White’s Ferry, I’d gotten through about 18 miles of mud and slop, and was back on dry trail….and that lasted about 8 miles and then I was right back into the crap again. Finished at Brunswick, MD. Hursh picked me up and had 2 ice cold Vanilla Porters for me. Day one done and in the books. Now I just know that the rest of the trail is going to be ….moist at the very least, and a slopfest at the very worst what with all the rain that came down Friday. Hoping bigtime that today and tonight will help to evaporate some of this for the next few day’s riding on the C&O.
         Now I was planning on doing like 125 miles tomorrow, but let me tell you, I did about 52 today and I was tired, not ass-kicked, but tired. I truly do not think with the current conditions that I can knock off 125 tomorrow. What’s more with Judy somewhat incapacitated from her back, I don’t want her banging around in the van for 10 hrs as I slog my way to Cumberland. So I could very well be shooting for a lighter day and not making Cumberland. We’ll just have to see how the trail is and how Judy’s back is feeling.
         Time to sign out. See you tomorrow……..Pete

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