1999 Cycle Across Maryland Tour

 The text on this page comes from a message I sent to the WHIRL mailing list about the ride.

 Subject:        [WHIRL] Ride Report: Cycle Across Maryland (very long)
   Date:         Tue, 27 Jul 1999 21:55:16 -0400
   From:        Alan Felsen <afelsen@mail.com>
     To:         WHIRL <whirl@cyclery.com>

        I just got back from riding the mini-CAM Tour, which is the first three days of the six day Cycle Across Maryland Tour.  I rode my Vision R-44 ('99 frame).  The short version of the story:  Some of the hills were long, some of the descents were great, and recumbents most definitely CAN climb.  There are now a few hundred people who have learned that lesson.  They're the ones I passed or stayed with in the hills.  There are about a dozen riders who can say they out climbed the recumbent at some point during the three days I rode. 

 My tent  The tour started on Saturday, with registration at Rocky Gap State Park in western Maryland.  I got there early and got a great camping spot under the branches of a tree.  I had shade all day long, and only a few immediate neighbors.  By contrast, the main camping area was in full sun, and crowded (=noisy).

 On Sunday, the first day of riding, they had planned a mass start at 8:00 am.  Since the weather forecast was for extreme heat, I skipped the mass start (which is not all that fun anyway) and got out at 7:00 am.  The standard route was a 47.5 mile loop to the south of the park.  I took the "long & hilly" option which extended the distance to 64.1 miles. It was very hot out, and the roads were mostly chip seal with a fair amount of loose gravel.  As a result, I didn't feel comfortable letting the bike go all out on the downhills.  The fastest I went was about 35 mph, and I hit my maximum speed for the day, 37.5 mph, late in the ride on a smooth paved road.  The ride ended with a grueling, hot climb up Route 144 into Rocky Gap State Park.  Daily stats:  64.1 miles, 37.5 mph maximum, 13.3 average, 4:48 riding time.

The climb back to Rocky Gap   Monday was one of the most beautiful rides I've ever done.  The weather cooled a little and the humidity dropped.  The ride started with a 4 or 5 mile descent out of Rocky Gap State Park (the same road we had climbed at the end of Sunday's ride).  Even though I stopped twice on the downhill to take pictures, I hit my maximum speed for the day right there - 43.2 mph.  The joy of this descent was only slightly reduced by the knowledge that we would be climbing back up this hill again at the end of the day. The ride went north into Pennsylvania, and found some surprisingly good road surfaces there.  Pennsylvania roads are infamous for being in bad shape, and the few miles we had done in PA the day before lived up to that reputation.  Somehow this course seemed to descend more than it climbed.  While the climbs were tough, the descents were spectacular.  Miles at a time coasting or pedaling easily at 20+ mph.  The roads were, with one or two minor exceptions, smooth and free of gravel.  The last rest stop was at a farm where the resident has two garages full of classic Corvettes.  We finally climbed back up Route 144 and into the park.  Daily stats: 47.5 miles, 43.2 maximum, 13.4 average, 3:32 riding time.

Ready to descend into that valley!On Tuesday the tour left Rocky Gap and headed to Hancock.  The full tour riders would be going on to Williamsport on Wednesday, and leaving there on Friday to their finish in Boonsboro.  The ride started with the climb to the top of Martin Mountain, the hill that Rocky Gap State Park sits on.  This is about a 2 mile climb from the Park entrance.  From there we had a great descent down the other side, since we were already most of the way up the hill when we started.  (If you combine the climb we did at the end of the ride Monday with the climb starting on Tuesday, you get about a six mile climb.  We only had to do the last 2 miles of that, then we got the whole descent!).

We then climbed Polish Mountain, which wasn't all that bad.  I got caught behind a few cars that got caught behind some slower cyclists on the downhill side, so I had to ride the brakes a lot.  A few miles later we climbed Green Ridge and then Town Hill.  The top of town hill had a rest stop and an overlook with a great view of the valley we were about to head down into.  After a few minutes snapping pictures and loading up on food and drink, I headed down the hill.  The 2 mile 30 to 40 mph descent was a blast.  We then rolled over gentle hills to Little Orleans, near the C&O Canal Towpath.  After a brief stop there, we went on to some of the most difficult climbs yet.  There were two sections where my 30 x 28 granny gear was barely sufficient.  We climbed for miles and miles, on roads steeper than the mountain climbs had been.  We eventually got to the top of the ridge, where there were a few miles of nice rolling terrain.  We continued working all the way to Hancock, where our destination, Hancock High School, was waiting at the top of yet another hill.  Daily Stats: 40.4 miles, 43.2 maximum, 13.5 average, 2:59 total riding time.

             RECUMBENT SIGHTINGS:    '99 red Vision R-44 full suspension SWB/USS w/front fairing.  Unfaired red Tour Easy.  Unfaired (?) EZ-1.  BikeE AT.  Longbikes Vanguard.  Lightning P-38 w/small fairing, older Vision SWB/USS, Ryan Duplex.  My bright yellow Vision R-44 with front suspension.  I might have missed a few.

        QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  While climbing Polish mountain on Tuesday:  "I've got to get one of those recumbents so I can shoot up these hills."