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July 15, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Cape May – Part 2

Wednesday, July 3 2019

This morning started with a run along Beach Ave. Yesterday at the Lighthouse Museum Store, I bought the booklet “Cape May Bike Tour”, published by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities. It highlighted many historical buildings. So the plan was to visit those, booklet in hand, the rest of the week.

IMG_0434Stopping at the houses featured in “Cape May Bike Tour” is not a very good training run, but an excellent chance to see the neighborhood and to realize how little I  know about 19th and early 20th century architecture — Cape May had its first tourist boom in the 1830s (!!) and the oldest buildings, those that weren’t destroyed in a later fire, date to then. It was popular until the end of the century, hence the Victorian architecture, when Atlantic City started to overtake it in popularity.

Today was the day for a “long” bicycle ride.  But that happened AFTER a visit to Swain’s Hardware Store (established 1896) and the clothing consignment store. The goal was to explore West and North Cape May and visit the Aviation Museum and Cold Spring Village. The goal was a bit unrealistic, given my late starting time and the fact that I wanted to get to the beach this afternoon.

West and North Cape May are a fascinating mix of nature preserves, farms, and suburbs that look like they date to the 1950’s –  1960’s (split levels and ranch houses that reminded me of a development near my house in central NJ dating from that time period.) This neighborhood provided a good alternative to continuing on a county route.  Another highlight – two men restoring an old church which was moved to a spot just north of the Cape May Canal .

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The highlight was the Naval Air Station (Wildwood) Aviation Museum, built in Hangar 1 of what started life as Naval Air Station Wildwood, where aviators were trained from 1943 through 1945 for air combat and landing on air craft carriers. 

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After the war, the building housed various other ventures, including South Jersey Airlines (!!), until it fell into disrepair, from which it was rescued starting in the 70s. This was the closest I had ever gotten to airplanes — the teensy (relatively speaking) ones from WWI through a MiG!  Worth a visit and the price of admission.

IMG_0451A return trip is needed to spend more time in the Aviation Museum and to visit the Forgotten Warriors Vietnam War Museum across the street.

On the way home I discovered the Cold Spring Bikepath, which parallels Route 9.

IMG_0459As per its name, it goes right by Cold Spring Village, a collection of  historic buildings moved to the spot fairly recently — kind of like Wiliamsburg. I looked around, and that was enough. However, I did miss the Brick Church, twin to the church I saw being restored/converted into a residence earlier today.

There are only 3 miles of bikepath and then you have to finagle your way through a traffic-ey intersection to get back to Cape May. However, the bikepath will (sometime soon?) be part of the Cape May County Bikeway, which will extend through the county.

Tonight was our celebration night, to eat dinner out. There are lots of places to choose from — we chose the early bird prix fixe dinner at the Merion Inn, which was excellent. 

Thursday, July 4 2019 – Cape May to Rio Grande

The ride I set out to do today was to Starbucks, in Rio Grande. That would allow me to get a little farther north in Cape May county and to return to the city via the ocean route through the Wildwoods. I consulted “The Cape May Shoreline Route”, which I picked up from the Village Bikes, the bike store/rental near the bus terminal/old railway station.

The route out of town duplicated routes I’d previously ridden — there are only three ways to get across the Cape May Canal and I was saving one of them for the return trip. I got to new roads once I passed Cold Spring Village and also found a new bike bike path — the Middle Borough Bike Path, which goes north from the Cold Spring Bike Path.  Some of the agriculture I passed included vineyards — the oldest vineyard in NJ is near here somewhere.

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The bikeway ends a little before Rio Grande so, once again, I zigged through a 60s-70s neighborhood to get most of the way to Starbucks, where I drank an iced Americano and bought some decaff instant Italian roast to replenish my stock. 

The way east, to the ocean, was on state route 47, a major road but with a nice shoulder marked as a bike path.  This being the July 4th weekend, I was moving faster than the car traffic, until we got over the bridge over the Intracoastal and into Wildwood.  The part of Cape May just south of Wildwood is industrial and commercial.  Good to see that Bumble Bee Foods still has a manufacturing plant (and fishery?) here.

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There’s a toll bridge to get back to the mainland, but bikes aren’t charged. I headed to the honey store, to buy some Pine Barrens honey, then to the cheese store, where I picked up a local newspaper that is very New Jersey.

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Then to the beach, for the first time today.  We returned to the beach later that night to watch the fireworks — fired from a barge in the ocean just offshore from the Convention Center.  Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 5 2019  – Ferry, then to Annapolis and Home

Not much to report.  We said goodbye to each other and to Holiday House.

There is free long-term parking for cars at the ferry terminals. Next trip, I might just leave the car in the lot at Lewes and bicycle from the terminal in Cape May to my destination — I didn’t drive the car once I got to Cape May anyhow.

July 4th weekend traffic slowed down progress, but I made it to Annapolis and then home safe. 

 

 

 

October 24, 2018 / bikesbytesbites

My 50-mile shopping trip, er, bike ride

This past weekend (Oct 20-22) I took part in the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia‘s (BCP) fall weekend, based in Hanover PA. It’s actually billed as the Hanover-Gettysburg weekend since, I guess, Gettysburg is a bigger draw than Hanover; plus, many of the rides go to Gettysburg, some exploring the battlefield.

Gettysburg was not that compelling for me.  It’s relatively easy to get to from Washington DC, and I’ve ridden there many times. So  I decided to head in the other direction, east to Loganville. Conveniently, a ride was scheduled to leave for Loganville at 9 AM on Saturday.  I had gotten up early and was ready to ride by 8 AM. Therefore, I decided to start with a small detour, heading into downtown Hanover, to explore. I had even planned where my route could intersect the ride route and hopefully join up with the group.

Early in the ride, I passed the R H Sheppard Diesel Museum (!!) which wasn’t open. It turns out it is only open by appointment, but it was an intriguing store front.

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My first real stop was the Hanover Market. It’s a farmers-market-plus, with nice produce, other food items (the best selection of rooibos teas I’ve ever seen) and some handcrafts. Purchases: one of those rooiboos teas, some Halloween candy for the group, and some non-pasteurized wildflower honey.  Who knew that most honey was pasteurized? And I was glad I decided to equip my bike with panniers to carry stuff.

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I left the market in time so that, if I hurried, I could make it to the corner where my route would intersect the ride route, just a little bit behind the ride. Alas, another distraction: just before that corner was a factory outlet for Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels. That’s a slight simplification: the factory outlet was for  Snyder’s Lance, a large conglomerate that owns Snyder’s Pretzels as well as lots of other cookies and snacks.  That explains why the building across the street said it was the Snyder’s Lance Research Facility.

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The walls are hung with the trademarks and packaging of sample products. When I questioned one of the sales clerks, “Really? Does Snyder’s of Hanover own Pepperidge Farm?”, I was corrected: Campell’s owns Pepperidge Farm; but it also owns Snyder’s of Hanover.

20181020_3_SnydersI sampled some pretzels-with-peanut-butter and bought some candies.  I had to resist buying a large package of pretzels to give out for trick-or-treat: although I could have carried it on today’s ride, I was also riding partway home from Hanover, with my panniers packed with the weekend’s clothes and sundries, so there would have been no room for the pretzels. Rats.

After that little shopping excursion, there was no way I was going to catch the group ride, so I tootled along enjoying the scenery. The route didn’t actually go on the Heritage Rail Trail, but it paralleled it for a bit.  I happened to glance at the trail as I was passing Hanover Junction, and just had to take a picture of one of the sculptures (?), with my bike added for scale.

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I actually did see a group of cyclists as I was approaching the rest stop; it turns out it was a group of BCP riders that had left half-an-hour after the group I had wanted to join, and was going at a more relaxed pace. Anyhow, I ended up not having lunch at Brown’s Farm Market (too busy), but enjoying the free snacks (apple cider, various samples) and making another purchase: honey crisp apple sauce.

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I don’t know if I can count the next stop as part of my “shopping expedition” since the only thing purchased at Rutter’s was for immediate consumption: a sports drink.  I keep thinking that Rutter’s must somehow be related to Sheetz, since their color schemes are similar, but no; in fact, they are competitors.

The ride back to Hanover was west-by-southwest, which seemed to be exactly the direction the headwind was coming from. So, it was nice to stop at Sonnewald Natural Foods.  Even nicer, they were selling a brand of protein powder I had been wanting to try — Whole Foods stocks it, but only in one flavor in a giant-size package. Sonnewald had multiple flavors in single-serve packs. Into the shopping basket and into the panniers.

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It was good to get back to the hotel, away from the wind. A very enjoyable ride, even using a detailed cue sheet and not 21st century technology. Thanks, BCP, for organizing this weekend.

June 4, 2018 / bikesbytesbites

Yesterday’s Adventure/Misadventure

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Interesting day Sunday. I was attending a triathlon in Rock Hall MD.  (Not participating because of lack of training due to injuries, but my share in the AirBnB house had already been paid for.) Anyhow, I cheered on my teammates at the start and left for home around 10 AM.

Really bad news: When I got home and unpacked, I realized I had left my pocketbook at the house. I called my housemate, but she didn’t answer. I thought that maybe she had already left for home, since it was a sprint triathlon and the weather was so lousy.  So I started to drive back to the Eastern Shore. (My wallet and driver’s license were in my waist pack, which I was wearing.)

Mini bad news: The entry to the highway was blocked by an accident. I waited five minutes for it to be cleared and then got going.

Great news: About forty minutes later, my housemate called. She was at the house and found my pocketbook. We arranged for me to pick it up at her place when she got back to town.

Good news: Because of the delay caused by the accident, I was five minutes closer to home when I turned around. On the trip back, I stopped at the Wegman’s in Lanham MD, just 2 miles off route 50. So, I got in a trip to my favorite grocery store, which I had skipped on my first drive since it was raining so hard. And because routes 295 and 695 into DC were showing B-A-D traffic, and I was already off US-50, I explored a new, alternate route to get back into town, which worked out very well.

All told, I could have lived without this adventure/misadventure.

July 15, 2021 / bikesbytesbites

Visit to a Rehab Center

Yesterday, I visited a friend who is recovering from a stroke he suffered in June. I’m glad I could visit and spend some time with him, but (sigh) he has a long way to go to recover. My visit was included on the Caring Bridge site dedicated to my friend. I’m reposting my report here, obscuring his name:

I met D through bicycling. During the pandemic, we sometimes managed to go on rides on weekdays, meeting around 4:15 PM in Dupont Circle or, occasionally, at his place.  The rides were limited to around 15 miles, and I remember visiting some temporary installations including the Flag of Fields, to commemorate Covid deaths in the US, and some of the Cherry Blossom sculptures that were on display this spring. Some of my favorite sites on a bicycle ride that we didn’t get to– because they are at the outskirts of DC and we were always near its middle — are the DC boundary stones. But what-the-hell – Adventist Rehab Center is near Boundary Stone Northeast 2 (near the Takoma metro), so I took a picture to show to D.

I got to Adventist just in time to share an elevator to the fifth floor with a physical therapist who knew D.  (Sorry, should remember the name and her exact position.) We talked a little about physical therapy, me all the time thinking about the skill and patience required to treat patients with severe brain injuries.  My thoughts were reinforced moments later – I got to D’s room at the same time as his physical therapist arrived for their morning session.

Today, they worked on a new way for D to transfer from his bed to the wheelchair. The wheelchair’s moving parts needed a little lubrication, for which WD-40 was the preferred lubricant.  (Sorry, inside joke for bike riders.) Today was the first time (I think) that D partly wheeled himself down the hall from his room to the therapy room. They also worked on some new exercises to strengthen his core and improve his balance.

After the therapy session we returned to his room. We talked for a while. I discovered that D is not a science fiction/Star Trek fan.  That’s too bad, because he couldn’t appreciate my reference/attempt at a joke:  Critics frequently remark on the futuristic technology that was commonplace in the Star Trek universe.  In particular one thing that the Star Trek designers seem to have gotten right, er, close to reality, are the communicators.  (We call them phones.) But the one thing in real life that I wish bore more resemblance to its Star Trek counterpart is medical treatment.  Where are Dr. Beverly Crusher, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, or even the Emergency Medical Hologram when you need them?  More important, that procedure whereby Mr. Spock’s brain was reconnected to his body would come in real handy right now. (Sorry, inside joke for Star Trek fans.)

PT must have been exhausting. After a short talk, and a visit from a doctor, D said he was tired and needed to get some sleep. So I left, unlocked the bike, and rode home.

June 23, 2021 / bikesbytesbites

Greencastle Great Escape

The Baltimore Bike Club (BBC) runs an annual bicycling weekend to Greencastle PA. The weekend didn’t happen in 2020 but it was back in June 2021. I had never done this weekend, although I HAD done a previous ride that BBC ran to Greencastle. But that one was a century ride TO Greencastle on Friday, a loop ride on Saturday, and a ride back to where you started on Sunday. So this would be a relaxing change, although it did require a different way to get there.

Friday, June 11

I wasn’t planning to get to Greencastle in time to ride on Friday, since I had just gotten back from Philadelphia. The original plan was to take public transportation to get most of the way to Greencastle — DC metro’s red line to Shady Grove, followed by a commuter bus from Shady Grove to Hagerstown. It’s only about a 15-mile bike ride from Hagerstown to Greencastle.

Unfortunately, the weather on Friday was disgusting — a steady rain. Therefore, I drove (!!) to Greencastle. I got to town early enough (4-ish), to do a short ride — checking out the downtown area and then riding to the group’s hotel (the Comfort Inn on the outskirts of town). (I was staying in the Super 8. It was closer to downtown and less expensive than the Comfort Inn, but a bit downtrodden.)

I rode back to the Super 8 in order to drive back to the Comfort Inn to join some of the group participants for dinner at the attached pizza joint. A nice group of people, a nice dinner.

Saturday, June 12

Woo hoo! An actual bicycle ride. I did a mini-ride to start the day with breakfast at the Sunnyway Diner, a great local place, good food and great prices — especially when compared with prices I had just paid at restaurants in Philadelphia. The staff was very understanding when I walked out without paying my check. Thankfully, I had just gotten an important phone call (from a friend of a friend who had been in the ICU for a week!), so I was sitting on the sidewalk leading to the diner door when someone came out to find me.

Breakfast Menu of the Sunnyway Diner, Greencastle PA

Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to doing one of the official rides. Instead a did a longer loop around town. One of the (unexpected) sites was Tayamentasachta, an environmental site. The highlight of the ride was finding a large super market, Glenwood Foods at Greencastle. It seemed to cater to the local Mennonite population, judging my the groceries available, the packaging, and the clothing worn by some of the customers and all of the cashiers. I was on my “fast” bike, which has very little carrying capacity, so purchases were limited, but I did get a lovely basket of local strawberries.

Another highlight of the ride was finding a large super market, Glenwood Foods At Greencastle. It seemed to cater to the local Mennonite population, judging my the groceries available, the packaging, and the clothing worn by some of the customers and all of the cashiers. I was on my “fast” bike, which has very little carrying capacity, so purchases were limited, but I did get a lovely basket of local strawberries.

Sunday, June 13

Today, I had breakfast at a different diner – the Homestyle Family Restaurant. Then it was back to the Super 8 to pack up and head to the park just outside of town, where all the rides were starting. A group of about eight of us decided to do “Just In Time”, a 35-mile ride that headed west, to Mercersburg. Attracted (distracted) by the sight of a steeple as we neared Mercersburg, I led some of the group on a slight detour to explore Mercersburg Academy.

We then stopped for coffee and snacks in downtown Mercersburg. I would have liked to explore the town, but a rain storm was threatening, so we got going fairly quickly. The ride consisted of gorgeous scenery, a few hills, but nothing extreme until the last two miles — coming back to the park from the covered bridge.

We all made it back – just in time. It was starting to sprinkle as I approached the park. Margaret, Debby, and I packed up our bikes and met back at the Comfort Inn to clean up, talk about the weekend and just chat. Then it was time for the drive home. That was a milestone for my Honda Fit:

May 19, 2021 / bikesbytesbites

Baltimore Mini-Tour

A friend from NYC (hi, Susan) wanted to visit the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. She planned a day trip. I figured, “What the hell.” I made it an overnight trip, a chance to get out of town and see some different scenery. Of course, I brought my work computer so I could do some work from my hotel room, which subtracted from the time available to explore, but it was still a good trip.

My folding bicycle and I got to Baltimore via the MARC train. The train I was on wasn’t designated as one allowing bicycles. Those seem to be mostly rush-hour trains.

Based on previous experience, I think that those trains have a special car with several bike racks on the floor. But even my car had two racks where you could hang a bicycle, designated by a green light on the outside of the car. I “cheated” and just bungied my bike to one of the racks, rather than trying to hang it up. That seemed to be ok, despite the poster explaining the rules.

I was the only one in my car, but I saw at least three other bicyclists on the train.

The plan for the afternoon was to see a movie in a theatre — the Charles Theatre, a great repertory theatre in the Arts District just north of the train station. Great theatre, great film (Minari). On the way to and from the hotel (which was close to the inner harbor), I had a chance to explore the area nearby. Before the film I missed getting some photos of murals, but I did snare this one, one block from the theatre, on the way back to the hotel.

The hotel had a list of nearby restaurants, but none of them appealed. Instead, I wandered into Peter’s Pour House which was quiet, had good lighting, a friendly bartender/server, and excellent food.

I was planning to go for a bike ride the next morning, but instead I decided to go for a short run. I had no plans, just left the hotel running down narrow streets. When I saw a sign for the “Holocaust Memorial” I was intrigued, so went there. Very low-key, with a quote from Primo Levi. (the book is on my reading list). An interesting way to start the day.

I went back to the hotel, made some coffee, did some work, and waited for Susan to arrive. We then had a late breakfast/early lunch at Peter’s before walking to the museum (more or less directly). We had reservations and did see a few other people inside. The exhibit that prompted the visit was astonishing — a set of framed works depicting the artist’s experience when the Nazi’s invaded her shtetl in Poland, through her getting through WW II in Europe and then getting to the US.

AVAM Intro to the Esther Krinitz exhibit

It’s hard to explain the media used by the artist and do her work justice. She was a seamstress, and the earliest works are needlepoints. But then she added fabric collage and some paint. The three-dimensionality of the works — girls’ braids coming off the “canvas”, thatched rooves — is incredible in person and just doesn’t make it into my camera. And the theme is … sobering to say the least. Here’s an inadequate sample.

But there’s more — other exhibits in the main building, outsider art outside the museum and in another gallery building. Allow plenty of time. Or repeat visits.

Susan and I had a few hours until we had to get on trains, her to NY and me to DC. So, we took a leisurely work back to the train station, stopping for ice cream in Federal Hill. Oh, I picked up my luggage and bicycle on the way back to the station. I walked to my hotel then had a nice bike ride, on the bike/ped lane I had discovered the day before. Susan walked the whole way. We met at Penn Station, then headed to dinner at a restaurant just around the corner from the Charles Theatre that had caught my eye yesterday. Great dinner, then back to the station for our trains.

The exhibit will be at the AVAM for at least a few more months. It (and Baltimore) are worth a trip.

April 21, 2021 / bikesbytesbites

Errandonnee 2021

Mary Gersamalina is once again sponsoring the Errandonnee, where you complete various errands via bicycle or walking. This is kind of easy for me, since I try to complete most of my errands by bicycle or walking, but I decided to participate this year.

Here’s a summary of how I’ve completed 12 rides or walks, distributed over the errandonnee categories. Descriptions and photos for the errandonnees follow. The numbers indicate the order in which the errands were done/are listed. I don’t have a summary of the mileage, but it definitely exceeds 30.

CategoryRide(s)/Walk(s)
Discovery (Something new)5. 4/16-Oak Hill Cemetery
Helping Hand2. 4/15-Vélocity
History Lesson1. 4/15-Grace Murray Park
11. 4/19 – Oakland MD Railroad mural
Non-Store Errand6. 4/16 – Arlington Public Library
Personal Business8. 4/16 – US Post Office, Arlington
Personal Care9. 4/17 – REI, Fairfax
Public Art4. 4/15 – Jim Pagel’s Memorial
10. 4/19 – Shawnee Plaza
You carried WHAT?!7. 4/16 – Quincy Street glass recycling
Wild Card3. 4/15 – MoM’s (Delray)
12. 4/19 – Farmers Market & Candyland

4/15 – Grace Murray Park (History)

This was actually my Thursday breakfast/coffee ride, but it’s right across the street from River House. River House was the residence of Grace Hopper, an idol of mine, who was the driving force behind the concept and development of high-level (eg, interpreted or compiled, not written in Assembler or machine language) computer programming languages. I rode to coffee, then walked across the street to get a photo of the plaque memorializing Grace Hopper. River House really needs to fix the inscription. (The plaque and park are owned by them, not the Arlington County Parks Department.)

Round-trip bike ride to Pentagon City (whatever its new name is… Westport?) is 5-ish miles.

4/15 – Velocity Bike Coop (Helping Hand)

I’ve been volunteering at Velocity for several months. I headed over there this morning to help out for a short time and to donate some hangers for the jerseys they have for sale. (That’s my bike locked to the signpost on the left. The bikes that have been restored and are for sale are in front of the store on the right.)

4/15-MoM’s (Wildcard)

I stopped at MoM’s on the way home from Velocity, but I see that “Food Errand” is no longer an Errandonnee category. Oh well. I guess I’ll call it a wildcard.

Round-trip ride to Velocity in Delray (with detours and taking the scenic route back) is 10 miles.

4/15 – Jim Pagel’s Memorial (Public Art)

I dunno, is a ghost bicycle public art? A “die-in” demonstration, where hundreds of people lay their bicycles in the street, in front of the mayor’s office, to protest yet another incidence of car violence, is definitely performance art. (That’s my bicycle in the foreground at left.)

Ride to the memorial (Mass Ave & New Jersey Ave NW), then a bike ride past the site of the crash (and the ghost bike) at Mass Ave & 2nd St NW, to the mayor’s office in the Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Ave, then home, was 14 miles. Into the wind coming home.

4/16 – Oak Hill Cemetery (Sketching)

Let’s classify this one as “something new”. Discovered the gorgeous grounds of Oak Hill Cemetery. I was there with an urban sketching group, but wandering around the grounds, down to Rock Creek, would have been quite an adventure by itself. (That’s a sketch pad across the back rack of the bicycle.)

Oak Hill Cemetery

4/16 – Arlington Central Library

This personal errand was to pick up some books I had reserved by placing a hold. Two other branches of the library are now open for picking up holds — Westover and Shirlington — but Central is most convenient.

4/16 – Quincy Street Glass Recycling

And just down the block from the library is one of Arlington county’s stations where you can drop off glass to be recycled. There is also another canister for other recyclables, but those are still picked up by regular garbage collection. For glass I either come here or to the bin at the MoM’s in Delray.

4/16 – Arlington Central Post Office

The last errand along the Orange Line in Arlington and the last stop on a 14-ish-mile ride. I mailed a book that had been requested via Paperback Book Swap. Such a deal – you only pay shipping for bikes you list that have been requested, and you get books on your “Wish List” for free, well, the membership fee.

4/17 – REI (Fairfax)

OK, I actually drove out to Government Center in Fairfax. I was helping to teach REI’s “Learn how to Ride a Bike for Kids”, and I needed to get to the designated parking lot by 8 AM. I did stow a bicycle in the back of the car, however, I rode it about a mile during my lunch break, to actually go into REI and ride around Fairfax Crossing to buy lunch.

4/19 – Shawnee Plaza (near Deep Creek Lake MD)

Ok, this is not your typical errand ride. I was out of town, at a mini-vacation, doing a 22-mile loop from the friend’s house I was staying in (on Deep Creek Lake MD) to downtown Oakland MD (population 2000; 3 traffic lights). A surprise site was the animal sculptures/playground (?) at Shawnee Plaza, and the sculpture in the yard of the taxidermist just across the street. (Sorry, the bike was nearby; no way to get it into the picture.)

4/19 – Oakland MD Railroad Station and Mural

There used to be a B&O Railroad line going through Oakland MD. No longer. But the old station building is still there, converted into a community theatre, with railroad- and history-themed murals painted on two facing buildings. Downtown Oakland still has some open businesses, but the pandemic hasn’t been kind.

Oakland MD Railroad Mural

4/19 – Farmers Market and Candyland (Oakland MD)

OK, another food stop … It was either this or Walmart, and I also ended up at Walmart when I couldn’t get all the supplies for dinner at Farmers Market. However, they did have some wonderful, kind-of local candies as well as more traditional Hershey’s. And I even had enough room in these teensy panniers (and the emergency bag I carried) to stop at the Casselman Bakery and Cafe toward the end of my ride. Yum.

January 19, 2021 / bikesbytesbites

Year-End (2020) Review – Movies

My movie-going year seems to have been divided into three phases:

  • Actually going to a movie theater (before the pandemic)
  • Watching stuff on TV
  • Streaming films from online festivals

The stuff on TV was either on TCM or Grit (old westerns). The festivals I subscribed to were the Pordenone Silent Film Festival and Noir City International. I also saw two films from the AFI European Union Film Festival and one film from Film|Neu, the German film festival sponsored by the Goethe Institute. (Hmm, about half as many films as I typically see in one year.)

Anyhow, here’s the summary, with my favorites highlighted.

January 1, 2021 / bikesbytesbites

Year-End (2020) Review – Books

I read (or tried to read) quite a motley, er, eclectic collection of books this past year. There’s some SciFi, some non-fiction, one or two detective novels (not my favorites), and a new category – Plague novels/dystopias. In the list, I highlighted my favorites. Camus’ The Plague was truly extraordinary.

Reviewing the list made me realize that I forgot to include one favorite: The Queen’s Gambit. I actually reread the 1983 paperback that I had bought, but I guess that still counts. It was a favorite back then, and the TV series was quite close to the novel.

December 19, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

Happy Holidays – from Alexandria VA

Actually, from the Delray neighborhood of Alexandria. The Washington Post recently had an article about the Christmas decorations (posters!) on one street in Delray – East Luray Ave. I had ridden through that street at night, with the Holiday Lights ride of BPAC, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. A friend (thanks Joan!) suggested a ride there to view the posters. On the group ride, I hadn’t had time to check out all of the posters, so I immediately said yes. It was definitely worth the trip, even in the cold.

Here are this year’s posters. I am especially fond of the ones that are three dimensional (like the buttons), but it’s hard to pick a favorite.

December 12, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

New Bicycle – 1989 Terry Classic

The previous Terry bicycle, a 1987 Terry Precision, was officially declared dead a few weeks ago. And the thought process began: Do I replace it? If so, how?

Carcass of old bike, behind new bike

The first thing I did was write to Georgena Terry to explain my predicament. She offered to build me a new frame. Unfortunately, the cost was beyond my price range, considering the prospective usage of the bike (trips around town). However, she did have a helpful suggestion. She directed me to this listing on eBay:

After some back-and-forth with the seller (and with Georgena), I decided that I liked the bike, the dimensions matched my dimensions and those of the bike I was trying to replace (always a problem, which is why I had a Terry to begin with), and the price was right. I mean, why buy a whole bike when I had perfectly good components that I could strip off the old bike and put on the new one? Sold!

The new frame was delivered to my local bike shop, Papillon, and I drove there with the old bike in the back of the car, so we could do the parts transfer. It took a couple of visits to get it right, but success! Here were the issues:

  • It’s a good thing the frame and fork came with a seatpost, because the seatpost diameter on the Classic (27.0) was different than the seatpost diameter on the Precision (27.2). So, switch the saddle to the new seatpost. I’m still doing minor adjustments to height, angle, and position.
  • The rear wheel fit between the dropouts. However, the freewheel was too close to the chainstay to allow shifting onto the smallest cog. Bailey (Papillon’s owner) rearranged spacers on the axle and redished the wheel so it fit.
  • The reach on the Shimano 600 brakes on the Precision was too short for the new frame. We could move the brake pads down on the front brake to make it fit, but the reach on the rear brake was w-a-y too short. A new brake would be required. Before buying a new bake, I wanted to check stash to see if I had any spares. I did. Unfortunately, they were a set of NOS Shimano 600’s (and one Shimano 105 with the same specs). So, I bought and installed a long-reach Tektro brake. Perfect. (Georgena said this is a common problem. She recommended a Velo Orange long-reach brake, but the Tektro was in stock at Papillon.)
  • (Another rear wheel issue). I could swear we had the wheel and quick release skewer installed correctly, but the wheel slid forward in the horizontal dropouts on my first test ride. Evidently, this is a problem when using new-style quick release skewers on horizontal dropouts. (Dropout design was different between the Precision and Terry.) So Bailey found an old-style quick release skewer in his parts bin and voilà, no slippage.
  • I had to make a minor adjustment to the angle of the handlebars so my hands were comfortable when riding on the levers. I guess that’s due to a minor change in my position on the bike. Still a mystery, but case closed.
  • (And an issue with the new rear brake). I finally went to install the rear rack that came off the Precision. No dice. The left arm attaching the rack to the bike hit the cable attachment of the rear brake. ARGH. Papillon to the rescue. Bailey installed a thigamajig to move the rack arm slightly to the right.

The bike did a successful test ride yesterday, over 20 miles. I still have to decide what to do about fenders, but I have a new/old bike which I hope to have for a long time.

November 28, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

NCR Trail – Bike Tour

The trail started life as the National Central Railroad (NCR) line between Baltimore and Harrisburg PA (and beyond). Then through a rail-trail conversion, it became the NCR Trail, between Hunt Valley MD and York PA. Recently, the trail became two trails: the Torrey C Brown Trail in Maryland and the York County Heritage Trail in Pennsylvania. Some friends and I recently did a 2-day bike tour. On the first day we biked from Hunt Valley to York. After spending the night in York, we biked back to Hunt Valley.

Getting to the Trailhead

My friends drove there. I was stubborn (ok, obsessive). I rode to Union Station (with a short metro assist); got on a MARC train to Penn Station/Baltimore; biked a few blocks to the Baltimore Mt Royal light rail station; got on a trolley to the end of the line in Hunt Valley; then biked the 2-ish miles to the trailhead.

Because the MARC train I got on wasn’t marked as allowing full-sized bikes, I rode my folding bike, a Bike Friday New World Tourist. However, there were bike racks in several cars, and I had no problem stowing the bike there.

Bike racks on the MARC train

I guess it’s been years since the last time I did this trip, because there’s a new (to me) shopping center just across the street from the last stop on the rail line. And that shopping center includes a Wegman’s. I had some time to spare and it was the perfect place to have breakfast. (I can highly recommend Wegman’s pumpkin cheesecake.) Then, it was a short ride to meet my friends at the trailhead.

Maryland – Northbound

The trail is very rural and is part of Gunpowder Falls State Park. There’s nothing along the trail except a ranger station at Monkton which was closed for the season/Covid. (No water available, so bring some. A few porta-potties scattered along the way.) There are a few intersecting roads which are well marked and don’t have much traffic anyhow.

Highlights included:

  • The sounds of a recorder, wafting up to the trail from banks below.
  • Many stream crossings, which could have been many crossings of the same stream.
  • The signage: mileposts, old “whistlestop posts” (to remind train engineers to blow their whistles), historical markers. And signs for the East Coast Greenway, which is routed on the 8 miles of the trail between Ashland and Monkton.

And Gnome Hill (some of the puns were to die for):

The trail is quite narrow and a bit rutted. Nothing our bikes couldn’t handle. However, it was getting late when we got to the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, the Mason-Dixon line.

So, the plan became: stop for lunch in the first town in PA (New Freedom), then proceed as quickly as possible to York, to avoid having to ride in the dark.

Pennsylvania – Northbound

Lunch was at the only place open in New Freedom, Paesano’s Pizzeria. The food was excellent, the restaurant restrooms were available, and there was adequate bicycle parking and two outdoor picnic tables.

We also made better time on the last 20 miles. The surface of the trail in Pennsylvania was smoother and better packed, with a few spots that were paved or had been paved. Plus, it turns out that the highest elevation on the trail is in New Freedom, so we had been going slightly uphill through Maryland and would be going slightly downhill for the rest of the afternoon! Woohoo!

Ride with GPS Trail Elevation Profile

The day before our ride there had been a major windstorm. We didn’t see much evidence of this until five miles into Pennsylvania, where a HUGE log/downed tree was blocking the trail. We succeeded in getting ourselves and our bikes to the other side, but not without difficulty.

York

Lodging in York is an issue. Most of the hotels are on the outskirts of town, 2-ish miles from the trail end (although the trail is being extended north) and not near the town center, where there are many historic sites and places to eat. Part of the group stayed in one of those hotels. I, and the rest of the group, stayed in the one hotel left downtown. The Red Roof Inn was acceptable but non-optimal. The other hotel that’s downtown, the Yorktowne Inn is currently closed, being renovated by its new owners, the Tapestry Hotel Group. I hope it’ll be affordable when it reopens.

We had drinks and an excellent dinner on the covered (and heated!) porch of a brewpub we had passed on the way to the hotel, the Mudhook Brewing Company. Back at the hotel I tried to avoid watching the election returns. The next morning we actually ate IN a restaurant – the Central Family Restaurant. It was early, there was no outdoor dining, there were very few other people there, and the tables were socially distanced — large pumpkins were in the middle of tables that were not-to-be-used.

Before breakfast I had a chance to explore downtown York. It did not disappoint. There are many historical buildings, including the Yorktowne Hotel. And historical markers. And artwork! That would become a theme on the ride home – sculptures made from industrial materials.

Pennsylvania – Southbound

Today was the day to take our time and enjoy the scenery. The York County Heritage Rail Trail passes through an area that is rural, but has several small towns dotting the landscape. These used to be resorts! And the railroad used to run passenger trains to service the resorts. Given the season, the day of the week (not a weekend), and the pandemic, there were some services along the route, but many shops were closed. There were also reminders of the industrial past of the region — served by the freight trains.

We did stop at one of my favorite sites/sights – the bicycle sculptures. Unfortunately, one of my other favorite sites, the Hanover Junction train station/trail headquarters, was closed. There’s a museum there that commemorates the railroad, and the fact that Abraham Lincoln stopped in Hanover Junction on his way from Washington DC to Gettysburg to deliver the Gettysburg address. And this time we stopped to take photos of the trail and of the sculptures along the way.

About 5 miles into our ride, the trail was partially blocked by a truck. But it was park rangers, removing debris and trees from the wind storms. They knew about the HUGE tree blocking the trail 5 miles from the Maryland border and assured us that they would get there before we did. Alas, it didn’t work out that way. So, once again, we schlepped the bikes and ourselves over or under the tree. This time we escaped unscathed, but there were fewer of us: Stewart had hurt his knee trying to climb over the log yesterday. So, today, he was not riding, waiting in York for Marion to finish her ride, get in their car, and pick him up.

Maryland – Southbound

The trip after lunch (once again, in Paesano’s in New Freedom) went quickly, since there are no places to stop and the terrain is slightly down hill. We got to the trailhead without further incident. I even got a ride home. The folding bike fit easily in Margaret’s car. We rode with masks on and the windows open.

Summary

On balance, a great trip. Obviously, it would have been greater without the injury or the pandemic. And maybe a little less wind and slightly drier ground on the first day. But this wasn’t the first time I’ve done this tour and hopefully it won’t be the last. Maybe next time the trail headquarters and museum will be open and the historic hotel in York will be back in business… and affordable.

November 7, 2020 / bikesbytesbites

RIP Terry Bicycle (1987-2020)

Terry Classic Bicycle (1987-2020)

About four weeks ago, my bicycle started making a creaking sound with every power stroke of the pedals. I checked my maintenance log and couldn’t find a date when I had paid any attention to the bottom bracket, so I figured it needed to be replaced. Sure enough, the old bottom bracket showed signs of wear, but nothing catastrophic.

However, with the new bottom bracket inserted and the cranks adjusted, the creaking sound continued. This meant further investigation. A (much) more bike-savvy friend (thanks, Ross) suggested that it might be the crank arms themselves or … a crack in the frame. Alas, it turns out that there are cracks in two of the tubes in the frameset — the top tube and the down tube. They initially looked like cracks in the paint, until you peel back the paint and see the crack in the frame.

Top tube and down tube frame cracks

My hypothesis as to what caused the damage is: my B-A-D crash, back in May, 2013. That crash landed me in the Traumatic Brain Injury Ward of Medstar Hospital for 10 days. But the bicycle had been inspected afterwards — the only obvious damage was torn handlebar tape and a bent (badly bent) brake lever, both of which were replaced. Evidently, the frame must also have taken a hit. (I thought my body had absorbed most of the shock. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the crash because: Traumatic Brain Injury.) But it took more than seven (seven!) years for the damage to the bike to manifest itself. (Frame material = steel.)

This was my favorite bike – a Terry Precision, one of the first bikes designed to fit women. The frame was just about the only original part left on the bike (ok, I think the rear brake caliper and right brake lever are original), but I’m still heartbroken. I’m on the lookout for a replacement bike or frame. Or John, at Papillon, said he could replace the tubes and rebraze the frame at a reasonable cost — come back some time this winter…