This weekend was full of ride activity and a pretty good indicator of how busy the rest of the Spring will be...
Saturday morning started with the first official training ride for RFTF 2009. In the past, most of our training rides have been held in either north Baltimore suburbs or various towns around and south of Annapolis--the shoulders are wide and the scenery is lovely. However, one of our new riders is an experienced urban cyclist and city resident. With his help (thanks, Jim!), we added some Baltimore City training rides to our schedule.
Since Saturday's ride was the first of the season for many, it was on the short side--a loop of only about 10 miles. However, moments after rolling out, it was clear that Jim, our ride leader, had made sure that little 10-mile loop hit every hill in the city limits. Switchbacks? In Baltimore? Really? It's been a long time since I've needed to stop and catch my breath on a 10-mile ride, but this route really got our heart rates up and presented a chance to test every gear our bikes offered.
Our starting point was the the 7-11 parking lot in Hampden. The turnout was great for an early season ride on a chilly, damp Saturday; I think there were 13 of us, including several new riders. (Welcome!) Before heading out, Jim ran through some of the differences between urban and suburban riding. He then walked us through the route, which highlighted one of the greatest features of city living, in my opinion: in just 10 miles, we'd ride through 5 different neighborhoods, see a well-known college campus, pass through two residential areas and a commercial area, and enjoy several acres of greenspace.
I was especially amazed at how many of those areas I'd never even driven through. From Hampden, we headed soutwest to the JHU campus, down Charles to the Station North district, made our way to the Jones Falls trail, followed it through Druid Park into Clipper Mill, which led back to Hampden. Druid Park? Gorgeous! I don't live far from it and couldn't tell you why I've never been there, but I'll be back for sure. In fact, a couple of local riders and I are talking about doing this route or some variation on it during the week after work once it starts staying light a bit later. The route is short enough that it can be busted out in under an hour, but the hills provide a nice, challenging counterpoint to the longer, flatter weekend rides we'll be doing as the training season progresses.
In addition to stimulating my heart rate, the morning's ride stimulated my appetite. Fortunately, our training program coordinator, Steve, was hosting a little cycling season kick-off party that evening for his cycling buddies; fortunately, that included past Ride for the Feasters like me! Once I'd inhaled a huge bowl of chili and a couple of pieces of cornbread, I had a good time seeing old friends from past Rides for the Feast, as well as meeting new friends and hearing about their riding adventures! The cycling community is one of the friendliest I've ever been a part of--no one cares whether you're a road racer or a weekend mountain biker as long as you love riding! Even better that so many of us doing it are united by the common goal of helping Moveable Feast.
I was especially excited to run into some folks from Team With A Purpose and learn that they will be holding their deviously delicious bake sale fundraisers at Waverly Market starting this coming weekend. It is my firm belief that the calories in cupcakes don't count when they are consumed for charity...
Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009