My ride is over, but the memories will last forever.

A life long dream fulfilled ... a great cause ... new friends ... amazing support

Thanks to everyone who helped make a difference!

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

GOTO Mark's Trek - NEW Daily BLOG (August 1st Onward)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week of 08/30/09 - Post Vacation Blues

Drove home to Maryland from my sister's house with Leah on Monday.  Traffic was pretty good, with only a few delays in NJ.  We stopped at the Town & Country Diner in Bordentown, NJ.  A classic diner ... Karen and I stopped there back in 1997 on the way back from getting her engagement ring in New York City.  Great food for the money and huge portions. Photo courtesy of Angel Rodriguez, Trenton, NJ.
The rest of the week was pretty much spent catching up from two weeks of vacation.  That meant a lot of work and almost no time for riding.  The break from the bike was actually positive.  I ended the week with a strong 45 mile ride to Glenwood in western Howard County.  Glenwood is home to a large number of higher end homes with 3-5 acre lots.  Lots of riding options with minimal traffic.  The area has a new community center , library, and park. Back to 140-150 mile goal next week.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week of 08/23/09 - 150 Miles in Beautiful Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park

Wonderful summer weather (hot), great company, and the perfect cottage steps from Main Street in Southwest Harbor.  My birthday (49th) included an enjoyable 10 mile carriage trail ride around Jordon Pond  (passing the Jordon Pond House) and Bubble Pond with Amy and Joel.  They both did very well and pushed up some challenging grades.  The carriage trails are so perfect and had only marginal people traffic.  While I will always prefer the pavement, the carriage trails are one of my favorite off-road places to ride.  After the ride, the siblings took me for a nice birthday lunch at Rupununi's in Bar Harbor.  I got the Crab Quesadilla and was treated with a piece of key lime pie cheescake with a bithday candle.

Joel and Amy headed home late afternoon and I jumped on the bike for a quick 30 miles on the quiet side of the island.  From Southwest Harbor, I went past Seawall, Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Tremont, Pretty Marsh, and Great Long Pond.  Virtually no cars, great views, and a perfect chance to escape!  Ride back on Route 102 was a little busier past Echo Lake.  Spent a quiet night alone awaiting the arrival of the girls.

Tuesday morning brought another spectacular weather day and a meandor to Northeast Harbor via Sargent Drive.  Perhaps one of the top 10 bike roads in Maine (ok, no shoulder) ... for scenery at least. It hugs Sommes Sound and passes some pretty fancy "cottages" as you get to Northeast Harbor.  Returned via Town Hill, Indian Point Road, and the quiet side. 40 miles in total. The girls (Karen, Leah, Carol, Lindsay, and Jane) arrived around lunch time. We enjoyed Southwest Harbor, Bar Harbor, another great lobster at Thurston's, and some great tidepooling near Seawall.  On Wednesday the twins and I retraced the carriage trail ride (10 miles) from earlier in the week after a frustrating delay due to a flat and brake issue with Carol's bike (she had fun descending without rear brakes!).  Before dinner I took a fast 25 mile spin around Bernard and finshed up with a quick husband and wife team who caught me after I initially flew by them (they must have been really crusing).
While Thursday was not a long ride (a little less than 30 miles), it included the route I have wanted to complete for so long ... the Park Loop Road and a climb to the top of Caddillac Mountain.  I did the climb at the end and kept a slow, but steady pace the whole way. Cadilac is roughly 1,500 feet, 3.5 miles, and has an average grade of around 8%.
Everyone but Leah and I headed back on Thursday.  It was a great 3 day Dad and daughter vacation!  We immediately headed to the Sand Beach parking lot and climbed Beehive Mountain.  While Beehive is only 520 feet high, you ascend exposed cliffs with iron rungs on very narrow ledges. It was an amazing experience.  Leah was a star, and led the entire way.  The views were great, and watching Leah gleam from ear to ear when we reached the top was worth the drenched tee shirt and risk (Karen would never have allowed it!).  We hiked back a more conventional way and spent a few hours relaxing and hunting crabs on the beach.

Friday included a short 5 mile carriage trail ride around Eagle Lake and another great hike.  This time we retraced the route from last week up to Bubble Rock.  Leah was up for the challenge of the return via the rock slide path.  A fun day contiuned with an 18 hole championship at Pirate's Cove golf. Leah took the title with some steady handed putting.  The day ended with a fun dinner at Geddy's and perhaps two of the coldest beers I have had in quite awhile.

Saturday came ... after a nice arts and crafts show and stop at the George Door Museum at the College of the Atlantic, we said goodbye to the island and slowly returned to the lake via the coast.  We made a few shopping stops including Marden's (a Maine institution), Rennys, a new school back pack at LL Bean, and a browsing session at the Big Chicken Barn (a huge antique and book store).  The vacation ended as it started ... a lazy day on the lake.  We headed to my sister's Sunday night and engorged on great Chineese food from Chinatown in Stoughton.

All in all ... a great and memorable week with 150 miles of varied riding.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week of 08/16/09 - 160 Miles in Maine

Settled into a quiet (if that is possible in Winthrop) and fun vacation routine ... up early and off to bed early ... group lunches and dinners ... swimming at the lake (Lower Narrows Pond) ... kayaking ... canoe tipping ... tubing ... yard sales ... and of course, biking.  I went on a couple great paddles with Karen (across the lake) and Leah (through the culvert and over to Upper Narrows Pond).  We took in a fun rendition of my favority book "Wind in the Willows" at The Theater at Monmouth.  The theater runs a great schedule of top notch productions and is based out of Cumston Hall (see picture).  The building has been amazingly restored and maintained.  Toad was played to perfection. The actors were a little taken back when Leah told them I had over 200 different versions of the book ... hence my pen name "MrWiilows". 

 We spent a fun night with Leo's Legacy riders Ed & Cheryl Webber ... another great set of Ed stories, although none will top the time an inner tube flew off a truck and landed on his head!

I had no scheduling issues other than a few thunderstorms and one rainy day.  My rides included:

*  Solid 2 hours (almost 30 miles) around Marranacook and Annabessacook ... great lake shore views

*  Great 50 mile tour to Mt. Vernon and Belgrade ... one of my favorite loops ... great views, lakes, and a     few good climbs

*  Hilly 2 hours (almost 30 miles) up Ridge Road in Monmouth ... awesome decsent with no cars for most of the ride

On Saturday I was up and out by 6AM and drove toward Mount Desert and Acadia National Park to meet Joel and Amy for a sibling weekend.  While they were hauling up 95 for five hours, I took a rolling and often hilly loop (almost 55 miles) from Surry to Blue Hill to Sedgwick to Deer Isle.  The route was a little longer and hillier than I expected and it was pretty warm and ... drum roll ... I must admit the climb out of Blue Hill had me walking for about 100 feet ... first time that has happened in a long time.  A good humbling experience.  The ride was scenic in spots, but the roads were a little beat up.  I still enjoyed the challenge and chance to log a longer ride.  Blue Hill is an eclectic town with a big arts and music following.  The route included crossing the Deer Isle Bridge, which was only running alternating traffic one way due to repainting.  That enabled me to have an entire lane to myself for almost the entire span, as they were only paiting at the end of one side. Deer Isle was a small quaint stop with a few galleries and shops.  The return trip had me pushing hard to get back to meet Joel and Amy.  I ended up about an hour late, so they had a nice lunch in Bar Harbor before meeting me at the cottage in Southwest Harbor.  Spotty cell coverage made it interesting telling them where to go, but we finally met up.  The cottage was perfect and only four houses from Main Street.

Amy and I hit a small arts and craft show in town then grabbed a drink before we all headed to tour the Park Loop Road and into Bar Harbor for an evening strolling about.  We caught a fun late night dinner at Route 66.  Great atmosphere and reasonable prices ... food was pretty good too.  On Sunday we went for a hike up the South Bubble to Bubble Rock.  Great views all around.  Joel and I took the challenging rock slide "path" (if you can call it that) down.  It was heavily rocked with cliffs, ledges, and numerous tight turns.  We met up with Amy and drove back to the cottage before heading to my favorite lobster pound on the island, Thurston's.  A typical 45 minute wait rewarded us with top notch lobster, although, it was soft shells only.  They were still awesome!  More fun planned for tommorow before they leave and the girls arrive.  Hey, I turn 49 in the morning.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Week of 08/09/09 - Vacation Starts ... 165 Miles

Started the week with a rare occurrence ... a Monday afternoon ride.  I checked my log and it was only the 3rd outdoor ride I have taken on a Monday ... I guess I take a rest day after those long weekend rides.  Nice and quick two hours (31 miles) to Agricultural Research Center.  Great roads and lots of riders frequent this area. 

On Tuesday I followed up with another 33 miles in and around Columbia and Jessup to Elkridge and the Elkridge Furnance Inn (EFI).  EFI is a frequent turn around spot with a few varied options for out and back.  The roads are quiet with a few rolling hills and a good climb when you return via Lawyers Hill.  EFI is a historical inn that dates back to the 1740's.  Today it is a high end restaurant that does a lot of weddings ... I have passed many photo session.  Befor climbing Lawyers Hill, you pass through the Thomas Viaduct, which dates to 1835, and is the world's largest multiple arched stone railroad bridge.

The next dew days were spent working and getting ready for two weeks in Maine.  Karen and Leah have been at the lake since the middle of last month, so it was just me driving north on Friday.  Heaviest traffic was on 495 outside Lowell.  Once in Maine, I detoured through Wells and Kennebunk for gas and some munchies.  Past the Maine Diner in Wells, where we went with the Koltz clan after our Kennebunkport wedding in 1997.  Speaking of which, that great event took place at the Maine Stay Inn and Cottages ... a wonderful B&B just outside of downtown.  It should be noted that George Bush's (senior) dog passed away the weekend of our wedding ... I still think my brother slipped something under the gate when the town trolley drove us all past the mansion!  Arrived at the lkae (Lower Narrows Pond) in Winthrop around 8.

The first two days of vacation saw back to back rides of 50 miles.  On Satuday, I took a moderately hilly route from Winthrop to Richmond, returning via Gardiner and Hallowell.  Here is the route on a super route mapping site I use called mapmyride:

View Interactive Map on

The site does have ads, but they are not too bothersome.  You can get turn by turn cue sheets as well as elevation charts (although the hills are shown correctly and visually (a neat feature), it seems the total ascrent and descent measurements are off ... my Polar 720 shows this ride at 2,540 feet of climbing vs. mapmyride's 1,482).  I used to use, but mapmyride has won me over.  The biggest climbs on the route were in South Monmouth after crossing Route 9 toward Litchfield and the Winthrop Street out of Hallowell (that one is a major effort with a grades greater than 10%).  Richmond is small stop on the western side of the Kennebec River.  There has been some revitalization and a couple shps and restaurants are worth the stop.  Last summer, I biked here with Bob Sands and we had a nice lunch at the Railroad Cafe.  Following the river brings you to Gardiner and then Hallowell.  Hallowell is great afternoon destination with several antique and speciality shops.  It has a great antiquarian book store (Merrill’s Bookshop) and a few highly recommended dining options that we frequent including Slate's and Joyce's.

On Sunday, Karen, Jane and I drove out to Liberty in search of great T-shirts at Liberty Graphics.  The outlet is about an hour from Winthrop out Route 3. A great stop that always adds to the wardrobe.  I biked back to Winthrop (a little more than 50 miles). The ride followed Routes 220 and 105 through Windsor and into Augusta.  From Augusta I took the new rail trail into Hallowell, then up the big Winthrop Street hill (2nd time in two days) and back to Winthrop.  Very low traffic secondary roads with some hills, a great descent into South Liberty, and a pit stop at the infamous Hussey's General Store.  Hussey's ... where the sign out front advertises "Guns and Wedding Dresses" for sale ... no lie. People watching ain't too bad here either.

A great start to two weeks of true vacation ... too bad I forgot the charger for the balckberry.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Week of 08/02/09 - Bee Sting Does Not Prevent Another 150 Miles

The week started with a few busy days at work wrapping up proposals for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Cancer Institute.  On Wednesday I picked up my Serotta from the All American Bicycle Center in Damasucs.  It had been making some annoying clicking sounds and my mechanic had spent the last week playing Sherlock Homes to isolate it.  No obvious problem, but lots of disassembly, cleaning, adjusting, and lubing of contact points.  So ... I am about an hour into a nice ride on the quiet rollers of Damascus when a bee bounces off me during a quick descent.  Must have stung me good.  Pretty quickly I start getting nauseous and very light headed.  I struggle to keep going and head back to my car at the local church.  Then the itching starts ... all over!  I finally stop about 20 minutes from the car to rest and itch.  I make it back to the car and head right to the store for some Benadryl.  That night I did a good impression of the stay puft marshmallow man (video) and swelled up like a balloon.  Doctor put me on 7 day steriod treatment which quickly did the trick.  Oh ... I managed 25 miles out it.

After a day of recovery, work and the weather do not cooperate, so I head to the trainer for 30 miles of sweating with Coach Troy.  I have several of his Spinervals DVDs and this time I rode to the On the Road 2.0 - Lake Placid Training Ride.  It uses a helmet cam as opposed to the typical indoor workout.
The weekend brought great weather and the chance to log some longer rides.  I put in almost 100 miles including a nice flat and scenic loop on the Maryland's eastern shore starting in Queenstown.  I meandored to Centerville, Church Hill, and then on to Chestertown. 

Here is the route on mapmyride:

View Interactive Map on

My start was delayed due to nasty traffic crossing the Bay Bridge, but I was able to finish well before sunset.  The eastern shore and it's flat country roads are only an hour away and are a great change of pace from the rolling hills of central Maryland.  Queenstown is home to a large outlet mall and the very popular Queentown Harbor golf cousre.  The towns on my ride have seen a lot of new house construction the last few years, but still have a quiet charm. Church Hill has a great old 1930's movie house that is now the home to the Church Hill Theatre.  They put on performances of classic theater, Shakespearean plays, musicals, and children’s plays.  My turn around point was Chestertown. Chestertown is home to Washington College and sits on the banks of the Chester River.  The nicely restored and well mainatined downtown area has some neat old hotels and houses, as well as a variety of shops and restaraunts.  Great boat watching overlooking the river including the Schooner Sultana project.
Sunday's ride was a little shorter and I stayed local heading through downtown Ellicott City.  A nice 150 mile week and memorable thanks to the bee.