Sunday, November 8, 2015

Old Glory Relay, Leg 57 of 59, 84 miles of fun!

Old Glory Relay - "59 teams of runners will be charged with moving a single American flag across the country, in a 3,540-mile journey from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.  Starting September 11, 2015 and ending sunset November 8, 2015."

I was very proud to be a part of this event.  Not something I mentioned to many people, my husband so he would know I would be gone for a few days, and a couple friends who wanted to know what crazy thing I was up to next.  

Figured I could use my blog to share the events of the day.  Or as my husband would say  YOUR version of the events, I embrace my Irish and embellish for effect once in a very great while.

This all started with a harmless work eMail "Check out this post (on an internal website). Are you interested?"  I read up on the adventure one of the Security guys had signed up for and recruited a couple friends to take part in.  The only hold back was I couldn't use my road bike.  Yes the statement was 59 teams of runners.  The intent for this 84 mile stretch was to attract ultra runners.  That didn't happen.  What did happen was Greg signed up figuring others would also and he could run 10 of the 84 mile leg.  Well, no... he was the ONLY person to sign up.  Speaking with Team RWB  they determined this could be a biking leg.  He could ride 84 miles maybe even recruit some folks to ride with him.  He recruited 5 and one of them recruited me!

I didn't do much research on the ride.  I figured I'd let it unfold as it was going to unfold. I'm finding this works best for me.  Why bother getting myself all in knots over it, besides I can ride 108 miles around Mt. Washington in New Hampshire how bad could MD hills be and who cares that I hardly put any miles on the bike in October!

After reading a bit about the Towpath it was clear my road bike wasn't going to cut it.  Should I get different tires for my mountain bike, my ancient heavy mountain bike or consider renting a bike from the bike shop we were meeting at.  I decided to go to the bike shop where my husband and I had bought several bikes and rented a hybrid.  Heavy and 8 speeds.  Was this going to be a mistake?  Probably not.  The worst of the ride 2,400 feet of elevation was in the first 24 miles the last 60 was paper flat on a Towpath, so that was the more important part for the right bike.  Even in hindsight it wasn't a mistake, I'd of like a few smaller gears, but hey you get what you get and, well, shucks, I looked like a hill killer... so there's no harm in that right?

The Route
The Elevation, with the 60 miles of flat the hilly part doesn't look so bad... ha ha ha

Loading up the bike and heading out to Hancock, MD a little before 11 on Thursday morning was supposed to get me there in about 6.5 hours.  Well I had to get some cash and some food and some water and stop here and there...  I arrived at 6:20, just as Waze had predicted after my last emergency stop for some running shorts (the kind I hate) because I forgot my bathing suit for the hot springs soak we were aiming for on Friday night, soaking in bike shorts wasn't going to cut it. Nearly 8 hours (and a half a dozen stops) after I left home.  Whoooopsieeee.... I made it there by the designated time (no later than 7 p.m.) so that was good. 

Because we were self supported, whatever I needed I had to have on me and whatever I didn't need would get left at the hotel at the start.  I went through the Goodwill bag for some clothes to wear and sleep in and decided it was time for my travel toothbrush to be replaced. 

After a quick discussion on the weather predictions for the next day.  It was going to be warmer, and the chance of rain was dropping by the hour.  I opted for a long sleeve tech shirt an UnderArmour and my LUNGStrong bike jersey for the top and my second favorite bike shorts and the knee warmers versus the full leg warmers for the bottom.  The chamoiss in my favorite bike shorts fell out - this is a serious tragedy.  To keep my head warm a headband versus a full cap for under my helmet.  Whatever I didn't need I had to stuff in my jersey pockets or in my wee bike-bag, so I was very judicious on what I brought.  I hemmed and hawed on the UnderArmour and finally went with it and I am SO very glad I did.

Because everyone needs a surprise, I got one!  The surprise was my temporary crown breaking en-route!  Oh joy.  I called the dentist, they wanted to see me on Friday.  Well, that isn't possible I'm on a bike all day.  The discussion was well we really don't like the area to be exposed for very long. I asked what I could do and she suggested some denture glue to hold it in place.  I bought some and struggled in the bathroom to put the damn pieces back in place.  I got one of the pieces to stay, the other piece, not so much. It fell out during the shuttle ride to the start point, and again during the first 10 miles of the ride.  I'm kinda tired of chewing on my right side, hopefully this will all get rectified on Monday a.m.  And if you haven't had a crown, I'll not tell you the process and if you have, you know what I mean when I say I'm never getting another one.

The plan was 6:00 meet in the lobby 6:30 start the ride, finish up the 84 miles before 4:30 and get to the Berkeley Springs Hot Springs for a soak and a massage or just a soak or just a massage.  

It was clearly going to be warmer and dryer than predicted, I hemmed and hawed on the UnderArmour, someone pointed out the sun wasn't supposed to make an appearance and we would be in the woods for most of the day.  I kept it on and only regretted it a couple times then there was a nice cool breeze and I was thankful.

The Team:  Donnie from RWB, Greg (Navy) Renata, Tom , Darren, Me, Tanya  (Tom S arrives later)
Salisbury, PA - Volunteer Fire Department

We kicked off at 7:28  with a nice 300 foot climb, me in the lead....

Nifty 8 Speed rental I had to keep raising the seat on!!

Greg:  "Tanya, um, it appears she rides hills?"
Tanya: "Rats, we better keep up."

We each had a leg of about 12 miles.  Mine was the first, and the first series of climbs that never seemed to level off.  

This gravel hill was 8.5% and a bitch.  
I grunted myself the last couple of hundred yards to the top of this hill.  Tom K remarked that it sounded like I kind of enjoyed it.  I said I usually cursed, but I really didn't know y'all so I thought I should keep it clean.  This hill reminded me a lot of Crawford Notch in New Hampshire.

Old Savage Mountain - Bitch, Savage, whatever, I was glad to finally have that one behind me!!
The climbing was only for the first 24 miles, my 12 and Tanya's 12.  Who got the worst of it, I dunno.  

First 12

We were scheduled to hand off and have a potty break, figuring an hour was perfect time for that. Well our stop insisted they did not have a public restroom.  Tanya got Old Glory and we went off in search of a bathroom in Frostberg MD.  We found a Food Lion and they could help us biologically balance ourselves!  Whoop!!

I believe it was this point Tanya decided to start asking anyone if they wanted a date.  I couldn't help myself and replied "I'd love one but my husband really frowns on me dating."  It took a minute and the groans started.  Tanya asking everyone if they wanted a became the running joke.  She meant the fruit, not a date.  And it broke the ice and we all relaxed just a bit more and the sarcastic comments flew!

While Tanya's leg was largely down hill we had a particularly nasty climb before we were finally free of the hills!

Tanya's 12  That last hill was a bitch up and wicked fun on the way down!!

The rest of the 12 mile sections are on the flat of the canal path...  Hmmmm... how is it the two gingers got the brunt of the work?  Always picked on!!!

Me, Tanya, Greg, Darren, Tom K, Renata
Tom K got to escort Old Glory next.  The C&O Canal Path was beautiful.  Even in the beginning of November with most of the leaves on the ground, stunning.  We saw Deer, Beaver, Chipmunk, Geese, Duck, and Squirrel!

We stopped for lunch at School House Kitchen  in Old Town MD.  Definitely a hidden gem!  The food was just what we needed and $50 with tip for 7 of us!!

All around the old school cafeteria were the graduating classes from 1920 to 2010.  Very small classes and slim pickings for the girls with a 5:1 ratio girls to boys in most classes!!

There was even a Confederate flag flying out front!  Well we were south of the Mason Dixon line.  

Tom S, Greg, Tom K Renata, Tanya, Darren, me

This was the point Tom S (Navy) joined us with two gallons of water and a fresh perspective and jokes to bring us in for the last 40 miles!!  

Darren, aka Lance, took off escorting Old Glory at this point.

Hey Wait Darren, this isn't spin class!!!
Even his passenger had to hang on for dear life!!

Next up was Renata!

We were enjoying the leaf covered trail and the locks and the wild life and the friendly banter, and no Tanya we weren't interested in a date!

The biggest surprise were the clean porta potties along the trail!  What a shocker to find a pristine clean porta potty!

We were in a grove and pedaling on ward, so much so we totally forgot about Donnie and John and meeting them before the Paw Paw Tunnel. That is the little rise on the flat elevation profile. We'd be going through a tunnel and not over the hill!!  See the little blip at mile 51 in the elevation profile at the top????

Here we are on the other side of the tunnel.
We all made it!  Front:  Greg, Tanya, Tom S, Renata, Me, Darren, Tom K.

That was a cool experience, maybe 1/2 mile through the mountain.  One of the things I love to do when I drive back and forth to my parents in MI is to take the PA Turnpike and drive through the mountains.  Dunno what it is about that, I love it!

And off we go.

Tom S was up next!

Tom S AKA Hercules,  I worked to keep up with him and slow him down so we all stayed together as a group!  Guess if you don't do 24 miles of hills you have a bit more energy???

And finally Greg, our team leader.  He had a double flag his own flag and Old Glory we were chaperoning to it's next stop.

We had 12 miles and the sun was fading.  The RWB guys wished us well and they would meet us at the end.  We were spent, my Garmin died, it was kinda scary and kinda cool in the dark and we were hoping around every what we thought was a bend we would see city lights.....  

Oh goodie a bridge!  I'm glad this didn't turn into a duathalon because I can 'not drown' pretty well but tugging along a wicked heavy bike could be the death of me!

We rode into town Greg in the lead.  He lead us in the Old Glory Cadence he developed on our ride!

Lift your head and hold it high
Old Glory is coming by
Keep your eyes up and don't look down
Old Glory is flying in your town
Sing it now and sing it loud
Team RWB is mighty proud
Get Mr. President on the phone
Let him know Old Glory is coming home


Perfectly fitting!

Navy Folding the flag for team #58 to unfurl the morning of the 7th

We didn't get our hot spring soak but Donnie and John had some nice beverages waiting for us when we arrived.

Beth, considering dusting off that old heavy mountain bike to get in some miles on fire roads this winter, maybe venture on some single track??


  1. Wow, what a great experience! Great pictures. Well done, my friend. Well done!

  2. Incredible, Beth! You sure have had some amazing biking adventures this year. Kudos to you for being up for every challenge and always coming through.

  3. Thanks for joining us and Supporting the Old Glory Relay. Day 57 was great because your team was great!! Donnie